Monash LingSoc – Scottish Gaelic Blog 1

The Monash University Linguistics Society has asked me to write some blogs and videos about Scottish Gaelic language and living with it in Australia over the course of this semester. A “language spotlight” featured in the most recent newsletter and this is the first official blog. via The Grammar of Scottish Gaelic (part 1)


The Monash Religious Centre

A tour in words of my favourite place on campus. It was going to go on Facebook, but then it got too long.

The university likes to tell us – and everyone else – about what a diverse place it is. Let me take you on a tour of the place that, I think, is the most diverse building on campus.
It’s lunch-time when we meet near the campus centre and head east towards a building that you sort of always thought was some sort of alien space-ship that had landed by mistake and turned into a second, smaller, Rotunda.
As we approach the building, you can see a lot of people gathered on the verandah. There are barbeques out, and lovely smells, but as we get closer, you notice that the men all have little doilies on their heads – kippot – and that some of them have knotted strings hanging out from their shirt-hems – tzitziyot. It’s the Kosher lunch, and one of the rabanim nods at us as he hurries past with an armful of barbeque-cooking implements.
We head inside the nearest doors, and it’s no less busy inside. Sure, it’s not exactly the Menzies foyer at class changeover, but there are people going in all directions. You need the loo, so we head straight to the ladies’ nearby. Someone yelps as we crack the door open. “Sorry!”
It’s opened from the inside, and we squeeze through, dodging through people to get past the sinks. There are girls in every space – adjusting hijabs, washing limbs, talking – “Am I going to get through prayer before halaqa class starts?”
Escaping from the press of people in the ladies’ room, we come out into the corridor, where there are fewer people, most of them moving about purposefully. There’s probably one person standing around, looking lost. “I was told to come to the religious centre for the meeting, but where do I go now?”
After directing her to her own chaplain, we head down the curving corridor which runs alongside the main chapel. The first room we pass is a meeting-room, and there’s movement inside it, too – a prayer meeting, of one of the evangelical Pentecostal student groups. The door’s open, and we nod at them, but continue on.
At the end is the chaplain’s office, with unlikely religious props stashed in every corner, and a trolley of tea-making facilities, and a massive pile of flour along one wall for the pancake breakfast for international students in the morning.
In the middle of the room is a circle of chairs and people with Bibles in their laps, talking over them. It’s the Catholics having a Bible study, but it’s being run by a high-church Protestant girl who’s teaching them Bible verses.
This is the Religious Centre. It’s a space that’s unique in the country, and it deserves much more attention than it gets. Most students probably don’t know about it unless they’re religious – and even then, some still don’t.
There is a building on campus where Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and everyone else co-exist happily… And you know how much bad blood there is – literally blood, over the last thousand years – between Catholics and Protestants, between Christians and Muslims and between Muslims and Jews.
This is a place where three chaplains can have a perfectly rational discussion about just who it is who keeps leaving the sound system in the main chapel turned on so the battery’s run down by Monday morning. It’s a Catholic, an Orthodox, and an Adventist, and you know how Adventists feel about Catholics. But no-one accuses someone else’s leader of being the Antichrist, and no-one tells anyone that they’re not a Christian because they have three extra words in the middle of the Creed.
Yes, there are differences of belief. Yes, everyone aware of that, and everyone conducts their faith lives separately. There are some good, amicable discussions of differences in theology. But everyone does their thing side-by-side, cheek-by-jowl, without argument or bloodshed. Everyone gets on with a smile, appreciating the chance they have to use this amazing space.
The university likes to tell us – and everyone else – about what a diverse place it is. If you get a chance, come and visit the most diverse place of all – a place they probably didn’t even tell you about.


Mo Theaghlach

Seo an topaic a bh’ ann an t-seachdain seo:

Faodaidh tu a-nis innse dhuinn mun teaghlach agad-fhèin. A bheil iad seo agadsa?: bràithrean, peathraichean, nigheanan, mic, balaich.

