Document 1823

Scots Tung Wittins 172

Author(s): Robert Fairnie

Copyright holder(s): Name withheld


Nummer 172
Mairch 2008

Keep a guid Scots Tung in yer heid, hert an mooth!!

[NOTE: logo here of the dot Sco in original]
Scots Tung WITTINS

Eydently Campaignin tae Uphaud the Scots Language
Ph. [CENSORED: phonenumber] Scots Tung wabsite: Stravaiger Ph. [CENSORED: phonenumber]

Creengin Tae The Will o Deid Politicians?
WRITIN in Scots tae the Herald in Februar, David Ogston threaps:-

"Full marks tae Charlie Allan for mootin the idea o a Doric denner, bit I am stammergasted that he disna ken the Methlick Grace, which has been handed doon for eleiven generations.

O Lord, we sikk a blissin noo,
On ilka ashet stappit foo,
On dreepin roasts for ilka moo,
Or troots fae oot the Ythan.

An faan it's hame we're bound the nicht,
Tae Fyvie, Ellon, Maud or Gicht,
Lord grant us a meen that's shinin bricht,
Lest we faa intae the Ythan.

He also forgets tae mention skirlie on the menu. Nae Doric denner wid be complete withoot skirlie. He disna specify the soup, bit it wid hae to be hen broth, thick eneuch tae lat the speen staan its leen in't. Apairt fae aa that, it's a great notion. Sen me a ticket, Charlie, an I'll maybe even pey for't. David Ogston, (Scone.)"

Efter bein speirt bi Scots Tung for permission tae yaise his letter alang wi the Methlick Grace itsel, David gies the follaein repone:-

"Thanks for yer letter. Of coorse ye can use the letter tae the papers an the Methlick Grace anaa.

Some wid hae't there is anither version sib tae the een in the "Herald"............

O Lord, we sikk a blissin noo,
On ashets fairly stappit foo,
Ham fae the grumphie, beef fae the coo,
An troots fae oot the Ythan.

An eence we're hame-wards bound the nicht,
Tae Fyvie, Ellon, Maud or Gicht,
Keep's airtit true an roadit richt,
As the meen shines on the Ythan.

In the meantime, caa forrit wie the sterk defence o the tongue.

The Scots language is gey near unique in the warld in that its speakers can speak, hear an think in Scots but maist haes tae read an write only in English (see "Scotticisms in grammar and vocabulary" bi Prof Marina Dossena ISBN 0-85976-605-5).

In maist cases a Scots speaker's letter written tae his freends in English disnae soond like the writer at aw whan it's read oot lood. This haes come aboot ower the generations bi wey o the political doon-haudin o the Scots language that wis enforced in the schuils an in the estaiblishment in general syne the mid 19th century tae juist raicently.

Howanever, for aw that this doon-haudin haes been officially duin awa wi the day, the mindset o maist fowk that haes been brocht up throu this political linguistic oppression hisnae chynged. The exception tae this is the haundfu o Scots upsteerers that haes taen positive steps tae no faw in wi this politically imposed linguistic cleansin an haes learned thirsels hou tae read an write in Scots in spite o the Scottish education system o thair day.

David Ogston is ane o thae exceptions. Thank guidness for him an aw the ithers like him.
Sae whit aboot yersel? Is the wey ye communicate wi ithers still aye creengin tae the will o thae lang syne deid politicians or, like David, dae ye hae a mind o yer ain?

A Tale o Twa Sheriffs
WHAN the Bruce, in clear sicht o Stirling castle afore the Battle o Bannockburn, speirt his men gin thay wad tak the ure thon day or no, the country roond aboot dirlt tae the michty "Ay!" that roared oot frae ilka Scottish mooth.

"Ay!" wis the repone the King o Scots wis maist pleisured tae hear thon day but 688 year on, in Stirling Sheriff Coort, athin sicht o thae bluid stained fields o Bannockburn, it wis a word that scunnert Sheriff Lindsay Wood that muckle, he daured an accused laddie frae yaisin it in his coort an gart him tae say "Yes" insteid. Whan the laddie daured tae yaise thon word agane, the sheriff pit him intae the cells tae lairn hou tae speak proper.
Anither six year on the follaein ongaun taen place in the Dundee Sheriff Coort.

A Scottish junior fitba club manager brak the jaw o ane o his players for refuisin tae gaun for a bevvy wi the rest o the team efter the match. He appearinly taen the huff for bein kept on the substitute's bench aw throu the gemm athoot gettin a chance tae play.

