Hindi Text to Gaelic Speech

Hindi Text for Gaelic SpeechI had some fun on Facebook last week, posting a link to a Google Translate page – not because I was at all interested in the machine translation, but because with some languages, including both English and Hindi, an additional “Text To Speech” (TTS) facility is thrown in. It’s this synthesized speech function I was wanting to highlight. I’m not sure all my friends got that point, so I’m posting again, but this time with a bit more explanation and a screenshot thrown in. (This is where WordPress wins over Facebook hands down!)

So here goes. If you’re interested in Gaelic “TTS” follow this link to get my own “off the shelf” take on it. Never mind the proffered translation on the right hand side of the page. That’s irrelevant to my purpose. Just click on the “Listen” speaker icon (circled in red in the picture above) in the left hand box containing the “Hindi” script.

Some of my Gaelic-speaking friends were quite taken with the result, whereas I can be sure none of my Hindi-speaking friends would have made head or tail of it – unless they could also understand Gaelic…

Ho hum, if only our Gaelic-speaking forefathers had chosen to write in Devanagari instead of the Roman alphabet, how much further forward might we now be!? Actually, you can do the same sort of trick with “English” TTS. Follow this link – which, if nothing else (if you can bear to listen), demonstrates the phonetic distance that your “average” English English speaker has to travel in order to get anywhere close to the Gaelic sound system…

A bit of fun, as I said. But I’m tempted to extract a linguistic moral, nonetheless. Language and writing are not one and the same thing. Speech can be effectively represented on the page or screen in many different ways. When we privilege one system over another, perhaps in a search for standardisation or normalisation, we may be prone to accord an exaggerated importance to orthographic orthodoxy, at the cost of undervaluing oral ability. Yet speech comes to us first. It is the real deal, writing a mere representation.

Me, music, and language

The hunter hunted. (When I helped Loriana get started with her fantastic blog and interview work, I didn’t expect her to turn her guns on me…) Fair game, I suppose, and if the second clip encourages others to try things out with Island Voices, then fair enough. It’s achieved something.

Part 1 on SoundCloud here:

Part 2 on SoundCloud here:




This interview  with Gordon Wells, the Project Officer of Island Voices, is given in two parts.

I. In the first part, Gordon speaks about his home made flute – the ‘ Gaelic Shakuhachi’, the Winter Blues and why he has chosen to live on the Uists.

To listen to part I (13.30 min), click here:


II. In the second part of the interview, Gordon talks about his interest in languages  and gives a very beautiful and inspiring definition of language. At the end he shares with us the background and the vision of the project Island Voices.  To listen to part II (15.30 min) click here:

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Meet Catrin Evans, new singer-songwriter

Agus seo pìos eile, a’ sealltainn nach eil òigridh Uibhist gun tàlant san nòs ùr…

Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

Catrin Evans lives on Grimsay and studies at Sgoil Lìonacleit. And in her spare time she writes songs – songs which are making an impression. She’s started to be a regular performer at Taigh Chearsabhagh’s Taigh Ciùil, and she’s been away to the “Wee Studio” in Stornoway to make some recordings, thanks to family support and a Creative Scotland award for young musicians. Here, she talks to Gordon Wells about how she started writing songs, what the process is, and how the island environment inspires her. She also talks about the experience of recording in a professional studio, and how it’s boosted her confidence and desire to do more writing and performing:-

(If you’re an iPad or iPhone user you may need to follow this link: http://ipad.io/f0rp)

Here’s the Wee Studio recording of one of her songs – “Battleship”. (And you can follow the words if you…

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Sianail Phàdruig

A piece from the day job blog, highlighting a new Ipadio channel from a younger communtiy member who values his traditional inheritance…

Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

Tha Pàdruig Moireasdan air sianail ùr aige fhèin a stèidheachadh air Ipadio. Ach an àite a bhith ga cleachdadh airson phonecasts a dhèanamh, tha e air tòiseachadh le faidhlichean MP3 a chur oirre.

