Document 1414

Interview 13: Shetland man being interviewed about language

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): Dr Holger Schmitt, SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

M865 Are you interested in languages at all? //No. Well it doesn't matter then, don't have to be brainy.//
M952 //No [laugh] I'm no brainy. [laugh]// [sigh]
M865 Okay. Right, this is my first day in in Lerwick.
M952 Aye.
M865 Just arrived this morning.
M952 Yeah du should've taken better weather wi ye. //[laugh]//
M865 //Oh yeah well, brought good weather to Orkney, sorry there was no good weather left now for Shetlands. [laugh]//
M952 Na, we're hae a very poor summer really.
M865 Yeah. Well I've heard that it's always very windy here, isn't it?
M952 Oh yeah, but you get tae lea- live wi that, ye dinnae worry aboot it. //You need tae see the sun though.//
M865 //Yeah.// //Yeah.//
M952 //[laugh] We've no seen much o him this year.//
M865 Well it changes very quickly, doesn't it? //Every twenty minutes you've got a different weather here.//
M952 //Oh yeah.// Well this mornin I wakened to the rain,
M865 Uh-huh //Mm.//
M952 //to beltin doon that woulda been aboot seeven o'clock, an I mean there a flat above o us.//
M865 Yeah. //Oh dear.//
M952 //So [laugh] it was good rain! [laugh]//
M865 Right ehm. now we've got many languages and and dialects and accents in Scotland, //ehm//
M952 //Uh-huh//
M865 what dialects and accents and languages do you know or do you know of?
M952 Weel never gae intae Scotland, just stay in in Shetland, //ye get an affa lot o differences here.//
M865 //Oh right.// Uh-huh.
M952 If you go to the island o Whalsay
M865 Mmhm.
M952 they have their ain wey of spaekin,
M865 Oh right.
M952 likes o if du were sayin somethin, "Ten men were [?]bain bain[/?] an nae a tablecloth upon them", //[laugh] but but the case I mean, that is really the auld wey o spaekin in Whalsay,//
M865 //Okay, you've lost me here. [laugh]// Mmhm.
M952 but I mean even Lerwick an Scalloway the difference between them was aa.
M865 Yeah.
M952 But I mean an if ye ging tae Orkney abody spaeks wi a sort o lilt tae their voice,
M865 Uh-huh.
M952 but I never paid any much attention.
M865 Okay. Eh, do you know any Scottish other ma- maybe Scottish mainland ehm accents or dialects or languages?
M952 I can never understand eh the Cockney. //Yeah I can understand [inaudible] [laugh] that's foreign [?]boors[/?].//
M865 //Cockney, well Cockney is London, isn't it? Yeah, well that's that's not not Scottish okay.// //Mm uh-huh.//
M952 //[laugh] No I've really never paid much attention although I worked sooth for a short time,//
M865 Okay.
M952 but eh just talk [?]most[/?] you can, //never knew different.//
M865 //Okay, yeah, okay.// Eh how would you describe your own language?
M952 Well we werena allooed tae spaek it at school,
M865 Uh-huh.
M952 they wanted us to spaek English //an I objected tae that.//
M865 //Okay.// Okay, but er how would you describe it today? I mean if you talk to friends or family, probably Shetlandic? //Well you don't have to. [laugh]//
M952 //I I just canna change me tongue an that's it. [laugh]// //I always mind when I first left school,//
M865 //Yeah.// Mmhm.
M952 I was workin in a grocer's shop, Lipton's
M865 Mmhm.
M952 and this English wife come in, an I thought she said, "Can I fix me sock?", ken I was thinkin her suspender was comin broken doon or somethin, I said, "Aye, go back ower",
M865 Uh-huh.
M952 an the chargehand looked at me as she go oot an he says,
M865 "What did yon wife say tae thee?"
M952 "Eh, she wanted tae change her sock, //or fix her sock or somethin like that", she says "No", she says, "My, what a lovely stock you have here", [laugh]//
M865 //Fix her. [laugh]// //Oh dear, uh-huh, uh-huh.//
