State of the Gàidhlig

Last Wednesday, I began an intermediate session of TIP (Total Immersion Plus) Gàidhlig classes through Sgoil Gàidhlig. Tomorrow, I begin the Atlantic Gaelic Academy Intermediate I Gàidhlig session of classes via Skype. I confess I didn't study nearly as much through the summer as I had planned, but I still believe my Gaelic has improved tremendously in the last year.

I like the combination of formats I'm utilizing to learn the language; the informal Sgoil Gàidhlig classes that focus on speaking skills and the formal AGA classes that focus on grammar. However, I should stress that I've come to believe it's not possible to achieve fluency via grammar-based classes alone. Here in Nova Scotia, I meet with other Gàidhlig speakers and learners once a week, and I also have the opportunity to interact with fluent Gàidhlig speakers quite often in social settings. So I believe my most meaningful learning is happening locally, and I believe more than ever that coming here was the right choice.

I've begun to lament the things I might never get to learn though, the colloquialisms lost to disuse of the language and hence, the world-view of the people who spoke it. By the end of this next year of TIP and AGA, I hope to have sufficient reading fluency to engage written Gàidhlig myth and history, and I'm sure I'll find some of that there. But I'm also excited about the new turns of phrase I'm hearing, because that means the language is still alive and changing with the people who speak it.

So perhaps there's hope that in the intersection between the language heritage of our ancestors (mine were Appalachian Gaels) and the language revitalization of our contemporaries (mine are the daughters and sons of Nova Scotian Gaels), we can do with Gàidhlig what people do with language everywhere, shape it to our need and in the shaping, keep it alive.