Document 445

Use it or lose it

Author(s): Christine De Luca

Copyright holder(s): Christine De Luca


Use it or lose it (Ös hit or loss hit)

If you hae access tae a computer (or a göd-natured grandbairn wha'll hae you surfin in nae time ava) dan hae a skoit at dis website.

You'll maybe get a peerie surprise, fur dere you'll fin i a recent volume (Transcript 2- click apö 'backnumbers' fur him) twartree 'pages' aboot Shetland an Shetland writin. Der features on Shetland poetry written baith bi mesell an Robert Alan Jamieson.

Transcript is a online review o writin across Europe. Hit's policy is "ta mak available tae a wider audience excellent writin in peerier - though no lesser - European languages." Fundin comes fae da Culture 2000 programme o da European Union an hit hes partnerships wi organisations fae Iceland tae Greece, an fae Hungary tae Portugal. Da editor, Diarmuid Johnson, bides in Wales.

If you're feelin cosmopolitan you can tab alang da tap o ivery page an hit'll gie you French or German versions o da information. Whit wi lokks o idder information an plenty o 'hot links' tae idder websites -some Shetland eens) you'll fin hit a really fine een tae add tae your 'favourites'. (Ir you still wi me?).

A'll no bore you wi da poetry - you can see dat fur yoursels - but ee thing at got me fairly jimpin wis da description - laekely sadly owre true - o da plight o Shetland spaekin among wir young eens. Here's whit hit says.

Regarding the demise of Norn and the spread of Scots in Shetland, it seems that Shetlanders, over a period of time, adopted Scots and rejected Norn because Scots was the more useful language with the greater status at the time, and Norn had come to be seen as irrelevant.

This model offers parallels to the situation in Shetland today. On one hand, the Shetlandic vocabulary is slowly disappearing so that what remains is a depleted dialect consisting mostly of common English words with Shetland pronunciations. This gradual decline of the characteristic Shetland vocabulary certainly continues throughout Shetland. In the town of Lerwick, however, another situation has arisen: the younger generation does not speak any kind of Shetlandic, but simply standard English, albeit with a local accent.

Göd grief: is dat no jöst most solemn? So get writin, get readin, get spaekin an get textin an surfin, but in Shetlan (as weel as in English, French or Catalan). Mind, hit only taks twa generations ta loss a language. Did you ken at bairns at hae twa wyes o spaekin fluently laern better? Nae winder, hit exercises da mind as weel as da tongue.

PS tae da Editor: whit aboot a policy o ha'in at laest wan article writin i da dialect ivery week? An a dialect poem? An somethin fur bairns?

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

Use it or lose it. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 12 April 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Use it or lose it." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 12 April 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Use it or lose it," accessed 12 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 445

Use it or lose it


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2003
Word count 476

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Shetland Times
Publication year 2003
Place of publication Lerwick

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 120
Forenames Christine
Surname De Luca
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Head of Assessment, Research and Development
Place of birth Bressay
Region of birth Shetland
Birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Headmaster
Father's place of birth Vidlin
Father's region of birth Shetland
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Primary Teacher
Mother's place of birth Cunningsburgh
Mother's region of birth Shetland
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All
Scots No Yes No Yes Work, read Scots literature