Défi linguistique : This week’s selection of Gordon McCoomb’s challenging Scottish Highland hikes

« L’anglais est une langue facile à parler mal » disait Winston Churchill. Que l’on soit enfant ou adulte, de langue maternelle anglaise ou non, plus on avance dans l’apprentissage ou dans la pratique de l’anglais, plus on se rend compte de sa complexité et de sa diversité. 

Suite à des randonnées estivales en Écosse dans des conditions météorologiques qui ne l’étaient guère, notre associé Xavier Combe a écrit une nouvelle qui s’inscrit dans un genre littéraire anglo-saxon peu connu, celui de la « fake non-fiction ». D’une grande diversité lui aussi, ce genre regroupe des faux modes d’emploi de machine à laver, des biographies détournées, des procès-verbaux de réunions qui n’ont pas eu lieu, des fausses circulaires administratives ou des récits historiques farfelus.

En l’occurrence, le texte ci-après est un extrait d’un faux guide de randonnée.

Ami(e)s étudiant(e)s, vous nous le traduirez pour la semaine prochaine.

This week’s selection of Gordon McCoomb’s challenging Scottish Highland hikes
Complete with editor’s footnotes

 From Coire Mhic Fhearchair to Carn a’ Bhealaich Mhoir (Part 1)

 A waymarked lineal walk across moorland and then round a rocky headland. Fine views of Eas a’ Chual Aluinn and Sgeir Bhuidhe. 19 hours. Undulating. Avoid this walk in the mist.

Start southeast of the second farm at the entrance of the village. Walk towards the church and follow the sign behind the post office[1]. The path climbs gently past an ancient crofting settlement and skirts around the edge of a burn. Cross the stile and take the narrow spur path which drops towards the end of a reedy lochan and eventually meets a peat road. Pass the gate (off hinges at time of writing) and cut up across the brae. At times, the lumpy path may be wet underfoot[2]. As you reach the rocks below the crags, watch for sprait. At the second stile after the kissing-gate, turn past the fank and into an open area (take care, you are approaching a cliff edge). The steady climb is rewarded by spectacular views of Sgeir Bhuidhe on a sunny day[3].

paysagecossais
Paysage écossais

Go straight over a low watershed and into the valley on the narrow path which swings between the gorse bushes. Pass the cattle grid and go down a shallow gully and up the hill through some broom, bracken and birch, enjoying fine views of the kyle, the pebbly shore, the wee shingle beach and the sea stack. You will soon hear a waterfall – one of the highest in Great Britain – but the path affords a limited view of it. After some distance you reach several houses where you must take a ferry to get to the other side of the firth. Bear in mind that sailing times are at the captain’s discretion and are subject to weather conditions, the tide and the number of passengers present. If you do cross, refer to loop walk 24B, but counterclockwise. If you stay on the northern shore, the walk takes you across a low col and into a wild, rough area of rocky outcrops beyond. The path may be indistinct in places and some navigation may be needed[4].

lost
On y est presque.

Shadow the burn as best as you can until it jinks left and you reach a junction (A754/782) marked by a collapsed cairn which is partly concealed by ferns. Bear left and head directly for the remains of an Iron Age fort below which the burn is crossed on stepping-stones, which can be a challenge when the river is in spate. Beyond the river the route is initially unclear. The lip of the corrie is the first point to aim for. Turn right behind the craggy hill to reach the end of a scree-sided ridge. Take in magnificent views of several Munros as height is gained. The best viewpoint is on the edge of the cliff that drops precipitously down into the glen below[5]. Do not miss the broch. It may look like a pile of stones but upon close inspection it reveals a circular structure with a triangular lintel inside and tardis-like dimensions. Head southwards until you reach a cairned fork and go up to the glen across broken, boggy ground. Watch for a faint path heading off to the left. As you drop down the far side on a strip of grassy grazing, a ruined mill comes into view. Climb up over a low wall and go right at the next split for 500 paces. Note the fine view of the rapids in the river. When the path eventually peters out keep on in the same direction, aiming for a rounded knoll. Here you can either go west from the lay-by to the ford across the river or stay on the rocky hillock. Both options will take you to Rubh’ Aird an t-Sionnaich, where you are likely to come across an irate farmer carrying a rifle (a .22 at time of writing). Head towards the pathless craig but mind the bulls roaming in the locality. Aim for the ruins of a blackhouse to the left of the tidal loch – take care not to lose the path on the boggier bits.

Stay overnight in the bothy by the blackhouse. There you can eat your baked beans from the tin, curl up in your sleeping bag and pull out your pocket radio. But the only station you’ll pick up broadcasts nothing but Pakistani and Sri Lankan cricket news, from long on to long off, with belters, pulls, hooks, grubbers, hoicks, yorkers, nicks and doosra – total gibberish if you ask me.

cricketresults
Résultats de la 9ème journée du championnat pakistanais de cricket

[1] Open Thursdays from 2:00 to 2:45 p.m.

[2] i.e. not quite knee-deep… yet.

[3] Fat chance.

[4] Before setting off, learn how to say  ‘’Houston, we have a problem’’  in Scottish Gaelic.

[5] If you lean over enough, you may see a few corpses with backpacks, still clutching McCoomb’s hiking guide.