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> Carson Gidhlig?
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FamhairCloiche 
  Posted: 27-Feb-2008, 08:08 AM
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Carson a tha mi ag ionnsachaidh Gidhlig?
Quite unexpectedly I have found myself having to answer this question for various people recently. The first time it was asked I stood staring with mouth open thinking, "My God...I don't know!" So I have devoted much thought to that question's answer, and thought that I might explore it with you here.

I'm not academic who learns languages just because. But at the same time I've never met a native Gael. So why would I need to learn Gidhlig?

I've read detailed genealogies from both sides of my family, and my surname-ancestry gets lost in Lochaber and Rannoch. But my mother's side are Leinster Irish. To a man they all filtered through the South where they became American and picked up a little Cherokee and French along the way. So basically I have only a little more familial reason to learn Gidhlig than any other Yank. So has my perceived cultural heritage pulled me toward Gidhlig?

I once read a book by a man named Alastair MacIntosh wherein I was first exposed to the Gidhlig language and present-day Gaelic culture and people. Their worldview, or perhaps just his projected worldview, struck me as unique to my own experience. Their language being a reflection of that outlook, or rather their outlook being a product of the way their language caused them to think. Was I learning this language to satisfy some curiosity, or to touch an existence both alien and strangely familiar?

This last question I think is the most relevant, but the most difficult to convey an answer. Some linguists have said that a culture's common usage of language can have physiological implications in the ordering of our minds on a biological level. I tend to agree because I've tried to learn both German and French, and both were a struggle. But learning Gidhlig thus far has been like learning a language that I forgot that I knew!

Anyway, before I write a book of ramblings, what do you think? What's been your experience?

Feasgar Math
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GunChleoc 
Posted: 27-Feb-2008, 04:16 PM
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For me it's that I like languages anyway, and when I first heard a Gaelic song I fell in love with the language then and there. I haven't looked back since. smile.gif


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'S e saoghal a th' anns gach cnan
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Cid 
Posted: 08-Mar-2008, 03:18 PM
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I've given this a lot of thought. Sadly since I've started learning Gaelic I've run into some very negative sentiments about it from both Brits and Americans. Don't get me wrong - there's been plenty of people who have been very positive. I just didn't expect I'd get the "Why bother?" attitude as much as I have. I guess some people didn't get the "we're in the communication era now" memo, or maybe they misread it to mean "all communications will be in English from now on." rolleyes.gif

I don't care much for the whole "it's my ancestors' tongue" explanation because it doesn't tell the whole story for me. I see the world as becoming more and more egalitarian through the internet and global communications. That means that even if a language has only 60,000 or so speakers, those speakers are just as welcomed to communicate to the rest of the world as those whose language is spoken by millions. And in turn, there's people who want to communicate with them. Sure, I could expect Gaels to speak to me in English, but that's not exactly the level of cultural communication I want. I know from my experience from communicating German and French that there a lot more you can know about a person if you know their language and converse in it. Also. I know how much you gain yourself by expanding your linguistic horizons and learning to express yourself in a different language.

Of course, having Scottish and Irish blood in my veins does certainly has something to do with it. In that regard, I'm no different from, say, a Korean American who thinks learning and speaking Korean is his right and his perogative. One of the great benefits of living in the communication era is opportunities to pursue that perogative. Presently I'm relying heavily on internet resources to learn Gaelic that were not available to me 10 years ago, when I made my first (and failed) attempt to learn it. There's also more opportunities to use the language to actually connect and communicate with other people. I doubt I'd get very far if all I could do with Gaelic was talk to my cats and maybe write a couple poems in a notebook no one else would ever see.

Lastly, there's the very simple reason that Gaelic is a beautiful, rich and extraordinary language. Granted, I'm a language nut who wishes she could speak almost every language in the world, but seriously, how could someone not want to learn it? wink.gif
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FamhairCloiche 
Posted: 10-Mar-2008, 07:48 AM
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It sounds like you and I have had nearly parallel experiences.
Since I wrote that first post, I've been thinking more about the subject, and I've come to at least one conclusion. Speech is the bridge that links our minds to one another. Language is a common set of bridges that connect an entire culture, and the way the minds of the people in that culture work are expressed most directly through their language. On the path of human experience, to learn only your native language means to constantly hold alien those unique patterns of thought that have been generated by other cultures.
For instance, the Germanic peoples in all of their branches have always been an aggressive peoples; from Beowulf to George W.. Is it any wonder that the English and Icelandic languages (and probably German and the other Norwegians) don't have a singular, non-compound word that expresses the concept of 'old man'? BTW I work with an Icelander and we've had this conversation.
Anns an Gidhlig tha e 'bodach'. The Gaels had reason to either create or preserve the singular concept of 'old man' probably because they were a relatively isolated, marginally warlike, long-lived people.
I can't even imagine what other cultural insights exist in other languages.
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Smeag 
Posted: 26-Feb-2009, 04:56 PM
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My reason for learning Gaelic is a desire to learn more about the culture of the area to which I intend to move, NW Scotland. This includes history, language and so on. Aside from that, I have always enjoyed traditional music, song and poetry of Ireland and Scotland, and I have always been encouraged to learn Gaelic by my family, only I think they expected me to learn Irish Gaelic, not Scots. oops.gif

I like that it is different from other European languages and I look forward to actualy being able to write (poetry) in Gaelic one day.


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Tha mi'n dochas gu bheil an eadar theangachadh ceart!
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