Eurovision

Eurovision Autriche 2015Well, another year of Eurovision has been and gone. It’s been going for sixty years now, making it older than Doctor Who. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

For those who don’t know what Eurovision is – is there anyone out there who doesn’t know what Eurovision is? Is that possible – it’s quite probably the biggest music competition on the planet. It’s been going for sixty years, as I said, and includes more than two dozen countries, not all from Europe.

Eurovision_participation_map_svg

Eurovision entrants by year of debut.

Eurovision is pretty popular worldwide, and not just in Australia. China, this year, for the first time, had live coverage with their own commentator “dignitaries”.

In the requisite pre-party, we met Lys Assia, the first every Eurovision winner, in 1956.

Here's Julia Zemiro, the (French-)Australian Eurovision host, with Lys Assia.

Here’s Julia Zemiro, the (French-)Australian Eurovision host, with Lys Assia.

Okay, I’m just going to get down to it. Australia? In Eurovision? What?

Australia's Antipode

Australia’s Antipode

What few people realise is that Australia is actually here. Not part of the European mainland, I grant you, but rather like Iceland or the British Isles. Actually, we’re rather like Turkey – both European and Asian at once.

Why is Israel in Eurovision, again?

The truth is, with 25% of our population born overseas, and most of that in either the UK or the rest of Europe, culturally, we are very European. There has been a campaign for years for Australian in Eurovision. It really started happening when we won the Danes over, and got to enters as a “supporting act” last year. This year, we were allowed to enter and actually complete as a celebration of the 60th anniversary.

If we’d won, we’d have been allowed to compete next year (but not actually host it). As it is, we came fifth, which is pretty good. It’s ahead of the UK, which… isn’t actually saying very much. Although, in my opinion, the UK entry was actually pretty good.

And besides, if we campaign hard enough, we might be asked back next year. It’s back in Scandinavia next year, which is a bonus for us.

The one downside to the whole thing was that our poll answer phone-in was Lee Lin Chin. She’s pretty well-known in Australia, actually, since she’s been the SBS newsreader for the last thousand years or so, but I’m not sure what sort of message this is sending to Europe. (1) Australia is actually an Asian country. (2) Australia’s population is old and ill-looking. (I hope she’s not terribly sick, but she’s been looking ill for about a year now). My family is of the concensus that Australia should have had a young phone-in. Jessica Mauboy, for example, our “contestant” last year.

Lee Lin Chin

Lee Lin Chin

When it was announced that Australia was competing, I first thought that we should go with something really “ethnic”. Eurovision is about block voting, more than anything, and I thought that the way to get votes was to pick and block and appeal to it. We could have gone with Greek, for example, and got votes from Greece, Malta, Cyprus, and Macedonia.

But then, when our song was announced, I thought that noncommittal might well be the way to go. After all, as a one-off, we’re going to get votes from any country with a significant number of citizens in Australia (which is most of them). We got huit points from most of them. Except Georgia, but go figure. As expected, they gave their douze points to Azerbaijan. But even Sweden, the winners, gave us douze points! We got 12 points from Austria, too… but after all, we’re only two letters different. Maybe they thought they were giving points to themselves.

Australia gave 8 points to Italy (what a surprise), 10 points to Russia, and 12 points to Sweden.

I think my favourite entry this year was probably France, which placed unfortunately badly.

It’s in French, as all of France’s Eurovision entries are. If you can’t understand French… deal with it.

I also liked Estonia’s entry.

Austria came last, which surprised me because, well, they were hosting it, but then again… watch what they did to a piano.

As Sam Pang (the other Australian dignitary) said, “Nothing says Eurovision like a man playing a piano that is on fire.”

I wanted to show you the really well-done opening “building bridges” montage from the final, but apparently that’s not up on YouTube yet.

Here is the full results table:

Eurovision Results

Di-Daoine

Di-Daoine madainn bha an t-sìde glè fhuar. ‘N uair a chaidh mise a-mach air an doras madainn di-daoine, chunnaic mi air a’ fheur. Bha an feur geal – bha reòthadh ann. Chunnaic mi air na cearcan agus na tunnagan cuideachd agus thug mi biadh orra.

Dh’ithe mi breacaist agus thug mi mo leabharachan ann mo mhalaid. An uair sin, bha seachd uairean ‘is dà-fichead mionaidean ann. Chluiche mi bheagan fidheal. Bidh Latha Saoghal na Fidheal* ann aig direadh na seachdaine agus cluichidh mi fidheal anns an Sruighlea le Comunn Fidheal Albainn Adelaide**.

Aig ochd uairean air a’ mhadainn, dh’fhalbh mise a-steach air a’ chàr le m’ athair. Chaidh sinn le càr mu deich mionaidean ‘s dà-fichead agus thàinig mi dhan oilthigh mu naoi uairean air a’ mhadainn.

Bha leasan gramair ann air a’ mhadainn agus thuirt am maighstear-sgoile rinn mu dheidhinn independent agus dependant clauses, agus bha sinn a’ diagramachadh* an leabhar Peadar a h-Aon às a’ bhìoball. Bha ceithir uairean ann anns an leasan agus dh’fhalbh mi dhachaidh aig aon uair feasgar, ach dh’òl sinn taì agus cafaidh aig aon uair deag air a’ mhadainn.

Bu toil leam a’ dèanamh diagram le Greugais, a’ chiadh chànan an Tiomnadh Nuadh. Tha bìoball Ameireaganach againn aig an oilthigh – uill, tha bìoball Ameireaganach aig mo thidsear, ‘s e Ameireaganach a th’ ann – agus cha toil leam e.

*World Fiddle Day

**Adelaide Scottish Fiddle Club

***diagramming. Aig an Sgoil-Nàiseanta, thuirt iad rinn, “‘N uair a nach fìos sibh verb anns a’ Ghàidhlig, canaibh -achadh. Mar eisempleir, ‘n uair a tha sibh a’ lorg air Google, tha sibh a’ googlachadh.”

Mo Theaghlach

‘S mise Raghnaid NicGaraidh agus tha mi naoi bliadhna deurg d’ aois. Tha falt donn agus sùilean uaine orm. Tha mi a’ fuirich ann an Astràilia-a-Deas, faisg air a’ bhaile bheag Sruighlea, faisg air a’ bhaile mhòr Adelaide, còmhla ri mo theaghlach. Fuirich mi còmhla ri mo phàrantan, mo sheanair, agus mo phuithir beag.

Tha mo phuithir sia bliadhna deug d’ aois agus tha falt bàn agus sùilean uaine oirre. Tha i ag ionnsachadh ann an àrd-sgoil, anns an coilaisde Eynesbury. Tha mise ag ionnsachadh na poleataics agus tha mise ag ionnsachadh an sgoil-diadhachd agus na cànanan bìoballach ann an oilthigh.

Fuirich sinn còhla ri ar pàrantan. ‘S e Albannach a th’ ann ar n-athair agus thàinig e dh’Astràilia ‘n uair a bha e còig bliadhnaichean ‘is fichead d’ aois. Bha e aig aithneachadh ar mhàthair an uair sin agus dh’fhuirich iad ann an Alba ‘n uair a bha mi òg. Thàinig sinn air ais dhan Astràilia ‘n uair a bha mi dhà bliadhna d’ aois.

Tha falt donn ‘is sùilean gorm air m’ athair agus tha falt ‘is sùilean donn air mo mhàthair. ‘S e Astràilianach a th’ innte agus tha i às Bhìoctoiria. Tha a h-athair às a’ bhaile mhòr Sidni ann an Cuimrigh-a-Deas Nuadh.

Fuirich mo sheanair, an athair mo mhàthair, còmhla rinn cuideachd. Tha esan seachd bliadhna ‘s ceithir-fichead d’ aois. ‘S e ministea a th’ ann, ach chan e ministear nan eaglais a th’ ann a-nis. Tha e air cluainidh.

Fuirich sinn air a’ chroit air an dùithaich. ‘S e croit glè bheag a th’ ann ar croit agus tha cearcan agus tunnagan again. Thad ha fichead cearcan agus tri coileachan agam agus tha còig cearcan, aon coileach, agus deich coileachan beag air m’ athair. Ithidh sinn na coileachan beag am-bliadhn’. ‘S e aig mo phuithir a tha na tunnagan. Tha na croitean eile ann ar baile nas motha agus tha caoran agus alpacan ann.

