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Essie Stewart is a traditional storyteller from Sutherland and one of the last people to have taken part in the traditional 'Summer Walking' of the travelling families. She is the grand-daughter of Ailidh Dall Stewart (1882-1968), one of the greatest Gaelic storytellers. Essie tells her stories in both English and Gaelic.
In this audio extract, recorded at the Ullapool Book Festival in 2008, Essie talks about the Beurla-reagaird, the travellers' Gaelic cant language.
Audience member: Could you give us some words of Beurla-reagaird please?
Oh the Beurla-reagaird. Oh I see, she's into languages this one. Well, the Beurla-reagaird is the secret language of the travelling people; we've got the English cant and we've got the Beurla-reagaird in the Gaelic. It's - as you know - it's a slang. You know, it is a slang language. But, and do you know today - I, I - Och - Yes, of course I know words, but in, in my youth when, you know, when I was young, we could have a conversation with, by using very little normal Gaelic words. I mean, today I couldn't do it, not at all, but in those days, yes I could. The words for different things - yes, I can still remember them, but I couldn't have a conversation in it.
Interviewer: Well, I think we need to leave it there so that we can let you get a break. So, can I thank you for, for being a very enthusiastic and attentive audience and would you please thank Essie Stewart again. Moran taing!
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