Bark­ing bi-lin­gual Ginger is the star of Gaelic con­ver­sa­tion class

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

HE IS the un­likely star of a con­ver­sa­tional Gaelic-speak­ing class who has stunned mem­bers with his com­mand of the lan­guage.

It can take months if not years for English-speak­ing peo­ple to grasp. but for Ginger the cocker spaniel, three-weeks was all it took for him to be­come doggy bi-lin­gual.

His owner, Neil Smith, who is pro­foundly deaf, said he was amazed by how quickly his furry, hear­ing dog friend learned to un­der­stand the na­tive tongue of his great-grand­mother.

The 67-year- old for­mer driv­ing in­struc­tor cred­ited Ginger, who is a English cocker spaniel, with en­cour­ag­ing him to con­tinue go­ing to weekly classes at Strone Church of Scot­land near Dunoon in Ar­gyll which have boosted his self- con­fi­dence and im­proved his so­cial life im­mensely.

Mr Smith at­tends the group ev­ery Fri­day along with 23 other peo­ple and Ginger, four re­sponds to com­mands to: sit - suidh, stay - fuirich, come here - Trob­had and good boy - cu math.

‘Ginger learned Gaelic be­cause he has been com­ing with me to the drop-in cen­tre and I thought it would be good fun,’ he added.

‘He has picked it up re­ally quickly, it only took him about three weeks.

‘It is great be­cause I can show off that he is a bi-lin­gual dog - peo­ple think it is amaz­ing that he can do that and it is a wee bit of added in­ter­est to the class.’

The Mod­er­a­tor of the Gen­eral Assem­bly of the Church of Scot­land, the Right Rev Dr An­gus Mor­ri­son, who of­fi­cially an­nounced that the group had changed its name from Strone Gaelic drop-in cen­tre to Ionad na Ceilidhe - the meet­ing place to talk - dur­ing a re­cent visit, said he was ‘ very im­pressed’ by Ginger’s grasp of the lan­guage which he also speaks.

‘It is great to see an older per­son en­joy­ing such a good re­la­tion­ship with his dog where Gaelic is the medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion,’ he added.

Elma McArthur, who grew up in Tiree but now lives in Dunoon and leads the con­ver­sa­tion class, said she too was very im­pressed by the speed Ginger had picked up the com­plex lan­guage.

‘He is a very, sharp clever dog. It is a re­ally good ad­vert for Gaelic and I have never heard of a dog learn­ing it as a sec­ond lan­guage be­fore,’ she added.

DOG- COL­LARED: The Mod­er­a­tor of the Gen­eral Assem­bly of the Church of Scot­land, the Right Rev Dr An­gus Mor­ri­son, Elma McArthur, Neil Smith and Ginger

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