Tha dhà càtan again cuideachd. ‘S e Caspian a th’ air an càt nas sine agus tha falt dubh ‘is geal a th’ air. ‘S e Big Puss a th’ air an càt eile, an càt nas òige, agus tha falt ruadh ‘is donn a th’ oirre. ‘S fhearr leam Caspian, an càt mo mhathair, agus bha a bhrathair an càt agamse ach tha e marbh a-nis. Cha toil le an càt eile mise! ‘S e creutair bhochd a th’ oirre!

Tha mòran cò-ògha agam ach tha iadsan a’ fuirich ann an Alba, ann an Sidni, anns a’ Seallain Nuaidh, agus ann an Sasainn. Chan eil cò-ògha agam an-seol ann an Astràilia-a-Deas.

Mu Dheidhinn Mise

‘N uair a chaidh mi a-mach air an doras an-diugh anns a’ mhadainn, chunnaic mi air na cearcan agus na tunnagan anns a’ ghàradh – ach bha madadh ruadh ann cuideachd! Thug mi mo chasan leam dhan ghàradh agus dh’èigh mi uabhasach àrd! ‘N uair a chuala am madadh ruadh mi, thug e a chasan leis a-mach a’ ghàradh, ach bha an coileach marbh.

Tha mise a’ fuireach ann am baile glè bheag faisg air Sruighlea ann an Astràilia-a-Deas. Cha chì mi air taighean eile ‘n uair a bidh mi a’ dol a-mach air an doras, ach chì mi air a’ mhonadh. Cha bhi an rathad trang idir.

Chunnaic mi mòran caora ‘n uair a chaidh mi a-mach anns a’ mhadainn an-diugh, ach uaireannan chì mi air cangarù no air èmiù. Tha còala a’ fuirich anns a’ chraobh anns a’ ghàradh. Cluinnidh mi an còala ag èigheach àrd anns an fheasgar.

Chan eil mòran Ghàidhlig ann Astràilia-a-Deas ach tha mòran Ghearmailtis ann. ‘N uair a thuirt mi ri daoine gun robh mi a’ dol a dh’ionnsachadh Gìadhlig, thuirt iad rium, “Oh, like Gaylic, you mean?” no “Is that like Celtic?”. Ach tha beagan clas Ghàidhlig ann an Rèidio Albannaich di-màirt h-uile seachdain. Tha iad ceithir anns a’ chlas – còig ‘n uair a dol mise dhan chlas. Cha thèid mi dhan chlas am bliadhn – ionnsach mi ann an oilthigh a-nis.

Tha mòran clasachan Ghàidhlig anns na stàitean-an-ear, anns a’ bhaile Sidni agus ann am Meall Bhùirn. Tha Comunn Ghàidhlig Astràilia an-sin agus anns an t-Samhain h-uile bliadhna bidh Sgoil Ghàidhlig Nàiseanta ann ann am Meall Bhùirn. Bha mise a’ dol dhan Sgoil an-uiridh.

Di-hAoine madainn bha sinn ag èirigh tràth. Bha sinn a’ draibhadh a Mheall Bùirn air an càr. Bha mi a’ dol còmhla ri Mairead agus Seonaid às a’ chlas Ghàidhlig Adelaide. Bha sinn a’ draibhadh mu ochd no deach uairean a Mheall Bùirn.

‘S e baile glè mhòr a th’ ann am Meall Bùirn agus bidh an sgoil anns an Oilthigh LaTrobe. Bidh mòran daoine ann à Sidni, Meall Bùirn, Brìs Beinn, agus àiteachan eile anns a’ Chuimrigh-a-Deas-Nuaidh agus Bhictoria agus Tasmania. Bidh clasachan again di-Sathairne agus di-Dòmhnaich. Bidh tri clasachan agus ceithir tìdsearan: Raoghall, Ruaridh, Seonag, agus Seannaidh. Bha mise anns a’ Chlas Trì.

