Min Öömrang Lun – anthem of Amrum island in the Northern Frisian language

Classified by Unesco as severely endangered and spoken only by around 10,000 people you would think a “model” democracy like Germany would pull out all the stops to support Northern Frisian. But Welsh and Scottish Gaelic enjoy much more government help. I hope this little video adds awareness at least (sorry for the wind noise at the start).

The state of the Frasch (Northern Frisian) language: Since recording this video on the island of Oomrem/ Amrum I have found out that you can do an A-level/ Higher in Frisian only in one (1) high school situated on Feer/ Föhr.

Geizige Schotten. Warum eigentlich? Und was wohl dran sein mag?

Schon Theodor Fontane fühlte sich in Oban an der schottischen Westküste von einer alten Waschfrau überfordert. Es ist wohl die komischste Szene seines Buches “Jenseit des Tweed”. Aber ich lebe jetzt seit 18 Jahren hier und habe die Schotten immer als äußerst gastfreundlich und großzügig kennengelernt. In der Tat hat ihre Liebenswürdigkeit entscheidend dazu beigetragen, daß ich letztendlich nach Schottland ausgewandert bin. Was ist also dran, an dem Klischee? SWR 2 Matinée (11.7.21)

Are the Sinixt still considered extinct?

Canada’s Supreme Court recently granted the Sinixt hunting rights in their traditional territory. Some celebrated this as a reversal of the declaration of extinction of the Sinixt people by Canada in the 1950ies. But others say it’s not, as they still don’t have land rights. As seen on “An Là” on BBC ALBA on 1/6/21 (Sinixt territory footage by Ali Kazimi).

Is it possible to revive a dead language?

The Wampanoag language had died in the 19th century, but with the help of an old Bible (and other documents) they have reconstructed it and are now teaching classes. There are said to be around 10 fluent speakers so far. An exhibition about their culture has opened in Plymouth. As seen on “An Là” on BBC ALBA on 22/5/21.

Wählt Schottland heute die Unabhängigkeit?

In Schottland wird heute ein Regionalparlament gewählt. Es scheint aber, als wäre es in erster Linie eine Abstimmung über ein erneutes Unabhängigkeitsreferendum. Die europafreundlichen Schotten wollen wieder zurück in die EU und die Europafahne weht weiterhin vor dem Parlament in Edinburg (gesendet am 6.5.2021).

Werden die Schotten mehrheitlich Parteien wählen, die die Unabhängigkeit anstreben? Wird es ein zweites Referendum geben? Wollen die Schotten immer noch zurück in die EU? Gesendet am 6.5.2021.

Soisgeul @ Glòir an 2019

Cuimhneachain air amannan nas fheàrr: Soisgeul an Talla Usher an Dùn Èideann/ Memories of better times: Two year’s ago the only Gaelic Gospel choir performed in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. What a privilege to be a part of this amazing choir!

I first joined Soisgeul at a workshop with Gareth Fuller, an experienced Gospel choir director, on the holy island of Iona in 2017. Here is my report for An Là, the news on BBC ALBA.

Berlin Rent Cap a Clash of Ideologies

The City of Berlin has recently introduced a rent cap after rents doubled over 10 years. But they are still very low compared to other European capitals. The federal government has challenged the law in the courts saying it is unconstitutional. The rent cap was introduced by “Die Linke”, successor of the communist party of East Germany. Three industry experts tell me of their fear it will gradually return the housing stock to the ruinous state of communist times as landlords stop investing. Now campaigners gather signatures for a referendum to expropriate big private and even social landlords.

My report for European current affairs programme, Eòrpa on BBC ALBA on 4/2/21:


If you live outside the UK please access my report on youtube:

The Sea Cannot Be Blocked

In February 2020 I visited Moria, the notorious refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. Some who worked there say the conditions were worse than in refugee camps in Africa. The camp has since burnt down in a fire set by the desperate refugees themselves.

“Η θάλασσα Δεν φράζεται” [I thálassa den frázetai]! Kostas Pinteris kept repeating the sentence over and over again. “The sea cannot be blocked”. He is a fisherman on the Greek island of Lesvos, on the edge of Europe. Turkey is within sight. In 2015 when the refugee crisis was at its height, he became a fisherman of men. He says he rescued thousands. Together with three others he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Fisherman Kostas
Kostas Pinteris, Greek fisherman who became a fisherman of men

Now the Greek government are planning to install floating barriers between the island and Turkey to keep the refugees out. Kostas says this will impede fishing as well as shipping and will inevitably lead to disputes with the Turks.

Poseidon is known to be the Greek god of the sea. But Thalassa was a primeval spirit of the oceans. Her name is still in practical use today: I thálassa den frázetai! Together with her male counterpart, Pontus, she spawned the tribes of fish and the storm gods. Thalassa and Pontus were later replaced by Oceanus and Tethys, Poseidon and Amphitrite.

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