Month: November 2019

A Blether Aboot the Scots Leid!

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Fir twa hours oan Saturday 19th Oct masel an hawf a dozen ithir fowk wi a birr fir the Scots tongue speirt awa aboot oor language, or leid, in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum biggin.

We blethert aboot hoo we feel whin we hear fowk yaisin Scots words, yon sense o connection that we feel an hoo the leid taks us back tae guid memories o whin we wir weans. It’s aa aboot hoo oor brains are wired an hoo certain pathways in oor harns licht up whin we hear language that we ken. The Scriever fir Scotland, Michael Dempster, explains this in a Ted Talk oan You-Rube, which is weel worth a wee swatch.

Gien that this is the International Year o Indigenous Languages, we jaloused aboot hoo maist linguists gree that Scots is a leid in its ain richt an hoo Scots is kent by oor ain government an the European Commission as wan o the 3 indigenous leids o Scotland, alang wi English an Gaelic.

We luiked at hoo Scots language hus evolved owre the centuries wi Brythonic, Anglo-Saxon, Norwegian an Scandinavian, French an Auld English influences as weel as fae the Celts an the Picts. An hoo, it’s kent as a Germanic leid wi close ties tae Auld English.

We speirt aboot hoo oor Scots leid hus maistly been a spoken leid, due tae hoo historic documents wir aften scrievit in Latin an French. Poetry hooivver hus aye buin scrievit in Scots, stertin wi the magneeficent poem BRUS scrievit aboot Robert the Bruce by John Barbour in the 1370’s.

We spaik aboot hoo, eftir the union o Scotland an England, the nabbery stertit tae learn tae read an scrieve in English, we jaloused that mibbe they thocht this wuid be beneficial tae them in terms o trade, status an siller. White’er thaur thochts wir, the ootcome wis a dingin doon o the Scots leid an the stairt o a penchant tae tell fowk speikin Scots tae “speik properly”. 

We spaik o the Scottish enlightenment in the 18th century whin makars sic as Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson an Robert Burns hud the smeddum tae scrieve in Scots tae mak siccar the Scots Leid wis uphaudit tae this day. We jaloused that aiblins oor bonnie leid wid hae bin lost itherwise. We spaik o hoo, nooadays, wi the world gaun the way its gaun at the meenit, we are hell bent oan preserving oor leid, itherwise, wi media influences we micht aa end up wi transatlantic accents!! We got yokit in aboot this, speirin aboot hoo oor weans are sayin words lik “Trick or Treating” insteid o “gaun guisin”!! 

We spaik aboot hoo literature, parteecularly fir weans, is being scrievit an owerset intae Scots mair an mair an hoo this is a gey guid way o airtin fir the future.

We aa hud different life experiences and thochts but we aa agreed that we want tae preserve oor rich an descriptive Scots leid an pass it oan tae oor weans an granweans.

A wheen o Scots words hae been dinged doon as bein “slang” an we luiked at some examples an whaur they micht originate fae;

  • “A WEE STOATER” – meanin “first class” or a fine example o somehin, eg, a “stoater” o a goal, or a wee smasher. Nae doot related tae  STOTTIT – BOUNCED and mibbe even tae STOT – an auld Scots word for a bullock.
  •  “UP THE SKYTE” – meanin pregnant. KYTE wis originally the Scots word fir belly. So if somebody’s “skyted” their belly hus gotten big, they are pregnant. Also the medical term for fluid in the abdomen is ASCITES (latin) from ASKITES (Greek).
  • SCUNNERT – as in “ocht ah’m fair scunnert the day, ah cannae get oot ma ain road”, auld Scots an Northern English word, Robert Fergusson an Robert Burns baith yaisd it in their poetry. Literal meanin wis originally tae flinch / tae shrink back. Noo means “fed up.” Comes fae the 14TH century Norse word SKONERON.
  • BLETHER – meanin tae chat, “hae a wee blether” or someone who is “a wee blether”, wee chatterbox, Originated fae the auld Norse word blathra or blaora.
  • HUNKERS– ie “doon oan yir hunkers”, meanin squattin doon – Dutch or German in origin.
  • WINTER DYKES – clothes horse – in the summer fowk yaist tae pit thaur claes owre stane dykes tae dry, as they hud nae washin lines, so in the winter they wuid dry the claes in the hoos, in front o the fire owre a wuiden frame, which they caad the “winter dykes”.
  • SMEEKIT – nooadays meanin steamin fu’, intoxicated. Originates fae auld Scots word SMEEK meanin smoke or fumes so, in the case o the modern yis o SMEEKIT, the fumes comin fae somebody intoxicated wi alcohol.
  • GUISIN – comes fae Scots an North England meanin “disguised as”. Swipperly bein taen owre by “Trick or Treating”.
  • OXTER – armpit. Norse in origin – Dutch word is Oksel.
  • REDD UP – as in “awa an redd up yir room”, yaisd in Scotland an Northern England, comin fae the word “rid”, “get rid of”.
  • BARE SCUDDIE – goes back tae the 18 hunners, meanin nooadays naked, but originally meanin a wee fledgling burd that’s no got oany feathers.