Di-Sàthairne feasgar bha dùis ann air dinnear agus bidh ceilidh ann cuideachd. Bidh sinn a’ seinn “Suas leis a Ghàidhlig” h-uile madainn, ach di-Sàthairne feasgar bha sinn a’ seinn òrain eile agus bha mise ‘is mo charaid Eden a’ cluicheann fidheal cuideachd.

Bidh clasachan eile ann di-Dòmhnaich madainn agus falbhaidh sinn anns an fheasgar. Bha Mairead, Seonaid, agus mise a’ draibhaidh dhachaidh. Bha sinn anns a’ Bhodertown di-Dòmhnaich oidhche agus thàinig sinn dhachaidh di-Luain.

Tha mise a’ deanamh an Cùrsa Inntrigidh le Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, an colaisde Ghàidhlig, agus tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gu bheil mi a’ fàs nas fheàrr air Ghàidhlig. Dè tha sibhse a’ smaoineachadh?

Latha ANZAC

Google DoodleA short story, practising irregular past tenses in Gaelic, about ANZAC Day. Please note that this isn’t a translation of my ANZAC Day post in English, but a completely different work.

Bha ANZAC Day ann air an t-seachdain a dh’fhalbh agus chaidh mise agus mo phàraintean dhan Dawn Service anns an t-Sruighlea.

‘N uair a thàinig sinn dhan Sruighlea aig sia uairean air a’ mhadainn, chunnaic mi mòran dhaoine faisg air am memorial agus chuala mi pìob. Aig an toiseach an Service, rinn am ministear urnaigh agus thuirt e rinn mu dheidhinn na ANZACS. Bha e ceud bliadhnaichean chaidh na ANZACs dhan Gallipoli anns a’ Thùirc. Leugh am mayor litir às Mehmet Kemal Atatürk, a’ chiad ceann-suidhe thùriceach, agus leugh tè bheag duan mu dheidhinn Gallipoli.

An uair sin, chluich an dùdach The Last Post agus cha do bhruidhinn cuidigein mu aon mionaid. Thug na sgoilean agus daoine eile blàth-fhleasgan anns am memorial agus chluich an dùdach an Rouse. An uair sin, sheinn sinn God Defend New Zealand agus Advance Australia Fair, na òrain nàiseanta, agus chaidh h-uile duine dhan RSL airson bracaist.

Cha do chaidh mo phuithir leinn dhan Sruighlea ach dh’fhuirich i ann an t-Adelaide air an oidhche agus chaidh i dhan Dawn Service ann an t-Adelaide. ‘S e Scout a th’innte agus choisich i anns am Parade aig naoi uairean air a’ mhadainn. Bha latha snog a th’ ann le sìde breagha – cha robh an t-sìde cho tèth agus cha robh uisge ann idir.

As always, if there’s anyone out there reading this who speaks Gaelic, any helpful hints, tips, and corrections would be much appreciated!

ANZAC Day

Google Doodle

Without looking at the title of the blog post, who can guess what’s important about today?

I’ll give you a clue, in the form of the ABC TV Guide for today:

3:00 – New Zealand Dawn Service
4:00 – Sydney Dawn Service
5:00 – Canberra Dawn Service
5:30 – ABC New Breakfast ANZAC Day Special
8:30 – ABC News ANZAC Day Special
9:00 – ANZAC Day March Adelaide
12:30 – Gallipoli Dawn Service
1:30 – Villers-Bretonneux Dawn Service
2:30 – Australia Remembers: Gallipoli 100
4:30 – Gallipoli from Above: The Untold Story
5:20 – The Governor-General’s ANZAC Day Address
5:30 – Lone Pine Memorial Service
6:30 – Gardening Australia

If you still haven’t got it, it’s ANZAC Day. There has been a lot of ANZAC stuff around lately – it seems we’ve been more concerned with 100 Years Since Gallipoli than we were last year with 100 Year Since The Beginning Of WW1 – and we (or, at least, the media), seemed pretty concerned with that last year.

My sister says she’s sick of all the ANZAC stuff, every time we turn on the TV for the last few weeks, but to be honest, I don’t mind it – as long as it’s tastefully done. I was in K-Mart the other weeks, and they had posters up saying things like “Celebrating 100 Years of ANZAC Spirit” and “Join Us In A Night of Entertainment and Remembrance”.

