Soillse Seminars in Edinburgh

February 16, 2016

The 2016 Soillse seminar series on minority language policy and sociolinguistics will run from 24 February-20 April, at 50 George Square, Edinburgh. Information here.


Meeting in Copenhagen

November 30, 2015

A meeting was held in Denmark on 27-28/11, with representatives from universities and development agencies with an interest in small languages in Europe. Presentations were exchanged on the state of the Gaelic languages in Ireland and Scotland, and on the Sámi languages in Norway and Finland. An international research project is now being actively considered, in which universities and development agencies can work together to deepen understanding of the small languages situation, and make recommendations for creating a new development model.

Coinneamh ann an Copenhagen
Torkel Rasmussen, Sámi University College
Peadar Morgan, Bòrd na Gàidhlig
Michelle Francett-Hermes, University of Oulu
Caoimhín Ó Dónaill, Ulster University
Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, University of the Highlands and Islands
Colm Ó Baoill, Foras na Gaeilge

Two New Books

November 20, 2015


Two new books, written by Soillse researchers, have been published recently. One is in Gaelic, the other in English – both covering important topics. Further details below.

Family Language Policy

Maintaining an Endangered Language in the Home

Cassie Smith-Christmas

Why some children being raised in multilingual environments use more of their minority language than others is an important question both for researchers and caregivers of multilingual children. This book sheds light on this question by exploring it through the lens of three siblings on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, who are being raised in an extended family where the adults are trying to maintain the endangered language Scottish Gaelic with them. However, despite the adults’ best efforts, and despite the fact that the children attend a Gaelic immersion school, none of the children currently use very much Gaelic. Smith-Christmas looks at the adults’ individual language ideologies and their language practices with the children, as well as their language practices with each other and the language norms in the wider community, in order to explain why language maintenance is such a continual uphill struggle for this family.

A’ Ghàidhlig agus Beachdan nan Sgoilearan

Cothroman leasachaidh ann am foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig

Sìleas L NicLeòid

Tha an leabhar seo stèidhichte air cuid de na toraidhean as cudromaiche a bhios ag èirigh ann an tràchdas PhD Sìleas NicLeòid. Anns an leabhar, tha Sìleas a’ toirt sùil mhionaideach airson na ciad uair air beachdan agus tuigse nan sgoilearan foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig fhèin air a’ Ghàidhlig agus air FMG, air mar a tha iad a’ faireachdainn mun t-suidheachadh ionnsachaidh aca, mun cuid chomasan sa Ghàidhlig agus mun t-seòrsa dreuchd a th’ aig a’ Ghàidhlig nam beatha.

Tha an leabhar a’ cumail fòcas làidir air guth na cloinne fhèin, stèidhichte air agallamhan le 80 sgoilear bho air feadh na h-Alba, eadar Clas 4 sa bhun-sgoil agus Bliadhna 2 san àrd-sgoil. Leis mar a thèid beachdan nan sgoilearan fhèin a chur ri beachdan nan inbheach, thathar a’ ruigsinn cho-dhùnaidhean agus mholaidhean a tha air leth cudromach do leasachadh FMG san àm ri teachd. Gheibhear an leabhar seo bho Bhùth Ostaig an-dràsta:

Small Research Fund: Extension

November 12, 2015

The deadline for applications to the Small Research Fund has been extended to 31/01/16. More information here.

Irish Parents and Gaelic-medium Education in Scotland

November 10, 2015

A new report has been published with support from the Soillse Small Research Fund. Here’s the link.


Census 2011: report, part 2

October 29, 2015

This link is to the second part of the report prepared by Edinburgh University with support from Soillse.


Call for papers

October 23, 2015

The call for papers for the Soillse 2016 conference is available here.



Census 2011: Report

September 30, 2015

Here’s a link to a report completed by Edinburgh University, with support from Soillse, which came out today.


Small Research Fund Open

September 21, 2015

Tha Small Research Fund is now open. More information about the scheme is available here, and the application form here.

Fiosrachadh to thagraichean

Three new workers

September 2, 2015

Tamás Pétervári (on the left) started with Soillse as a researcher in sociolinguistics on 01/05/2015. His main responsibility is to work as research assistant to the Soillse Director, Prof Conchúr Ó Giollagáin.

