Category Archives: between books

A Word in your Ear – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post fails to make it again – Wendy threatens to cut his fee – –

A young friend in Scotland who has become a much admired singer of traditional Scots songs is Iona Fyfe (a name I thought had been adopted to represent the breadth of Scotland, but it’s actually her name). Just recently she was in the news across the globe for taking Spotify to task for not allowing singers to post their songs as Scots. She won the argument and they have now included that option.

It, of course, raised that old hoary argument that Scots isn’t a language but just a dialect of English. In fact they both started from common roots, as did most European languages. I usually tell people that the relationship between Scots and English is similar to that between Spanish and Portuguese or between Danish and Norwegian.

Nowadays most Scots speak a mixture of Scots and English – particularly in informal situations. That’s much changed from when I was young and teachers discouraged bairns frae spikken their ain leid. They felt that to get on in life it was necessary to speak ‘proper English’ and they were quite correct. What they didn’t understand was that kids can be taught and study more than one language. Of course when we reached high school we learned French or German but still our own language was suppressed. I wonder whether teaching all subjects in Scots and including English as an option along with French and German, as happens in Gaelic language schools now would have helped.

I was lucky to have a granddad who lived with us from the time I was born until he died and who was a natural speaker of Scots, so I heard the vocabulary and sentence structure as I was growing up. My parents, although they had middle class aspirations, still spoke a more diluted version of Scots and we had an old edition of Burns songs, poems and letters in the house. Incidentally, Burns wrote his letters and some of his songs and poems in ‘proper English’ while the others were in ‘proper Scots’, but even he absorbed his Scots language informally beside the ingle neuk.

It’s interesting how much a language can help define a nation, and that’s not lost on the London based ‘movers and shakers’. They think it’s bad enough to have road signs in Welsh and Gaelic but they winna thole them in Scots!

Like many immigrants to the USA I have learned to speak and understand American English, but I can still speak and understand British English (for which I thank those far off teachers). Still, my language of choice will always be Scots –

My childhood memories are – lowpin ower dykes; keekin at the muin; greetin fu sair; gien it laldie and haudin ma wheest.

Lang may yir lum reek!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

What’s ‘Intilt’?

I was away from home so a day late as usual with the Wednesday guest post –

Now that we’ve both been vaccinated, as have many friends and neighbors, we can begin to look back on how we’ve handled the last year. A big part was in cooking with ingredients that Wendy had sourced very imaginatively – potatoes, onions, mushrooms that in some cases literally ‘fell off a truck’.

I enjoy cooking and am always interested in new recipes – for some reason I get regular e-mails from the New York Times Cooking page and I love reading their linked examples. But it is always just a vicarious pleasure. I never make any of them because they always involve an ingredient or a utensil I don’t have!

So I start from the opposite direction.

I do a Google search on the ingredients we have and the methods I’m familiar with. So I have recently searched for ‘potatoes, onions, carrots, peas and mushrooms’ and then choose something that uses a process I’m comfortable with. I discovered Lebanese seven spice mixture and love adding a teaspoonful to almost everything I make.

I had already searched for specialized foods I remembered from Scotland such as sausage rolls and steak bridies and they turned out to be easy to make.

Meanwhile Wendy has become a dab hand at canning as an alternative to freezing and that has opened up lots of possibilities too. So we have lots of jars of homemade spaghetti sauce, curry sauce, veggie soup and even ‘ready to go’ fries (Chips for my Scottish friends) which are par-boiled in the canning process and just need to go in our air-fryer with a squirt of oil. I often reference a story I think I first heard from my good friend from Aberdeen, Colin Stuart whenever she is making something. Queen Victoria and Albert sailed down Loch Ness and he visited the galley. He asked the chef what was in the soup. “There’s tatties intilt and carrots intilt and ingins intilt”. Well, my good man “tell me what’s ‘intilt’?’. “There’s tatties intilt and carrots intilt and ingins intilt” and so it went on round and round.

Finally, as the growing season has arrived, and after extending our vegetable garden, we will be hoping for our own carrots, onions, corn, tomatoes, peppers etc. through the coming year.

Some dishes we’ve become fond of – Dall with beans; Stovies; Bridies; Sausage Rolls; Vegetable Soup; Salmon Patties (Fish Cakes); various curries; Crock Pot Stews – – –

One thing I haven’t found over here is tripe, which my Mum used to make and I would love to have a go at!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, crafting, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch