The skeels o Jock Tamson’s bairns

Humans is ainimals like ony ither in that we eat, sleep, muive about an dae the auld hochmagandie. But, at the same time, we arenae the same as ither ainimals, pairtly acause we are the anerly species that can unnerstaund whit A’m scrievin. We are the anerly species that haes gane fae bein an endangert species in an East African glen tae bein the anerly species tae bide on thairsels on aw the continents; the last ane, Antarctica, designtly, an it isnae even acause it haes onything tae eat on it. An we’re the anerly species tae transmogrify the face o a feck o the globe. An even the anerly species tae send itsel an its companions intae space. Hou is that humans did that an no ony ither species? Whit gars us homo sapiens sae sonsie?

A few thochts tae stert wi wad be weel-kent phýsical attributes includin strang opposable thumbs an a muckler brain. A muckler brain wad seem a help, inspecially confeerance wi ither primates, but wir brains haes scrinkit ’ithin the past twinty thousand year.

As for opposable thumbs, there is a few definítions o whit that constitutes but thay aw involve bringin yer thumb the conter side o yer ither fingers. It is a potential aspect o human beins that expleens hou we got sae sonsie. It’s wi opposable thumbs that we can mak aw wir technology. This capacity can be found in ither primates an aw: aw the great apes, mony lesser apes; even Auld Warld monkeys like the macaques.

An it isnae even restrictit tae primates aither, even gif the ither tetrapods wi sic haudin haunds dinnae uise thaim sae weel as primates: pandas, opossums, koalas an some tree puddocks like the waxy monkey leaf frog hae the same distinctive gresp that we associate wi wir ain species. But human opposable thumbs is obviously the best anes acause thay’re mair advanced acause the thumb is faurer fae the ither fingers an can turn aw the wey round on the ithers.

The technology we uise wir opposable thumbs for tae create isnae specífic tae humans itsel, aither: while the technology o humans is och that bit mair spectacular, ither ainimals can uise technology an aw. Ither mammals, inspecially primates, an birds (inspecially craws) an octopuses is amang the ainimals that can uise technology. Housomiver, there is major differs acqueesh human technology an maist ither ainimal technology in that humans fashion thair ain, an wir technology is perqueer an ever-chyngin.

The ever-chyngin naitur o human technolgoy is due tae wir creatívity. Creatívity is a new-fangle o the Homo genus, wirsels an wir naurmaist forbears. Humans is that innovative that, fae aichty thousand year syne on, chynge haes become ordinar in humans. Creatívity is connectit wi adaptabílity an humans is maistlike the maist adaptable species, capable o bidin in mony different environments atour the warld, pairtly due tae wir ingenious development o technology. We can even gang intae caulder environments nor whit wir Neanderthal cousins war uised wi, an thay war uised wi the geal. This new-fangle an creatívity can be seen in airt, whilk can anerly be conclusively seen in humans.

Airt isnae the anerly cultural activíty that appluises the naitur o humanity: cultur itsel is anither thing that could be seen as specífic tae humans. It haes been uphauden that Japanese macaques haes cultur: lair an pratticks passt doun throu the generations. Resairchers commune yet anent whither thir behaviours is cultural or no.

A major aspect o human cultur is leids. Language is wir creative cultural capacity for communication. A say it’s creative acause wirds can be uised in new-fangelt weys thereby expandin the realm o the leid; ainimal noises cannae be uised in new-fangelt weys like the noises o us humans can. An the cultural aspect o leids is partícular important acause humans haes different leids dependin on the kintra, or whiles even the clachan. This is in contrast tae ither ainimals wha aften haes the same caw ower several continents. This cultural an linguistic diversity is therefore pairt o wir skeels specífic tae wir species an something tae uphaud.

Anither contrast we can mak wi ither species is that thay can communicate but no in a abstract mainer. Wirds itsel is specífically human: the wey we structure wir communication intae discrete units isnae something we can see in ither inhabitants o the planet Yird. Polysemy is a notably human characteristic, as is uisin different sounds ’ithout waitin on a stimulus for thaim. The wey we pit sentences thegither uisin the wirds is unique an aw: we can produce a infinite nummer o utterances, unalike ither ainimals that haes a fixed set o cries.

