Non-Gaelic-speakers often struggle to wrap their tongues around Highland hill names, but now a free online service could help make garbled pronunciation a thing of the past. If you've ever been climbing in 'Sneckda' or choked on your 'Cheesecake' then this could be worth a look.
Devised by keen climber and skier Donald Morris the Mountain Names page from Gaelic language development agency Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) allows users to request a sound file of the pronunciation of any Gaelic hill name or hill feature such as lochans, corries and ridges.
To request a soundfile users simply fill out a form on the website, including the full grid reference of the name and any other information that may be useful. CnaG will then endeavour to record a sound file and make it available through the player on the Mountain Names page. Users are informed by email once the sound file is live.
Since Gaelic accents can vary with location the service doesn't aim to give a local pronunciation, says Donald, but rather one that is generic and usable by any learner.
The aim of the service is simply to help mountain enthusiasts to use more Gaelic, say CnaG.
'Fundamentally we know that Gaelic is by far the most important language in the mountainous areas of Scotland' says Donald, 'but at the same time we recognise that most hill goers have never had any Gaelic education. By providing some basic tools we hope that those going to the hills can make a good stab at the pronunciations.'
'We feel that mountain leaders should avail themselves of some basic Gaelic, not for linguistic reasons but more with the aim of learning about the Scottish hills.'