Gordon Cameron (centre) and Peter Murray started on 01/09/2015. They will be working together as fieldworkers on Soillse’s new project – The Islands’ Gaelic Research Project. Although they will be based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, alongside Tamás, they will be travelling all over the Western Isles.


2016 Conference: Small Language Planning

September 1, 2015

Information is now available on the 2016 Soillse Conference to be held 6th-8th June at the University of Glasgow. The conference title is “Small Language Planning: Communities in Crisis”. Find out more here.


Small languages…

August 31, 2015

Soillse partner Marsaili MacLeod from Aberdeen University was invited to present a paper at the 24th Congress of Endangered Languages and Cultures, 23-25/07/2015, at Uesca in Spain. The title of her paper was “Small languages, big interventions: institutional support for Gaelic in Scotland”. You can read it here.


Soillse Research Associates – Invitation

August 19, 2015

Are you interested in becoming a Soillse Research Associate? More information about the scheme is available here.


“New Gaels?” ICCS presentation by Stuart Dunmore

July 27, 2015

This is the presentation used by Dr Stuart Dunmore at the International Congress of Celtic Studies in Glasgow. His topic was “New speakers? New Gaels?”



ICCS Presentation: Gaelic in the Public Domain

July 23, 2015

Soillse Phd student Inge Birnie led a session on “Gaelic language use in the public domain” at the recent International Congress of Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow. This is the presentation that accompanied her talk.



Stuart Dunmore Presentation at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

July 8, 2015

Stuart Dunmore delivered a paper on his PhD research at the second Soillse conference on 29/05/15. Here’s the presentation he used:


He also made a short video in Gaelic about his involvement in the conference while he was there, mentioning some of the findings from his research:


Lecture in Dublin

July 7, 2015

Soillse research fellow Cassie Smith-Christmas delivered a lecture at the First Celtic Sociolinguistics Symposium held in Dublin on 26/06/15. Here is the presentation she used:


Two posts: Fieldworker

June 29, 2015

This is an advertisement for two new fieldworkers with Soillse:

Sanas obrach

More information is available here, and an application form here.

Presentation on Islands Research

June 21, 2015

This presentation was delivered in the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar offices in Stornoway on 16/06/15:

For more information check this link:


2015 CAER/Soillse Conference: 28th – 30th May

January 29, 2015

Bilingual Education and Language Revitalisation: From Theory to Practice

We are pleased to provide advance notice of the second Soillse conference, ‘Bilingual Education and Language Revitalisation: From Theory to Practice, which is being held in conjunction with CAER, the Education Society of the European Regions, and hosted by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.

Overall Rationale

There is unprecedented public support and political will for Gaelic to be revitalised and maintained as an everyday language in Scottish life. Interventions in education, media and public affairs are markedly changing the way Gaelic is adopted and used. Concurrently, changing societal conditions are giving rise to increasingly fluid and diverse ways of being a bilingual Gaelic speaker. The nature, scale and pace of these transformations in Gaelic bilingualism present a set of new challenges for initiatives to support the learning and use of Gaelic. These transformations are not unique to Gaelic, but extend to Irish, Welsh, Euskara, and other minority languages in European society.

This conference aims to provide a forum for Gaelic and other minority language practitioners, educationists, activists, policy makers and researchers to explore and exchange research findings, experience and perspectives in minority language teaching and learning and bilingualism. Building on the success of the first Soillse conference organised in 2011, the conference will again be a platform for analysis and debate over the changing use of minority languages. It aims to stimulate fresh perspectives on language revitalisation and to identify new areas for collaboration.

The two-day conference will consist of key note presentations delivered by eminent guest speakers on bilingualism, and moderated workshops which have been divided into six thematic areas:
• Language socialisation and the community
• The media in the language revitalisation debate
• Dynamic pedagogy and methodologies in minority language education
• Adult learners and community language learning
• Professional engagement with the speaker community
• Education and reversing language shift

We invite language planners, language educators, service providers, language activists and researchers to take part in the analysis and debate over minority language sociolinguistic trajectories at this two-day conference at Scotland’s Gaelic college in the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Here is a bilingual introduction by Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin and Dr Timothy Currie Armstrong, and an invitation to attend.