Anither human characteristic that isnae found in ither species is the wey fowk spik specífically for tae spik; it isnae juist a rackless eftercome o anither behaviour. This means that this is a central aspect o wir behaviour; it isnae juist a wee extra on the tap. We communicate for tae communicate.

The meanin o wirds isnae relatit tae the form. This can be seen in some bird caws an aw, but birds lack ither chairactertistics o human language, like productivity. Likewise, whan bees dance, thay shaw that thay communicate anent events that isnae thare.

Wir leids is uised for tae interact in society an we humans is gey an sociable. Wir sociabílity is ane o the vicks that distinguishes us fae wir naur relatives, the Neanderthals. An it enables divíson o labour, something that allous fowk tae focus on specífic tasks, preferably tasks that we’re better at an we’re greeshochie about.

The foresaid social skeels includes cooperation an skarin, naitural human skeels that even bairns daes. Whit we skare isnae juist objects, but thochts an aw, enablin thochts tae spreid fae ae body tae anither. Anither o the social skeels that distinguishes us is wir cognitive empathy, the abílity tae unnerstaund whit ither fowk is thinkin, is forby specífic tae humanity, an fair helpfu for haein meaninfu interactions.

A wad hypothesise that, for tae empathise wi ithers, we wad need tae uise abstract thocht. Abstract thocht, thinkin on things that isnae here the nou, is a important aspect o the human essence, that distinguishes us fae wir primate maiks. This can be linkit wi language in that wirds is specífically human, but abstract wirds like ‘freedom’ an ‘equality’ is even faurer remuived fae the capacities o ither ainimals. There is different degrees o abstraction an aw: dates seem abstract for a bairn, but quantum phýsics is even mair abstract.

This abstract thinkin is manifest in the wey we can think aheid o time an back in time. Baith reminiscin an imaiginin is ane o the maist fundamental human vicks. An the connection acqueesh wir thinkin anent the futur an anent the past is stranger nor we realise acause we big wir ideas anent the futur wi wir mindins o the past. We uise mair or less the same pairts o the brain for thinkin anent the past as for the futur an, gif we forget wir mindins, we lose wir capacity tae imaigine wir futur an aw. An, imperfect as human memory is, humans haes a spectacular memory ower a lifetime whan compared wi ither ainimals. This gies us a richt guid advantage ower ither species acause we can plan for the futur an be better prepared for it.

Sae Jock Tamson’s bairns is bairns that spik leids, an sicweys we communicate in multiple iver-chyngin new-fangelt abstract weys. In the communication sýstems, we can descrive no juist whit we see, whit we hae seen an whit we will see, but even things that we could niver ken even gif thay could exist. An aw the vicks can be seen in the behaviour o wir species in ither weys an aw. Jock Tamson’s bairns wirks thegither, cooperatin an skarin mair nor ony ither species on the Yird. We are forby creative an innovative, wir society chyngin ilka day acause o wir ain thochts. Abstract thocht, thinkin anent the futur an the past, is forby a vick that gars us humans a lanerly species, as is wir capacity for adaption. Leids is tharefore the kythin o several o humanity’s heichmaist capacities. Sae lat’s haud on bein the cooperative, creative-thinkin, adaptive ainimals we are.

James McDonaldJames McDonald is a Scots polyglot steyin in Réunion. He is keen on different leids, inspecially local leids, an thair forderin, whether it’s Scots, Gaelic, Réunion Creole or ither leids. He wirks in schuils, helpin bairns wi thair hamewirk an giein chess lessons. Ye can contact him on jmcd89 [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.

