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Community / Local translations of Jarlshof visitor materials hailed as ‘truly inclusive’

Jarlshof. Photo: Historic Environment Scotland

GUIDE sheets and children’s quizzes are now available in local dialect at the historic Jarlshof settlement thanks to a new partnership with I Hear Dee.

Staff at Jarlshof operator Historic Environment Scotland (HES) worked with the language group to translate the visitor materials.

Shaetlan is a highly distinct language that pre-dates standard English in Shetland yet has never been officially recognised as a language.

I Hear Dee aims to document, describe and promote contemporary Shaetlan, working to raise its profile as a fully viable language variety in its own right locally, nationally and internationally.

Prof. Dr. Viveka Velupillai, principal investigator at I Hear Dee and affiliate of the department of English at the University of Giessen, said: “This is such a symbolically significant step as this is the first time ever that Shetlanders can see their own language represented as an equal among other languages on one of their own historical sites.

“HES has taken the first step to normalising Shaetlan in this bilingual community and give Shaetlan speakers pride of place in both its tangible and intangible heritage.

“It’s a truly inclusive step to take and as a linguist engaged in documenting, describing and mapping languages of the world, I thoroughly applaud your hospitable and welcoming stance.”

The initiative at Jarlshof developed following an informal gathering of groups and organisations interested in Shetland’s heritage at the Shetland Museum and Archives which was hosted by the amenity trust.

Roy Mullay, who is also involved with I Hear Dee, said: “As a native Shaetlan speaker can I say just how liberating and welcoming it is to see such high-quality public information material written in my mother tongue for the first time.

“I hope the rest of the Shaetlan-speaking public get the same kick out of it as I am getting now – I’m sure they will.”

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Corwen Broch, HES’ district visitor and community manager for Orkney and Shetland, said: “We’re really pleased to have partnered up with I Hear Dee to help champion the use of Shaetlan, by bringing it into one of the island’s most well-known visitor attractions.

“Incorporating the language into our interpretation highlights the importance of our intangible heritage with our built environment, both of which are closely related, and we hope that locals and visitors alike enjoy these new materials, which tell the story of the site through the distinctive words and phrases of Shaetlan.”

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