Document 1783

Scots Tung Wittins 132

Author(s): Robert Fairnie

Copyright holder(s): Name withheld


Nummer 132
Nov. 2004

A guid Scots Tung in yer heid's nae guid if yer mooth's ower blate tae 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.

A Pairlament Wantin a Saltire
[NOTE: a photograph of the Holyrood Building]
DUMFOONERT wisnae the word for it when folk fund oot that the Scottish Saltire wisnae gaun tae be alloued tae flee frae the new Holyrood Pairlament, excep for on special occasions an e'en then it wad be alangside flags o ither nationalities.

Whit a disappyntment for a nation that's switherin atween a new pride in its national identity an its auld imposed native creenge that in itsel is the ootcome o a similar want o political imagination in Scottish education for ower a century.

It's no that lang syne oor creenge ridden Executive spent the third pairt o £1m tae fund oot whit wis the maist weel kent symbol o Scotland juist tae be telt whit awbody else kent, that the maist kenspeckle symbol o Scotland is its ain Scottish Saltire. Some says it's the auldest national flag in Europe an aiblins the warld. But haud on. There's mair. Richtly or wrangly, there folk sayin noo it wis Westminster that daured the uiss o the saltire at Holyrood. Daes this mean that the office o the Coort o the Lord Lyon King o Airms is noo a reserved maitter? Daes the Scotland Act no say that the judicial capacity o the Lord Lyon isnae reserved e'en tho his owerance ower coats o airms is a reserved maitter? Can Westminster tell the Scots folk an the Lord Lyon whit they can an cannae dae wi thair ain flag athoot chyngin the Scotland Act an the Acts frae the Scots Pairlament o 1592 an 1672?

The first recordit Lord Lyon King o Airms wis appyntit bi King Robert the Bruce in 1318 tho it's thocht the office is a sicht aulder nor that an taks in the ancient Celtic office o High Sennachie that haed owerance for the verification o the genealogy o the Kings o Scots an for crownin the Kings at thair coronations.

Here's whit the Lord Lyon haes tae say aboot the uiss o national flags in Scotland.

THE SALTIRE, The flag o St. Andrew, the patron saint o Scotland. Blue wi a white or siller diagonal cross raxin tae its edges. This is the richt flag for aw Scots or Scottish corporate bodies tae flee tae demonstrate thair loyalty an thair Scottish nationality. Its proportions isnae fixed, but 5:4 is suitable. It is richt tae flee it baith wi or insteid o the Union Flag.

NATIONAL FLAGS, The Union Flag an/or the Scottish Saltire Flag can be freely floun bi ony Scot or Scottish Corporate body ony-whaur in Scotland, tae demonstrate thair nationality an allegiance. Nae special permission is needit, an it is richt tae flee aither ane or baith o thaim. If baith flags is floun, they maun baith be kept on separate flag-poles. It shuirly maun be a gey shoogly British government that's feart tae let a Scots Pairlament demonstrate its Scottish nationality bi fleein its ain kenspeckle Scottish Saltire.

Anent Morals
THE follaein wee story wis sent in bi Bill Johnston o Udny, Aiberdeenshire:---
At Auchterturra Skweel e Primary Sax teacher wis readin een or twa o Aesop's Fables an explainin til e bairns aat ilka fable hid a moral til't. Then she speired if ony o them could gie an example o a story aat hid a moral. Wee Mary steed up an said,

"Fin ma Granda gid aff til e First Warld War he taen wi him a bottle o Glenlivet. He gid aa e wey throu e war bit niver opened e bottle. He wis shot at, he wis shelled, he wis clarted in dubs, bit it didna maitter foo bad it wis, he didna open e bottle o Glenlivet. Then es day in 1918 he decided aat he'd juist hid eneuch, he wis fair fed up, so he sat doon an opened his bottle o Glenlivet an drank e lot aa at ae go. Then he steed up an fixed his bayonet ontil his rifle an gid ower e tap on his ain. He waded in amangst e Germans. He shot es een an he stabbit aat een. Mercy, he ended up killin saxty Germans, then he cam back tae his trench an sat doon, an aat wis the eyn o e war."

Wi aat, Mary sat doon an e teacher says tae her aat wis a grand story bit hidn't she forgotten somethin, an speired fit wis the moral o her story. Mary thocht a meenit then steed up again an said, "Weel Miss, e moral o aat story is aat ye dinna bugger aboot wi ma Granda fin he's got a drink in!"