We then brainstormed some mair Scottish words an phrases lik:

  • TUMMLE THE CRAN(forward roll)
  • FANKLE(mixed up), eg, Ah wuid get intae a fankle if ah tried tae dae a tummle the cran!
  • GRUMPHIE (pig)
  • PUNTIE UP (help tae sclim up)
  • HUNTIGOWK (April fools day)
  • BOAK (be sick)
  • BRACE (mantelpiece)
  • OWRE THE THRAPPLE (doon the throat), we hud a guid laugh mindin oor granny’s gien us butterbaas tae cure a sair throat! Gadz!

Eftir that we compared some scrievins in Scots Leid, yin lass read a poem scrievit in Doric fae Lallans Scots leid journal, an this lead tae a blether aboot Sheena Blackhall’s braw Doric poetry, sic as “The Check Oot Quine’s Lament.” Anither lass hud owreset Wordsworth’s “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge” intae Scots an anither lass hud us heehawin an laffin at some o her social media posts in Scots.

We hud a wee laugh at hoo a few o us in the group hud been threatened wi elocution lessons as weans. We also speirt aboot hoo Scots words vary fae airt tae airt an hoo we can get crabbit an frustrated aboot hoo tae spell Scots words, gien we huv never buin tocht this an are self tocht. This is whaur guid scrievins come intae thaur ain an we hud a luik at James Andrew Begg’s buik “The Man’s The Gowd for a that”, which ah hae read recently an it baith brocht back words ah hud forgotten aa aboot an tocht me new wans tae. As Scots Scriever Michael Dempster telt us in his Ted Talk “it fair lit up the pathways in ma harns.”

We read a cutty extract fae chapter 9, “The Killie Fleshers” pages 108 – 109, based oan a fictional blether set in Kilmarnock in 1786, atween a fermer chiel an the printer o the Kilmarnock First Edition, Johnie Wilson, wha is speirin aboot “this Rob the Rhymer” an hoo “at the stert ah wis sweirt tae tak it on, fir his verses are aa in the Scotch tung…since aa thaim that can afford tae buy buiks are learnin tae speak in English”. We felt this extract wis relevant tae the pynt we wir makin earlier aboot hoo Burns wis instrumental in preservin the Scots Leid an hoo he mak’d siccar it wisnae gauntae be dinged doon. No on his shift. An we are fair gled that Wilson did “tak it oan”.

At the hinneren oor tungs taiglt us that much that we didnae dae oany scrievin!! Hoo an ever, we greed that it hud been an awfy guid blether an we’ll dae it again at the neist Scots Leid wirkshoap oan Setturday 09.11.19 1pm tae 3pm in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum biggin.

Aabody welcome. Aefaulds .

Tracy Harvey, Resident Scots Scriever fir Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

October Week 2019 at #BurnsBirthplace

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We had a fantoosh October week during the school holidays this year with numerous weans and their family members joining us for Halloween themed Cantrip Crafts. We also had a Haunted Horror Hunt on offer that was site wide meaning families were encouraged to explore not only our Museum but our play-park, Burns Monument, Brig o’ Doon, Alloway Auld Kirk, Poet’s Path and Burns Cottage to hunt for clues!

