Document 1775

Scots Tung Wittins 124

Author(s): Robert Fairnie

Copyright holder(s): Name withheld


Nummer 124
Mairch 2004

A guid Scots Tung in yer heid's nae guid if yer mooth's ower blate taen uise it!

Scots Tung WITTINs

Eydently Campaignin for the Scots Leid
Ph. [CENSORED: phonenumber] Scots Tung Wabsteid: Stravaiger Ph. [CENSORED: phonenumber]

© Copyricht for awthin written in this wittins blat bides wi R. Fairnie. The Scots Tung Wittins can be fotie-copied in hail or in pairt athoot limit o nummers an this hauds guid an aw for ony pairt o the wittins blat that's furthset in ony ither publication.

The Chyngin Scots Language
"nae language ever bides pure for langer nor a wee thocht in the vastness o time"
HOU much daes a language hiv tae chynge afore it cannae be cried the same language ony mair? There a guid wechty scuil o thocht gaun aboot the day, maistly in estaiblishment quarters but in some pairts o the Scots language muvement an aw, that threaps the language spoken the day in Scotland is that faur removed frae the Scots that wis spoken twa-three hunder year syne that it cannae be cried Scots ony mair, but juist an Inglified kinna ill-moothit slang that's the tredmerk o the uneducatit warkin clesses (if there is sic a thing the day). Funny, wis it no the Scots language o thae uneducatit warkin clesses that, in thae days gane bye, wis taen up bi thair monarch an the nobility aboot a hunder year afore it happened in England?

There wis a time in England whan words the likes o right, light, night an knight an mony ithers wis pronounced the same wey as they war in Scots sic as richt, licht, nicht an knicht. But thon aw chynged juist ower fower hunder year syne an the 'ch' soond wis drappit. Mony ither chynges taen place in the English language ower thae fower hunder year, baith in the pronunciation an wi the inclusion o new words borraed intae it frae ither leids. Words the likes o golf, clan, caddie, glamour, blackmail, whisky, scone, raid, flat, gruesome, wraith, heckle, stalwart, flunkey, rampage, uncanny, eerie, pony, pet an mony ithers wis borraed frae the Scots language. Hou mony Elizabethans wad unnerstaund the modern meanins o wicked, gay, cool, gig, pictures or new words sic as concentration camp, blitzkrieg or the bends? Ay, in mony weys the English language haes chynged a lot ower thae fower hunder year but naebody wad be glaikit eneugh tae threap that it's chynged that muckle it cannae be cried pure English ony mair. Aw languages haes tae chynge if they dinnae want tae dee an Scots, like English, is nae different.

In a raicent airticle in the Scotsman, Allan Massie pynts oot that no mony o us, apairt frae scholars, cuid unnerstaund the writins o Dunbar or Gawaine Douglas athoot a keek or twa at a glossary. Daes he think there wad be mony English speakers cuid read Chaucer athoot daein the same? Some o his hecklin o raicent written forms o Scots haes a pynt an we tak a stick tae brack oor ain backs if we dinnae pey nae heed tae it but we maunna faw in wi his consaits aboot the state o spoken Scots the day. He threaps that the best we can howp for is that mair o us will write an speak English in a Scots fashion, wi a guid creeshin o Scots vocabular. Weel, tae uise thon kenspeckle English expression déjà vu, hiv we no been this wey afore? Up until the time King Henry IV o England an his coort taen up speakin English insteid o Norman French, haed the Scots no been writin an speakin English in a Scots kinna wey wi a guid creeshin o local vocabular for a hunder year afore that? An wis it no juist aboot thon time that the Scots nobles fund oot that the English uised in Scotland wisnae juist the same as the English uised in England sae they stertit tae cry thair ain kinna English Scots, efter the country it wis spoken in?

Ower the page Walter Elliot haes a thing or twa tae say aboot the purity o Scots in his poem, "Pure Border Scots"; in his case, his ain Border Scots, but ither byeleids o Scots is no aw that different as regaird tae chynges. In his poem, Walter gies a leet o aw the languages that's been chucked intae the pat tae mak up the 'Pure' Border Scots. It stertit wi the forebeir o Welsh, follaed bi German that haed tae hae its name chynged intae Auld English. Efter the Battle o Carham the Gaelic o the Scots an the Celtic tung o the Picts wis melled intae the 'jorum'. This wis suin follaed wi the Norse o the Vikings an Danes an then the Norman French an northern English in the peacefu Norman Conquest o King David's time. Walter feinishes wi German, Dutch an the Hindi o the Gypsies at Yetholm. Thon's a richt mixter-maxter but for aw the chynges, it wis ne'er ever threapit the language wisnae Scots. An whit's mair, the chynges didnae stap thare an still gauns on tae this day. Scots sodgers o the 19t century brocht hame words like peelie-wallie back frae India an the 20t gied the Scots idiom o 'pittin yer gas at a peep' an the pure Scots idiom in the English words, 'pure dead brilliant'. There hunders mair like thon but want o space gars us keep the examples doon tae thae twa-three. As Walter says at the hinneren o his poem, it's the variety that gies it its vigour an strength.

