Road signs in Gaelic and English, snapped by my daughter from a moving car en route to Oban this week. A long and winding road through the Western Highlands, but eventually Oban begins to appear on the signs.

Oban is the venue for this year's Royal National Mod, Scotland's main festival of Gaelic music and culture. All traditional instruments are represented, as well as story-telling and traditional forms of song and dance, and various cultural aspects. Culture extends to a competition class for under 13's in 'precenting' a psalm from The Scottish Psalmody. Precenting is where a leader gives out the words and tune of a psalm to a church congregation, line by line. You can listen to the precentor's line here. At church services I've attended on the West coast the congregations have improvised very freely on the line, and it has a scalp-tingling, un-European feel.

The Mod is held in a different location each year, and basically takes over the town. My husband and daughter were staying in a B&B just outside Oban (I couldn't go because of work commitments, sadly). Also staying at the B&B were some American visitors, who remarked innocently at breakfast, "Is there some sort of music festival thing happening here this week?". In a town hosting the Mod it's as if someone pitched up in Vancouver in February 2010 and asked 'Is there some sort of winter sports thing happening here just now?" To the American visitors' credit, once they were enlightened they went along to the clarsach and song events that my daughter was taking part in, so they had good cultural value from their night in Oban.

If anyone is passing through Oban and looking for a good B&B, my husband and daughter had a very pleasant stay at theLagganbuie B&B. Here's a quick shot my daughter took of the view from the front garden on her way to load the harp in the car.


  1. No Gaelic word for diversion? Nae, those people divert themselves!

  2. What fun, Linda! I wish I could have gone to this. About twenty years ago, we were staying in a flat in St. Andrews when a program came on television. It was late at night, and I was up watching alone. Suddenly, I flipped to a channel, and I thought I was in another world. They were speaking Gaelic much to my delight, and every other word was something that didn't translate like "refrigerator." I loved it! It is such an unusual tongue and sounds a bit like Latin and German combined.

    One of my ancestors, whose parents came to the US from Scotland, was a Presbyterian minister, and he had a school where his sister was one of the teachers. It's recorded that they would speak to each other about the students in Gaelic and that family prayers were also done in Gaelic. This took place in the early part of the 1800's which I found interesting because from what I understood, there was a move afoot in Scotland to stop people from speaking the native tongue long before that. Furthermore, I think they were lowlanders and not highlanders.

    I'm just glad Gaelic is alive and well and thriving at cultural fairs!


    Sheila :-)

  3. It´s richness of life to live in a bilingual country. I live in one too. They should have translated diversion too and perhaps a gaelic fanatic will get mad because of that.

  4. Oh my, Linda! That photo of the view is stunning. I think your daughter has inherited your talent for photography.

  5. The view is beautiful. I like this place.

  6. What a fabulous view from the B&B and how exciting to be involved in the Mod!

    For some reason I always find those bilingual signs slightly confusing. My brain seems to take longer to take them in, perhaps it automatically looks to the first part and tries to decipher.

  7. Svenske Floyd, the Gaelic for 'diversion' is probably 'diversion'. Like 'helicopter' is 'helicopter'.

    Magpie, that's so funny about your Gaelic TV experience. There's quite a bit of Gaelic on TV now as the language gains ground. My daughter was watching a programme in Gaelic the other night on her return from the Mod. She didn't understand it, but she was watching it all the same. Perhaps the little bit she learned for her songs at the Mod has piqued her interest.

  8. Your daughter's photo is one of a beautiful landscape. That is amazing. Yes we have the different languages showing up here also, with Spanish being available for all. I have to look twice because I think my eyesight is going bad and think I just can't read what I thought was an all english sign. There are some areas in the Louisiana area that they are saying English words, they just are pronouncing them the same as we do. Those languages I am assuming are very old languages.

  9. Wonderful landscape, Linda! About bilingual road signs, we have them too in the Val d'Aosta and in the Val di Susa, near the French border.

  10. I am so glad they have bilingual signs. There is a Welsh word for diversion so maybe the Gaelic experts can make one up. Welsh words get made up, eg beside "Tyres, batteries, exhausts, shocks" on a garage sign are the words "teiars, battris, egsosts, siocs". These ARE official words, even though they are just phoenetic make-ups!


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