For further information, please see the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig website:

Soillse is seeking a researcher in socio-linguistics

November 30, 2014

Two-Year Post as a Researcher in Sociolinguistics

Soillse is a multi-institutional and interdisciplinary research collaboration between Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Lews Castle College, constituent colleges of the University of the Highlands and Islands; Aberdeen University; Edinburgh University and Glasgow University. Soillse was established in 2009 to provide research opportunities and post-graduate training in various academic disciplines relevant to the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture. By enhancing the research capacity in relation to the sociology, sociolinguistics, and language policy and planning aspects of Gaelic as a living language and culture, the participating universities seek to develop the Soillse collaboration as a world-class minority language research initiative, and to participate in scholarly and public debate concerning minority language issues in general, with a view to informing public policy in Scotland and beyond.

Soillse, in collaboration with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, invites applications for two-year research position from suitably qualified researchers with proven capacities for academic achievement in scholarly disciplines relevant to the Soillse research mission. Applicants will be required to submit a CV and a letter of application in which they indicate how their experience to date relates to the research aims of Soillse and how their research skills will enhance the research mission of Soillse. Applicants will be asked during the interview process to demonstrate sufficient ability in Gàidhlig in order to operate functionally as a Soillse researcher. More detail on the interview process and language requirements is available from the Director of Soillse.

Applicants should indicate how their skills meet the following criteria:

  • Relevance of their application to the Soillse research themes
  • Relevance of their minority language research experience to the aims of Soillse
  • A capacity to initiate, plan and conduct sociolinguistic research projects
  • A capacity to engage in field work to achieve research deadlines
  • An ability to report and present research findings.

The research position is available at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, an academic partner in the University of the Highlands and Islands. It is expected that successful candidate will reside during the period of their employment in reasonable proximity to their place of work.

Employment Responsibilities

The primary focus of the research position is to participate in the Soillse project as a research assistant to the Director of Soillse. The successful candidate will be expected also to develop a personal sociolinguistic research profile, relevant to the revitalisation of minority languages, as well as participating in key Soillse research projects.

In addition, the researcher will be expected to be committed to the collective responsibilities of the Soillse network which aim to:

  • Engage in individual and collaborative research through establishing a portfolio of work and disseminating results through regular publications in high impact journals, books, and conference proceedings
  • Support the preparations of applications to appropriate external bodies for research funding and be capable of the joint-management with the Soillse Director of such grant awards to a high standard of excellence.

The Fellowship Position

Job title: Soillse Researcher in Sociolinguistics

Duration: The Soillse research position will be awarded for a period of 2 years

Line Management: Soillse Research Director

Purpose of the Fellowship: The primary activities expected of the Researcher include the following:

  • Conducting research on an ongoing basis in a subject area, or areas, of relevance to Soillse and participating in team work to produce research publications of an international standard
  • Participating in research projects led by the Director of Soillse
  • Assisting the Director of Soillse in the preparation of academic research outputs for publication in books, journals, official reports and on-line/electronic realms
  • Participating in meetings and other gatherings as required by the Soillse Research Director
  • Supporting the work of Soillse in diverse ways, including contributing to: the collection and maintenance of various forms of databases; the publication and dissemination of Soillse research in a variety of formats; and, the preparation of conferences, workshops, lectures and other forms of knowledge exchange
  • Attendance at, and participation in, conferences, workshops, lectures and other knowledge exchange activities
  • Contributing to the preparation of funding bids in collaboration with the Soillse Director
  • Contributing to the Soillse website, assisting the Soillse management in the dissemination of information about the project and outputs of the project more generally, both nationally and internationally.

Key Competencies


  • Ability to understand, read, write and to converse in Gaelic. Applicants will be required to demonstrate their level of language competency during the interview process
  • At least two-year’s experience of conducting research in sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, linguistic anthropology, or another field of enquiry relevant to the Soillse research aims and objectives
  • Ability to undertake field work activities in support of minority language research, experience of participating in two or more field work projects relevant to the Soillse research agenda
  • Evidence of the ability to conduct innovative and high-quality research in an area, or areas, of relevance to the Soillse project and to publish such research
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to present research
  • Ability to work both independently but also under the guidance of academic colleagues and as part of a team of researchers
  • Ability and willingness to conduct public engagement activities to communicate to different audiences the implications of results arising from contemporary Gaelic research
  • Ability and willingness to initiate projects and to work closely with management structures
  • Excellent research planning and administrative skills
  • Functional competence in English relevant to the academic register.