Tha CD a’ dol leis an leabhar aig a sheanair, “Thugam agus Bhuam”, air a bheil Lachlann Phàdruig (athair Phàdruig òig) a’ gabhail feadhainn dhe na h-òrain aig athair fhèin agus e a’ còmhradh le Gordon Wells. Tha Pàdruig òg air an cur air-loidhne a-nis, gus an tèid aig luchd-ionnsachaidh is eile air an cluinntinn gu furasta. ‘S e goireas ùr cuideachail a tha seo. Agus ma tha sibh airson na faclan fhaicinn cuideachd chan fheum sibh ach an leabhar fhaighinn… Nach math a rinn e!


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Air Sgàth an Traoin

“For the Corncrake’s Sake” – an addition to my (very) occasional series on the theme of “Gàirnealaireachd Ghàidhealach”. If you’re thinking “RAF” or “bullseye” you may be on the right lines, but you’re still wide of the exact mark… (Click to enlarge.)

Music of the Muezzin

I’m just back from a short visit to Istanbul. With over 15 million people and over 3,000 mosques the contrast with Benbecula, with its 1500 people and 2 churches, could scarcely be starker – you might think. But there again, the waterfronts and ferry traffic, while on a completely different scale, provided at least one familiar point of reference.

It was a pleasure to cross the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe (for 2 Turkish Lira..) and wander down streets, through bazaars, and past mosques and museums. And what a tram service! (Also 2 Turkish Lira, flat rate.) Edinburgh, eat your heart out…

I snapped away with the iPhone, but the strongest impression made was not visual but auditory. Given there are over 3,000 of them in the city it seems like you’re never far from a mosque when the call to prayer goes out, and I made a few recordings. This one was at 4.30 in the morning on my last day – no need to worry if I’d set the alarm properly to get me to the airport on time…

Back home and googling “muezzin” I found some interesting links. While I had no complaints, the BBC reported some time ago that the musicality of some in Istanbul had been called into question, leading to extra training being delivered. And Sun Myung Moon’s Wikipedia-style “New World Encyclopedia” makes a link between Muslim Muezzin, Jewish Hazzan, and Christian Precentor. Being an adherent of none of these faiths, I’m happy to leave comparative theology in others’ hands – but a possible musical link does interest me. And I’m evidently not alone, judging from the comments section on this YouTube video showing some fine examples of the precentor’s melismatic role in leading traditional Gaelic psalmody. (I’m indebted to The Croft for bringing this clip to my attention, where further discussion of the local singing tradition can be found.)

So, perhaps the link from Byzantium to Benbecula, while attenuated in space and time, may not be as thin as first appearances may suggest…

April Lambs

Gambolling lambs are a feature of this time of year. Free entertainment tearing back and forth past our kitchen window. The iPad takes the video pictures and GarageBand allows the “Tritune” in my head to become a soundtrack…


April Lambs from Gordon Wells on Vimeo.

Avast there! Snow ahoy!

Catherine went for a walk in the snow, taking Morag’s camera with her, and humming a little tune to herself as she went along. The rest she explains below…

(Changed days from A. A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh… Morag, back in St Andrews, uploaded the pics to her Facebook account, from which Catherine picked a selection to put into Movie Maker using the PC we have back home, having already synched the Garageband file from the iPad. That may sound techie, but anyone who knows us will also know that “techie” is something we do not do. Amazing how easy to use this stuff is.)

Snow Pirates from Catherine Eunson on Vimeo.

Outside our wee cottage in the woods it snowed and snowed. Inside, thanks to Garageband, it got very piratey! Ha Harr!!!

Apr 2/3/4 2012


Abair spors a bh’ againn a-nochd le Carrageen agus “Gille an Fheadain Duibh” – sgeulachd le Pàdruig Moireasdan a tha ri fhaighinn san leabhar “Thugam agus Bhuam”. Chaidh a cur ann an cruth ùr dà-chànanach airson an àrd-ùrlair le Màiri Mhoireasdan agus Eairdsidh Caimbeul. Agus is iad a rinn dsioba math dheth!