That, in my opinion, is taking it too far. It’s just in poor taste. 5000 people died or were wounded during the initial landing at ANZAC Cove one hundred years ago (ANZACs and Turks alike) and to turn it into a “Celebration” and a “Night of Entertainment” is frankly disgusting.

My father observed this morning, after the Dawn Service, that for all Australians don’t care much about Australia Day, formalities, or patriotism, ANZAC Day is the one thing we hold sacred. You don’t mess with ANZAC Day. Full stop. The end.

For those non-Australia-New-Zealand people reading (does anyone read my blog not from Australia?), ANZAC Day is the anniversary of the landing at what is now called Anzac Cove, on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was an ally of Germany, and the objective was to capture Istanbul (then known as Constantinople). That never happened, but in December 1915, after eight months, the ANZACs withdrew, but not before forty thousand casualties on both sides.

There had been a miscommunication of some sort, and the Australia New Zealand Army Corps landed one mile north of where they were meant to, at a beach with steep cliffs, where they got confused and died in vast numbers. It’s amazing to think that 100 years ago, that sort of thing was happening, and today, we can stream the Dawn Service live from Gallipoli to our televisions.

But it seems that Australia and New Zealand have a fairly good relationship with Turkey; whether as a direct result of the whole Gallipoli campaign, I don’t know. I do know, however, that prisoners of war in Turkey in WW1 were treated remarkably well. They were set to hard work, of course, mostly building the train line from Berlin to Istanbul, but they were given nice accommodation, enough food, and the spare time to place cricket games.

We went this morning to the Dawn Service in the next town. We don’t normally go to the Dawn Service (my sister, as a Scout/Venturer, has for quite a few years, and she’ll be marching in the aforementioned parade later), but since this is the centenary, decided we’d regret it if we didn’t go. I was amazed at how many people were there! There must have been more than a thousand – I’m sure just about everyone in the Stirling, Aldgate and Districts area went.

After hearing rumours of a nationwide bugler shortage, I was pleased to hear the Last Post actually played on a bugle, rather than on pipes as I feared might happen – on Remembrance Day, the Last Post is very often played by a piper instead of a bugler. But in all, the Dawn Service went quite well – even if the enthusiasm in singing God Defend New Zealand was in stark contrast to Advance Australia Fair. I think I was the only one (not part of the combined primary schools choir) singing.

I’ll leave you today with the recipe for ANZAC Biscuits – and a dire warning not to refer to them as “ANZAC Cookies”!!

Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
2tbsp golden syrup
1tsp bi-carb soda
2tbsp boiling water

Method:
1 – Combined oats, flour, sugar, and coconut.
2 – Combined butter and golden syrup and stir over a gentle heat until melted.
3 – Mix bi-carb soda with boiling water and add to melted butter mixture.
4 – Stir into the dry ingredients and mix well.
5 – Place teaspoonfuls of the batter onto lightly-greased oven trays, leaving about 5cm in between to allow for spreading.
6 – Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes (or until golden-brown.

9 Ways in which Hebrew is exactly like Gaelic

FlagOkay, this is a bit of a silly title. I had people tell me, “Don’t try listing all the ways languages are alike; you’ll get bogged down and won’t actually learn the language”. But the truth is, I didn’t set out to make this list.

I won’t do a list like “1001 ways in which Greek is exactly like German”, because that would be basically my entire textbook thus far. I wrote down these notes about Hebrew because the similarities surprised me. I’d expect similarities between Greek and German because they’re reasonably closely-related. They have familiar things like cases, and prepositions which mean slightly different things depending on the case of the following word.

But I wasn’t expecting many similarities between Hebrew and Gaelic, because they are very different languages. They come from different parts of the world. They look very different. At yet, I kept tripping across similarities. So, here they are, in the order I encountered them.

Nouns have singular, dual, and plural forms. These are the only two languages I’ve learnt which have dual forms of nouns, although I’m aware that Cornish, for example, has also. That isn’t to say I’ve actually learnt the dual forms for Gaelic at all.

