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  1. #1
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    Isle of Lewis Gaelic

    I lived in Scotland in the 1980's. I once took a car ferry to Stornoway (I don't remember where we embarked from). While there, I went with someone, to meet some people. We went up to their house, (thatched-roof cottage), where there was no door. There was only a curtain, hangin in the doorway. So I began to knock on the wooden door jamb. Just then, the curtain parted, and a sheep came running out, almost knocked me down. I had to side-step really quickly. Then the homeowner came to the door. My friend (a fellow American) spoke a few Gaelic phrases, I was totally lost. We visited a few other homes, and it was the same: Nobody that I came across spoke English. Another thing that I noticed, was that behind every house, was a shed. I got to look inside one, and it had yarn stored everywhere, and a weaver's loom and chair in the center of the shed. I did buy a locally'made "Lewis Bear," before I went back to the mainland. Not sure why I shared this, except to say that I have had Gaelic spoken, around me, and what a different language it is. I did
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    Interesting story. Whilst everyone you met spoke Gaelic I very much doubt that they didn't speak English, just that you didn't hear them do so. So far as I know from the 1950s, probably earlier, the Scottish education system ensured that everyone who was a native Gaelic speaker as their first language learnt English at school. Having travelled widely around the islands in the 1970s and 80s I never met anyone that couldn't speak English.

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  4. #3
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    Having lived in the Hebridies in the 70 s and 80s for the most part i'd agree with Figheadair. However I did come across the elderly who after leaving school never had to use English again and effectively had lost the use of the English.

    In the 70s you could only get BBC1 TV (405line black and white) and BBC radio 2 longwave (247metres) . Mains Electricty was not in Every home, and for the majority had arrived in their lifetime. So there was little exposure to the English. You would also find the odd one who refused the talk the English to the English and by their definition the English are any English speaker.
    This definition is also why many hebrideans say the English carried out the Highland clearances when it was Scots police / hired men from Glasgow.

    In 1976 when I joined the Royal Air Force one of the other recruits was from north Wales, Welsh being his first language. When marching it was like Corporal Jones in Dads Army on every command he was always late carrying it out as he translated it to Welsh in his head. I'll admit he wasn't the brightest of recruits but he just wasn't used to the English.
    I'll also admit I can't speak any other language other than English as much as I have tried. Unlike my brother brought up with the English at home and the Gaelic at school, he can now speak half a dozen languages.

    Michael
    The most likely ferry if you went directly to Stornoway would be that from Ullapool, however there is a ferry from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris and then you drive to Stornoway.
    Last edited by The Q; 16th March 16 at 11:55 PM.
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
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  6. #4
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    Oops sorry I somehow double posted while trying to edit.
    Last edited by The Q; 17th March 16 at 07:26 AM.
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
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    I should have clarified a little

    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    Interesting story. Whilst everyone you met spoke Gaelic I very much doubt that they didn't speak English, just that you didn't hear them do so. So far as I know from the 1950s, probably earlier, the Scottish education system ensured that everyone who was a native Gaelic speaker as their first language learnt English at school. Having travelled widely around the islands in the 1970s and 80s I never met anyone that couldn't speak English.
    Those who didn't understand, or speak English (most of those we visited) were older people. Yes, younger people also spoke English. But with the older ones, when I tried to speak to them, they looked puzzled, like they genuinely did not understand what I was saying. I had to have my friend interpret, for me. (Or they were toying with me, but I doubt that).
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    Oh, ok

    I can't remember all the details, of where we left from, or where we exited the ferry. All I remember is being really sea-sick, on the way out there. On the way back to the mainland, I was fine. But visiting Harris and Lewis was a once in a lifetime experience. Also met a guy, there, (in our church) who was a crab fisherman. He had the STRONGEST handshake, was built like sold rock. He gave us some king crab, which we boiled up for dinner. He also gave us some fish. The fish was the BEST I ever tasted. (didn't like the crab so much)
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  9. #7
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    That crossing can be very rough, on the way to school, on one occasion we took 5 hours for a two hour crossing from Lochmaddy to Uig. The ferry from Stornoway that day partly tipped over and vehicles on board smashed into each other.
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

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