Mair o the Leids o Scotland!

As readers of my blog know I have a thing for archaeology and Scottish languages which caused me to be curious when BBC iPlayer suggested the programme Talamh Trocair: Arc-eòlas fo uisge. BBC Alba translates as Submerged Archaeology, but it’s more like “Archeology Under Water”. English Speakers will recognise “uisge” from the gaelic uisge beathe, “water of life” or “whisky”. Talamh Trocair translates as “Earth Mercy”, but BBC Alba says is “Revealing Scotland’s Past”. But enough of my very limited Gaelic (it’s not my first language).

There are three languages of Scotland; English, Scots, and Gaelic. English is pretty easy since that’s pretty much the standard spoekn English. Scots gets a bit more interesting. Wikipedia says that it is a “lowlands” dialect, but adds the Northern Isles (Orkneys and Shetlands) and Ulster. The Scots version discusses Hieland Inglis and tries to differentiate between Scots and Hieland Inglis, which I disagree with. The problem is that The Scots and Gaelic speakers have an animosity, which probably explains why there is the “difference”.

Gaelic, of course, is its own language and is spoken primarily in the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides (Western Isles). Here is a sample of Gaelic from BBC Alba:

A’ sgrùdadh arc-eòlas an là an-diugh. ‘S e arc-eòlas fo uisge cuspair a’ phrògraim seo far am faicear tobhtaichean aon de na gàrraidhean-iarainn as sine ann an Alba, pàirt de sheann chaladh anns an Eilean Sgitheanach.

Nothing like English. Fortunately, the programme has subtitles when Gaelic is spoken and a fair amount of spoken English. That means it’s comprehensible to those wha daena ken Gaelic. Scots at least is comprehensible to those who speak English. Although, knowing that Scots has its origins in the variety of Early northern Middle English spoken in southeastern Scotland helps to understand why it looks the way it does. Think of Chaucer with more standardised spellings and you get the idea. Although, for those wha arena cannie tae Scots leid find it looks as if the person is illiterate. Robert Burns, the most famous of Scots poets was far from illiterate and could write standard English

I assure you that any thought that Scots speakers are illiterate is not true as these samples demonstrate:

He’s five year auld, he’s aff tae the schuil
Fermer’s bairn wi a pincil an a rule
His teacher scoffs whan he says “hoose”
” The word is house, you silly little goose”
He tells his ma whan he gets back
He saw a “mouse” in an auld cairt track
His faither lauchs fae the stackyaird dyke
“Yon’s a MOOSE ye daft wee tike”

Owerwird:
Listen tae the teacher, daena say daena
Listen tae the teacher, daena say hoose
Listen tae the teacher, ye canna say maunna
Listen tae the teacher, ye maunna say moose

He bit his lip an shut his mooth
Whit ane coud he trust for truith
He teuk his burden ower the hill
Tae auld gray Geordie o the mill
“An did thay mock thoo for thee tongue
Wi thaim sae auld an ye sae young?
Thay warna makkin a fuil o ye
Thay war makkin a fuil o thaimsels ye see”

Say hoose tae the faither, house tae the teacher
Moose tae the fermer, mouse tae the preacher
Whan yer young it’s weel for you
Tae “do in Rome as Romans do”
But whan ye growe an ye are auld
Ye needna dae as ye are tauld
Daena trim yer tongue tae suit yon dame
That scorns the langage o her hame

Than teacher thocht that he wis fine
He keepit in stap, he steyed in line
Faither says that he wis grand
He spak his ain tongue like a man
An whan he growed an made his chyce
He chuise his Scots, his native vyce
An A chairge ye tae dae likewice
Spurn yon puir misguidit cries

And

A canty wee lassie cried Menzies
Speirt, “Dae ye ken whit this thenzies?”
Her Maw, wi a gasp,
Reponed, “It’s a wasp!”
An ye’r haudin the end whaur the stenzies

It’s much easier for an English speaker to get around since it does have more in common with English.

There was a time when Scottish speakers worked at removing Scottishisms from their speech, but it seems that Scots is gaining some respect with the rise of Scottish Nationalism (as is Gaelic).

I like the variety, but do tend toward Gaelic. I agree with the people of Scots Online: If you intend using this site to learn to speak Scots, choose the dialect you wish to learn – all dialects are equally valid. In my opnion, that goes for all the languages of Scotland–Gaelic and Germanic based.

According to the Aye Can site, I am a Scots speaker.

Resources:
Wir Ain Leed
Aye Can-Scots Language
Leids o Scotland
Languages of Scotland
Scots Leid Online
Faclair ùr Gàidhlig gu Beurla, Beurla gu Gàidhlig le Dwelly ‘na bhroinn
MG Alba Talamh Trocair

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: