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Fhuair Kohl a-mach uiread 's a b' urrainn dha mun Gh�idhlig

Fhuair Kohl a-mach uiread 's a b' urrainn dha mun Gh�idhlig

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PÀIRT chudromach de dh’each­draidh na Gaidhealtachd se cunntaisean luchd-siubhail – mar as tràithe sann as cud­romaiche. Sin an sgèile ris am measainn leabhar brèagha ùr, Travels in Scotland (1842) by J. G. Kohl, eadar-theangaichte ’s deasaichte le Ursula Cairns Smith agus J M Y Simpson (lulu.com, £10.88). Bhuineadh e do dh’ìre chlasaigeach an t-siubhail, ach b’ann air éiginn. Tha siud ri fhaicinn am modhan-siubhail ar laochain: bàta-smùide bho Bheul Feirste gu Glaschu, trèana gu Dùn Éideann, bàta-smùide gu Ceann Chàrdainn, sgoth gu Sruighlea, coidse tro Chraoibh agus Pheart gu Dùn Chailleann, gige gu Caisteal Bhealaich (bha Gàidhlig aig an fhear-iomain), air chois tro Chill Fhinn, Cheann Loch Éire, Bhoth Chuidir, na Troiseachan, Chalasraid (“Many people here can still understand Gaelic and their children still wear the kilt”) agus Bhaile an Dùin gu Drochaid Ailein, gige gu Sruighlea, coidse chun na h-Eaglaise Brice, trèana gu Dùn Éideann, coidse gu Carlisle.

Bha Johann Georg Kohl (1808–78) ’na sgrìobhadair-siubhail profeiseanta Gearmailteach a sgrìobh mu iomadh dùthaich. Tha siud follaiseach uaireannan. Mu smeuradh nan caorach le teàrr ’s le ìm, mar eisimpleir: “In the domestic management of every country in the world similar branches of activity and institutions are found; the native inhabitants give themselves enormous trouble over them because they regard them as indispensable, while in other countries nothing is known of them, yet nevertheless they successfully survive without them, without tarring and without rubbing.” Tha e uabhasach gu “adhartas”, ’s am measg nan duaisean aig Comann na Gaidh­ealtachd a tha e ag ainmeachadh le spéis tha “twenty guineas for a lotion for sheep which will protect them against the cold and damp of the Scottish climate as effectively as does rubbing them with tar, yet at the same time will not harm the wool”.

Saoil an d’fhuair a’ chiad dup na fichead ginidh air an robh e cho airidh?

Tha ùidh nach beag aig Kohl ann an cànanan. Tha e faighneachd mun Ghàidhlig fad an t-siubhail, mar eisimpleir: “Potatoes, which like turnips have only recently been making significant progress in the Scottish Highlands, they call ‘puntaht’, probably the English word ‘patatoes’ [sic] distorted. The little pits that are seen beside every house here and in which they store their potatoes are called ‘Tohl-puntaht’. In English they are called ‘Patatoes’ pits’. Sugar, in English ‘Sugar’, has been changed by the Highland Scots into ‘Suchkars’.”

Anns a’ Cheannmhor aig bun Loch Tatha tha e tachairt ris a’ mhaighstir-sgoile Uilleam Armstrong, bràthair Raibeirt a chuir a-mach a’ chiad fhaclair Gàidhlig ann an 1822. Tha Uilleam a’ mìneachadh nach eil e a’ teag­asg na Gàidhlig tuilleadh, oir chan eil muinntir ceann shìos an loch ga bruidhinn gach latha mar a bhà, ach gu bheil i beò ’s a’ breab­adh mu cheann shuas an loch, ’s gu bheil maighstir-sgoile Chill Fhinn ga teagasg fhathast.

Air a shon sin, tha Kohl ag ràdh gu bheil a’ Ghàidhlig ’na “great hindrance to the dissemination of good education, which can only progress on the wings of the Norman-Saxon tongue . . . for a hundred reasons one must wish, however much it is to be regretted, that the extirpation of Gaelic should be completed as soon as possible, for the good of the people themselves.”

Car son a tha am beachd seo aige? Ged a tha iad beachdail air gach puing eile chan eil na deas­aichean gar cuideachadh le seo, ach saoilidh mise gu bheil dà adhbhar ann, chan e “adhartas” a-mhàin ach “nàis­eantachd” mar an ceudna. Ri linn ’s nach robh sa Ghearmailt ach dòrlach de stàitean beaga, bha Kohl ’na nàiseantach Gearmailteach, ’s bu bhuidhe dha. Thug na treubh­an Gearmailt­each buaidh air an Ìmpireachd Ròmanaich, tha e ’g ràdh, agus “these people, the Germanic tribes, conquered the Highlands of Scotland as well”. Ghabh e taobh na Beurla san t-srìth ris a’ Ghàidhlig a chionns gun robh a’ Bheurla ’na cànain Ghearmailteach. Tha am beachd seo follaiseach san ainm a th’ aige do Bheurla na h-Alba, “Germanic Scottish”.

