Tim Armstrong: Feur Buidhe an t-Samhraidh

Chan eil mi ag ràdh nach do mheal mi an leabhar. Ach tha amharas orm gun do mheal mi e sa mhòr-chuid on a bha e sa Ghàidhlig, amharas nach mealainn nam biodh e sa Bheurla. Oir chan eil ann ach sgeulachd eile-sheòrsach eile mu dheidhinn balaich òig a ghabh gaol air caileige àlainne. Agus gu traidiseanta, tha a’ chaileag nas còire agus nas glice na tha esan – gu dearbh, tha ise gun smal. Ge be dè dona a dh’èiricheas dhan phaidhir, tha fios gur e fèinealachd no baoghaltachd an duine as coireach. (Ann an seadh, tha feimineachas ann an litreachas fada, fada nas sine na feimineachas ann am poileataigs.)




Occasionally I treat myself to some moderate profligacy. Having read an article about rosemary smell possibly enhancing memory, I bought a bottle of essential oil, and an aromatherapy candle holder or diffuser or whatever it’s properly called. Despite the fact that normally I would snort over a research carried on only 40 participants.

(I did snort when I later learnt I was one of a crowd. The mitigating factor is that one of the reasons I succumbed to the whim was the fact that rosemary is mentioned in the title of one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel albums.)

I burn a candle under the oil bath daily, usually when working on my languages’ vocabularies and/or when meditating. Sure, I’ve no idea whether it actually has any effect, there are too many other variables. But the smell is pleasant, and I’ve always had a soft spot for candles anyway; somehow this makes burning one even more gratifying.


Neil and Alfred

I quite like watching Neil Oliver’s documentaries: occasionally he seems to exaggerate to make them more interesting, but always manages to stay safely on the ‘documentary’ side. Nevertheless, when the other day I watched him enunciate in his unmistakeable Scottish accent, “if it hadn’t been for Alfred, we would probably have a different national identity, we might even speak a different language. Alfred the Great was a hugely significant leader in our history”, I couldn’t help it: a broad grin appeared on my face and stayed there for a couple of minutes.


Pierre Véry: Signé : Aloutte

Un « roman policier » pour les enfants. Je dois admettre qu’il est un peu médiocre, mais j’ai un faible pour le livre : je l’ai lu la première fois quand j’était environ aussi âgé que le héros – et aussi petit, fluet et seul comme lui. (À vrai dire, il était un des amis imaginaires de mon enfance.)

Alors, jusque-là j’ai lu – en français – trois livres pour les enfants et une bande dessinée*. Ils me plaisaient tous les quatre, mais le temps est venu de lire un pour les adultes. Ainsi, j’ai commencé La soupe aux choux. Et après ça … finalement quelque chose que je n’ai jamais lu même en traduction ?

* Extraordinaire : je n’ai lu que quatre livres en gaélique écossais …


FnaG a-rithist

Aig a’ cheann thall, thill mi dhan fhòram as dèidh trì bliadhnaichean. (Bha mi air sgrìobhadh am post mu dheireadh san Dùbhlachd ’13). The e coimhead gu bheil nas lugha dhen trafaig ann na bha anns na seann làithean, agus gu bheil feadhainn dhiubh a bhiodh a’ postadh a bu thrice air fhàgail cuideachd (chanainn gum bi mi gu h-àraid ag ionndrainn Seonaidh), ach cha robh iadsan a tha air fhàgail mì-thoilichte leamsa, ged a thill mi leis an fhar-ainm ùr agam, agus ’s e sin an rud a tha cudromach. Tha eadhon Akerbeltz còir deònach rim bruidhinn.


On Twitter again

Been there for a few months in 2012, then deleted my account. This February, on the spur of the moment (probably out of boredom), I created a new one. Like the first time round, I began by adding followed accounts, till I had hardly time for anything else than following them, then began gradually unfollowing those with too great tweets:interesting tweets ratio. I got almost to a ‘desirable’ number.

Then came the bender, then catching up on the consequent backlog and now I sort of regret I don’t follow a few more, I seem to have too much time on my hands. I even began considering contributing to Gaelic Wikipedia again, or rejoining Fòram na Gàidhlig. We’ll see.

