My Scottish Gaelic dialect stands on the verge of extinction. There is one native speaker left who was brought up with the language since birth and he is now in his mid 80s. No need to refer to UNESCO's levels of language endangerment to know that this is a critically endangered tongue!
Despite the fact that I've learned the dialect to fluency and taught it to my three mini-Gaels who speak it with great pride, we've got to find a way of branching out to ensure this beautiful and unique slice of Scotland's heritage survives outside of my little family unit.
The Dalriada dialect has only ever been alluded to in print as a distinct Scottish Gaelic dialect. It has received so little attention over the years that there wasn't even a name people could use to refer to it.
Having put that right and established a strong family foundation for the revival of this dialect of the mid-riff of Argyll, I have been thinking carefully about the next step over the last couple of years.
Making it possible for people to learn our dialect will require resources; from sound recordings of native speakers, to a dictionary of Dalriada words, to poetry, story and song to inspire along the way. Having learned from scratch myself with no support, I know only too well how much I can make the process easier for other folks coming up behind me if they have a whole range of exciting and inspiring materials at their disposal.
So what I'd LOVE to be able to do is to collate all of these resources into one place! A "one-stop shop" for everything Dalriada Gaelic where people wishing to learn the dialect can come and be immersed in it in a way that has not been possible since the middle of last century and the death of the last habitually Gaelic-speaking generation.
I want to create a website that is attractive to the eye and easy to use and I'll need lots of help to do this!
I also need to digitalise the fieldwork of Swedish linguist, the late Nils M Holmer and the thousands of Dalriada words, phrases, stories and songs he collected from that last generation of native speakers. It is the largest body of evidence for the dialect and it remains unpublished and unavailable to the people of Argyll and to potential new learners of the dialect.
So this is my plan for the £10,000:
£1000 will go towards building a website capable of hosting the material required, www.dalriada.scot , any necessary adjustments over the coming months, webhosting and our domain name. This will be built by Solast web design who created my own website which you can see here: www.scottishgaelic.scot
£1000 to start with will go towards processing the dialect soundfiles some of which we have, some of which we are in the process of acquiring
£4000 of this will go to Michael Bauer of "Akerbeltz: Gaelic resources on the web" for the painstaking and extremely time-consuming business of digitalising Professor Holmer's many notebooks.
£3000 will be spent on the mammoth task of preparing all the other material which I (Àdhamh) will take on myself; the creation of the dictionary and lessons, the preparation of poetry and song, the sourcing and uploading of old photographs and further fieldwork with Robbie MacVicar, our last native speaker.
£1000 will be left over to cover any costs associated with the project, the launch night and any unforseen bumps in the road!
It's my life's work to bring my language back from the brink of death. I would love to think that the old stories I tell and songs that I sing to my children every night will find a home in the hearts of new speakers, whether from Argyll or beyond.
I believe that if this is successful, the model could be used to revitalise other endangered dialects throughout Scotland. It would be a simply wonderful achievement and a precious legacy for Scotland.
I would be overjoyed if you felt you could help.... :)
(PS we don't have much in the way of physical prizes, the prize we hope everyone will agree is worth having is free access to the folklore, song and vocabulary of the local area. Please note that when you contribute, you may also be contacted by the museum at Auchindrain Township in Argyll in order to spread the word about their important work there: www.auchindrain.org.uk -Thank you again!)