We had seven different crafts on from Monday 14th – Sunday 20th October. They were:

  1. a pumpkin wreath
  2. a warlock/witch hat
  3. creepy sun-catchers
  4. jam jar lanterns
  5. toilet roll characters
  6. a thaumatrope toy
  7. frichtfu’ finger puppet pals

These crafts were very popular with the weans (and their parents, siblings, carers and grandparents! Our Learning Officer joked that it was inter-generational family-fun, just as much for the adults as the weans, but it seriously is) and so, we thought we’d share some of these crafts instructions with you in case you’d like to try them at home as a family. You don’t need a lot of specialist equipment – most of this you’ll most likely have already or be able to buy out of budget stores like Pound Land, Wilko or large supermarkets. Also, these can easily be tweaked to make them themed around another holiday other than Halloween. Happy crafting!!

Jam Jar Lanterns: this is a creative craft that looks great when finished and you put your candle in it in the dark! It uses up jars that would be going into the recycling bin anyway so it doesn’t require you to buy anything made of glass in especially for it.

What you need:

  • A selection of old jars
  • Different coloured tissue paper
  • Black card, scissors, pen/pencils
  • PVA glue, pot & brush
  • Googly eyes
  • LED or wax candles

Instructions:

  • Choose which design you want to do: a pumpkin, haunted house, spooky forest, spiders and their webs, Frankenstein, a mummy?
  • Tear up small strips of tissue paper in your chosen colour and paste them onto the glass jar with PVA glue. Apply enough to cover the jar but not so that the light will not be able to shine through.*
  • Next, use scissors to cut a spooky design out of black card i.e. pumpkin face shapes, Frankenstein face shapes or owls and trees.
  • Then stick it to your jam jar with PVA glue; applying an extra layer of glue over the whole thing to give it a nice finish.
  • Leave it to dry – ideally overnight or at least for a few hours.
  • Finally, pop in a candle and watch your lanterns glow!  Just remember to never leave an open flame unattended.

*Do not put tissue paper inside the lantern – just on the outside – as that is a dangerous fire hazard!

Thaumatrope Toy: this is a 19th century scientific toy that is an optical illusion. You put two separate images on either side of your circles and when you spin it, it combines them together! Cool, huh?

What you need:

  • Straws
  • Paper and card
  • Scissors
  • Glue or Sello-tape
  • Pens

Instructions:

  • Cut out two identical circles on plain white paper (using something to draw around is easiest).
  • Cut out two identical circles on card.
  • On your paper, draw something to put on either side, for example: a spider’s web and a spider hanging down, a cage and a bird, a house then the moon and stars.
  • Draw them onto your circles as if they were to be combined they’d match up to each other i.e. draw the moon around the house.
  • Glue your paper circles onto your card circles.
  • Get a straw and glue them securely to either side of it – now spin it and see if your optical illusion toy works!

Creepy Sun-catcher Decoration: this requires a bit of planning and develops problem-solving skills in the weans as they need to map out where their going to cut and size their “windows” appropriately.

What you need:

  • Black card
  • Scissors
  • Pens
  • Glue or Sello-tape
  • Various colours of tissue paper

Instructions:

  • Take an A4 piece of black card and draw a window outline then draw shapes inside the window like smaller window panes. You can try to draw a pumpkin, spider, bat or ghost if your up for the challenge.
  • Double up your lines up leaving a decent amount of space and make sure you can see your pen marks clearly as you’ll need to cut along these.
  • Using your scissors, very carefully pierce a hole in the middle of the parts you’ll need to cut out i.e. where the “glass” will go in the windows.
  • Once you’ve cut all of them out, pick different colours of tissue paper and arrange where they’ll go, then cut them to size.
  • When you are ready to glue, flip the card over and glue the back of it and then place your tissue into the right place.
  • Continue to do this until all gaps are filled.
  • Stick it up on a window and watch as the sunlight shines through you creepy sun-catcher!

Scots words used in this blog:

  • Fantoosh = flashy, ultra-fashionable
  • Weans = children
  • Cantrip = magic
  • Auld = old
  • Kirk = church
  • Frichtfu’ = frightful