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro telt the twa o thaim, "I have to say my over-arching view of this case is what a pair of big weans you are, you and Mr Christie - him in the huff and you getting annoyed because he disrespects you. For goodness sake - all over a game of football or, rather, a non-game of football. What a carry on."

Wi juist the six year atween thae twa sheriff coorts, we micht wunner gin Sheriff Munro wad hiv cried Sheriff Wood a big wean or on the ither haund wad Sheriff Wood hiv pitten Sheriff Munro in the cells for daurin tae say weans in his coort insteid o speakin properly?

Official Signs
WRITIN in the Daily Mail, Graham Grant haes a guid lauch at the Scots owersettin o the Scottish Government's National Conversation on the grunds that he disnae ken ony Scots speakers that cannae unnerstaund English. Hou mony Gaelic speakers daes he ken that cannae unnerstaund English? He maks the pynt an aw that mony Scots wad hae an awfu bother unnerstaundin this written Scots. But no him appearinly for he gies the reader an owersettin o ae passage intae English.

It's weel unnerstuid that Scots speakers hisnae been learned tae read an write Scots in the schuils sae it's nae wunner some o thaim micht hae bother whan thay're no yaised tae seein thair ain language written doon. Howanever, whan a government's "Scotland Fact File" threaps English, Gaelic an Scots tae be official languages o Scotland, shuirly that government can help tae expose the een o Scots speakers tae written forms o Scots bi eikin Scots signs tae the pairlament's signage.

Scots Tung WITTINS
On the wab.
Mair raicent copies o the Scots Tung Wittins can be gotten in pdf format frae Scots Tung's wabsite at:-
A hard copy o STW is sent free o chairge tae aw maimbers o Scots Tung ilka month.
Maimbership subscreivins is £5 (Scotland/UK)
Peyed ilka September. €9 (Ireland/EU)

A Collogue Wi Robert Alan Jamieson
Bi Irene Broon ©
[NOTE: a photograph of Robert Alan Jamieson in original]
A met wi Robert Alan Jamieson in the gey apt venue o Milne's Bar, whaur some o the poets that yaised tae gaither thare in the '50s haes been immortalised in the fawmous paintin Poets' Pub bi Alexander Moffat. Tho ower young tae be pairt o the socialisin, Jamieson telt me that he'd studied Hugh MacDiarmid whan in his 20s, that Iain Crichton Smith haed been baith a freend an mentor tae him an that his first public readin haed been for Norman MacCaig. MacDiarmid haed steyed in Whalsay for 9 year an the Yell poet, W J Tait, for aw that he wisnae pairt o the paintin, haed been pairt o thon coterie. The Shetland connection wis thare aw richt. But the person that he descrived as his 'literary faither' wis John J Graham, a co editor wi T A Roberston (Vagaland) o the influential anthology o Shetland verse an prose, Nordern Lichts.

For the lest 20 year, Robert Alan Jamieson haes been readin aw ower the warld the poems that noo gauns tae mak up his hinnermaist collection, Nort Altantik Drift. We spake aboot the difference o his oncome tae writin in Shetland dialect noo frae that in his airly wark. For exemplar, thare nae vocabular in the buik an insteid Jamieson haes creatit whit he haes descrived as "a portal for listening strangers". This taks the form o an English text wi an appropriate photie, the poem itsel in his Shetlandic an the poem in English. In the Shetland text, he haes tried tae get the soond on the page. As onybody that writes in dialeck kens, this is nae easy darg for thare nae consensus anent hou it shuid be duin. This led me tae speir gin sic a consensus wis possible an Jamieson thocht it wis for the purposes o formal writin, whaur fowk wad pronounce words in thair ain wey, juist as thay dae in English. Howanever, he said that a poet cannae be dictatit tae anent hou thay shuid write. He yaises the word 'idiolect' tae descrive his particlar style o Shetlandic. This is a muckle chynge frae whit micht previously hiv been descrived as 'Shenglish'. He eiks tae this topic in his essay, A "Quite Right" apo da Saekrit Paetbank , that can be gotten intae frae The essay wis written in Shetlandic an in English an delivert in Shetlandic at a collogue on dialeck. It wis worth takin tent that aw but 2 oot o the 8 tae 10 papers wis delivert in English, for aw that the audience wis local. This brocht me tae the question o whuther dialeck writin can be lairnt. Jamieson believes it can, an is an important pairt o language development. Howanever, it confirmed the want for a staundart vairsion, the likes o the Concise Scots Dictionar or John J Graham's Shetlandic dictionar.

