A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[NEWS] Seven queer links, from parades as resistance to apps to out schoolchildren

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  • NOW Toronto shares photos of the Pride Toronto parade.
  • blogTO notes that, in a recent ranking, Toronto is one of the best cities in which to not be straight in the world.
  • Bloomberg notes the importance of gay pride parades, as self-assertion and resistance, in the age of Trump.
  • Kevin Ritchie’s cover article for NOW Toronto looks at the successes and innovations of drag in the era of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
  • VICE looks at the extent to which gay life has been transformed by the culture of the app.
  • If all it took for Germany to move towards same-sex marriage was to introduce Merkel to a nice couple … well done. The Los Angeles Times reports.
  • Laurel Gregory of Global News looks at research into children who have been out throughout their school years. I can scarcely imagine.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Citizen Science Salon links to some ongoing crowdsourced experiments that non-scientists can take part in.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the return of Newt Gingrich to the American political scene.
  • The NYR Daily compares Donald Trump to a 19th century counterpart, Andrew Jackson.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports on the now rather different cocaine problem of Medellín, Colombia.
  • Starts with a Bang’s Ethan Siegel reports on a paper suggesting potential problems with gravitational observatory LIGO.
  • Towleroad notes a recent sharp drop in new HIV diagnoses in the United Kingdom, thanks to treatment and PrEP.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on projected long-run economic decline in Russia, argues about the potential for instability in Tatarstan, and reports on Belarusianization.
  • Arnold Zwicky describes Silver Age Rainbow Batman and his later pride appearances.

[META] On the latest blogroll expansion

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I’ve added two blogs this morning, one old and one new.

  • Aziz Poonawalla’s City of Brass, a blog dealing with Islam and minority issues, is newly added. His most recent post there, drawing from the Chicago Dyke March Jewish flag event to that intersectionality is too limited a concept, makes an interesting argument.
  • LGBTQ-themed blog Unicorn Booty is a group blog that covers many queer issues. I would recommend one recent post reporting on the erasure of the nature of the Pulse massacre in Orlando by Trump (and others).

Written by Randy McDonald

June 28, 2017 at 8:15 am

[PHOTO] Looking north towards Rosedale from the Toronto Reference Library

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Looking north towards Rosedale from the Toronto Reference Library

The Toronto Reference Library is a wonderfully designed building, its architecture full of sensuous curves, but almost as good as the building are the views it offers of the neighbourhoods adjoining it. Looking north, the trees and towers of Rosedale stretch out far beyond Church Street.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 28, 2017 at 6:30 am

[AH] WI more widely spoken Canadian Gaelic?

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This afternoon, I dropped by the Toronto Reference Library to browse its shelves. As one would expect, Toronto’s central library has a very large collection of materials in languages other than English, ready for lenders to pick up. Out of curiosity, I stopped by to see what the Scots Gaelic collection looked like.

The Scots Gaelic shelf at the Toronto Reference Library

There were two shelves of Frisian-language materials above the shelf of Gaelic books, and the Frisian shelves were packed.

This is a sort of afterthought to the death of Gaelic as a living language in Canada. I grew up in the Maritimes, in the province of Prince Edward Island. In that province, now overwhelmingly populated by speakers of English, Canadian Gaelic was once very widely spoken. It was even the main language of, among others, my maternal grandmother’s family. She did not speak the language, though, her parents choosing not to teach it to her. They said that they did not want their many children to learn their neighbourhood gossip.

(The Matheson family lived in the east of what this map calls Eilean Eòin.)

Canadian Gaelic did not persist, not even in the Atlantic Canadian territories where it had been most successfully transplanted, even though it was a (distant) third among European languages spoken in Canada. My feeling is that the speakers of the language did not value it. Part of this may have had to do with the very different statuses of the French and Gaelic languages internationally. French was a high-status language that was a prestigious and credible rival to English, while Gaelic was a much more obscure language looked down upon by almost everyone–including many speakers of Gaelic–with at most hundreds of thousands of speakers. Canada’s Francophone minorities did face oppression, but their language and their community’s existence was something their Anglophone neighbours could more easily accept as legitimate, and that Francophones themselves accepted as legitimate.

This leads to the tendency of speakers of Canadian Gaelic were not committed to the survival of their language. I mentioned above that my maternal grandmother’s parents decided not to transmit the language to their children. In this, occurring soon after the turn of the 20th century, they were far from alone. Speakers of Canadian Gaelic were generally quick to discard this language for an English that was seen as more useful. The survival of the language was not seen as especially important: For a Gaelic-speaking Protestant, for instance, the bond of Protestantism that united them with an Anglophone Protestant was more important than the bond of language that united them with a Gaelic-speaking Catholic. In Gaelic Canada, there was just nothing at all like the push for survivance across the spectrum in French Canada that helped Canadian Francophones survive in a wider country that was–at best–disinterested in the survival of its largest minority.

Fragmented, without any elite interested in preserving the language and its associated culture or a general population likely to support such an elite, the Canadian Gaelic community was bound to go under. And so, in the course of the 20th century, it did, the smaller and more isolated communities going before the larger ones. There are still, I am told, native speakers of Gaelic in Cape Breton, long the heartland of Gaelic Canada, and there is a substantial push to revive the language’s teaching and use in public life in Nova Scotia. I fear this is too little, too late. The time for that was a century ago, likely earlier. If that incentive to give Gaelic official status and a role in public life had been active in the mid-19th century, who knows what might have come of this?

(For further reading on the history of Gaelic in Prince Edward Island, I strongly recommend Dr. Michael Kennedy’s preface (PDF format) to John Shaw’s 1987 recordings of the last creators of Gaelic on Prince Edward Island.)

Was the death of Gaelic as a widely-spoken language in Canada inevitable? Or, was there any possibility of a revival movement, of a renewed valorization of Scots Gaelic? I have wondered in the past if having Cape Breton remain a province separate from Nova Scotia, thus creating a polity populated mainly by Gaelic speakers, might create some kind of incentive for Gaelic to be politically useful.

Thoughts?

(Crossposted to alternatehistory.com.)

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Four links from the GTA, from heightened flood risk to mass transit news to Brampton

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  • Torontoist notes that, between climate change and development, Toronto faces serious flood risks in the future.
  • Ben Spurr notes in the Toronto Star that, come September, Metrolinx will oversee 3% fare increases on GO Transit and the UP Express.
  • I am unsurprised to learn, again from the Toronto Star’s Ben Spurr, that the TTC has won an award recognizing it as the best public transit agency in North America.
  • Fatima Syed notes that Brampton, with its newly hired urban planner, is in search of a new identity.

[NEWS] Five links, from Iceland’s skyr to Glasgow’s Tim Hortons to surfing and wine to space probes

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  • Roads and Kingdoms shares Dave Hazzan’s reflections on the yougurt-type (but non-yogurt) Icelandic foodstuff skyr.
  • VICE reports on the scene from Glasgow after the launch of the city Tim Horton’s in Scotland.
  • Bloomberg features Javiera Quiroga’s take on the migration of Chilean vintners south ahead of climate change.
  • VICE notes that climate change will wreck the favourite coastline locations of surfers.
  • Dave Rothery describes at The Conversation how protecting against space probes’ environmental contamination challenges exploration.