M952 //so to be truthful I would sooner serve a Norwegian than a [laugh].//
M865 Yeah.
M952 An likes o bein the young boy in the shop you werena in danger o, well the war was really feenished but the stuff was still on the ration,
M865 Sorry?
M952 the f-f- food was still on the ration //when I first well first left school,//
M865 //Okay, yeah, yeah.//
M952 an there was this letter cam roond sorta sayin eh say there's a Norwegian boat in,
M865 mmhm
M952 you just sent them what you thought was proficient to tak them home
M865 mmhm
M952 you couldnae send cartons o this an cartons o the next, and the old manager says, "No, Jack, you're you listen, you didnae hear this, you'll serve the foreigners frae noo an on //instead o what ye want",//
M865 //Mmhm// //Mmhm.//
M952 //[laugh] I so I ended up wi the Norwegian, it was a yewberry or strawberry, first guessed pear// but when you're workin there it's funny hoo you caught on tae the languages //cause there's somethin link Norwegian an Shetland together.//
M865 //Uh-huh.// //Mmhm, yeah.//
M952 //But I mean I I dinnae ken it noo but that's years ago [inaudible].//
M865 Mo- most people speak like you here?
M952 I doot I'm a bad spaeker [laugh],
M865 Sorry, you're?
M952 I doo- I'm a poor spaeker.
M865 Oh. Well, it's probably very original. //Yeah.//
M952 //Yeah, it likely is.//
M865 Okay. Eh do you have any accent or dialect in in Scotland that you like best? I mean you said you've never been outside of Shetland for very long.
M952 When I did me national service I worked sooth in Scotland for aboot six months wi Lipton's. //I was in Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth,//
M865 //Right.// Mmhm.
M952 Glenrothes, just aye, just sort o twa or three days in each place just sort o relief manager.
M865 Mmhm mmhm. //Mm mm okay.//
M952 //[cough] I really never paid much attention to the fock's languages.//
M865 Right Okay, ehm, you've got your own parliament now in Scotland, //eh in Edinburgh//
M952 //Aye, yeah, yeah.// //Mmhm.//
M865 //since nineteen ninety-nine eh you can also determine language political issues,// //ehm//
M952 //Yeah.//
M865 what do you think, what l- what foreign languages should be taught at school?
M952 Well as far as I'm concerned I would go for Norwegian,
M865 Okay.
M952 because I mean we're as near tae Norway as we are tae Scotland,
M865 Yeah. I know, I know [laugh] //Mm.//
M952 //so I dinnae see why we didnae learn it// but I mean as for learnin the French, well, if they tried to learn me that at school I [?]would renaig[/?] it
M865 Mm
M952 [laugh] cause I mean tae me I had no intention to ever go there.
M865 Yeah, yeah.
M952 The only twa places I would like tae gang to wis Norway or Holland for some reason or ither.
M865 Yeah. Wh- what about the the languages the or the dialect or accent, I should say, that teachers use, what language should they speak?
M952 They should spaek Shetland. //[laugh] Yeah, no, no, no, no, uh-huh.//
M865 //Shetland? Okay, not like Queen's English or anything? No no, Shetland, okay.//
M952 Cause if you're in here you should spaek, the same as if I go sooth
M865 Mmhm.
M952 I hae tae try an change mi tongue so fock understands me //if they come here they've tae learn my wey. [laugh]//
M865 //Yeah, yeah, yeah but if you go some-some- somewhere else you would probably have to change// //your accent, yeah.//
M952 //I'd try to change yes// //but wi great difficulty.//
M865 //Yeah but you can do it,// //I've just seen it [laugh] oh it doesn't matter [laugh] don't worry.//
M952 //[laugh] Some embarrassin moments! [laugh]// No the [?]cooncil[/?] liks it. Say I got somebody on the phone
M865 Mmhm. //Mmhm.//
M952 //an they're very posh spoken,// I'm affa inclined tae go Shetland an then I get completely an utterly tongue-tied when I try to go //ye ken it's just, I get embarrassed aboot it.//