There is no indefinite article. This isn’t terribly unusual; Greek doesn’t have an indefinite article either. For those who don’t know, in English, the definite article is the, while the indefinite article is a/n. But also, there is only one definite article. By this, I mean that the definite article doesn’t change based on case, number, and gender, as it does in German, Greek, and French. In Gaelic, the article is an, which can mutate to am or a’, depending on the sound which follows immediately after. In Hebrew, the article is הַ (ha), which can mutate to הָ (hā) or הֶ (he), depending on the sound which follows immediately after.

The verb comes first (VSO). Again, this isn’t anything particularly unusual, as there are a number of VSO languages out there. However, in English, the standard form is SVO (subject-verb-object), and this is the form used in French, German, Spanish, Greek, and other European languages except the Celtic ones.

There are different rules for labial consonants. This is pretty universal, again, because it’s easier to pronounce labial consonants if you have slightly different rules for them. However, saying “imprecise” rather than “inprecise” is so natural for English- (and French-, and Spanish-) speakers that we don’t think about it. Have you ever noticed that people say “Camberra” rather than “Canberra”? It’s just because it’s easier to say. However, in Gaelic and Hebrew, these changes for labial consonants (known as “Big Fat Monkey Paws” in Gaelic and “BuMP rules” in Hebrew) are taught as grammar.

Lenition of consonants. This is perhaps stretching for a similarity, but what lenition basically is is the change of a B sound to a V sound, or K to a glottal CH. In the Celtic languages, this mostly occurs at the beginning of words, following things like prepositions and possessives. In Hebrew, lenition can occur anywhere in the word, and is indicated by the use of the daghesh lene in the middle of the letter. For example,  בּ[B] rather than ב [V]. However, according to my teacher, the answer to “What does a daghesh lene do?” of “It shows whether a consonant is lenited” is not right, because “leniting” and “lenition” are not concepts used in English. I was just excited to realise that the word I learn for Gaelic looks exactly like the word “lene” used in Hebrew!

Pluralisation results in vowel changes earlier in the word. This isn’t unusual; changes to the end of the word very often result in changes earlier. For example, in English, compare the pronunciation “nation” to “national”. However, Hebrew and Gaelic take this a step further. In Gaelic, caraid (“friend”) becomes cairdean (“friends”). In Hebrew, נַעַר (na’ar, or “boy”) becomes נְעָרִים (n’āriym, or “boys”).

There are several sorts of guttural consonant sounds. Okay, this one I put in just to be perverse. I’m sick of people not pronouncing the guttural sounds. People in Greek (including the teacher) saying K rather than X. It’s not that hard a sound to make! Anyway, both Hebrew and Gaelic recognise several guttural sounds. In Hebrew, these include ה (kh, also known as the middle letter of my name) and כ (k, which, without the daghesh lene, is aspirated and rendered as kh), and ע (glottal stop). In Gaelic, these include such monster combinations as chd, dh, gh, and ch.

There is an unchanging “infinitive particle” with different positives and negatives. In Gaelic, this occurs with all verbs. However, for comparison:

Hebrew, Gaelic, and English

Hebrew, Gaelic, and English

Prepositional pronouns. I’m using the Gaelic terminology here, because in Hebrew, they’re called “inseparable prepositions with a pronominal suffix”. Personally, I think the Gaelic term is simpler. Although the official process and terminology is different, the end result is the same: what basically amounts to a conjugated preposition. Here is another comparative chart:

Hebrew, transliteration, Gaelic, and English

Hebrew, transliteration, Gaelic, and English

You can ignore the “yez”. That’s a bit of a joke. My Greek textbook actually tells me that, since modern English doesn’t distinguish between you-singular and you-plural, and translating the singular as “thee” is a little awkward, we can translate you-plural as “y’all”. What can you expect from a textbook out of Dallas Seminary? However, not only do I not want to say “y’all” because it’s an Americanism, but it feels awkward both in my mouth and on paper, I translate as “youse” or “yez”. Now, that’s something that I normally shudder about, because it’s considered something of an uneducated thing to say in Australia, but it feels a lot more normal in my mouth that “y’all”, and my (American) lecturer finds it amusing.