Jamieson haes the abeility tae tak in the importance o yaisin language an in particlar local language weel, o bein able tae "turn to text things that would otherwise be lost", while like a true islander bein awaur o the braider warld an its influences. Nairrae parochialism disnae come intae the picter. As he said in the innin tae his airly poetry ingaitherin, Shoormal, whit is wantit is " international awareness grounded in humanism." He said that in his experience he's fund that whaure'er ye gaun the "fundamental concerns ...are the same wherever you go." He tells the tale o mindin as a wee laddie o 6, a Merchant seaman that wis keen tae shaw aff his photies o the Tokyo Olympics, syne bringin the ither side o the warld richt tae the shores o Shetland. (The poem Apo Da Bloo Djoob in the Makar's Neuk is a guid exemplar o this.) In his essay, Jamieson wrate that "people change and people change places" but acknowledged an aw the importance o pittin a name tae yer ain warld, hou the auld words for things the likes o the wather taks ye tae a "different philosophical space". Scots, an onybody wi a love o language, maun treisure thaim. Ower the hinnermaist 10 year or sae, Jamieson, influenced agane bi Nordern Lichts , haes been researchin Sheltand writers wi a view tae reprentin thair original texts. He haed duin this bi self publishin a pamphlet o aboot 20 key titles, wi the ettle o creatin the Shetlandic equivalent o the Penguin Black Classics. He stummelt on the wabsite Shetlopedia, a Shetlandic vairsion o Wikipedia stertit bi Gary Johnson, an stertit uploadin the texts but endin up wi 180 writers!

This collogue haes taen place wi gratefu thanks tae StAnza. ©Irene Broon

Robert Alan Jamieson wis born in Shetland in 1958 an growed up in the croftin community o Sandness. He tendit the University o Edinburgh as a mature student. He haes sin syne hauden the William Soutar Fellowship in Perth, wis co-editor o Edinburgh Review an writer in residence at the Universities o Glesca an Strathclyde an haes tutored Creative Writin at the University o Edinburgh. He's the author o three novels, twa collections o poetry an twa plays, an haes editit a nummer o anthologies. His poetry in Shetlandic Scots haes been owersetten intae mair nor a dizzen languages an he haes owerset mair nor twenty European poets intae Shetlandic Scots.

For mair information gaun tae
North Atlantik Drift ISBN(10)1-906307-13-X is publisht bi Luath Press price £15. Thair wabsite,, gies a cleek tae audio an audio visual doonloads o the buik .

Makar's Neuk

T'kum bakk sæf ir no
fæ da sie broght
da wirld hem t'dim.

Da sie's da wy
da wirld kums ta wis.
Is da boat wun in?

Nier ivrie hoose
a mærchint siemin atill'it
fædir, ungkil, sun,

gadderin quhier pierie bits
a'da brod wirld an aa'its
fremmit tungs fir fokk t'gokk at.

Men, gie a kuppla jieir,
dat rieipier, mistierjis,
distint hæt sies sjynin

apo dir saat-leddirt skiejins,
d'ir ay lævin sumquhar.

Robert Alan Jamieson

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The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


Cite this Document

APA Style:

Scots Tung Wittins 172. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 20 April 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Scots Tung Wittins 172." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 20 April 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Scots Tung Wittins 172," accessed 20 April 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1823

Scots Tung Wittins 172


Text audience

Audience size N/A

Text details

Method of composition N/A
Word count 2164
General description monthly newsletter

Text medium

Leaflet/brochure (prospectus)

Text publication details

Publisher Scots Tung
Publication year 2008
Part of a longer series of texts
Name of series Scots Tung Wittins

Text type

Prose: nonfiction
Other mixed text type


Author details

Author id 95
Forenames Robert
Surname Fairnie
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment College
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Consultant Marine Structural Engineer (Retired)
Place of birth Musselburgh
Region of birth Midlothian
Birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Musselburgh
Region of residence Midlothian
Residence CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Fisherman
Father's place of birth Musselburgh
Father's region of birth Midlothian
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Fishwife
Mother's place of birth Musselburgh
Mother's region of birth Midlothian
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
German Yes Yes Yes Yes In Germany to communicate with two grandsons
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Wherever Scots is understood