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How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort, Cape Breton and the Giveaway

With anticipation of the Outlander premier episode on August 9th reaching fever pitch, I have only just now realized that the series beginning will also mark the end of some of our beloved pre-show traditions. Starz has called this to our attention with the release of the final ‘How to Speak Outlander’ video. However, if this series of videos featuring Àdhamh, Sam and others has to end, what a way to go out! I predict the ringtones and notifications of Outlanders worldwide are changing right now.

How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort

Wow! As final episodes go, this one is a keeper. Who among us hasn’t wanted to hear ‘my love is upon you’ from Jamie Fraser?  I think Sam must have a secret though, there’s a definite gleam in his eye at the end of this video. I wonder how long he’ll keep it? Until August 9th maybe?

Meanwhile in Cape Breton…

I have been having tons of fun in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. So far I have attended a Celtic square dance and made a visit to the Highland Village museum at Iona.  I promise that I am working on a blog post that will even have videos, but I have to find some better Internet connectivity before I can upload them! In the meantime, here are some quick pictures to tide you over.

And don’t forget…

Only 4 more days to enter the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter!

Cabot Trail

The next best thing to Scotland…Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (oh, and the Outlander Premiere)

In my mind, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is the next best thing to Scotland and that’s where I’ll be for the next couple of weeks. Although GreatScot! blog posts may be a little more infrequent than usual, rest assured that I will keeping an eye out for interesting tidbits to post from time to time during my vacation.

For those who may not be familiar with Cape Breton Island, it is an island at the northern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As it was largely settled by Highland Scots emigrants, Cape Breton has a rich Gàidhlig history and many aspects of that culture are still evident today. The Celtic musical tradition is especially strong and there are still places where Gàidhlig is routinely spoken. I’m looking forward to the chance to practice my limited Gàidhlig vocabulary and see if anyone can understand me.

Here are a few pictures I took from my trip last year and a video from a music festival that I attended at Colaisde na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic College).

By the way, I found out yesterday that I am indeed attending the Outlander Premiere in San Diego on July 25, so readers can definitely look forward to Great Scot! blog posts covering the event. I’m very excited to be meeting more Outlanders and having the chance to see both the first Outlander episode and attend the Q&A panel with Ron, Diana, Sam, Caitriona, Tobias, Graham and Lotte.

Stay tuned, exciting times ahead!

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the inaugural GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter.

 

 

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What’s in a Name? Gaelic vs Gàidhlig in the Outlander World

So as we roll into summer, we’re only 47 days away from the premiere episode of Outlander. (Unless you’re lucky enough to win one of the coveted invitations to the July 25 Gala premiere or July 30 Time Warner Cable preview. Anybody need a +1?) As existing Outlander fans though, we need to be prepared for the multitude of questions that will come our way as the rest of the world falls for Outlander.

One question I’ve had, and that I’ve heard others ask as well, is ‘what is the difference between the pronunciation of Gaelic and Gàidhlig?’

Well, what better source for a definitive answer than Outlander’s own Gàidhlig expert and tutor, Àdhamh Ó Broin? Here is what Àdhamh has to say on the subject:

What is the correct pronunciation of “Gaelic”? “The correct pronunciation is actually exactly as it looks. In the language itself, the word most commonly encountered is Gàidhlig /GAAHLeek/ (although in parts of Argyll, it is more like /GELLeek/ ‘e’ as in “get”) and this has meant that many people now say /Gahlick/ in Eng. But in truth this is more like a nickname for the language than a proper name. Scottish, Irish and Manx (the Isle of Man) are in fact all Gaelic -like “gay” & “lick” stuck together. This a language family, of Gaelic or Goidelic languages, not one particular language. The correct historical terms in English for the three sister tongues within this are exactly as above: Scottish, Irish and Manx. In fact, out of the six Celtic languages, only Scottish has ceased to be referred to by its historical national title, which is a matter of some regret, as it is the only language prior to the arrival of English ever to have been spoken throughout the country and its culture gave us most everything -from kilts, to pipes, to black pudding- we now associate with Scottishness. Another point to address would be the myth that has been floating about that Irish is /GAELik/ & Scottish is /GAHLik/ but if this were true, then the Scots who speak the language would be referred to as Gahls rather than Gaels which we know is not the case.