Scots-til-English glossar

A I; acqueesh between; anent about; anerly only; appluises makes available to; atour all over; big build; caw call; clachan village; confeerance wi in comparison with; descrive describe; designtly deliberately; eftercome effect; feck large proportion; gars makes; geal extreme coldness; gif if; greeshochie enthusiastic; haud on carry on; hochmagandie fornication; housomiver nevertheless; kythin manifestation; lair learning, knowledge; lanerly exceptional, unique; leid language; maiks relatives; mindins recollections, memories; perqueer skilfully made; pratticks habits, customs; rackless accidental; scrinkit shrunken, shrivelled; sicweys thus; skarin sharing; sonsie successful; vicks traits; whiles sometimes; Yird Earth

Social media ímage: Girl with a Book by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior

Sounds o the kirk an court: early airt muisic in Scotland

Whither in Italy, Germany, France or England, muisic bi gate o court an kirk wis flourishin aw ower Europe i the Renaissance an Baroque periods. But what o Scotland? Wis it aw juist bagpipes, reels an fowk sangs? I pit on my speirer’s bunnet an haed a bit leuk . . .

Atween c1430 an c1750 — a time that comprehends twa muisical eras scholars caws the Renaissance an Baroque periods — Europe’s kirks an royal courts wis the patrons o ‘airt’ (or ‘clessical’) muisic. Tak, for instance, the liturgical muisic o the Renaissance, like the Masses an motets o Italy’s Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c1525–94). Or, efter in Germany, the fouthie outpit o J. S. Bach (1685–1750), that’s kent as the heidmaist componer o the Baroque period. Siccan dargs couldna hae been wrocht without the siller o the estaiblishment.

For maist o the time period we’re concernt wi Scotland wis yet a free-staundin kintra, an for about hauf o it haed a royal court steidit in Edinburgh. It gart me wunner (as a body that lang syne did a bit study o early European airt muisic) what wis gaun on in Scotland at yon time. The subject o liturgical or court muisic in our airt o the warld haed niver kythed i the year I studied the muisic o the period, an — I maun admít — I’d niver thocht tae leuk intil it afore nou.

Fasherie an raivelment

The naitur o events that mak up Scotland’s history — the mixtur-maxtur o polítical, relígious an social dree — haes meant the extant lave o muisical ongauns frae earlier times isna ower fouthie. The 14t century wis a time whan Scotland wis fechtin for its independence. Than the Protestant Reformation hauf-gates throu the 16t century gied us a dour national kirk that haedna muckle time for sic joys as muisic. An o course in 1603 the union o the crouns gart the Scots court flit south tae Lunnon, takkin wi it cultural daeins an airtin. Aw this did nae favours tae the haudin gaun an development o Scots cultur, muisic includit.

But what daes survive o, an what div we ken in general anent, early Scots airt muisic?

In Scotland the earliest scrievit muisic that survives belangs the 13t century, durin a time muisic scholars caws the Medieval period. The Saunt Andras Muisic Beuk is a muckle cairn o kirk muisic manuscripts copied some time around 1230–50. It haes intil’t a guid feck o muisic frae Nostre Dame in Pairis, an a nummer o warks jaloused tae be bi (unkent) Scots componers. As we’ll see, the wark o French componers wis tae influence the muisic o Scotland outthrou the Renaissance. Atour frae the 13t century, the’re a hymn i the Laitin tae celebrate Princess Margaret’s waddin tae Kíng Eric o Norrowa in 1281. It’s thocht tae hae been written bi a Friar Maurice that steyed in Norrowa an that wis likely a Scot. But nocht mair nor that haes survived.

A page frae the Inchcolm Antiphoner, c1340, ane o the earliest blads o Scots muisic we hae. Ímage credit: Edinburgh University (CC BY 3.0).

Siclike, no muckle is kent about aither court or saucrit muisic i the 14t an 15t centuries. Doutless some liturgical blads wad hae been tint tae war wi England (the Border abbeys, for example, wis connacht an re-biggit i the course o the wars). Ae manuscript we div hae is the Inchcolm Antiphoner frae the 14t century, that comprises muisic o the Celtic kirk. A bittie efter, it’s kent that Jeames I (rang 1406–1437) invitit scholars frae England an Flanders tae gie wysins i the airts til his court. We ken, tae, that muisic played a central pairt in chaipel services i the newly-foundit universities o Saunt Andras, Glesca an Aiberdeen i the 15t century. But binna the antrin scart an a puckle scrieved-on sclates frae Paisley Abbey, the’re naething o the period that survives.