City o Literature
EDINBURGH haes been appyntit the verra first UNESCO City o Literature. Athin oors o pittin in a formal bid for the title, the proposal wis gien absolute approval bi mair nor a hunder ambassadors wi muckle praise an ratified the follaein day bi the Executive Comatee. It wis thocht that aw this wad tak months. Auld Reekie's submission includit a threap on hou Scotland's minority languages haed played sic a major pairt in its literary history. The Warld City o Literature wabsteid can be seen at the follaein URL:-

Whit's in a Name?
THE Ordnance Survey's wabsteid haes a nummer o documents aboot the linguistic origins o place names in Britain an in particlar, it haes a 22 page document cried "Guide to Scots origins of place names in Britain". Forbye a wechty leet o the Scots elements in place names, this weel setten oot document gies a richt dose o information that will be fund tae be gey interestin bi onybody that's interestit in the Scots language, includin the likes o hou the Scots 'haugh' wis wrangly owerset intae the English 'hall'.

The document can be doonloadit an prentit in pdf format frae:-

Scots Tung WITTINS
On the wab.
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A Dander Doon the Canongate wi Robert Fergusson
A report bi Irene Broon
[NOTE: a photograph here of the statue of Robert Fergusson in original]
ON Sunday 17 October, the Canongate Kirk wis fou o fowk takin pairt in a ceremony that echoed the quiet-like dignity o the week afore's ongauns at the Royal hand-sellin o the new Scots Pairlament biggin. This time the ongaun wis the service an dedication tae the statue an memory o 18th century poet, Robert Fergusson. This wis the ootcome o a fower year ingaitherin o siller bi the group cried the Freends o Robert Fergusson. 17 October wis the date o Robert Fergusson's tragic daith in 1774 in Edinburgh's Bedlam when he wis juist 24 year auld.

The Rev. Charles Robertson, that set the souch for the dedication, bi giein the first prayer in Scots, likened a wark o airt tae the perfection o God's wark. The rest o the service comprised the psalm, All Creatures that on earth do dwell, an the Scots paraphrase, O God of Bethel that wis each sung unaccompanied juist the wey they wad hae been in Fergusson's day. Aiblins the same principle shuid hiv been uised for the singing o Fergusson's ain favourite sang, The Birks o Invermay that follaed, for the dowie an hert ruggin words wis kinna tint in this particlar rendition that haed a piano accompaniment. Some o the congregation micht no hiv been acquent wi the sang but hearin thae words 'For soon the winter of the year, and age, life's winter, will appear'wad shuirly hiv struck a chord when the man that's life we war celebrating scantlins saw his ain summer. In the same kinna wey, the Kevock choir's singin o an extract frae a sang cycle, written bi David C Purdie an Edward McGuire in contemporary style, though bonnilie sung, the stoot words o the poem, To the Principal and Professors of the University of St Andrews on their superb treat to Dr Samuel Johnson wis a wee bit obscured.

George Philp, ane o the originators o the Freends o Robert Fergusson, addressed the congregation. He minded us o the uphaud gien tae the 'guid Scots tung' bi Ramsay, Fergusson an Burns, quotin frae baith Fergusson's an Stevenson's Auld Reikie, sayin that the "Scots language comes alive in Fergusson's poetry". This wis follaed bi a readin frae Isaiah 43 verses 1-3 an 19-21 bi Prof. David Purdie an efter a hinnermaist prayer, the congregation aw filed ootside tae the Canongate whaur a crowd haed gaithert areddies tae witness the unveilin. Efter speeches bi Edinburgh's Provost Lesley Hinds an Prof. Purdie, the cry "mak wey for the makar" wis heard an Edinburgh's praisent Makar, Stewart Conn, wis wheeched tae the front o the crowd frae the kirk whaur he read his specially commissioned poem on the day's ongauns:-

The image uppermost in my mind
was of him crouching in his cell, in squalor,
his head adorned with a crown of straw
neatly plaited with his own hand.

Now we see this trig figure
caught in mid-stride among the thrang,
a reminder that guid gear can gang
in sma' bulk - not just in literature.

Though too late to revivify a spirit broken
in his lifetime it rekindles recognition
of his artistry, humanity and vision -
and the plain braid Scots he spoke in.

