Halo, 's mise Sharon Byers agus tha mi ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig.
Hello, my name is Sharon Byers and I am learning Gaelic.
First I would like to say I am by no means fluent in the Gaelic language. I am a beginner and by no means an expert on anything but the thought was to let people thinking about learning the language and other beginners know that there are wonderful free avenues for learning Gaelic on the internet.
I live in north central Wisconsin and always had a hope to learn Scottish Gaelic. My father was born in Scotland near Stranraer, but did not speak Gaelic. Although, now as I think back and have some lessons under my belt I remember words he used to say that were Gaelic, but he only spoke a few here and there. Now the kids are all raised and the grandchildren are doing their own things, so I thought it was a good time to start.
So here goes it. A little history first - After the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and during the Highland Clearances, speaking Gaelic, wearing of clan tartans, playing the bagpipes, and carrying weapons was expressly forbidden in Scotland and punishable by death. In the aftermath of this, the language has almost become extinct. Scotland has made a massive attempt to revitalize the Gaelic language. In a 2011 census it was found that only about 57,000 people spoke Gaelic in Scotland. That is less than 2% of the country's entire population.
My favorite site and one of the first ones I found is “Learn Gaelic” (learngaelic.net) There are many different sections on this site to help the novice speaker. The one I started out with is Speaking our Language under the “Beginners” heading. This section was inspired by a television program that aired in 1993 in the UK featuring Rhoda NicDhòmhnaill. One can still find the programs on Youtube that have been uploaded by private parties. They also air on the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk) occasionally, but can only be viewed in the UK. The “Learn Gaelic” website just uses the conversation clips not the whole show with Rhoda. I like to watch the Youtube videos with Rhoda as she explains some interesting concepts with the language and each episode is in another part of the Highlands or at an event and I then go to the “Learn Gaelic” website and rematch the conversation clips. It has 18 courses in the beginners section with each course having multiple videos on conversations with the them on a specific theme; such as greetings or telling time,written in Gaelic and English. This is extremely useful as you can see how it is spelled and what the words sound like. Sometimes it is difficult to hear how they are pronouncing the words, so I jump into the dictionary in the header and there you can type the word in and it has sound files so one can hear the word more clearly. I even write down the conversations in a notebook, as you put more thought into the words as you are writing. You are also pronouncing as you are writing it out and learning how to spell them.
I have never tried to learn a second language and will admit I have found this a bit over whelming. I have heard a piece of wonderful advice from Àdhamh Ó Broin ( who I will talk about at a later date) “do not dwell on what you don't know, after a time look back on what you have learned that you did not know when you started. You will be surprised on how much you have learned. I have actually gone through all 18 of the beginners set in “Speaking our Language” and then started over. In the beginning I thought this is impossible and now I could understand what is being said. If nothing else if I go to Scotland today I can do the important stuff, ask where the bathroom is and order a whiskey. Take pride where you can.
For the website links, visit my website at sharonbyers.weebly .com. I have the links mentioned here posted and many more.
Tioraidh an - drasta
Good bye for now
Fri. January 15 I had a lovely presentation at the the Augusta Senior Center on Scottish Culture. The Center put on a lovely lunch with red bean and lentil soup with bread and I brought some scones and shortbread cookies. While they were eating we had a discussion on Scottish cuisine and I demonstrated making a scone. Afterwards we went into a bit of Scottish heritage and culture. There was a marvelous discussion with everyone asking questions and adding their own knowledge and bits of history. We then learned a wee bit of Scottish Gaelic, which everyone gave a grand try at. I had a lovely time and I thank the Augusta Senior and Community Center for inviting me.
Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows I love to learn. It really doesn't matter what, it can be anything- astronomy, blacksmithing, chain mail, calligraphy and any number of crazy stuff. I love to learn. Recently I found an introductory to Irish step dance near my home. Now I am not young, thin, flexible, or exceptionally coordinated on my toes (although I have done a bit of belly dancing), I thought why not. So I told my partners in crime about this and two of us signed up. The ad did mention kids over 10 and I had the nightmare I would be in a room of wonderfully talented children leaping gracefully in the air all around me and I would look woefully like a water buffalo stuck in a mud hole. Thank the Universe that was not the case. We found ourselves in a lovely class of ladies of varying degrees of much older than 10. We all were probably on the same skill level, which put everyone at ease. At the end we were all sweaty, sore, and smiling. Will we be in the next Riverdance show? No! But did I have a blast? yes! Will I be taking more Irish step dance lessons? quite possibly. Sorry, Ron. Moral of the story. Learning IS fun. I have met the most fascinating people. It is never to late to learn something new. Never say I am too old, not in shape, or any other silly excuse. Get up, Get out and do something.
I love all things Scottish, Steampunk, belly dancing, and spending time with the granddaughters.