So which one to use? In Outlander, we have stuck with /GAHLik/ because this is the preferred term of the majority of Scottish speakers. There is no point in confusing matters for the sake of it. But were you to ask me my preferred pronunciation? That would be just as it looks and how it is pronounced in Nova Scotia to this day, /GAELik/!”

So there we have it. Originally there was probably no difference in the pronunciation of the two terms but for most of today’s Scots, and in Outlander, /GAHLik/ is the preferred pronunciation.

So as an added bonus, here is a picture that Àdhamh posted on his Facebook page this weekend.

CLACH NA CAILLICHE
The Witch’s Stone
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This stone was a boundary marker between Gleann Dà Ruadhail (glen of two red streams) and Srath Lachainn (Lachlan’s valley) parishes in my home district of Cowal, Argyll

The “cailleach” associated with this stone was believed to be able to change shape to become a cow and return to human form.
An excavation has just been completed on the other side of the modern road that now intersects the area and they found an old inn where the drovers would drink their fill and sleep over for the night.
The glen is almost devoid of human activity now, save for the whoosh of the odd passing car moving between the two parishes…

 

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By Any Other Name: Genre Gabaldonian

Guest Post for GreatScot!  by Laura Carmichael @LallybrochLaura

With a sigh of happiness, I finished re-reading Shakespeare’s Richard III — a play I have tickets to see performed again soon. After seeing peace restored to England, I closed the book, and slipped it back onto the bookshelf. I then went online, where I was delighted to see a link to an article about another beloved author, Diana Gabaldon, and her Outlander series of books. That delight was marred by a sense of vexation at seeing these works referred to, yet again, as “Science Fiction.” Although I’m accustomed to seeing Gabaldon’s works labeled as “Science Fiction,” or even “Romance,” I felt puzzled at the heat of my irritation. Why, I asked myself, is this still so irksome to me? After all, I am a long-time Gabaldon reader, well used to the haphazard application of these genre labels to her work.

The answer was right there at eye-level on my bookshelves in the well-thumbed rows of books by two of the authors I most love: William Shakespeare and Diana Gabaldon. I’ve recently been re-reading several of both authors’ works — in preparation for my upcoming attendance at several Shakespeare play performances, and for Gabaldon’s new book and upcoming TV series. There on the shelves was the answer: it is exactly as appropriate to label Shakespeare a Science Fiction or Romance writer as it is to so label Gabaldon. From a genre perspective, there is no difference or distinction between these two authors.

ShakespeareLet me explain. Both authors use varied plot elements to advance their characters into extreme, challenging circumstances. From these extremities both authors then skillfully reveal insights into What It Means to Be Human as the characters grapple with their challenges.  Sometimes those plot elements are Science Fiction elements, and sometimes they are Romance elements — or Political, Adventure, Mystery, Humor, or any of a number of other elements. Yet both authors cover the entire spectrum of human experience, from boredom to ecstasy, silliness to sublimity, confusion to single-minded clarity, and on and on. Both authors use myriad devices to get their DGcharacters’ stories in motion, and those devices are never constraining to these authors, nor are they ever The Point. The Point is how the characters feel, think, act, learn, and change with the layers in their stories; The Point is how that in turn makes us, their audience, feel, think, act, learn, and change in our lives.

“Time travels in diverse paces with diverse persons” – As You Like It, W. Shakespeare

All right, well enough. All of the above duly noted, it is true the Outlander books use time travel to move characters into challenging situations. Given that, what is wrong with calling Gabaldon’s works Science Fiction? Or similarly, since they feature people in love, what is wrong with labeling them Romance novels? So what?

To answer that, let’s take Shakespeare as a comparison, starting with one example, Hamlet. Several of his greatest and most popular works rely on Science Fiction/Fantasy elements to get the characters in motion — including Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet.

