Gordon Wells, his Shakuhachi flute and language

This interview  with Gordon Wells, the Project Officer of Island Voices, is given in two parts.

I. In the first part, Gordon speaks about his home made flute – the ‘ Gaelic Shakuhachi’, the Winter Blues and why he has chosen to live on the Uists.

To listen to part I (13.30 min), click here:


II. In the second part of the interview, Gordon talks about his interest in languages  and gives a very beautiful and inspiring definition of language. At the end he shares with us the background and the vision of the project Island Voices.  To listen to part II (15.30 min) click here:


About lorianapauli

Born in Italian speaking Ticino/Switzerland. Lived all my life in different parts of that very country till I found my way "home", where I truly belong > the 'Long Island'.
This entry was posted in Gaelic, Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean, Language, Music, Outer Hebrides, People of the Uists, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Gordon Wells, his Shakuhachi flute and language

  1. Gordon Wells says:

    Well, I enjoyed the chat, Loriana. Thank you for allowing me to ramble on! I only hope your listeners don’t get too bored waiting for me to get to the point… Perhaps you will also allow me to point any interested readers to the Island Voices project. The central point of reference is the WordPress site: http://guthan.wordpress.com/about/ . Alternatively, for those who like to filter their online life through Facebook there is also this page: http://www.facebook.com/GuthanVoices . Visitors always welcome!

  2. Gordon Wells says:

    Reblogged this on Gordon Wells's Weblog and commented:
    The hunter hunted…

  3. Fred Riley says:

    Nice to hear your voice again, Gordon. (For those not in the know, young Gordon was my online Gaelic teacher during the Cùrsa Inntrigidh in 2005-6.) Did you find (re)learning Hindi relatively easy, given your exposure to it in infanthood? The developmental theory is that language exposure in early childhood sets up ‘neural pathways’ in the brain, an ‘infrastructure’ which lays the foundations for future language acquisition. There was a study I read about, though can’t cite as my memory’s crap these days, looking into children of Japanese parents raised in English-speaking environments and vice versa. I think the upshot of it was that when these children came to learn English/Japanese in later life they achieved fluency quickly compared to kids without such exposure, and had no difficulty in pronunciation (for instance, the famous Japanese difficulty in pronouncing ‘r’s in English).

    What do you do to keep your Hindi up to snuff? I could be wrong, but I figure that there wouldn’t be many native Hindi speakers in the Uists…

    • Gordon Wells says:

      Well, young Fred, neurolinguistics was never really my field. And my memory is not what it once was, either! There may well be something in what you suggest. The challenge is in isolating all the variables, which have probably got rather fuzzy boundaries between them, and establishing cause and effect. “Attitude”, “aptitude”, “confidence”, “experience”, “training” etc may all have an influence on successful language learning. In the situation you describe, for example, how do you control for the possibility that early experience of bilingualism hasn’t simply generated, say, a general “attitudinal openness” to later linguistic differentiation/innovation, that maybe someone raised monolingually finds harder to adopt simply because it’s outside their previous experience?

      I am confident, however, that a monolingual infancy/childhood does not prevent you from progressing to bilingual or multilingual adulthood. We are all capable of learning new things. Yes, my Hindi pronunciation is probably pretty decent, but the same holds true for my Gaelic – and what Japanese I once had (now sadly out of practice) – and I’m as inclined to attribute that to a simple and well-taught course in basic articulatory phonetics during my student days as to either innate aptitude or early acquired “brain training”.

      Loriana kept very quiet about her own linguistic skills during our chat, but, with her own multilingual background, she may well have ideas of her own on this topic. We do hear quite a few other languages here apart from English and Gaelic, Fred, but you’re right that Hindi is seldom among them. But there’s always the internet, plus the occasional unsolicited telephone conversation from an India-based call centre…

  4. Pingback: The hunter hunted

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