Mì-thuigse, Dìth Tuigse, Tàthagan: Buannachd nam Mearachd ann an Cruinneachaidhean Beul-Aithris Alasdair MhicGille Mhìcheil
The field notebooks of Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912), now transcribed, catalogued, and available at www.carmichaelwatson.lib.ed.ac.uk, allow us to eavesdrop on interactions between a major Highland folklore collector and his informants. Carmichael noted names, ages, locations, and occupations of interviewees, along with dates of interviews, allowing us to trace continuities, breaks, and developments in his collecting career over more than half a century. Carmichael’s cluttered and sometimes chaotic notebooks free us from the notion of a formal encounter between performer and audience (or collector), and allow us to take in the multiplicity of voices heard in the Highland céilidh house. The paper focuses upon the miscommunications, misunderstandings, mistaken inferences, confusions, and communicative breakdowns recorded in Carmichael’s notebooks, and explores what these may reveal about relations between the recorder and his informants.
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