PS Incidentally, the day after creating the account I was made aware via some account I followed that it was World Cancer Day. As I had had and possibly still had cancer, this was somewhat spooky.


Google Translate for Scottish Gaelic

The other day I came across a post telling me Scottish Gaelic has been added to Google Translate with worse-than usual results. I have little time for fools who think that simply running a text through this software can give them something even approaching natural language. But the adverse effect on learners is not to be underestimated. I remember it took me quite some time to realise that even if something on the Web looks like Gaelic, it may be faulty Gaelic by another learner (like my own posts), so one should always consider carefully the source.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just amused myself by the old pastime: pick a random text in a language you know and have Google translate it into another one (which you know as well). I chose a BBC article about the HIE. The full text and translation I leave below for posterity; I’ll just mention here that I like most the way in which “airson dèanamh cinnteach nach tèid HIE a làgachadh”, i.e. “to ensure that HIE won’t be weakened”, is turned into the exact oppposite, and likewise of course the final cryptic “saying that in tharrraingeas this power away from the Highlands”.

Tha Cathraiche Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean ag ràdh gu bheil e “làn mhisneachd” gun lean a’ bhuidhean mar a bha. -> The Chairman of Highlands and Islands says that he is “confident” that the group as.
Tha mòran air draghan a nochdadh bho thàinig e am barr gun tèid cur às de bhòrd HIE ‘s bòrd nàiseanta ùr gu bhith os cionn chompanaidhean leasachaidh agus sgilean na h-Alba. -> Many have voiced concerns came from the top to eliminate HIE board and a new national board to charge companies and skills development of Scotland.
Thuirt an t-Oll. Lorne Crerar ge-tà gu robh e air gealltanas fhaighinn gun lean HIE anns a’ chruth anns a bheil e an-dràsta. -> Said Dr. Lorne Crerar, however, that he had received assurance that HIE in the form in which it now.
Thuirt e gu bheil iad ann an còmhraidhean le Riaghaltas na h-Alba airson dèanamh cinnteach nach tèid HIE a làgachadh, agus gur ann a tha iad an dòchas gun tèid a neartachadh. -> He said that they are in discussions with the Scottish Executive to ensure that HIE weakened, and that they hoped to be strengthened.
Tha mòran luchd-poileataigs dùbhlanach air càineadh a dhèanamh air na planaichean ‘s iad ag ràdh gur ann a tharrraingeas seo cumhachd air falbh bhon Ghàidhealtachd. -> Many opposition politicians have criticized the plans, saying that in tharrraingeas this power away from the Highlands.


November ’16 news

Quite a lot happened during the 30 days. The bad news first.

The High Court decided triggering Article 50 must be first approved by the Parliament, and different lawyers later figured they could make some dough out of challenging whether leaving the EU means automatically leaving the EEA as well.

Even so, Brexit still has a chance; across the Pond, Trump has become US president, while Republicans still dominate the Congress. Surprisingly, he began by claiming the US would quit the TPP trade deal, which may mean the axe for the TTIP too; let’s hope the presidency won’t likewise mean the axe for the Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm.

One side effect was that the de facto final approval of the Snooper’s Charter went by almost unnoticed by the media.

Also, eight military bases in Scotland, including Fort George, were chosen for closure; CLÌ Gàidhlig did fold at last; T in the Park is to skip 2017; but the saddest day was probably the one on which we learned that Leonard Cohen had died. (This even made me post specifically about that, while the article about Fidel Castro’s death I didn’t even read.)

And of course, the first storm of the winter and the consequent floods came to the South; nevertheless, the North experienced the sunniest November on record. Which brings us to the good news.

Holyrood voted to finally put an end to the tax freeze, at least for the top four bands. Andy Murray became world number one. Kelvin Hall reopened after the first phase of its refurbishment. All three Quensferry Crossing towers are now connected. Beavers were allowed to stay in Scotland.

Across the Pond, marihuana for recreational use was legalised in the 5th and 6th US states (California and Massachusetts); and globally, the Paris climate deal came into force.

Given that Trump may yet do his best to sabotage the Paris deal, several big bad news, a few wee heartwarming ones. Seeing where the world’s heading makes one wonder whether there’s really any reason to envy the younger ones …


Words of the year?

I must really be quite out of touch with the mainstream. Not only had I never seen the word post-truth before reading that Oxford Dictionaries chose it for their ‘word of the year 2016’. In the shortlist I only recognised hygge and Latinx, and those because I’d read some other articles discussing them (as opposed to using them). Brexiteer, coulrophobia, adulting, chatbot, glass cliff, alt-right and woke (in the sense described) were as unfamiliar to me as the Japanese words mentioned in another recent OD blogpost.


Duolingo : mission accomplie

J’ai commencé à apprendre le français avec Duolingo en juin 2012. Je suis sûr que je n’ai pas atteint le milieu de l’arbre ; en tout cas, bientôt aprés que j’ai commencé utiliser mon nouveau surnom, j’ai aussi commencé de nouveau, en janvier 2014, l’arbre Duolingo avec ce surnom.

Hier, je l’ai enfin terminé. Après presque trois ans – ou même après plus que quatre ans et quart ; ça dépende de quoi on voit comme la date de début. Mais j’ai l’ai terminé. Aujourd’hui j’avais tout les cercles « doré » et j’ai fait le « quiz de progrès » sans erreuer. (Eh bien, je dois admettre qu’il n’y avait pas eu de phrases au subjonctif ni au conditionnel.)

Alors, je dois décider comment continuer. J’ai déjà lu Le Petit Prince, maintenant je lis Le Petit Nicolas et j’ai aussi Astérix chez les Bretons. Mais après ça ? Si plus de livres, lesquels ? (Commissaire Maigret ? ) Ou un certain site web de nouvelles ? (Le Monde ? ) Ou les traduction ( « l’immersion » ) sur le site de Duolingo ? Ou quelque chose de complètement différente ?

Je dois réfléchir.


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Le Petit Prince

Lorsque je commençais à lire des livres en anglais, je choisissais ceux-là que j’avais déjà lu en traduction. J’ai trouvé cette façon utile pour un débutant : j’ai fait la même chose maintenant avec le français.

Le roman n’était pas aussi « charmant et sage » que je me suis souvenu ; en revanche, je ne suis plus adolescent. Il y a beaucoup de bons passages, mais parmi eux sont ceux qui j’ai lu, plus tard, traité par d’autres auteurs, parfois dans une meilleure manière. Et j’ai mes avis d’enfants … et mes expériences d’avoir êté apprivoisé. (Certains d’entre eux beaux, certains tristes.)

Néanmoins, généralement c’est un roman plutôt bon. Peut-être le meilleur, d’un auteur francophone, que j’ai jamais lu.



J’ai ainsi vécu seul, sans personne avec qui parler véritablement.
(chapitre II)


Il faut des rites.
(le renard, chapitre XXI)


February ’16 news

It began with another storm and when it ended we were told this had been the wettest winter on record. At least the Lamington Viaduct was repaired and the West Coast Mainline trains resumed running normally ahead of schedule.

Scottish politics was unashamedly about money: in the end, Moray Council and consequently all local authorities accepted another year of council tax freeze. And after almost a year of negotiations, the fiscal framework enabling further devolution was agreed between Westminster and Holyrood and later published. (No, I didn’t read the full text, and neither did you.)

Looking farther afield, David Cameron agreed a deal with other EU leaders on UK’s ‘special status’ within the Union and announced the date for the country’s membership referendum for 23 June. Brace yourself for the topic being from now on even more suffocatingly pervasive than the 2014 Scottish referendum was. (Personally I haven’t yet decided whether I’d prefer the UK’s leaving, for the country’s benefit, or its staying, potentially for my own.)

Looking across the ocean, all those stereotypical portrayals of stupid Yanks are being reinforced by Donald Trump’s so far astonishingly successful campaign to become the Republican candidate for US president. On the other hand, Trump is just a wealthy spoiled brat; Europe has seen psychopaths being democratically elected in the 1930s.

The saddest news was about the death of Umberto Ecco; I still remember how I enjoyed watching and later even more reading The Name of the Rose (on account of exactly those passages which for obvious reasons were omitted from the film). The death of Antonin Scalia, contrarily, kept me unemotional: the guy was an obvious bigot.