Agus dè mu dheidhinn nan daoine seo?: nàbaidhean, caraidean… (searbhantan!)

Ma tha bràithrean no peathraichean agad, a bheil mic no nigheanan acasan?

Tha mi a’ smaoineachadh nach eil teaghlach mòr agam-fhìn. Tha mi a’ fuireach comhla ri mo phàrantan, mo phuithir, agus mo sheanair. Chan eil ach aon phuithir agam – tha dithis nighean aig mo phàrantan.

A-nis, ‘n uair a tha mi a’ sgrìobhadh an t-òraid seo, tha mo phuithir an-seo anns mo sheomar. Tha i a’ laigheadh air an làr agus tha i ag ràdh gun robh i bored (ciamar a chanas mi bored anns a’ Ghàidhlig?). Agus bhris i am fionnaraich. Fuirichibh mionaid.

Tha mi air ais a-rithist! Tha seachd bliadhna agus deug aig mo phuithir agus dh’fhalbh i às àrd-sgoil ann an t-Samhain. Thèid i a Chreagan (Geelong) am bliadhn’ airson oilthigh.

Tha mo sheanair a’ fuireach còmhla rinn cuideachd. ‘S e athair mo mhathair a th’ ann agus tha ochd bliadhna agus ceithir-fichead aig. ‘S e Astràilianach a th’ air, agus thàinig a shinnsir às a’ Chòrn. Tha e às an dùthaich an tuath air Adelaide – ‘s e “Kernow Bichan” a th’ air an dùthaich seo (Còrn Beag).

Tha mo sheanmhair (am bean athair mo mhathair) marbh a-nis, ach bha ceathrar chloinne aca – triùir nìghean agus aon mhac. Tha a’ phiuthar-màthar nas sheaine na mo mhàthair a’ fuirich ann am Baile Mhòr Shidni. Tha triùir chloinne aice. Tha aon mhac agus dithis nighean aice – mo cho-òghanan. Tha aon mhac, Seumas, agus aon nighean, Caitrìona, pòsta agus tha mac beag air Caitrìona. Tha a’ phiuthar-màthar nas òige na mo mhàthair a’ fuirich an tuath orm ann an Creag Mhòr agus tha dithis chloinne aice. Tha mo bhràthar-màthar a’ fuireach ann an Coirea a-nis.

Tha mo sheanpàrantan eile (na phàrantan aig m’ athair) marbh cuideachd, agus bha iad a’ fuireach anns an Alba. Bha mo sheanair às Alba fhèin, ach thògadh mo sheanmhair ann an Dùn Èideann anns a’ Shealainn Nuadh (bha Gàidhlig aice). Tha na co-ògha m’ athair a’ fuireach anns a’ Shealainn Nuadh cuideachd. Chan eil ach aon phuithir aig m’ athair agus tha i a’ fuireach ann an Sasainn. Tha dithis mhac aice.

Chan eil mòran nàbaidhean ann far a bheil mi a’ fuireach a chionn ‘s nach eil mi a’ fuireach ann am baile. Tha leth-cilemeatair eadar an taigh agam agus taigh mo nàbaidhean. Ach tha mo nàbaidhean snog co-dhiugh. Tha dithis “chaorach nan rathaid” againn – aig mo teaghlach, aig na nàbaidhean air suas an rathad agus aig na nàbaidhean air thairis an rathad.

Chan eil searbhantan againn idir-idir! Ach tha mo mhàthair ag radh a-nis ‘is a-rithist gu bheil searbhant aice!

Tha mo phuithir an-seo a-rithist agus seo an t-òraid Gàidhlig aice-fhèin (thuirt i e agus sgrìobh i e):

Pheska ma. Hun yell un galig ackum. Tscheerie.

Agus sin e!

Group Photo

Teaghlach no caraidean? Chan eil fios agamsa!

A Quick Weekend Jaunt

Abair turas mor! What a long journey!

