Gaelic Flagship Project Awarded

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Gaelic researchers at the University of Glasgow have won a major contract to provide linguistic and technical support for a new official pioneering Gaelic language initiative.

Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Arts, will lead an inter-university team, bringing together academics at Glasgow with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (part of the University of the Highlands and Islands).

The team will operate under the banner of Soillse, the National Research Network for the Maintenance and Revitalisation of Gaelic Language and Culture.

The project, LEACAG (Leasachadh Corpais na Gàidhlig ‘Gaelic Corpus Development’) will run initially for 22 months, from April 2016 to January 2018, and has two main goals: to create an online system to coordinate, evaluate and disseminate new Gaelic terminology for use in Gaelic-medium education and broadcasting; and to draft the foundations for a comprehensive reference grammar of modern Gaelic, in consultation with both Gaelic language professionals and the community of traditional Gaelic speakers.

A significant factor in the awarding of the contract to Glasgow is the University is home to the online Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG), launched in October 2014.

The DASG project is directed by Professor Ó Maolalaigh and contains the 15 million word Corpas na Gàidhlig, the largest digitised full-text corpus of Scottish Gaelic, designed to be the textual foundation for the Faclair na Gàidhlig project, which is creating a historical dictionary of the language; and the DASG fieldwork archive: a fully digitised collection of 500 thematic questionnaires and wordlists collected around Gaelic-speaking Scotland and Canada from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MGAlba, the team will provide scientific linguistic and policy support to guide the work of the new Buidheann Stiùiridh Corpais (Corpus Steering Group).

This group was recently set up by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the statutory Gaelic development agency, with the aim of standardising, codifying and enriching the grammar and vocabulary of the traditional language for the 21st century.

Professor Conchú Ó Giollagáin, Director of Soillse said: “This is a major opportunity to significantly advance the corpus planning agenda. Soillse is delighted to be involved in this collaborative process, and it is an exemplar of how universities should co-operate to develop resources for Gaelic”.

Dr Will Lamb from the University of Edinburgh said: ““This important project will resolve some key questions in Gaelic grammar: What are the main grammatical problems? What usage is appropriate nowadays, so as not to be too old-fashioned? And how does usage vary across generations and dialects?”

Professor Ó Maolalaigh said: “We look forward to working in collaboration with our Soillse colleagues in Edinburgh and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as well as the broader Gaelic community.

“The project will set the foundational flagstones (the literal meaning of LEACAG) for a comprehensive grammar of Scottish Gaelic, which has long been a desideratum in Celtic Studies, and will provide crystal clear guidance on usage for Gaelic-medium educators, broadcasters and all day to day users of the Gaelic language.”