Category Archives: Scotland

Wha Daur Meddle wi ma Lingo – –

Jack’s Wednesday post makes it over the line in time – –

As Wendy continues to deliver masks, hand sanitizer and gloves around this corner of the world as well as trying to hit three publisher deadlines, I’m still holding the fort here on her blog. She is hoping to be back next week!!

I may have posted about this before, but language is something that fascinates me, and particularly my own Scots language. From an early age I have spoken a mixture of standard English and Scots. More recently, my singing of songs and ballads in Scots has probably made me even more aware and more knowledgeable. It didn’t hurt to have a grandfather living with us from my birth until I was fourteen who was a very natural Scots speaker.

Because of the ‘Scotch-Irish’ who were the main settlers here in Appalachia I’m often asked about my language and vocabulary whenever I sing at concerts or festivals. This is what I usually say – Scots and English are two different but related languages. Think of Spanish and Portuguese, or Danish and Norwegian. The same kind of relationship. Scots differs from English in many ways – sentence structure, vocabulary and pronunciation etc. It’s not simply a dialect of English.

The problem is that when the King James Bible was published English became the predominant written language throughout Britain, while Scots continued until very recently as only a spoken one. Over time and following the establishment of The United Kingdom Scots began to be regarded as a ‘sub-language’ and for anyone to succeed in life they had to master English.

So let’s take a look at some examples of Scots language alongside the English translation –

It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht the nicht (it’s a lovely bright moonlit night tonight).

Mony a mickle maks a muckle (lots of small things makes a big thing).

Ah kent his faither an clappit his dug (I knew his father and even patted his dog).

Through the historical connections over many centuries with other European countries, Scots has often borrowed words from Germany, France and Scandinavia. Kirk for Church (German), bigging for building (Scandinavian), ashet for large plate (French). There are also some imports from Gaelic such as whisky and loch.

Because Scots became a mainly spoken rather than written tongue various local versions developed over the years, So Aberdonian is quite different from Glaswegian or Fife.

Happily, following the re-convening of the Scottish Parliament there has been a greater effort to encourage a proper appreciation of my language in schools and colleges.

But something that still depresses me is when I see written passages with apostrophes to indicate supposed missing letters – continuing to suggest that Scots is just poorly pronounced English. No, it isnae ava.

If you’d like to find out more this is a great resource –


Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch

In a VA Country Garden – –

Jack misses by a day – or as his economics professor would say ‘reverts to the mean’ – –

I have always disliked gardening. I used to think it was a hellish Calvinist punishment for past or future sins. That was probably mainly because I lived in west Fife for the first sixty years of my life where the ground is solid clay and only good for weeds. But when Wendy and I married we moved to east Fife where the soil is completely different, fertile and easily worked. So in our very small back yard we successfully grew vegetables for the first time. It was still hard work but at least with results!

When we moved here last year we found we’d inherited a vegetable garden that only appeared to have some rhubarb and raspberries in it. But we did notice that the previous owners had carefully planted lots of different flowers around the place very thoughtfully and they matured at different times through the year.

That should have hinted at something – –

With the uncertainty of the Covid 19 situation and the resultant notion of trying to be a bit more self-sufficient, we set up tanks around the house to capture rainwater and then turned our attention to the vegetable garden.

When we started preparing the ground we discovered a layer of black garden cloth everywhere so we pulled it all up and threw it away. Only later did we discover why it was there. Our yard has a number of big mature black walnut trees and they send out fine tendrils from their roots that are death to a number of vegetables. Despite that we were able to grow onions, peas, asparagus and a few other things. We also have a fresh crop of rhubarb and raspberries. Our tomatoes are either in grow-bags or as far away from the walnut trees as possible.

The other big job was converting our wee shed into a chicken coop for Thelma and Louise and that was another heavy bit of work.

So we are slowly learning what works and what doesn’t – next time the peas need to be staked better, the potatoes need to be in isolated raised beds and more of the tomatoes need to be in grow-bags.

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch