Wednesday, 20 May 2009

From "Language Death"

By Nancy C. Dorian.

Where other forms of Gaelic are concerned, most ESG speakers report that they have great difficulty in making them out. This is especially true of women. A good many women had considerable exposure to other regional dialects while migrating around the coasts with the herring fishery. Typically they claim that they barely understood the Hebridean fisher girls, especially those from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, or even that they simply did not understand them at all:

Investigator: Were you speaking the Gaelic with the girls [at the gutting station]?
Brora bilingual: No, no, they were Stornoway girls, they were so hard to understand. They wouldn't understand us, and we weren't understanding them. They would say [in Gaelic], "What? What? What are you saying?" [1968; translated from the Gaelic.]

Another Brora woman claimed, less drastically, "If you'd catch the first word the Stornoway girls said, you could follow, but if you didn't get the first word, you're gone. You're just lost." Still another Brora woman reported that she was unable to understand [...] the Gaelic church services broadcast by the BBC [...]

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