Sorry for the delay in another post (I know you’re all waiting with bated breath to see whether I actually got home or whether the ‘plane crashed somewhere perhaps over Mount Gambier), but for much of the latter half of last week I was completely incoherent with jet-lag, and for the last fifty hours, I’ve been in a car.

Well, I haven’t been in a car for all of it, but I have been for about twenty hours of it, which means I’ve spent just as long in a car this weekend as I did in an aeroplane last weekend. And didn’t get nearly as far.

It was entirely my fault, of course, as I didn’t have to go and I chose to.

And, unfortunately, I left my camera at home (again – this is becoming a habit) so I don’t have any pictures to share with you of the trip (the scenery isn’t nearly as exciting or rapidly-changing as in Israel). However, I may or may not be making the trip again in two or three weeks, so there may be pictures then.

What’s happening is that my sister is going to uni interstate (nearish Melbourne) this year, which is probably an 8-hour trip if you speed and don’t stop for food or the toilet. With the academic year starting in a few weeks, we went over this weekend to sus out student housing for her. And found a rather good houseshare, it has to be said, for all of the five daytime hours we spent at our destination.

That’s enough of cars for a while, I think.

Funnily enough, Adelaideans travelling to Melbourne for the weekend isn’t particularly remarkable. And I mean, it’s not like you live in Jerusalem and you’re going to Tel Aviv or Ber Sheva for the weekend (yes, I’m still comparing everything to Israel, as in Israel I was comparing everything to Australia). After all, the trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is probably about forty-five minutes in rush hour. It’s not even like you live in Glasgow and you’re going to London for the weekend – although it would probably take about as long by car, it’s not neatly as far.

I’ve been telling myself for a few years now that Australians drive distances, and no Australians bat an eyelid at it. We drove from Dallas to Iowa City and barely thought anything of it as we did it over three days – but the locals we mentioned it to were amazed! Then again, I had a conversation with a lady in a shop in Tiberia who was amazed that we’d come “all the way” from En Gev to visit her shop. That was about 16km as the bird flies (about 30km by road). Yeah, I literally go that far by road to do the weekly shopping. Although admittedly it would be only about 16km to my nearest supermarket.

But one of the people we spoke to near Melbourne thought we were crazy for driving that far for the weekend (it’s ten hours one way). “I’d fly!” he said. But flying’s more expensive. And more difficult to do at the last minute.

“We wouldn’t drive to Sydney for the weekend,” we told him, “That’s two days. But Melbourne – no-one thinks anything of it.”

Which is true. If you mention a weekend jaunt to Melbourne to someone in Adelaide, the most involved response you’ll get is, “Stop every two hours for a rest and don’t leave at 4am to get there at lunch time.”

The truth is, whenever there’s a football game involving one of our teams in Melbourne, thousands of Adelaideans leave on Friday night to drive to Melbourne for a Saturday night game and then drive back on a Sunday. The trip simply isn’t remarkable. The road is dead straight. You don’t even have to turn off at any point – just slow down now and then to go through the odd town.

That doesn’t make it any less wearing, though – although I do think I’ve conquered my jet-lag. That’s what I was hoping would happen with going along on the trip – exhausting days in the car and early mornings at motels near major freeways with thin curtains and no soundproofing. Eastward jetlag always hits me harder and the four nights I’d already had at home hadn’t seemed to have done anything to help it.

So, there you have it. Yes, I got home safely. Then I left again. Now I’m back. At some point, I’ll have to get myself sorted for uni.

Film: Fionn

About: Wouldn’t it be weird if your computer talked to you? Wouldn’t it be even weirder if it developed multiple personalities and a psychopathic god-complex? Wouldn’t it be even weirder if there were a ten-minute short film in Irish made by a group of students from Toronto?

Language: Irish (some English)

Subtitles: English (only on Irish dialogue)

Year: 2015

Time: 13 minutes

This is a series of posts showing you some of the films and documentaries I’ve been watching in the past months.


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.”