Writing and Speaking in Scots

I’m prompted to write again about Scots by watching a programme by Alistair Heather called The Rebel Tongue on the BBC Scotland Channel the ither nicht.

I was born in Edinburgh (in 1942, since ye ask sae nicely), and spent my first sixteen years there. I don’t recall Scots being used much in conversation, certainly not by my aspiring parents. The odd Scots word crept in of course, as one would say ‘dreich’ for example. But when I was very small – certainly afore the skweel – my grandparents sometimes babysat for me and my little brother, so that my mother could go out to work. My grandparents were from Aberdeenshire, and maybe it’s from them that I got my ear for the Doric. And finding out that my ancestors were from Buchan made Doric more special to me.

I’ve written some poems in a kind of boilerplate Scots, and even had some published. That’s using literary Scots, oot ae a dictionary, bit it’s nae the same as the leid ye hear fowk spik yae day. I’ve also edited collections of poetry in Scots and Doric.

In 2009 and 2010 I was the Scottish Poetry Library’s Poet Partner to Moray, and I heard the distinctive spik o Buckie, Lossie, Kinloss, Fochabers an ither toons in that byordnar county. Ma faimly tree has branches in Ellon, Strichen, Longside, Lonmay an a wheen o ither places.

Last year I wrote a short story in the voice o a Buchan loon whae’d moved Sooth, an sae his leid kinna reflectit baith Doric an the mair refined Scots o the Sooth-East. It wis shortlisted in a competeetion, bit it didna wun. Hooanivver, Ah aye like it, sae Ah’ll sneek it intae ma next buik o short stories, due oot neist year. The thing aboot writin like this is Ah dinnae need tae rin tae a Scots or Doric dictionary tae fun the words Ah need. Ah hae thum aa in ma heid.

About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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