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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Gaelic lesson

Gates_of_Newbattle_Abbey I went to a Gaelic lesson yesterday!  It was the first of a course of 8, using the Ulpan method.  This is a method that was  developed principally to introduce Jewish migrants to Israel to speaking new Hebrew, and has also been used to teach Welsh, (in Wales it is called Wlpan ) for years.  Now it has been developed for Scottish Gaelic – with an aaaaa rather than an ai sound,  Gallic as opposed to Gailic!  Gailic Gaelic is the Irish way.

newbattle The class is held at the college I went to on its Open Day in May, Newbattle Abbey, once a monastery, newbattle ancestorthen a private house, but turned over to the council in 1937 by a descendant of this guy on the left,  to be used as an college of education.

After a little bit of an introduction to the course by our tutor Deirdre, she spoke the first phrase we were to learn and we had to repeat what she had said.  The same phrase was repeated by her and then the class, several times, before she indicated one person to say it alone, then another and another, till she was happy we’d all got it!  We still didn’t know just what it meant – well I did because I have learned some Gaelic before -   She continued using the same phrase changing the name that was tagged on the end, till it was obvious she was saying “I am Michael, Anna, Peggy” or whoever!  Then another phrase, obviously a question, was introduced for repetition in the same way.  Back and forth it went, Deirdre, the group, Deirdre, the group, then individuals, repeating what she was saying.  This had to be “Who are you?”  and so she got us all taking part in a conversation getting to know each others’ names…..

“Who are you?” 

“I’m ….!  Who are you?”

Then we learned   “How are you?” 

“I'm fine, many thanks,” then with “but I'm tired.”   So that was added to the conversation.

Then - “I like ..... What do you like? “

and “Do you like bread/milk/tennis/East Enders/lasagne/wine/whisky?”  “Yes, I like bread/milk/tennis/East Enders/lasagne/wine/whisky….!”  “ No, I don't like bread/milk/tennis/East Enders/lasagne/wine/whisky....!” 


All that in a couple of hours!!!  I think we even picked up the numbers from 1 to 4, and a few other words and phrases – “That’s it!”  “Very good.”  “Again!”  “Everyone!”   The two young guys reckoned the sentences “I am tired”, and “I like whisky”, would be the most useful, though! 

It's interesting how some people can hear and imitate sounds well and some can’t. Perhaps not so strangely it was worse once the phrases were written down, Gaelic  not being the easiest of languages to read.  Sounds are not always as they are in English.  For example “Ciamar a tha sibh?”  sounds like “kimmer a ha shiv?”  (It means How are you?) I really don't think they should let us read anything till at least the end of the class!

newbattle crypt sharp Anyway, newbattle petra martin bill we had a break for a cup of tea mid way, in the crypt downstairs, and I had time to explore a bit of the building.  

newbattle crypt fireplace This big stone fire-place (right) must provide a wonderful heat when or if it is lit in the winter.   newbattle entrance hall




newbattle abbey celtic fest 009


Upstairs there is a lot of wood panelling, and more beautiful fireplaces, some with the most beautiful carvings. 

newbattle abbey staircase

Our classroom was up these stairs newbattle upstairs landing





and through this upper landing… behind me actually, as this looks towards the stairs.

We were soon back at work again, practising our Who are you’s, and Do you like’s.  It was quite fun really.  I liked the way Deirdre got some of us to wear paper collars  to signify a person you would use the formal part of the verb to, e.g. the minister!  I should have taken a photo! newbattle drive Then at last it was time to go home.  It was pitch black outside.  Amazing how it is quite dark already, a lot earlier than in summer   The last picture is of the lights along the driveway to the gates.  Not the best of photos.  A tripod would have helped to keep the camera still.  However, I’ll add it in all the same.

Talk again soon.

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