Archive for the ‘Scots’ Category

And while we’re at it…


Algebra is ane o the maist basic brainches o mathematics. Tho it isna aesie defined, it is chairacterised bi the uiss o seembols tae represent some operations, an o letters tae represent nummers or ither elements.


Algebra can be spleet up intae thir fields:

  • Basic algebra studies the parteiculars o an operations on naitural nummers, integers, raitional an rael nummers, an hou a bodie can solve equations wi variables.
  • Linear algebra is a theory o vector spaces, pairt o it bein the theory o linear equation an o matrices. Ideas an methods frae linear algebra can be uised in monie sindrie brainches o mathematics. For exemplar, the chief ettle o the study o functional analysis is infinite vector spaces.
  • Abstract algebra studies algebraic structurs like groups, rings an bodies that generalises concepts frae basic algebra.


Algebra, like coontin an geometry, is ane o the auldest brainches o mathematics. The name comes frae a beuk bi the Arabian mathemateecian Al-Khwarizmi cried Kitab al-jabr wa al-muqabalah (“The beuk o summary anent calculatin bi transposeition an reduction”).

Algebra wis cleckit for tae help solve equations. The solutions o linear an quadratic equations wis aareadies kent lang syne. In the 16t century Italian mathemateecians fund solutions tae cubic an quartic equations. In 1799 Gauss shawed that “ilka algebraic equation o degree n, haes n ruits (solutions), rael or imaginar”.

At the stairt o the 19t century Niels Abel an Evariste Galois pruived that the solutions o equations o degree bigger nor 4 canna be expressed uisin coeffeicients o the equation an algebraic operations juist—that is, the’r nae generalisation o the quadratic, cubic or quartic formulae tae heicher degrees.

See forby

  • Expression
  • Equation
  • Determinant
  • Group
  • Field
  • Matrix
  • Ring
  • Space
  • Structur
  • Variable

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Scottish Haka

I’m still trying to find out which episode of Chewin’ the Fat the Scottish Sobriety Test is on.  That had me over at Youtube.

OK, this is funny.  I’ve seen the Maoris doing the Haka up close and personal at a hangi.  I have to admit its funnier than threatening.  I was a guest which meant I wasn’t going to laugh.

Or do what these lads do…

Little Jock Elliot

This is the Borders ballad Little Jock Elliot:

Wha daur meddle wi’ me?
Wha daur meddle wi’ me?
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi’ me?

I ride on my fleet-footed grey,
My sword hangind doun by my knee,
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi’ me?

In raids I ride always the foremost,
My straik is the first in melee,
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi’ me?

I ne’er was afraid of a foe,
Or yield I liefer wad die;
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi’ me?

I’ve vanquished the Queen’s Lieutenant,
And garr’d her troopers flee;
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi’ me?

Wha daur meddle wi’ me?
Wha daur meddle wi’ me?
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi’ me?

It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht taenicht

Arthur Herman got me going when he said in his How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It that:

The symbol of Dewar’s {Scotch} was a Highland drum major in bearskin bonnet and kilt.

OK, that’s ONE thing he got wrong, Pipers and Highlanders wear Ostrich Feather Bonnets. On the return of the 42nd Foot to Britain in 1790 an official report commented that “Their bonnets are entirely disfigured. They are so covered with lofty feathers that they appear like grenadier caps of black bearskin.” So, I can forgive him and not do a Michael Bellesisles on him.

Anyway, his talk about Scottish stereotypes made me look up some Sir Harry Lauder. Yeah, Yeah, I used to listen to the old 78s at my grandparents.

Now, fix that error about bearskins, ya numpty!

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”

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


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.

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

Salsa Celtica!

I love Salsa Celtica, mainly because they have the only version of Auld Lang Syne that I can tolerate. Yeah, I realise that’s blasphemy to say for the most part that you can’t tolerate that Hogmanay standard, but…

I should add that one of the best Hogmanays I ever celebrated was in a Hispanic household! Dancing to salsa music in my kilt!

Anyway, it seems that the US may have a changing demographic where there will be more Hispanics than white folk.

Live with it! Especially since it produces interesting music.

The Variety of Scots Accents

The wide variety of Scottish Accents:

David Tennant:

Andrew Marr:

The above is a twofer with Gordon Brown

Phil Kay:

Note the broader Scottish accents from the workers.

Neil Oliver:

Limmy (AKA Brian Limond):

Alas, you have to go here for Rab C. Nesbitt.

I do not think that the people with the less pronounced accents (Tennant, Kay, Brown, Marr, and Kay’s “accents”). Mine is a bit more of a mix of British accents though.

Not to forget this from the Goodies featuring scottish actor, Stanley Baxter and Graeme Garden is also Scottish–“You must be English tourists here for the monster”:

I like the breeding sporrans. Mine seem to be doing the same thing.

Frequent Commentor Richard T in another of his excellent comments provides the following examples:

John Laurie

“Every town in England has a stroppy Scotsman–They’re either Lawyers or Solicitors”


Maggie Smith in the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Echos of a future role with THAT accent!  While another fav, Gordon Jackson, is in that scene, he says not a word. So, here he is:

Jackson is probably best known as Hudson on the Original Upstairs, Downstairs, but he had a long and varied career. My first memory of him was as Ian D’eath in the Avenger’s Episode Castle Death