Also on the theme of endings, it was reported that The Independent would cease print editions and sell the i newspaper to Johnstone Press. Agus bhruidhinn mi mu dheidhinn an staid a chuireadh air CLÌ is Cothrom an àite eile.


FilmG 2016

Ge be dè a b’ fheàrr leis na breitheamhan no leis a’ phoball (co-dhiù san roinn nan òigridh no san roinn nan inbheach), b’ fhèarr leamsa Leasan: tha an rabhadh gu bhios seachnadh na sgoile a’ leantainn gu drugaichean cho èbhinn, coltach ris an t-seannfhacal ‘am fear a chanas breugan, goididh e agus stadaidh e air croich’. ’S dòcha gun tug e gàire air na h-ùghdaran fhèin.

Ach thachair am mòmaid as fheàrr a chòrd riumsa aig 4:02 ann an A’ Chlach ’s a’ Chraobh Chliùiteach. ’S fìor thoil leam code-switching, agus mheal mi an “Okay ma thà” gu mòr.


CLÌ is Cothrom nan stad

Nochd a’ chiad drochd naidheachd mu dhàn ChLÌ san Dùbhlachd. Lean puist-d bhon bhuidheann chun na buill gun robh i a’ mairsinn fhathast; fiù is fhoillsicheadh iris ùr eile dhe Chothrom. Ach lean puist-d eile sa mhìos seo: dùnaidh iad an oifis aca ann an Inbhir Nis; cuiridh iad stad air na clasaichean aca agus air Cothrom; leigidh an stiùiriche eadar-amail dhi a dreuchd agus caillidh an dithis luchd-obrach làn ùine eile aca an cosnadh. Sia làithean na b’ fhaide, bha seo sna meadhanan cuideachd.

’S bochd sin gu dearbh. (Seadh, tha an dà chuid am post-d agus an t-alt BhBC ag ràdh nach e deireadh buileach a tha seo, ach chan eil mi ro dhòchasach. Cùrsaichean gun mhaoineachadh? Agus cò a bhith ùine aige airson an ràitheachain?) Ged nach eil mi tuilleadh, bha mi corra bhliadhna nam bhall mi fhìn; bha corra bhliadhna Cothrom am measg nan dòighean leis a chum mi suas, eadhon chur mi am feabhas, mo chuid Ghàidhlig. Tha cuimhn’ agam fhathast air duilleagan-còmhdachaidh is altan sònraichte …

Agus tha mi brònach airson Ruairidh MacIlleathain cuideachd. Ged a bha e air fhàgail mar dheasaiche roimhe seo, feumaidh gu bheil e glè dhubhach, a’ faicinn deireadh a’ pròiseict anns an do chuir e cho mòran saothrach thar nam bliadhnaichean …


December ’15 news

Not untypically, December was mostly about weather.

Shortly after the complete closure of the Forth Road Bridge (which would be surprisingly reopened, except for HGVs, as early as two days before Christmas) storm Desmond came and caused floods in Cumbria and elsewhere (in Scotland most notably in Hawick and Dumfries), including Carlisle despite its new flood defences. Some places were flooded more than once.

In other news, the legal action against Alistair Carmichael’s election as an MP failed; nochd aithisgean gum bidh CLÌ Gàidhlig gun mhaoineachadh o Bhòrd na Gàidhlig is mathaid gun tèid iad à bith (dh’fhoillsich iad Cothrom 4 an dèidh sin ge-tà); and a third diesel-electric hybrid ferry launched from the Ferguson Marine shipyard, saved by Jim McColl, in Port Glasgow.

Après, la Conférence de Paris de 2015 sur le climat (COP 21) a atteint un accord. Malgré des célébrations, temps plus mauvais était très près.

Meanwhile, however, Donald Trump lost his blatantly hypocritical legal challenge at UK Supreme Court; John Swinney unveiled new budget, with council tax still frozen but a new levy on purchases of second homes; the controversial Beauly to Denny power line became fully operational along its whole length; and the year’s number of illegal migrants into Europe passed one million.

And then it hit again: some areas in Cumbria were flooded for a third time; a week later storm Eva brought floods mainly to Yorkshire and its western neighbours; and the following storm, Frank, targeted primarily Scotland: once again the south, yet this time also the north-east – and in fact almost the whole country.

Some end of the year.



An emoji has become the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015. I find their arguments for calling an emoji a word rather spurious. For instance, what the author says about the Brooklyn case he could as well say if the terrorist suspect used selfies instead of emojis. Once you start calling selfies words, you can start calling videos sentences . . . I’d rather not follow this train of thought any further.

First of all, however, I had to find out what exactly an emoji was. Turned out my previous idea, namely, that it was a new and thus ‘cooler’ term for a smiley, was wrong. Smileys are just a subset of emojis. Emoji is a new, Japanese, and thus ‘cooler’ term for a pictograph. More precisely, they are an IT subset of pictographs. Luckily, I’m old enough not to have to be cool and can stick to the good old Latinate word.


Fo-thiotalan roghainneil air BBC Alba?

A-rèir na buidhne Gàidhlig TV (a tha ag iarraidh air BBC Alba barrachd Gàidhlig a chraoladh) ’s ma dh’fhaoidhte gun tèid aig luchd-amhairc air fo-thiotalan an t-sianail a chur am falach ma dh’iarras iad.
BBC: Dh’fhaodar gum falaichear fo-thiotalan
Nise, tha mi fhìn toilichte gu bheil na fo-thiotalan ann – às an aonais, cha thuiginn mòran. Agus tha e coltach gu bheil barrachd luchd-ionnsachaidh (is daoine gun Ghàidhlig) na fileantaich a’ coimhead air an telebhisean, agus MG Alba ag ràdh gu bheil fo-thiotalan a’ cur dragh air cairteal nan luchd-amhairc ach nach eil air an dàrna leth dhiubh. Ach a dh’aindeoin sin, bhithinn toilichte air sgàth nam fileantaich leis an atharrachadh seo. Feumaidh gu bheil e glè neònach ma tha agaibh ri prògraman sa chiad chànan agaibh a choimhead le fo-thiotalan san dàrna fhear . . .


LearnGaelic aig àrainn-lìn ùr le dreach ùr

Tha dreach ùr aig an làrach-lìn LearnGaelic bhon Ògmhios, ’s i leis an àrainn-lìn .scot a-nis, seach an àrainn tùsail .net. (Aon mhìos nas fhaide, obraichidh eadhon na seòlaidhean-lìn aig na prògraman ùra an dà chuid le .scot agus le .net.)
BBC: Dreach is Dachaigh ùr do LearnGaelic
’S mathaid gun do b’ fheàrr leam LG with An Là leis an dreach shean: tha caractaran an tar-sgrìobhaidh ro bheag a-nis (ma mheudaicheas mi iad, cha bhi an dara cuid a’ video no uinneag an teacsa làn air an sgrìn). Air an làimh eile, rannsaich mi an làrach ùr agus fhuair mi a-mach gun do chuir iad faclair rithe, a’ coimhead mar sgàthan an Fhaclair Bhig, gun mhapaichean ach le faidhlichean-fuaime a-rithist (cha d’ obraich iad sin aig AFM ùine fhada); cuideachd, tha co-fhaclair ùr ann a-nis. Mar sin, chanainnsa gun do leasaich an làrach-lìn gu dearbh. Faodaidh mi faighinn a-mach fhathast ge-tà co-dhiù as fhiach an roinn Watch Gaelic a leantainn.


First month over

It wasn’t as hard as I had feared it would. The accommodation is bad enough, but temporarily sufferable; I landed a steady job rather soon; hearing the unpleasant Slavic language everywhere is irksome yet not unbearable; I’m in a sense penniless but with ways of material survival; there are occasional chats with Rob and emails with Tommy . . .

Also, I managed to accomplish most of the initial basic tasks, like getting a local phone number and a bank account; finally received the tax refund for 2014-15; and hopefully would shortly move to a studio. So I can’t say things aren’t looking up a bit.

Ay, it’s a cheerless life with little to hope for. Still, as I said, I expected it would be worse. To quote Mike Perham, ‘Yes, this is tough; but I am tougher.’ Och ännu äro inte alla Jomsvikingar döda.