M865 //Oh okay, oh right, okay okay.// //Yeah I try to try hard to understand you so.//
M952 //[laugh]//
M865 Okay ehm have you ever heard eh of a language called Scots, not the the Scots people but the language called Scots?
M952 Weel //Banff and Buckie that ains hae their ain wey o spaekin//
M865 //Mmhm.//
M952 what we used tae ca the the gutters.
M865 Mmhm.
M952 Well that was the Scottish women that came up here tae fillet the kippers an the herrin an that, ye ken, an pack it an that.
M865 Sorry, what was that?
M952 Tae oh in the herring fishing, //they used tae come up here an affa lot o Scots ains come up here an that wis mainly Banff, Buckie,//
M865 //Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah.// uh-huh
M952 that area an they haed a language o their ain sorta style you kent whaur they come fae soon as ye heard them cacklin,
M865 Okay. //Yeah.//
M952 //but eh I never paid enough attention tae it.//
M865 But I mean the term "Scots" referring to a language, have you ever heard this?
M952 Na, //no [laugh].//
M865 //No?// Have you ev- eh Robert Burns? //I'm sure you sure you have, okay ehm linguists would say that the language that Robert Burns used and even way before that, that was Scots//
M952 //Yeah, mmhm, uh-huh.// //Yeah. Mmhm.//
M865 //ehm and today it survives in a number of dialects, like for example Shetland// //and also Orkney and Glas- Glaswegian and Doric and s- stuff like that, now there's people eh both in in politics and private people//
M952 //Yes, uh-huh.// //Uh-huh.//
M865 //eh would like to give Scots a greater prominence// //[inaudible]//
M952 //Oh I'd be in// favour of that, but then this is, first of all I'm a Shetlander //an I'd sooner gie Shetland a mair part or pro-//
M865 //Yeah, okay, okay.//
M952 cause I mean tae me I'm a Shetlander first,
M865 Mmhm.
M952 then I'll likely be British, //then I'll be Scottish, but I'll never be English.//
M865 //Okay, okay.// //We'll come to that we'll come to that in a minute [laugh] very good ehm,//
M952 //Yeah [laugh].// //Uh-huh oh yeah.//
M865 //so talking about Scots ehm you've said you would be in favour of giving Scots a greater prominence eh what would this entail, what would it mean?//
M952 Well I I dinnae want tae see the United Kingdom broken up,
M865 Uh-huh.
M952 but I'd like tae see Scots haein chairge o their ain s- ain affairs, they couldnae hae maybe eh defence an that but ye ken the the runnin an spendin the money
M865 mmhm
M952 you ken, bar the defence or that kind o idea sh- eh breedin //but I'd like tae see Scotland bein free.//
M865 //Mmhm mm.// Well, I mean there's various ways in in in giving Scots //greater prominence eh you//
M952 //mmhm//
M865 could for example produce more writings in Scots, //ehm you could use Scots more on television or on the radio eh you could try to//
M952 //Mmhm yeah.// //Mmhm.//
M865 //enlarge the vocabulary, invent new words in Scots, any idea?//
M952 Weel it's kinda, tae me, when the TV is on, even when you put on a Gaelic programme
M865 Mmhm.
M952 tae me I'm no really interested in that in in wir hoose //in terms o//
M865 //Okay.//
M952 I'm no interested in form o spaekin an somebody [laugh] //translatin it.//
M865 //Yeah.//
M952 I would just hae that wan language comin through //and hae the man showin his lips//
M865 //Uh-huh.//
M952 but where's spaekin it haed tae be in English cause //it's the only language we ken, well.//
M865 //Mm okay.// Can I just show you something?
M952 Yeah. //Mmhm.//
M865 //This is a children's books book ehm by a publisher called Itchycoo,// //and they do children's books eh in what they think Scots is,//
M952 //Oh aye [laugh].//
M865 eh in this language,
M952 uh-huh //Mmhm.//