Aw in aw, while no muckle is extant pre-16t century, we can jalouse there maun hae been some kind o national compositional tradítion in Scotland that wad hae providit a found for later componers tae big on.

Muisic Makars?

It wis i the late-15t an intae the 16t centuries that Scotland’s medieval Makars wis tae the fore in Scots cultural life. Poyets sic as Robert Henryson, William Dunbar an Gavin Douglas wrate the maist weel-regairdit verse that — awtho tae modren lugs no sae kenspeckle as the warks o Robert Burns — is still kent an in prent the day. Daes Scotland hae a muisicial outpit that can staund proudly alangside the byordinar quairs o the Makars?

Weel, happily we ken a bittie mair anent the muisic o Scotland i the 16t century nor we dae about earlier times. Maist namely amang componers o this period is Robert Carver (c1484–c1568). The Carver Choirbeuk, that comprehends his extant warks, is a byous pose o muisic that wis less or mair forgotten till fairly recent-like.

A page frae the Carver Choirbeuk
A page frae the Carver Choirbeuk, a fouthie cairn o vocal polyphony bi Robert Carver an ithers.

20t century scholars sic as Kenneth Elliott haes brocht Carver’s Masses an motets out frae the mirk an tae the tent o praisent-day clessical muisic listeners. It’s clear til us nou that Carver’s wark is o the heichmaist calibre, an compares brawly wi the warks o his mair weel-kent contemporars in continental Europe. In his entry anent Renaissance an Reformation muisic i The Oxford Companion to Scottish History, Jamie Reid Baxter raings Carver’s genius alangside that o his Makar contemporars Henryson, Dunbar an Douglas. An in his 1993 beuk Musick Fyne muisicologist D. James Ross threaps that Carver’s Mass Dum sacrum mysterium micht be the aesome maist byous achievement o Scots Renaissance cultur. Strang wirds. Thocht tae hae been compone’t in 1506 whan Carver wis juist 22 year auld, the said ten-vyce wark is unco in its scale an skeeliness. (Ye can hear it in full i the Spotify playlist linkit til at the fit o this post, as weel as on YouTube.)

The openin o Robert Carver’s motet, ‘O bone Jesu’
The openin o Robert Carver’s motet, O bone Jesu. Ímage taen frae Musick Fyne bi D. James Ross

Carver wis i the employ o the court o Jeames IV (rang 1488–1513), himsel a clarsach, keybuird an lute player. The ring o Jeames V (frae 1513 till 1542) wis siclike a sonsie time for Scots court muisic. His royal court mintit tae emulate that o Henry VIII an Leezabeth I in England, an a nummer o professional muisicians an componers wis keepit on haund. Like his faither, Jeames played the lute, an he wis a fine sicht-reader at the singin an aw. He on twa occasions mairit French princesses — the seicont bein Marie de Guise, mither o Mary, Queen o Scots — an at the time French cultur wis weel seen in Scotland. Componers sic as John Fethy wrate sangs that wis inspire’t bi the French chanson an motet styles.

Queen Mary (rang 1542–1567) wis hersel a muisician, bein a player o the lute an virginals, an a bonnie sangster as weel. Mary wis born in Lithgae but spent the stairt o her ring in France, an didna retour tae Scotland till 1561, bringin wi her mair French muisical influence. Mary haed a nummer o muisicians in her employ, includin a group o ‘sangsteris’ an ‘violaris,’ an muisicians frae England an Italy wad frequent the court. A nummer o componers wis actíve durin Mary’s ring, includin Andro Blackhall, John Black, Andro Kemp an the forementiont John Fethy. A nummer o anonymous sangs haes survived, tae, an ye can lug intae them on Spotify.

Mary’s muisical servitor wis Jeames Lauder (c1535–c1592), a componer o guid repute. The only extant wark we can say is his for shuir is the fine My Lord of Marche Paven (1584). He wis a fríend o the poyet Alexander Montgomerie, an wad likely hae been a memmer (alang wi Montomerie) o Jeames VI’s ‘Castalian Band’ o poyets an muisicians. He micht weel hae been the componer o settins o a wheen Montgomerie poyems sic as In throu the windoes of myn ees.

