|The purple area represents Gaelic speakers|
If you look closely at the island where I live,
you will see a tiny, singular dot -
that's me and my cassette :-)
As a result, I too loathe the Gaelic. It's not a useful language. No other country on earth uses it (unless there are massive grants from the government of course) and so there are about 7,000 souls that can speak it.
And we're friends with quite a large number of them, it would seem.
Oh it's through Tartarus and the Merchant Navy - The Hebridean island boys go off to sea and usually end up in a pub with Tartarus somewhere suitably mosquito-infested.
We sometimes end up in pubs in Glasgow with them too and there are a clutch of pubs that if you don't know how to order three pints of lager and six packets of cheese and onion crisps in the Gaelic, you are utterly fucked for snax and drinx for the evening.
I have been challenging my entrenched beliefs, dear reader. Beliefs like: I don't like green cars. Or I only watch the BBC. It's healthy to challenge them.
So I went to the library and asked for some Teach Yourself Gaelic materials.
Beneath the Polish reading books and Improve Your English (written in Polish) we unearthed a big box that contained a small book and a CASSETTE.
Sonshine was bemused by the cassette. As was I as we don't have anything to play them on any more.
However, Tartarus never throws any bit of machinery out and after a rootle around in yet another Drawer of Shame (this one containing cassette players, personal CD players and possibly morse code flags), I uncovered Tartarus's state of the art Walkman. It weighs about the same as a house brick and is actually about the same size.
The Drawer of Shame also yielded an adapter that allowed me to plug it all into the wall. And the wonders of technology ensured that even after not spinning a spindle for the best part of 20 years, the Walkman worked.
And so I set to - learning the alphabet and pronunciations.
So far, the words on the page have NO natural correlation to the sounds that your mouth wants to make.
f's for example are silent. 'Th' is pronounced 'h' and the various vowel combinations offer no obvious manner of pronunciation at all. A 'd' at the beginning of a word is pronounced 'j' so words like 'deargh' are actually pronounced 'jerah' Honestly, it's like someone threw a bag of scrabble letters in the air and randomly assigned the letters to make words.
Frankly, I can see why it's a dying language.
It has taken me a week to get to page 10. And the writing only started on page 7
But now I can ask people how they are. I can tell people that I'm feeling fine thank you. I can say that it's a lovely day.
But I couldn't write any of it down.
In Gaelic, when you are addressing someone - the spelling of their name changes! You add in an 'h' and an i (at the beginning and end of the word), so this means that the name Tormod (pronounced Tormot) becomes Thormoid (pronounced Horramodge).
'Jane' is spelled 'Sine' but I have to keep flicking back a few pages to work out that it's pronounced 'Shona'. Or maybe it's not pronounced Shona. The little cassette, rather annoyingly, only has the conversations, not any of the other ancillary grammar stuff that litters the book.
On the BBC website. Of course.
Have you done anything ridiculous like try to learn swahili or arabic, on your own?