Besides cocking a snook at the literati
of his day, his presence will regenerate
the native vigour of the Canongate
(no need to muster the black banditti).

Long may those sturdy 'wee rosiers'
spring from his grave; his affinity
with common folk, his ribaldry and pity,
move us to laughter and to tears.

So let us - in fancied ritual - celebrate
his genius by washing down our oysters
with reaming noggins ... raised in roisterous
praise of Auld Reikie's peerless laureate.

© 2004 Stewart Conn

The saltires happin the statue wis then ruggit awa tae reveal the award winnin sculptor, David Annand's, braw life sized bronze Robert Fergusson danderin doon the Canongate, buik in haund, heidin tae whaure'er yer imagination wad tak him. A surprise guest appearance bi Robert Burns, played bi Christopher Tait, gled-hertit the crowd, as did the twa pipers that endit the ongauns.

The hail thing wis awfu Scottish an gey apt but wha kens whit Robert Fergusson hissel wad hiv makit o this douce, sober, respectable crowd that haed gaithert in his memory. It's onybody's guess an aw whit some o the crowd wad hiv makit o Robert Fergusson haed they fund him singin the lenth o the High Street in the guise o a beggar, or seen him in his desperately dowie hinnermaist days. Far better that Edinburgh's 'forgotten poet' shuid be mindit noo in this life affirming pose, wi his heid haudit high an cled in whit cuid be 'guid braid claith'. May it inspire thaim that sees it tae seek oot an inevitably enjoy his wark an in daein this discover hou pouerfu-like the Scots language cuid communicate ideas o intellect, philosophy, wit an humour. © 2004 Irene Broon.

A Sair Fecht?
WRITIN in the Scotsman on 19 October, Frank Urquhart threaps "It's a sair fecht for Scots as native dialect dies out". This consait is foondit on research bi Dr Jennifer Smith o York University that haes fund that the uiss o the fricative 'ch' soond is deein oot amang the young fowk, e'en in the nor-aist, tho they aw hing on tae aw the ither markers o the leid sic as 'fit' an 'far' etc alang wi Scots gremmar habits.

Urquhart says that bein able tae say, "It's a braw bricht moonlicht(sic) nicht the nicht" wis whit sindert Scots frae juist aboot awbody in the warld. An here wis us thinkin it wis juist a tung-twister tae see if a body wis fou or no.

Accordin tae Urquhart, but no Dr. Smith, the loss o the fricative 'ch' wis a shuir sign that Scots wis deein oot. Is it no gey orra the wey some Scots sees evolutionary chynges in thair ain Scots language as signs o it deein oot but evolutionary chynges in ither languages, sic as English, is juist taen for grantit?

When the fricative 'ch' soond sae weel lo'ed in English words bi Chaucer but spelt 'gh', stertit tae dee oot frae the English language somewhaur aroond the Elizabethan times, wad Frank hiv loupit up an threapit tae the warld "It's a sair fecht. The English language is deein oot."?

The only language that bides still an disnae chynge is a deid ane the likes o Latin an the fact that Scots is still aye evolvin is shuirly juist a sign o its ain braw guid health.

Nixt Forgaitherin
Monday 29 Nov. 2004
7.30pm tae 9.00pm
[CENSORED: postaladdress]

Makar's Neuk

Ye wha are fain to hae your name
Wrote in the bonny book of fame,
Let merit nae pretension claim
To laurel'd wreath,
But hap ye weel, baith back and wame,
In gude Braid Claith.
He that some ells o this may fa,
An slae-black hat on pow like snaw,
Bids bauld to bear the gree awa,
Wi a this graith,
When bienly clad wi shell fu braw
O gude Braid Claith.
Waesuck for him wha has na fek o't!
For he's a gowk they're sure to geck at,
A chiel that ne'er will be respekit
While he draws breath,
Till his four quarters are bedeckit
Wi gude Braid Claith.
Braid Claith lends fock an unco heese,
Makes mony kail-worms butter-flies,
Gies mony a doctor his degrees
For little skaith:
In short, you may be what you please
Wi gude Braid Claith.

Robert Fergusson (1750-74)

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Scots Tung Wittins 132. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 17 June 2024, from

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Information about Document 1783

Scots Tung Wittins 132


Text audience

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Method of composition N/A
Word count 2501
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