Researchers at the University of the Highlands and Islands have expanded their range of languages now available online to support a variety of multilingual research projects.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, international collaboration focussed on local community recordings has continued in Ireland and India. Project descriptions are now available on the university website in Irish and Hindi, as well as English and Gaelic. It is a uniquely quadrilingual approach and a natural extension for the University of the Highlands and Islands, given its 20-year commitment to bilingual provision, and online teaching in a blended learning approach.
Gordon Wells, project manager for the Gaelic research network Soillse, headquartered at the University of the Highlands and Islands with an office at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, explains: "The COVID crisis has given us another incentive to widen the application of islands-led technical innovation and share originally Gaelic-focused teaching and research methodologies used at the university.
"One of the community-based projects we support, ‘Guthan nan Eilean/Island Voices', is focused on language capture and curation. It started as a bilingual project, in Gaelic and English, but now it includes fourteen other languages, from Basque to Japanese to Welsh, as other interested parties around the world have followed its development, and adopted and adapted the video materials and ‘Clilstore' language learning software it uses. It's a delight to see ideas initiated in the islands spreading so far and wide."
Professor Neil Simco, Vice-Principal for Research and Impact at the University of the Highlands and Islands added: "We are intensely aware of our responsibilities to enhance the status of Gaelic and develop its use, and as the only university with a physical base and delivering a tertiary educational offering across the Gaeltachd, the University of the Highlands and Islands is inspired to use our knowledge and experience to deepen our international research and engagement.
"This is another example of how the university is leading the way in responding to the sociolinguistic diversity of our research scholars and student body, by using new technology to develop our research engagement in innovative and sustainable ways."
Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, University of the Highlands and Islands Gaelic Research Professor and Director of the Language Sciences Institute which heads up international research projects with both India and Ireland, said: "Our multilingual online presence reflects our international perspective. It is important to understand the Gaelic situation in its own context but also to examine how it compares with broader issues of minority language sustainability in a global context.
"The challenge related to sustaining the cultural and linguistic diversity in the world is emerging as one of the main socio-cultural issues of the 21st Century."