  • Knowledge of the situation of the Gaelic language in Scotland and of policy relevant to its maintenance and revitalisation
  • A good understanding of matters relevant to minority language maintenance and revitalisation, more generally
  • Proven ability to present research outputs in Gaelic, both orally and in writing, including the ability to make presentations at, and participate in, conferences, workshops and seminars
  • An ability to publish through the medium of Gaelic
  • PhD completed or a PhD nearing completion, in relevant aspect of the language sciences.

Employing Institution

The individual offered the research position will be hosted by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, as one of the institutions participating in Soillse. The appointed Researcher would be subject to the prevailing employment conditions of the host institution.

The successful candidate will be expected to engage in Soillse activities in Inverness also, where the lead institution of the Soillse network, the University of the Highlands and Islands, is headquartered.

The appointment will be made on a salary scale commensurate with knowledge and experience, within the range of £29,574 – £32,250, according to the SMO pay scale.


This post is funded for a 2-year period.

Application Procedure

Applicants are required to complete an application form and to submit it along with the following:

  • A detailed CV, including the candidate’s publications record, and the names of two referees
  • A letter of application setting out:
    a) why this position is being applied for and explaining how the research position will enhance your academic research career-pathway
    b) how the applicant’s experience to date relates to the research aims of Soillse and how their research skills will enhance the research mission of Soillse.

For further specific information regarding the post, prospective candidates may contact Prof. Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, the Director of Soillse, if they wish to have an informal discussion regarding the position prior to the formal interview: Tel: 01471 888558; E-mail:

Deadline for applications: 5 January 2015

Expected date for the interviews: End of January 2015

World-leading resource launched for assessing and increasing Gaelic proficiency

November 12, 2014

A project to develop an international world-leading framework for the teaching and learning of Scottish Gaelic is being launched at the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen. The project is part of the Soillse research network, the National Research Network for the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture.

The project, Comasan Labhairt ann an Gàidhlig (CLAG) / Gaelic Adult Proficiency (GAP), will ensure that Gaelic adult learners are provided with a crucial resource on par with those for other European languages, including English, Dutch, and Irish.
CLAG is linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and will describe proficiency scales in Gaelic from beginner to advanced level. It willalso be used by language teachers and learners alike to gauge language learning and ability in spoken Gaelic.

The framework will help to maximise the number of Gaelic learners reaching fluency by providing clear learning targets, and helping them identify areas in which their spoken Gaelic skills can be improvedIt will also be aligned with existing Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications, and will draw on a wealth of research previously conducted for Gaelic and other European languages.

Led by Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh and Nicola Carty, both from the University of Glasgow, and members of Soillse at the University of Aberdeen, Dr. Michelle Macleod and Dr. Marsaili MacLeod, the project will run for three years, supported by the Scottish Funding Council and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Rob Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic at the University of Glasgow said: ‘CLAG will be the first empirically derived framework to provide an objective means of describing Gaelic spoken language skills and will provide a much-needed scientific framework upon which new effective pedagogical resources can be created.’

Michelle Macleod, Senior Lecturer in Gaelic and Soillse Co-Director at The University of Aberdeen said: ‘We are delighted to be working with colleagues in the University of Glasgow on this exciting research project and are grateful to the Scottish Funding Council and Bòrd na Gàidhlig for their support. This new project builds on the existing knowledge-base of the Gaelic adult learner sector in the Soillse network and will have significant impact for adult learners and teachers of Gaelic.’

Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: ‘Information is currently being sought from learners on their needs to support them on their journey to Gaelic fluency, which will inform this project and future projects. Discussions with learners and tutors have indicated the need for developing such a resource which will help with forward planning of classes and allow learners to engage in self-assessment of language skills. The resource will sit within a suite of resources envisaged in the strategy currently being developed by the Bòrd and other national partners.’

Media enquiries: / (+44) 0141 330 7126

Landmark archive of 10 million Gaelic words launched

November 11, 2014



Researchers have completed the first phase of the world’s most extensive digital archive of Scottish Gaelic texts as part of a landmark project to revolutionise access and understanding of the language to public around the world.

The Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) project is already the most comprehensive publicly accessible reference point for the Gaelic language and culture, having been worked on by researchers from Celtic and Gaelic at the University of Glasgow for the past eight years.

The DASG project has two main outputs:

• Corpas na Gàidhlig is a searchable online database bringing together full texts dating from the Twelfth Century to the present day.Together they make up a corpus of almost 10 million Gaelic words, which is expected to grow to up to 30 million words over the course of the project.

• The Fieldwork Archive contains over 22,000 headwords taken from speech recorded in Gaelic-speaking Scotland and Nova-Scotia during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It uniquely describes traditional Gaelic life and society and many of the headwords are accompanied by magnificent hand-drawn illustrations.

Together, these two resources will provide fingertip access to the riches of Gaelic language and culture and make it much more accessible to a world-wide audience.

Corpas na Gàidhlig will also provide the textual basis for alinked project involving five universities around Scotland. Faclair na Gàidhlig will produce a historical dictionary of Gaelic, a resource for Gaelic comparable to the Oxford English Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, both of which provide a historical lexical reference for their respective languages. Partners in the Faclair na Gàidhlig project are the universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.

Rob Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic at the University of Glasgow and Director of DASG, said: “The Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic provides a unique and powerful web resource for students and researchers of Gaelic around the globe, which will transform the way research is carried out on Gaelic language, literature and culture. Having access to a large database like this will enable us to see new patterns in the way the language has been used over the centuries and how it continues to be used to this day. This resource will lead to the development of new pedagogical and technological resources for the language.”

Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts, Professor Murray Pittock, said: “As a leading centre for Gaelic and Celtic Studies, the University welcomes the online publication of ground-breaking DASG resources, which will provide scholars and Gaelic communities in Scotland and abroad with a magnificent learning and research resourceto promote Gaelic and its significance internationally.”

Professor Boyd Robertson, Chair of the Steering Committee of Faclair na Gàidhlig, and Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said: “We are delighted that the first phase of DASG is now online based on established expertise at Glasgow. Corpas na Gàidhlig and related software development will revolutionise lexicographical methodology in Scotland. The Fieldwork Archive will also be tremendously important to the dictionary in that it contains words not recorded elsewhere. We can look forward confidently to a future in which Gaelic will have a dictionary compiled on historical principles linked to a digital corpus of the language. Together, they will enable full understanding of the Gaelic language and culture for generations to come.”

Leading scholar in the history and culture of the Highlands, Professor Hugh Cheape from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said: “As a student of Scottish Gaelic with a specific interest in the lexis and in material culture, DASG offers a resource on a scale hitherto unimaginable without a lifetime’s reading and cross-referencing.”

DASG was established in 2006 and is funded by the British Academy, the University of Glasgow, Faclair na Gàidhlig, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Funding Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

DASG is available at


Media enquiries: / (+44) 0141 330 7126

Soillse invites applications for two post-doctoral Fellowships

June 3, 2014


Soillse – Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands

2 Two-Year Post-doctoral Research Fellowships

Soillse, in collaboration with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, invites applications for two post-doctoral fellowships from suitably qualified researchers with proven capacities for academic achievement in scholarly disciplines relevant to the Soillse research mission. Soillse was established as a collaborative initiative to provide research opportunities in various academic disciplines relevant to the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture.

The two fellowships are available at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the University of the Highlands and Islands. Candidates will be required to be fluent in Gaelic and to hold a PhD and have experience of participating in sociolinguistic research projects. Successful candidates will be remunerated according to the relevant SMO pay scale.

Deadline for applications: 14 July 2014.

Expected date for interviews: Late July 2014.

More details from the Director of Soillse: An t-Ollamh Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands, Tel: 01471 888558, E-mail:

Soillse has published research on ‘New Speakers’ of Gaelic in Edinburgh and Glasgow

May 23, 2014

Soillse has published research on ‘New Speakers’ of Gaelic in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A copy of the research report is available for download here.