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Gàidhlig Gheàrrloch

Roy G. Wentworth
Roy G. Wentworth

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Introduction

le Roy G Wentworth

2005. xxix + 967 pp.

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Preface

Roy Graham Wentworth (1946-2003) was born in Tooting in London and came to Scotland first in 1963, on holiday in Gairloch, Wester Ross. In succeeding years he returned, making closer contact with the local people and the Gaelic language of the area, and becoming especially friendly with a local crofter, ’An Peigi (Iain MacKenzie): this friendship helped to deepen both his involvement in Gairloch life and his competence in spoken Gaelic. In 1966 he enrolled for a degree in Forestry at the University of Aberdeen, but in 1969 changed direction to work for the Honours degree of MA in Celtic Studies at Aberdeen, the Department of Celtic then being under the leadership of Donald MacAulay. A deeply motivated student, he had no difficulty in obtaining an excellent degree: among the variety of Celtic subjects he studied were Gaelic dialectology and the Old and Middle forms of Gaelic, and his undergraduate dissertation for the degree was an assessment of four early tales in the light of the theories of Claude Lévi-Strauss.

When he left the university with his Honours degree in 1973 he settled in Gairloch. When ’An Peigi died in 1983 Roy became the crofter, and as curator of the local museum was able to continue his study of the Gaelic of Gairloch, its oral literature and songs and especially its placenames and place-lore; for many years he contributed placename and other traditional material to the archives of the School of Scottish Studies in the University of Edinburgh. His place in the Gairloch community was confirmed by his marriage in 1985 to Magaidh, a native of the area, and by the birth of their son and daughter. He devoted himself to the serious study of Gaelic metrics and of linguistic theory and practical phonetics, collecting from the dwindling number of Gairloch Gaelic speakers the last remnants of the dialect.

When the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Project offered funding in 1998 for postgraduate research, Roy applied and was awarded a PhD scholarship to produce a detailed study of the dialect, under the direction of Dr Meg Bateman, with Donald MacAulay as his principal external supervisor. The project was wholly successful, involving regular serious and constructive discussion and revision: his original intention had been to include study of the morphology as well as the phonology, but in the end the dissertation was found to be bulky enough with the phonology alone. It was completed efficiently in the summer of 2002, and it was serious blow for Roy to find at this point that the dissertation, being written in Gaelic, was not acceptable to the Open University, who validate the degrees awarded by the UHI Millennium Institute. He therefore turned again to the University of Aberdeen, which agreed to accept and assess the dissertation on condition that he be a registered student of the university for one year. This had the effect of delaying submission for a year, and Roy took the opportunity to make minor additions and adjustments.

When he died suddenly on 19 October 2003 the University acceded to a request for the posthumous submission of the dissertation. It was assessed by Professor Máirtín Ó Murchú of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies as External Examiner and by Dr Seumas Grant as Internal Examiner, and the degree of PhD was awarded at a graduation ceremony in Aberdeen on 5 July 2004, where it was received by his widow. It was arranged thereafter that the work be published on the website of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

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