There ae thing aboot Walter Elliot's writin, it's no artificial, made up or pitten on in ony wey for that's the wey he speaks. He haes nae want tae mak his writin leuk mair 'Scots' bi uisin words his mooth daesnae uise cause, as he says hissel, it's the Border Scots that he uises in baith speech an writin an if he says whit he speaks is Border Scots, wha's gaun tae daur tell an Elliot he disnae? Whit's mair, e'en Allan Massie wad hiv tae accept that maist Scots speakers the day wad hae nae bother at aw unnerstaundin his kinna written Scots e'en athoot a glossary.

We hiv tae lairn tae accept for Scots whit English taks for granted an thon's that nae language ever bides pure for langer nor a wee thocht in the vastness o time. Scots can never be siccar till the native Scots speakers sterts readin whit the screivers is writin, for literacy in ony leid is the only gate tae a bigger vocabular. But there ower mony purist writers the day waitin for some kinna education miracle that'll gar thae speakers tae aw stert speakin the language that they write insteid o it bein the ither wey roond. This miracle isnae gaun tae happen an thon fact haes been pruived ower an ower agane bi thae purist authors thairsels. Efter readin an writin thair ain pitten on kinna language for years, there no ane o thaim haes been heard speakin it as a language.

The Scots language shuid be richt thankfu for the growein band o authors that tries tae match thair writin nearer tae the Scots uised bi the day's Scots speakers. Thank guidness for the writers o Itchy Coo. Thank guidness for the authors o the ScuilWab frae the Scots Language Dictionaries. Thank guidness for writers the likes o Walter Elliot an the mony ithers o that ilk. If the native speakers o a kinna English that's no heard furth o Scotland, an English that haes a guid creeshin o Scots vocabular, can identify wi this 21t century kinna Scots literature, there a guid chance o thaim biggin up thair vocabular an reddin up thair gremmar, idiom an speech habits juist bi discoverin that they're literate in this Scots. The particular 'English' spoken in Scotland in the 21t century haes the same richt tae be cried Scots as the particular 'English' spoken in Scotland at the stert o the 15t century haed. The difference atween the twa is nae mair nor an aiblins a sicht less nor it is atween the praisent Queen's English an Chaucer's

Nixt Forgaitherin
Monday 29 Mairch 2004
7.30pm tae 9.00pm
Comatee Room C. or if no available,
in the restaurant on the grund flair.
Brunton Ha, Musselburgh.

Scots Tung WITTINS
On the wab.
The Scots Tung Wittins can be vizzied or doon-loadit an prentit (noo in pdf format forbye) frae the wabsteid o:-
The Scots Speikers Curn, Glesca.
Wabsteid backin:-
Mair raicent copies can noo be gotten in pdf format frae Scots Tung's ain new wabsteid 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.
£6 (Ireland/EU) $14 (Americae)

Pure Border Scots
In the land o the Borders, ye'll find there are lots
O fowk whae speak in a pure Border Scots.
Bit is it? Ah've quaistioned that theory o late;
It isnae that pure as Ah'll now demonstrate.

When the Romans left here, the tongue that was spoken
Was a form o Welsh - an No; Ah'm no joken.
Welsh lested a while until the time when
Some Germans sailed owre frae a place, Angeln.
Of Course, they spoke German tho historians hide
An caa it "Old English" for the sake o their pride.

Then oot o the North, a peculiar mix,
An airmy composed o the Scots an the Picts
Conquered at Carham; sae Scots Gaelic was flung
Intae the mix o the "pure" Border tongue.
Bit the Scots cam frae Ireland, gaun back a guid while
In big leather boats an hed settled Argyll.
The lands aroond Dublin wi its Viking Remains
Then kindly chipped in an sent us some Danes.

Efter a while, David cam up frae the Sooth
Wi scarcely yin guid Scots word in his mooth,
Accompanied bie Norman-French freends in wee bands,
He settled thaem here an gied them wide lands.
(The Normans were Vikings whae hed lost their wey
When they landit in France an decided tae stey.)
Sae that added French whuch was spoke wi decorum
Intae oor language - it made quite a jorum.

As oo traded wi Hamburg an Holland an such
This gied us mair German an a wheen words o Dutch.
The Gypsies frae Yetholm then topped up the lot
Bie chucken some Hindi words intae the pot.