Richt sair opprest

The Reformation cam til a heid in Scotland in 1560, an the reformt Kirk haedna the time for muisic they regairdit as ower fantoush. The style kenspeckle in contemporar Catholic worship is what’s cawed in muisical terms ‘polyphonic’; that is, comprisin twa or mair independent (vyce) pairts (an kent at the time bi the name o ‘musick fyne’). The reformers wis haein nane o it, derogatin the style as “prophaine” an “filthie.” Muisical instruments — maist o aw the kirk organ — wis thocht on as bein associate wi the Deil, an a stap wis pitten tae the prentin o secular muisic. An for tae win at their braider polítical ettles, the reformers set about wrackin Scotland’s muisical cultur an infrastructur, includin the connachin o kirk biggins an the manuscripts an prentit muisic they housed.

This wis the selsame time that Palestrina in Italy wis componin byous warks that is unco weel-regairdit the day (sic as his maist weel-kent Mass Missa Papae Marcelli, thocht tae hae been written in 1562). Ane o the affcomes o aw the Reformation stour in Scotland is that the day we hae comparatively little i the wey o interestin muisic frae the time: juist a curn sangs, a wheen dances an a haundfu o instrumental warks. Awmaist the hale o the byordinar muisic líbrar o the Chaipel Royal (a important choral group steidit in Stirlin) is tint til us. The líbrar held fower antiphoners an mony ither cairns o manuscripts an prentit muisic. It’s a ferlie the Carver beuk haes survived.

Bi aw accounts the Reformation wis a disaster for Scots cultur. Houiver, it’s no like there wisna ony saucrit muisic efter John Knox an his reformers haed born the gree: the Kirk did mak uiss o Lutheran chorale melodies an psalm tuins frae France an England, an ye haed a nummer o componers — sic as Andro Kemp, David Peebles an John Angus — that teuk on the darg o settin thir melodies, alang wi new anes, in a semple, chordal wey, conform tae the contemporar European prattick. The ettle wis tae mak them easy for the kirk-fowk tae unnerstaund an sing alang til. The douce an mim arrangements, houiver, wis a warld awa frae the quirkie an airtfu polyphony o the pre-Reformation Kirk.

A page frae the Art of Music
A page frae The Art of Music, Collecit Out of all Ancient Doctours of Music (1580). The treatise wis ettelt at teachin students the airt o componin. Ímage taen frae Musick Fyne bi D. James Ross.

It follaes that i the dreich post-1560 environs there wisna the demand for skeely sangsters an polyphonic componers ony mair. Mony o the bigger Scots kirks haed lang haen ‘Sang Schules’ that learnt laddies skeels sic as organ-playin, pairt-singin an componin, an efter the Reformation the scuils suffert. The dwynin o muisic makkin i thir post-Reformation years wisna a state o affairs that could be thole’t for lang, tho, an Jeames VI (rang 1567–1625) declare’t in 1579: “[T]he art of musik and singing … is almaist decayit and sall schortly decay without tymous remeid be providit.” This royal decree ettelt at rebiggin the disjaskit sang scuils, an follaein its passin in Pairlament, the scuils, nou unner the owerance o the burghs, gaed on tae win back a guid bit tint grund. Ae wark we hae frae the time is The Art of Music, Collecit Out of all Ancient Doctours of Music (1580). It’s a treatise that is mintit at teachin students the airt o componin. Ither warks that haes survived frae Jeames VI’s time include the outpit o William Kinloch. Aw his extant warks is for the keybuird, an ye can check them out on Spotify.

