CRITIC’S CHOICE

Celebrating and marking descriptive words which relate to our immediate surroundings is currently A Thing and it's lovely one altogether. Every day, I tune into a great world offered up on Twitter by nature writer Robert Macfarlane and it never fails to educate and make me think.

Catriona Black, who used to be The Sunday Herald's art critic before moving to the Netherlands in 2011, has recently mixed in her love of words and art into one delicious package called Sly Cooking: 42 Irresistible Gaelic Words.

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Among the words she has brought to life through the monochrome medium of linocutting are; Forradh (cooking slyly) and Mionagadanan (the atoms seen in a ray of sunlight coming into a house).

My favourite is Sgionc, which means forcing an object into an aperture less than the object itself. Black has illustrated this with a Daphne Broon lookalike trying to force herself into a too-small frock. I can identify with this one…

Last week, when I saw Sly Cooking on the walls of the bar area at An Lanntair, Stornoway, people were crowding around the prints, laughing and picking out favourites. Many of them were Gaelic speakers and the words were new to them.

As well as the 42 "lost words", Black has created a beautiful linocut featuring the head and shoulders of the priest who "rescued" them from oblivion, Father Allan Macdonald.

The words and expressions which she focuses on were collected in the late 19 and early 20th century around South Uist and Eriskay by Father Allan, who died in 1905 aged 45. This much-loved priest filled 10 notebooks with Gaelic stories, songs, superstitions and linguistic gems before leaving this mortal coil. In 1958, a Gaelic scholar called John Lorne Campbell extrapolated 3000 to produce a dictionary called Gaelic Words and Expressions from South Uist and Eriskay. Black describes Father Allan's dictionary as being "so entertaining that you can happily read it from cover to cover."

Back home in Glasgow, I now have my own little piece on Father Allan's legacy in the shape of a great book also called Sly Cooking: 42 Irresistible Gaelic Words, which which has just been published by Gaelic language champion, Acair Press.

Sly Cooking: 42 Irresistible Gaelic Words, An Lanntair, Kenneth Street, Stornoway, HS1 2DS 01851 703307. slycooking.com Until 22 November.