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Scholars from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig among the principal speakers at this year’s Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig

Four scholars from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig will give lectures at the Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig conference in Edinburgh next week. Dr Meg Bateman and Professor Hugh Cheape have been invited to give two of the plenary lectures, and Dr Tim Armstrong will deliver a lecture on identity and the Gaelic language and Dr Sìleas MacLeod will present a paper on Gaelic-medium education.

Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig is a biennial academic conference series established in 2000 to promote research on any and all topics related to Gaelic as well as to promote research through the medium of Gaelic. The conference will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 23-26 June and as well as the lectures, the conference will feature excursions, exhibitions and entertainment.

Professor Cheape’s lecture is entitled, ‘“Touching on many a thing”. Potential for building the Gaelic lexis through the terminology of material culture’.

Commenting on his paper, he said: “The scholarly world of Scottish Gaelic has made huge and praiseworthy strides in recent years in the study of the language. The attention of scholars has been on the language as literature, between poetry and prose, on grammar and linguistics, assembling the phonetics of the language and scrutinising morphology. Beyond this, research in dialects and dictionaries has also moved forward but it might be said that there are still gaps in Gaelic’s research syllabus. This paper suggests that the terminology of material culture offers opportunities for renewing our understanding and expanding our definitions towards a fuller Gaelic lexicon in the future, drawing on the language of communication of Highland and Island townships and deriving from the everyday life and work of past generations.” 

Dr Bateman will deliver a joint plenary lecture with Dr John Purser, who has enjoyed longstanding ties with SMO, entitled, ‘Window to the West: Structural Continuity in Gaelic Culture’.

Dr Bateman and Dr Purser have been involved for many years in ‘Uinneag dhan Àird an Iar/Window to the West’, a research project about art in the Highlands, combining the work of art historians, practitioners and Gaelic scholars at the University of Dundee and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Their exploration of the visual has inevitably led them to consider what are the distinctive structures and continuities in the way Gaelic speakers have envisaged their world. In the first half of their talk, Dr Purser will give a case study of similar interwoven forms in poetic metres, ceòl mòr, and tartan amongst other things. In the second half, Dr Bateman will give an overview of some of their findings in art, language, ritual, mythology and Christian theology.

Looking forward to the conference, Dr Bateman commented: “It is an honour to have the chance to present our work on the continuity of pre-Christian thinking in Gaelic culture to Gaelic scholars in Edinburgh.”

Dr Tim Armstrong will deliver a lecture entitled, “‘Oh Yes you’re a Gael’: Activism, Identity and Gaelic.” and Dr Sìleas MacLeod will give a lecture on ‘Focus on Form in Gaelic Medium Education (GME): Developing Gaelic Abilities with Appropriate Correction.’

Speaking on his lecture, Dr Armstrong said: “The Gaelic revival in Edinburgh is ever-strengthening, and I will be examining Gaelic identity in this context, and specifically, in the struggle to establish a new dedicated Gaelic school in the city between 1998-2011.”

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