Kíng Jeames VI (richt) an his mither Mary
Kíng Jeames VI (richt) an his mither, Mary. Jeames’ royal decree o 1579 — anent the awfu state o muisic makkin in Scotland — declare’t: “[T]he art of musik and singing … is almaist decayit and sall schortly decay without tymous remeid be providit.”
In maugre o Jeames VI’s ettles, houiver, the fundamentalist naitur o the Scots reformers yet límitit the scowth o componers. They warna able tae flourish as did their contemporars Thomas Tallis an William Byrd in England, aft-times findin themsels fouterin wi psalm tuins insteid o winnin forrit wi their airt. Ower a hunder psalms, hermonised bi a sweirt David Peebles, is collectit i the Wode Pairtbeuks, that we’re chancy eneuch tae hae in our possession the day. The pairtbeuks — pitten thegither bi Tammas Wode, vicar o Saunt Andras — haes intil them warks bi a nummer o componers, an includes motets an ither saucrit warks i the Hie Renaissance style.

Psalm 150 frae the Wode Pairtbeuk
The tenor pairt o Psalm 150 frae the Wode Pairtbeuks. The pairtbeuks comprises 16t century muisic frae Scotland, England an continental Europe, includin 106 psalm settins an ither warks bi David Peebles. Ímage credit: Edinburgh University.

Union o the crouns

Jeames VI becam Jeames I o England in 1603 an the royal court flittit frae Edinburgh tae Lunnon, lea’in muisicians in Scotland in a swither as tae the wey forrit. While the loss o sic a important patron wis a stamagaster, the muisical tradítion, as weel as a puckle sang scuils, did haud gaun for a while. At the Glesca sang scuil, for example, componer Duncan Burnett scrieved a nummer o warks for keybuird that’s extant the day. Aw in aw, tho, efter the loss o the court, hamelt composition in Scotland dwyne’t for the time bein.

Ae muisician durin the Baroque period wi guid potential wis John Clerk o Penicuik (1676–1755). He spent time as a student o the weel-kent Italian violin player an componer Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713), an produced a wheen warks early on in his career. The scriever o Clerk’s entry i the Grove pits forrit the cantata Odo di mesto intorno as Clerk’s best. The first performance o it wis led bi nane ither than Corelli himsel in 1698. At the hinder end, tho, Clerk’s potential as a componer wis tae be left unfulfilt, as he gaed intae politics in his mid-20s.

The end o an auld sang

Scotland tint its pairlament an its independence in 1707 wi the passin o the Union wi England Act. The Union brocht wi it social an economic stabílity that helpit forder muisical daeins in society, includin composition: muisicians sic as William McGibbon, Jeames Oswald an Chairles McLean produced sonatas, symphonies an ither warks i the contemporar international style. But it wis a sair fecht tae haud gaun what wi the want o siller an Scotland nae langer haein the international identity it haed i the 15t an 16t centuries. Fowk muisic — raither nor airt muisic — wad prevail, aiblins in pairt born out o the antisyzygetic identity in post-Union Scotland, whaur fowk muisic wis thocht on as bein ‘mair Scots.’

An sae the day we hae a state o affairs whaur the airt muisic o Renaissance an Baroque Scotland haes been forgotten. I the een o the warld, Scots cultur haes come tae be thocht on as couthie, happit in tartan, the bellum o massed bagpipes drounin out maist aw else. Juist as we maunna forget the warks o Makars like Dunbar an Douglas, sae we should tak braider tent o Scotland’s muisical history. As I’v learnt i the course o my speirins, the muisic produced here i the Renaissance an Baroque periods is gey aften gallus, furthie, an firmly steidit i the cosmopolitan European context. An frae it we can learn muckle about Scotland’s bygane, baith airtistic an polítical. Ay, it’s sad no a hale lot o it survived the Reformation, but what we div hae is weel wirth luggin intil.

Jamie SmithJamie Smith is a componer, pianae player, occasional scriever, an the founder an editor o the praisent blog. He’s a wab developer tae tred. Find out mair at an follae him on Twitter @jamieonkeys.


I’v pitten thegither a Spotify playlist o muisic bi the Scots Renaissance an Baroque componers mentiont abuin. Listen here (Spotify account require’t).

An here’s a interactive timeline that pits events, componers an ithers in historical context, that I uised tae help keep me richt while speirin an scrievin. (Dates is whiles approximate.)