Ach bha gu leòr eile an sàs sa phìos obrach seo – na sgoilearan ann an Loch nam Madadh agus Càirinis, a’ choisir aig Fèis Tir an Eòrna, Chris Spears – an neach-ealain a rinn obair ionmhalta a’ toirt beatha uamhasach dhan fhuamhaire agus dhan dràgon, Loriana Pauli – “Ban-rìgh na h-Eilbheis” – a thug puirt ùra dhuinn, gun ghuth air an obair bhidio is audio a chaidh a chur ris….  Tha liosta fhada ann.

Cha robh mi fhèin ach nam “second farmer” – ach tha fhios gur e promotion a tha sineach bho “third spear-carrier”, an triob mu dheireadh a bha mi air an àrd-ùrlar leis na Sinodun Players ann an Camelot air ais ann an 1973 – mas math mo chuimhne…

Abair na th’ ann de thàlant ann an coimhearsnachd bheag dhùthchail. Tha rudeigin sònraichte againn an seo. Agus  ’s e a’ Ghàidhlig as coireach, tha mi cinnteach. No, ga chur ann an dòigh eile, leis gu bheil dà chànan againn sa choimhearsnachd seo, tha beairteas culturach a bharrachd againn. Agus tha sin a’ tarraing dhaoine ealanta eile ann, a tha ag iarraidh a bhith a’ fuireach ann an àrainneachd a tha taiceil dha na tàlantan aca fhèin.

Cò na h-àiteachan eile ann am Breatainn far am faiceadh tu an leithid?

धोखेबाज़ कौन है? वह, या मैं, या दोनों भी?

मान लीजिए…

मैं जहां बसा हुआ हूँ, हिंदी बोलने-वाले लोग बहुत कम रहते हैं. वैसे ही मैं यहाँ पर अकेला हूँ. आमतौर पुर हिन्दी बोलने के मौके तो कभी मिलते भी नहीं.

इसलिए आज जब किसी ने इंडिया से फोन किया मैंने तुरंत हिन्दी में बोलना शुरू किया …

“Hello, may I speak to Mr Wells, please?” (उच्चारण से मैंने पहचान लिया कि यह आदमी हिन्दी या उर्दू का बोलने-वाला था.)

“जी हाँ, बोल रहा हूँ, आप कहाँ से फोन कर रहे हैं?”

“जी? मैं, मैं इंडिया से बोल रहा हूँ. Windows Technical Department के लिए काम करता हूँ, और हम को पता चला है कि आपके कंप्यूटर में कुछ मैलवेर घुस गया है.”

(अच्छा, यह कहानी मैंने कई बार सुनी है, और अच्छी तरह जानता हूँ कि यह एक स्कैम है. लेकिन आमतौर पर ये लोग अंग्रेजी में ही बोलना चाहते हैं. यह मैं पहली बार वही कहानी हिन्दी में सुन रहा था. मेरे लिए मौका…)

“अच्छा? यह तो बुरी बात है. रिपेर तो करना होगा, न? मगर आप पहले यह बताइये कि वहाँ का मौसम कैसा है, आज? कई साल हो चुके हैं जबसे मैं पिछली बार इंडिया में था. और यहाँ सर्दी बहुत है. इंडिया को मैं बहुत मिस करता हूँ.”

“जी हाँ, जी हाँ, यहाँ का मौसम बहुत ख़ूब है. अच्छा, यह तो बहुत ही सीरियस बात है कि आपके  कंप्यूटर में एक वाइरस है. ज़रा ऑन कर दें ताकि हम फिक्स कर सकें.”

“वैसे ही मेरे पास टाइम नहीं है, अभी. मुझको तो बाहर जाना है..”

“प्लीज़, एक दो मिनट लग जाएंगे, बस.”

“अच्छा, ऐसा करें, आप फिर से फोन कर सकते हैं?”

“जी हाँ, जरूर. किस दिन पर?”

“आप मंडे को कर दें.”

“किस टाइम पर?”

“कोई भी टाइम. मैं घर पर हूँगा.”

“अच्छा, मंडे को फिर करूँगा फोन…”

“अच्छा, ठीक है …”

आज का हिन्दी क्लास खतम, बिना खर्च करके. फिर भी, कुछ ठीक नहीं लगता…

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