The language o pure Border Scots, ye can tell,
Is a source o great pride as Ah speak it masel.
It's maybe no "pure" as Ah've telt ye at length
Tho variety gies it its vigour an strength.

Frae "Jorum"
(Border Scots for "mixter")
Bi Walter Elliot.

Scots Tung Wabsteid
Whit wey no gie a visit tae Scots Tung's new wabsteid at:---
or juist dae a wab search for Scots Tung?

Itchy Coo's The Smoky Smirr o Rain
A Review bi Irene Brown
HAE ye ever thocht up a fantasy denner pairty? Ye ken the kinna thing, whaur ye're speirt tae think o 10 guests frae onytime in history or frae the praisent day that ye'd like tae sit doon wi tae a meal. (It's gret fun an a gey revealin exercise!) Weel, thon's whit Matthew Fitt an James Robertson haes duin in the Scots anthology The Smoky Smirr o Rain, but they richtly cry it a ceilidh for they've imagined faur ower mony guests for juist a denner pairty; they've gotten ower 70 in fact. The guests gauns back as faur as the 14th century wi John Barbour's Fredome, an up tae the praisent day wi livin writers, the youngest bein Andrew Philip, wi his owersettins o warks bi the Czech poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. In the words o Matthew Fitt an James Robertson, the buik "...jouks gallusly..." throu time, "...thumbing its neb at the tyranny o chronlogy". The buik is divided intae 20 pairts, 3 bein aboot Love. The reader will fund for exemple in the Glaikit pairt Janet Paisley's story, Born Every Minute wi William Souter's poem Wiseness; in Toun, Robert Fergusson's Auld Reekie alangside Adam McNaughton's The Jeely Piece Song an in Hame, Sheena Blackhall's story, Blessed wi the Gift is cleekit in wi Violet Jacob's poem, The Wild Geese. George Campbell Hay's poem that shares the anthology's title, can be fund in the Sun, Snaw, Smirr section. The styles includes an aw, sang lyrics, ballads, prose an walins frae official records. The buik can be enjoyed as an academic study tae allou an owersicht o the development an chynge in Scots ower the centuries. It can be leuked intae an aw tae lairn aboot some possible unbekent writers, contemporary or itherweys.Matthew Fitt an James Robertson accepts the difficulty some Scots fowk haes wi readin Scots cause o the skaith duin tae the leid ower the years, some e'en seein it as a foreign tung. While seein the Scots' "dislocation" frae thair language as a "national scandal", they dae acknowledge that it is unnerstaundable hou this aw cam aboot. English, the language o pouer, is naturally associated wi in the warld o education an business, but in tandem wi this, Scots fowk bides sentimental aboot thair auld Scots. They canny-like wey up the situation in the innin wi the mindin that, "... nae ither country on the yird uises Scots for communication...naebody else will leuk efter it for us." A timeous mindin!
The Smoky Smirr o Rain (ISBN 1 902927 81 8) furthset bi Itchy Coo (Black an White & Dub Busters pairtnership) price £9.99. Weel wordy o a read.

Makar's Neuk
Derk Dule
The sun foraye is ful an bricht,
The pale muin crynes doun ilka nicht
An whitfor soud this be?

Ma hert that aince wes fou o licht
Is lyke the dwynin muin this nicht
An lyke ti die.

But whan A dream o ye apairt,
A howp the dawin wul lift ma hert,
The sun ti see.

Frae ane o the Odes o Confucius
Owerset bi David Purves

The Robert Henrysoun Associe presentis
Setterday 3 April 2004 at 4pm
in Culross Abbey Kirk
Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross:
hir lyf, hir werkes, hir warld
ane celebratioun in wardis an musick of Scotlandis foremaist
Early Modern makar, wha deit in 1640
hauddin in the mediaeval setting of the kirk quhair scho warschippit aa hir
dayis, in the bewtifu an historickal Fife village of Culross.
Programme devysit an producit for the RHA be Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter quha is currently editand Elizabeth Melville's 4000 lynis of poyessie an hir letteris

Contack: Dr Morna Fleming, Robert Henrysoun Associe,
[CENSORED: postaladdress]. or
Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, [CENSORED: postaladdress]
[CENSORED: emailaddress]

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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 124. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 27 May 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Scots Tung Wittins 124." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 27 May 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Scots Tung Wittins 124," accessed 27 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 1775

Scots Tung Wittins 124


Text audience

Audience size N/A

Text details

Method of composition N/A
Word count 2538
General description monthly newsletter

Text medium

Leaflet/brochure (prospectus)

Text publication details

Publisher Scots Tung
Publication year 2004
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