You may recall Hamlet begins with the “dreaded sight” of an “apparition.” It isn’t a figment of Hamlet’s mind, which would make it merely a psychological device. Others see it first, and bring it to Hamlet’s attention. The apparition gets all of the action of the play in motion by calling on Hamlet to revenge what the apparition alleges is his father’s “murder most foul.” Hamlet and the audience never find out what this supernatural being, claiming to be the ghost of Hamlet’s father, Hamletreally is. A shaken, distraught Hamlet fears it may be a demonic force trying to trick him into horrible acts; this is partly why Hamlet is unsure what actions to take. Like most great Science Fiction devices, it ultimately doesn’t matter what the apparition is, or how it got there. Indeed, throughout the rest of the play, it makes only one other brief appearance — and that one Hamlet may be imagining. What matters is that this fantastical force catapults the unwilling Hamlet, and thereby everyone around him, into the rest of the action of the story.

Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Hamlet — all of these rely on unmistakable Science Fiction plot elements to propel the characters into the situations where we see what stuff they (and we) are made on. Yet if we were to read news articles containing phrases such as “noted Science Fiction author William Shakespeare” or “Shakespeare’s greatest work, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy play Hamlet,” we would feel something was rotten. Why? After all, those descriptors are accurate, as far as they go.

And there’s the rub. While they are accurate as far as they go, they do not go far enough. This overly reductive labeling is inaccurate because of its ludicrous, woeful inadequacy.

It’s like explaining America to a potential tourist by only describing Las Vegas — which would create an odd, misleading image. When they later saw Yosemite, they would wonder why we’d spoken only of gambling and sparkling lights — or worse, they might never see Yosemite at all.

How Do I Love Thee? (Haute Bawdy & Hot Bodies)

HotGabaldon’s works have also often been labeled as Romance novels and stocked in that section of bookstores. And, like Gabaldon, Shakespeare wrote about humans in love and in lust — requited and unrequited, enduring and transactional, transformative and twisted. Both authors are superb at evoking these feelings in their audience, and generating empathies and insights we find so compelling we must come back for more.  They are also both superb at showing us the bawdy and comedic aspects of our species’ amatory activities.

Yet most Shakespearean aficionados would cringe to hear Shakespeare described merely as “Romance author William Shakespeare.” Why? None of his works, even those with the greatest couples, love scenes andBrannaugh quotable-quotes, is merely a Romance. While Outlanders love Jamie and Claire — much as generations have loved Benedick and Beatrice — Outlander is not merely a Romance, any more than Much Ado About Nothing is.

“What’s Past is Prologue” – The Tempest, W. Shakespeare

Although Shakespeare pre-dates Gabaldon by 400 years, they share the same wonderful predicament — they have each created their own genre. If Shakespeare started out today, he would likely be as mislabeled as Gabaldon is.  There is some indication he was mislabeled in his own time, and found it irksome: he pokes sardonic fun at the way his contemporaries classify works, as Polonius recites a silly litany of genres “tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited” to Hamlet. Continue reading

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How to Speak Outlander Catch-up and Gàidhlig Tip of the Day from Àdhamh

Due to real life and other occurrences (i.e. Outlander Retreat and MOBY), I’m a bit behind on the How to Speak Outlander posts from Starz. For those who may have missed it, or just want an excuse to watch again, here are the latest in the ‘How to Speak Outlander’ series.

How to Speak Outlander: Lesson 10 - Dinna Fash

This is probably one of my favorite Scots phrases and I always enjoy seeing Mrs. Fitz. It’s also lovely to see Àdhamh continue to allow his personality to shine through. :-)

 

How to Speak Outlander: Lesson 11 – Slàinte Mhath

Now here is a phrase every good whisky-drinking Outlander should know! Alas, I have it on good authority that Àdhamh was forced to drink water during the filming of this video. Afraid of having too many takes to get the perfect video, you ken.

 

Gàidhlig Tips from Àdhamh

Last but not least. Àdhamh was in a particularly teacherly frame of mind yesterday and provided us with the following Gàidhlig tip of the day:

Next to slender vowels, d, s & t become soft -see below….

‘D’ –  “deur” /jair/ (tear) : “dìolt” /jeelt/ (refuse; ‘jilt’)

‘S’ –  “seud” /shade/ (jewel) : “sìol” /sheel/ (seed, progeny)

‘T’ –  “teth” /tchay/ (hot) : “tinn” /tcheen/ (ill)