Document 1030

Giein translations for a Doric play? Gie's a break - February 21, 2005

Author(s): Robbie Shepherd

Copyright holder(s): Robbie Shepherd


My mither tongue! a bairn at schule In English, buiks I read My Mither Tongue - David Grant FIT'S es tae me noo? At's an upcome o ma earlier days fin an aulder body wis the weers o nae taakin in fit wis said an fit struck them atween the een on pickin up the papers.

At phrase cam loupin back fin I flickit throwe Friday's P&J tae see ma gweed freen Charles Barron, the skeely writer, a thochtie bamboozl't that een o's best-kent Doric plays tae be studied in Scottish skweels wid cairry an English translation.

If coorse, he wis fair trickit that Amang the Craws his been recognis't as such, as he'd geen up aa hope o ony o's plays taakin tae the stages o London - bit Scotland? Gie's a break.

"It is just everyday modern speech as spoken in Aberdeen," he said an, bi wye o giein mair understannin, added: "It isn't particularly broad, nothing like the Robbie Shepherd column in the Press and Journal, for instance." I'm flatter't, Charlie, as we hae discuss't es in different situations ower the eers: we baith agree we maun haud on tae wir ain tongue an ony attempt at translation, waaterin doon, will see it gang tapsalteerie doonhill an tint for aa time.

Hooiver, I dinna ken aa the ins an oots o't, bit maybe it's the teachers at need the translation, sic his been the neglec ower the eers.

Surely a play wi aa the actions can haunle Charles's Doric. An on that, I also read that his play Bertie Mutch is bein stag't at The Scottish Community Drama Association's festival es wikk an the Irish adjudicator his speirt for translations o certain wirds aforehaun, haein a copy o the play for a fylie noo.

That's foo I hope the education authorities will act. Keep the translation awa fae the bairns; teachers' reference only.

Div they get a translation o Pavarotti's Italian arias? Bit fit I winner maist is foo they treat a Liz Lochhead play or poem. Wid it be waater't doon in its strong Glesca twang? I some doobt it.

NOO es his me aa kittle't up again, bit I ken Charles gets the same satisfaction in seein the performin o's Doric plays as I get fae ma screeds on a Monday fin I get a response bi wird o moo or fae yer letters.

"I like tae read yer column, bit fyles it's a sair chauve" is gran music tae my lugs.

So finnin masel on the Doric, let's turn tae a couple o yer letters.

A fylie back, I got a letter fae Bill Johnston, o Udny, fa hid gotten the len o a beuk o poems wi pages missin - nae cover, nae index, nae writer's name.

I wis able tae tell him it's een o my favourite beuk o poems bi Elsie S. Rae, ca'd Private John MacPherson and Other War Poems - aa poems o Warl War I, an Elsie jist a young quine at the time.

It's pooerfu reading an brings hame, as it did tae Bill, jist fit these loons hid tae pit up wi an, he adds, ayont oor oonerstannin.

Noo, the wye I bring up Bill's letter the day is cis o the hinmaist paragraph: "A'll eyn bi speerin if ye've hid a go at 'kame-sowfin'? Es is mentioned in A Recruit for the Gordons in a beukie o verse ca'ad Deveron Days, bi Mary Symon." The line o the poem reads that Sownock, fae the bothy door, kame-sowfed a martial lilt. Kame - a comb - an sowf - tae hum - aye, Sownock wis playin a tune bi comb an paper. It wis new tae me, tho, an thanks, Bill.

FINALLY, fae Douglas Tait, o Lonmay, comes twa examples o the frustration o tryin tae translate the Buchan tongue inta English - tak tent ye o Learning + Teaching Scotland.

A young quine ahin the coonter o a shoppie at St Combs wis struggling tae explain that their eggs werena frae battery hens. Tryin tae myn the English "free-range hens", she cam oot wi "scutterin-aboot hens".

Noo, as Douglas says, that wid look braw on a boxie o eggs: "Frae Scutterin Aboot Hens." An doon at the hairber at the Broch, es wifie wis, in her best pan loaf, tryin tae explain tae a visiter fit road er wisna mony boats in, an oot she cam wi: "Well, you see, the hindies aff boats are not in yet." Translate? Dinna bother. Ye're sure tae fa throw't.

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APA Style:

Giein translations for a Doric play? Gie's a break - February 21, 2005. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 25 May 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Giein translations for a Doric play? Gie's a break - February 21, 2005." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 25 May 2024.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Giein translations for a Doric play? Gie's a break - February 21, 2005," accessed 25 May 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 1030

Giein translations for a Doric play? Gie's a break - February 21, 2005


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2005
Word count 792

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Press and Journal
Publication year 2005
Place of publication Aberdeen
Part of larger text
Contained in Press and Journal
Page numbers 12

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 897
Forenames Robbie
Surname Shepherd
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment University
Age left school 15
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Freelance Broadcaster
Place of birth Dunecht
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Bridge of Don
Region of residence Aberdeen
Residence CSD dialect area Abd
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Shoemaker
Mother's occupation Housewife


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes