Staff profiles

Conchúr Ó Giollagáin content Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Director of the UHI Language Sciences Institute

Conchúr Ó Giollagáin

Director of the UHI Language Sciences Institute

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Conchúr Ó Giollagáin is the Gaelic Research Professor in the University of the Highlands and Islands and the director of the UHI Language Sciences Institute. He was also the academic director of Soillse, a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research project, based at Scotland’s national college for Gàidhlig, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on the Isle of Skye. In 2015 he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Conchúr is a prominent scholar in language planning and minority language culture and sociology. He has written extensively on issues concerning the sustainability of minority cultures, especially the Gaeltacht communities in Ireland. View Prof ;Ó Giollagáin's full research profile here.

Conchúr previously lectured in the School of Political Science and Sociology in the National University of Ireland Galway on the sociology of language. His teaching and research interests include language planning, sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. Previously, he was the Head of the Language Planning Unit in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, where he devised and lead Ireland’s first MA programme in Language Planning. He also contributed to the development of the Acadamh’s MA in Language Sciences.

He co-authored the government-commissioned Gaeltacht survey Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht (2007). The update of the study Nuashonrú ar an Staidéar Cuimsitheach Teangeolaíoch ar Úsáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht: 2006–2011 (An Update of the Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht) was published in 2015. Along with Tamás Péterváry, Brian Ó Curnáin and Jerome Sheahan he published the first major study of bilingual acquisition in Ireland, Iniúchadh ar an gCumas Dátheangach: An sealbhú teanga i measc ghlúin óg na Gaeltachta / Assessment of Bilingual Competence: Language acquisition among people in the Gaeltacht. He co-edited two ground-breaking books, Beartas Úr na nGael: Dálaí na Gaeilge san Iar-Nua-Aoiseachas [A New Deal for the Gaels: Irish in Postmodernity] (2016) and An Chonair Chaoch: an Mionteangachas sa Dátheangachas (2012) examining the minority language condition from the perspective of those whose primary identity is the minority culture.

He has contributed as an external fellow to the work of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where he led a variety of research projects examining different aspects of the language dynamics and linguistic anthropology of minority language culture. He is currently leading the major sociolinguistic research project, ‘Pròiseact Rannsachaidh Gàidhlig nan Eilean / Isles Gaelic Research Project’, on the vitality of Scottish Gaelic in the Western Isles, which is home to the remaining native-speaking Gaelic communities. Similar to the Comprehensive Linguistic Study in Ireland, this baseline study aims to depict the social reality of Gaelic as an initial step in proposing a series of socio-political interventions in support of Gaelic as a living language. He is a regular contributor to various media outlets on issues related to linguistic diversity and minority language groups.

Iain Caimbeul content Iain Caimbeul

Iain Caimbeul

Senior Research Fellow in Sociolinguistics

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Iain Caimbeul has expertise in regional economics, community development and has expert knowledge in the development of language plans and initiatives associated with the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic within Scotland.   He has a Master’s in Economic Management & Policy (Strathclyde); a Master’s in business administration – MBA(Open); and a Master’s in Extension for Rural Development (Edinburgh); alongside a BSc. (Distinction) in Rural Resources (Edinburgh Napier).

He has held senior roles in the Gaelic development sector over many years and is well known to policy makers and members of the community. Previously, he has held Board Memberships at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, MG ALBA, Comunn na Gàidhlig and the BBC Trust Audience Council for Scotland.

He is currently a Senior Research Fellow with a research focus on language policy and planning matters relating to Scottish Gaelic, including research topics relating to the dynamics of community development, agency and governance.

Gordon Cameron content Gordon Cameron

Gordon Cameron

Post-doctoral Researcher

Gordon Cameron completed his PhD, entitled ‘Language and culture as a societal asset: strategic alignment of language policy to a sustainable socio-economic market for Gaelic’, in 2023.

Prior to this, Gordon was a fieldworker for SOILLSE’s Islands Gaelic Research Project (IGRP), which resulted in the publication of The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community. Earlier in his career, he spent 15 years working in Gaelic resource development and translation, heritage and culture.

He holds an honours degree in Gaelic language from the University of Aberdeen (1996), and completed a Masters degree at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI in Material Culture and the Environment in 2011, which won the Farquhar MacIntosh Prize for Academic Excellence. He has taught on several post-graduate modules in Material Culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Gordon is interested in social and economic resilience for rural communities, and has participated in several initiatives such as the Applecross Forum which aims to bring community groups and statutory organisations together to work more cohesively. He volunteers for place-based groups such as the Applecross Trust’s Restoration Advisory Group, and assists the Wester Ross Biosphere on matters related to Gaelic and heritage.

Gordon Wells content Gordon Wells

Gordon Wells

CIALL Project Manager and Researcher

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Gordon Wells taught in India and Japan before starting his UK career with Birmingham Industrial Language Training Services in workplace-based ESOL and related areas, including work in television with South Asian community languages. After postgraduate studies in Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh University, he worked in the Scottish Further Education sector, eventually settling on the Isle of Benbecula where he was instrumental in establishing the FE/HE centre at Liniclate as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands network. Moving on to work for Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, but based in the Western Isles, he was then involved in various local and international language development and research projects.

The local relevance of this work is brought into focus through the Island Voices community project and website. Gordon has also worked as writer or consultant for the Institute of Linguists, SCOTVEC, the BBC and the British Council, among other bodies. He was the local co-ordinator, from 2005, of the POOLS/TOOLS series of European-funded projects which seek to develop and disseminate technology-assisted language teaching tools, techniques and materials. He also undertook local community-based research projects through the Soillse research partnership, before taking on the project manager role for the whole network and seeing it through to completion and the archiving of publications. The CIALL project for Collaborative Interdisciplinary and Applied Linguistic Links seeks to build upon the Soillse legacy.