M865 //so maybe you could just take a look at any of the stories and tell me what you think about it,// just pick any of the stories and then
M952 [laugh] Yeah I could easy understand yon, nae trouble wi that. //Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.//
M865 //You can understand that? Uh-huh.// //Ah I'm not sure if that, okay.//
M952 //But you try readin Shetland [laugh] I cannae even understand it. [laugh]// Cause I mean we we just werena allowed tae tae spaek it at school at aa,
M865 Mmhm.
M952 you'd just get made a damn fool o.
M865 Mm.
M952 But wan teacher in particular, Clarky, well he lived tae a right old age, if he'd hae fallen in the gutter //I might hae rubbed my feet on him, I wouldnae help him up.//
M865 //Mmhm.// Mmhm. //Sorry qui- didn't quite get this//
M952 //[laugh]// //No it wis a schoolteacher//
M865 //[laugh]// //yeah, okay yeah.//
M952 //and his name wis Clark,// an he lived tae be an old man,
M865 Okay mmhm
M952 but if he'd been lyin in the gutter
M865 Mmhm. //Okay oh right, okay okay, uh-huh.//
M952 //I wouldnae help tae pick him up, I might hae rubbed my feet on him cause eh just ower the language barrier, and he wis a Shetlander.// //Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, ye haed tae spaek this English an//
M865 //But he forced to, forced you to to speak English? Uh-huh.// //Oh right okay, uh-huh.//
M952 //oh he came oot wi the Shakespeare an aa that [laugh] he was interested in that, we werena.// //[laugh] Yeah, yeah, yeah.//
M865 //Oh right okay, so you like this? Yeah? You think it's a good idea to to publish something like that? Okay.// Can just show you something //else?//
M952 //Yes.//
M865 Ehm this is a print-out from the website of the Scottish Parliament, //eh also in Scots.//
M952 //Mmhm.//
M865 Or what they think Scots is. So maybe you can //read this and comment on this too.//
M952 //Right, "We want tae mak sense"// Mmhm. Yeah I could understand yon nae trouble at all, //mmhm.//
M865 //Right.//
M952 but if I'm no, I'm a affa poor reader,
M865 mmhm
M952 I mean I I've bluffed me wey through me life aa me time, //at school likes o,//
M865 //Oh right! [laugh]//
M952 [exhale] I never was good at readin, I wasn't even concentratin ken ye'd get readin aroon the class,
M865 Mmhm //Mmhm mmhm okay.//
M952 //an of course I would pick up me book when it cam my turn, I was maybe three pages ahind [laugh] of course, stutterin.// "Oh sit down!" [inaudible] cairry-on. So you got oot o it,
M865 Uh-huh uh-huh.
M952 and I mean very soon, every readin class, the teachers would get that fed up o me.
M865 [laugh] So do you think it's a good idea for the Scottish Parliament to do that? //Okay, okay, great.//
M952 //Yeah definitely, have a bash at it.//
M865 Now what I've just shown //you are two examples of modern Scots//
M952 //Yeah uh-huh// //yeah.//
M865 //eh or modern Scots usage ehm,// maybe you can show you something else. Ehm at the moment Scots defined as the language spoken by some people in the Lowlands and also here in the Northern Islands, ehm comprising various dialects like for example Shetlandic and //Glaswegian,//
M952 //Yeah// but see these road signs yonder? //W- mmhm yeah.//
M865 //Yeah j- just wait a second [laugh] eh it's almost only eh used for private conversation,// in which of the following language situations would you also welcome the use of Scots, this this kind of language?
M952 Mmhm.
M865 So maybe you could take a look at these ehm language situations
M952 Uh-huh.
M865 and tell me where you would also welcome the use of Scots?
M952 Well this is, I disagree wi that, I would hae the road signs in Shetland, //an while you're in Shetland,//
M865 //Yeah.//
M952 because I mean the, an affa lot o fock against this, you kinda, they say, "The, well I mean the Shetland is the thistle an aa that". Well the thistle's nothin tae do wi Shetland, We try to bury them.
