“Saoghal Thormoid” going online

November 3, 2016


On consecutive days in the last week of April Gordon Wells recorded a series of Gaelic conversations with famed writer and entertainer Norman Maclean, in which Norman spoke reflectively of his memories and impressions of Gaelic life in Glasgow and the Hebrides from the middle of the Twentieth Century up to the present day.

The five videos, ranging between 35 and 55 minutes in length, will soon be posted online on Guthan nan Eilean, starting on Monday 07/11/16. Word for word transcriptions will be made available simultaneously on Clilstore, enabling instant one-click vocabulary checking for Gaelic learners*. All in all there are 27,000 words and over three and a half hours of listening material in this collection, forming a unique new resource for serious study by learners and researchers. But Norman is a master raconteur, and there are plenty songs, jokes, and stories along the way. So, while it’s certainly an education, entertainment galore is also guaranteed for the more casual listener!

Over the week the conversations ranged over a wide variety of topics. In broad terms, however, each day had a different central focus:

Monday Ancestry
Tuesday Education
Wednesday Communities
Thursday Creativity
Friday Gaelic

The “Saoghal Thormoid” (“Norman’s World”) project is a collaboration between Soillse, which funded the recordings through its Small Research Fund, and Guthan nan Eilean (Island Voices), the bilingual community project and archive which posts online video clips of Hebridean life and work. All recordings are free to access.

*Clilstore also provides links to automatic Google Translate versions via the “unit info” tab. While machine translation from Gaelic to English is still at a very rudimentary stage, these versions can give at least an impression of the gist of the conversations for those viewers who have yet to start learning Gaelic.