Uile gu léir ma-tà chan eil teansa gum faiceadh e cus ceàrr anns na fuadaichean. Tha e cur 2 agus 2 còmhla ’s a’ dèanamh 5. “Perhaps there is no country in the world that has had, and still has, an oligarchy as powerful and as landed and as restricted in numbers as Scotland . . . it is regarded as a good thing . . . when well conducted sheep-grazing takes place of such a bad type of agriculture as is practised by the little cottage-dwellers of the Scottish Highlands.”

Ged tha sin mar sin, fhuair mi tarraing sa h-uile duilleig den leabhar. Ann an aon àite tha sinn ag ionnsachadh mu fhactaraidh ann an Glaschu a bha a’ deanamh an stuth-dathaidh cudbear á còinneach: gus am pròis­eas a chumail dìomhair bha i cuart­aichte le balla 10 troigh àrd ’s bha an luchd-obrach gu léir ’nan Gaidhil gun Bheurla! An àit’ eile tha Kohl a’ cur air shùilean dhuinn gun robh tàillearan air Ghaidhealtachd cho luachmhor do luchd-siubhail ’s a bha iad do choimhearsnachdan – “they are usually talkative and good travelling companions through dreary countryside”.

Oh, agus cheap mi aon rud nach do cheap na deasaichean, sgoinneil ’s gu bheil an obair aca. Tha Uilleam Armstrong a’ tabhann Snufchen Tabac do Khohl ’s tha iadsan ag ràdh, “This phrase is neither Scots nor English.” Rud a tha fìor, oir se th’ ann ach Gàidhlig: snaois­ean tombac’!

MA tha leabhraichean beaga sàmhach mu àiteachan beaga sàmhach a’ còrdadh riut, gheibh thu tlachd nach beag á On Foot through Clydesdale le Iain C Lees (Birlinn, £9.99). Thàinig e a-mach an toiseach ann an 1932, ’s tha Birlinn air ath-chlò-bhualadh a-cheart mar a bhà e. Tha mi air leth measail air leabhraichean on linn sin; tha iad a’ coimhead ceart, gun arraghlòir, gun chleasan, gun fhaoineas.

Tha mi rud beag mì-riaraichte ris an tiotal ge-tà. Bha cho math do Mhàrtainn Màrtainn On Foot through the Western Islands a ghabhail air an leabhar aigesan. Ao-coltach ri iomadh documentary air TBh, chan eil an t-ùghdar ga chur fhéin am meadhan ghnothaichean. Se bailtean Dail Chluaidh, am muinntir ’s an eachdraidh, a tha romhainn, ’s ma nochdas an t-ùghdar bho àm gu àm, sann a dh’innse dhuinn mu rud iongantach a dh’éirich dha, no mu chòmh­radh inntinn­each a bh’ aige.

Tha an stoidhle sìmplidh agus drol. “If history does not record that the Romans planted orchards in the Clyde valley, it is probably an oversight.” Agus mu Bhurnfoot, faisg air Lann­raig: “The village is one-sided, but why it should be labelled one-eyed I do not know. The adjective, first used by a pedlar who said the villagers could not appreciate a bargain when he offered them one, certainly does not apply to its present inhabitants, who possess the usual number of eyes, and use them as effectively as do their fellows.”

Bha Iain C Lees (fìor ainm John Lees Carvel, 1895–1959) ’na naidh­eachdair air an Scottish Daily Express agus a-rithist an London Evening Star. Tha e comasach air stòiridh mhath innse. Leithid mu fhear a chaill obair mar shaor ’s a chaidh ’na lannsair ainmeil. Neo mun àm a thàinig arm a’ Phrionnsa Teàrlach tro Lesmahagow. Bha na Gaidhil diombach ris an àite leis mar chaidh Dòmh­nallach Cheann Loch Mùideart a chur an greim ann. Mhaoidh iad a sgrios, ach leig fear a mhuinn­tir a’ bhaile air gun robh arm Chumberland dìreach air an cùl, ’s tharraing iad ás gun dàil. Saoil a bheil fìrinn sam bith ann?

Uile gu léir, tha On Foot through Clydesdale gar toirt air ais gu linn air dùthaich na h-Alba nuair bu chaol na ròid­ean ’s bu leathann na cuimh­neachain. “East Kilbride is beyond the top of the hill on which Mains Castle stands. I like this old village whose streets run in all directions. I like particul­arly its old houses, and above all I like the gargoyles which peer down from the eaves.”

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