M865 You tried to bury who?
M952 Thistles. //Doesnae want thistles.//
M865 //Thistles?// //Yeah, I know, I know, yeah, yeah.//
M952 //It's just the Scottish emblem ye ken, the thistle, but I mean// What has that tae do wi Shetland?
M865 Okay.
M952 Nothin.
M865 Well you're part of Scotland officially.
M952 Well why do we hae [inaudible] they're they're sayin so we could hae a [inaudible]
M865 Uh-huh. Okay.
M952 I mean I lik I say the road signs should be in whatever [cough] //ken if if it is in Aberdeen it should be in, sae fock there understands it better than ony ither body.//
M865 //Mmhm, okay.//
M952 [inaudible] Well I kaen nothin aboot the website [laugh] I'm ower old for that. I think the school teachers should be able to spaek Shetland. //[laugh]//
M865 //Mmhm okay yeah you've made your point.// Now definitely I will take this point, yeah.
M952 [cough] Ken at sermons at school we haed music, her name was Miss [?]Billcliff[/?]. Eh oh she wis a right old maid, //I means, the bun in the back o the head an.//
M865 //Mm mmhm mmhm.//
M952 Eh, what the, it was sort of somethin "Come Aw-", "Nymphs and Shepherds Come Away", I canna mind the na-, the song noo, but oh if we'd sing this right then she'd play us Up-Helly-Aa song, it wis comin very near Up-Helly-Aa //an we were aa great believers in Up-Helly-Aa.//
M865 //Oh right okay, uh-huh.//
M952 So we tried this an then cam tae oh no she wouldnae play it and before the end o the period she was puttin three o the boys up tae the heidmaister's room tae get the strap
M865 Uh-huh.
M952 but the only thing wis he didnae strap them, he cam doon an stood ootside the music door //an her an [?]wis[/?] were havin a right barney.//
M865 //Right.//
M952 It turned oot she couldnae even play //the Up-Helly-Aa song and the heidmaister was like, "Oh", he said "[?]axe ye echt year ago[/?],//
M865 //Uh-huh.// Right.
M952 so we got no more music the rest of our time at school.
M865 Mmhm. //Mmhm oh right [laugh].//
M952 //Oh it was great! We werena wantin it. [laugh]// [cough] But I mean that heidmaster realised we we- we were done wur bit //an she couldnae dae her bit so.//
M865 //Mm mmhm mmhm yeah.// Okay, can we just come back //this to this eh question here? Ehm//
M952 //Yeah mmhm.//
M865 Would you welcome, you know, the use of Scots in newspapers, road signs, private letters and so on? Do you think it's a good idea to use Scots in in these language situations?
M952 No on the road signs in Shetland, or we have Shetland signs.
M865 Yeah okay we- well She- Shetland is is part of Scots, //eh Scots, part of the Scots language is is it's a Scots dialect.//
M952 //Yeah yeah but mm yeah mmhm.//
M865 So, any any other language situations where you would like //use of Scots?//
M952 //But you see I ken nothin aboot emails [inaudible].// Children's books, yeah, I'm all in favour o that. //[inaudible] no.//
M865 //Uh-huh.// //Mmhm.//
M952 //The Bible in church. [laugh]// Oh God the the auld bu- auld bugs that used to be the Sunday school teachers here they hae they hae them translated tae Shetland near enough. [laugh] //Yeah, mmhm, yeah.//
M865 //Actually the- there is a Bi- eh Bible tr- well a New Testament translation into Scots ehm from I think nineteen eighty-four, Lorimer is the translator, yeah.//
M952 I know, but I mean even the Bible even Sco- I do- I think it should be, //cause it's in every i- every ither language//
M865 //Yeah sure, yeah sure.// //Mm//
M952 //[cough] Websites an that I've nae interest in at aa. I'm ower old for that// //[laugh]//
M865 //oh right okay.// //Can we just to finish off ehm do a last questionnaire about yourself eh just to give me some some background information?//
M952 //Mm//
M865 Can you tell me the decade of your birth?
M952 Thirteenth o the third, nineteen thirty-seeven. //mmhm//
M865 //So the thirties? Okay yeah, eh you were born?// //Okay.//
M952 //In Lerwick.//
M865 Ehm how long have you been living in Scotland, all your life?
M952 Been She- in Shetland aa mi life except for two years, six months. //[laugh] Yeah.//
M865 //Okay, great so that answers the next question as well, eh what is your occupation?//
M952 Weel I'm retired noo. I used tae work in a sma ship repair yard
M865 Okay.
M952 an servicin fire extinguishers an that kind o thing.
M865 Okay as a fire extinguisher, //and in in the shipyards?//
M952 //Uh-huh. Yeah.//
M865 Okay right ehm are you married, were you //married?//
M952 //Yeah yeah.// //No, no my wife's retired noo, she worked in Laing's chemist shop.//
M865 //What does or what did your wife do? Okay.// //Eh so- sorry what was that, can? Okay okay, right okay.//
M952 //[laugh] She worked in a sma chemist shop doon at the corner here.//
M865 Eh and finally, well we've almost answered this question, how strongly do you feel //British, Scottish, English and any other, if you just take a look at these diagrams here, British, Scottish, English and any other, from zero meaning "not at all" to four meaning "very much" or "very strongly",//
M952 //Uh-huh mmhm mmhm.// //Well,//
M865 //so//
M952 I would class mesel as British but I'd class mesel as Shetland first
M865 Okay, right. //Let's say "other" would be Shetland here? Eh how how strongly do you feel Shetland?//
M952 //Yeah I'd be Shetland.// Well Shetland should be the main thing.
M865 Okay, four. Is that what you're saying? //Okay.//
M952 //Yeah mmhm.//
M865 What about British, Scottish and English?
M952 Well, I'll be British.
M865 Okay, which numberwould you pick?
M952 Ach, aboot two. //Maybe Scottish two.//
M865 //Two? Okay. Scottish?// //Scottish two also? Okay.//
M952 //Aye, yeah.//
M865 English?
M952 No. //[laugh] put in Wales an Ireland I might say better for them! [laugh] [cough].//
M865 //Alright. [laugh] Okay right thank you very much.//

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Information about Document 1414

Interview 13: Shetland man being interviewed about language


Audio audience

Adults (18+)
For gender Mixed
Audience size 1

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2005
Recording person id 865
Size (min) 19
Size (mb) 73

Audio setting


Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Speakers knew each other N/A

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 631
Year of transcription 2006
Year material recorded 2005
Word count 3498

Audio type



Participant details

Participant id 865
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1960
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Occupation University teacher / researcher
Country of birth Germany
Place of residence Bridge of Allan
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Engineer
Father's country of birth Germany
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's country of birth Germany


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
German Yes Yes Yes Yes Mother tongue


Participant details

Participant id 952
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Age left school 15
Occupation Retired ship repair yard worker
Place of birth Lerwick
Region of birth Shetland
Birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Lerwick
Region of residence Shetland
Residence CSD dialect area Sh
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation R.N.R.
Father's place of birth Bressay
Father's region of birth Shetland
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Shop worker
Mother's place of birth Levenwick
Mother's region of birth Shetland
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Mother's country of birth Scotland