Scots-til-English glossar

ae one; aesome single; affcomes outcomes; aiblins perhaps; airt part; airtin direction; anent about, concerning; atour additionally; at the hinder end ultimately; bellum din; binna except, apart from; blads manuscripts, papers; born the gree truimphed; brawly finely; bygane past; byordinar extraordinary; byous exceptional, wonderful; cairn collection; chancy lucky; componer composer; comprehend include; connacht destroyed; couthie inoffensive; curn small number; daeins activity; darg the product of a given endeavour, or a piece of work, a job; derogatin decrying, disparaging; disjaskit dilapidated; douce sedate; dour severe, dull; dree trouble, struggle; dreich dreary, dull; dwynin waning; een eyes; ettle aim; fantoush flashy, fancy; fasherie trouble; ferlie wonder; flit move location; found (‘foon(d)’) foundation; fouterin wasting time on; fouthie abundant; furthie hospitable to outside influences; gallus bold; gart made, compelled; gey very; guid feck o good number of; richt sair opprest grievously oppressed; happit wrapped, covered; haudin gaun continuation; in maugre o in spite of; jaloused surmised, thought; kenspeckle well known, recognisable; kirk-fowk congregation; kythe come up, appear; lave what is left over, the remainder; lug in listen; maun must; maunna must not; mim restrained; mintit aimed; mirk darkness; muckle much; nocht nothing; nor than; ongauns goings-on; outthrou throughout; owerance control, oversight; pose cache, valuable collection; puckle few; quairs written works; quirkie complex; raings rates; raivelment disorder, confusion; re-biggit rebuilt; ring reign; a sair fecht tae haud gaun a struggle to keep going; sangster singer; saucrit sacred; scart scrap; sclates slates; scowth scope, freedom to express oneself; scrievit written; siccan such; siclike similarly; siller money; skeely skilled; skeeliness skillfulness, accomplishment; speirer researcher; speirins research; stamagaster great disappointment, unpleasant surprise; steidit based; stour strife, conflict; sweirt reluctant; swither fluster, state of uncertainty; tent notice; thole’t put up with, endured; threaps contends; tint lost; unco remarkable; wheen few; wrocht made, worked; wysins guidance


The Scots leid in Australian líteratur

Onybody that kens anent the Scots leid kens that Scots is spoken in Scotland, whaur the leid first upbiggit. Fowk will like eneuch ken that Scots exists in anither pairt: thare the Ulster Scots, the Scots spik o Northren Ireland. But whit isnae sae weel kent is the Scots uised in Australie.

It’s kenable that the main leids o Australie for hunneryears wis the aborigine leids, Dyirbal an Warlpiri amang ithers. An thae leids is gey an interestin thairsels. R.M.W. Dixon an Kenneth L. Hale amang ither linguists haes written beuks anent thae leids that is orra unalike fae ither leids in the warld. Amang thair partícularities is coverbs, whaur the verb is for common formed fae a coverb an the main verb, coverb specifeein the main verb. Thare is forby the mony places o articulation o consonants (distinction acqueish sounds produced at different pairts o the gab). An thay aften uise the selsame wird for an object an anither object that could potentially become it, for ensaumple ‘ainimal’ an ‘meat’.1

For thair nummers, it is upcast thare wis thareabout 250 aboriginal leids in 1788. The feck o thaim is misfortunately endangert or weedit awa, wi anerly 130 bein uised in ilkaday life, an nae mair nor twinty bein leart by bairns.2

Thir days the leid that’s the maist spoken in the southren continent is the Southspik. But thare is forby ither leids that haes come tae Australie by recent immigrants, the main anes thir days bein Mandarin, Italians an Arabic. But Scots wis amang thaim, inspecially in the nineteent hunneryear.

Haud on readin . . . “The Scots leid in Australian líteratur”

Crack throu the keekin gless: the story o stories an thair importance

Stories is a important pairt o the human ken. Awbody sees an hears stories aw ower the place ilka day, in ilka society: whither it’s in beuks, in lessons or juist in ilkaday crack, stories is pairt o aw wir lifes.1 Sae whit gars stories sae important for human society?

Ae thing spells daes for us is that thay forder wir uiss o imaigination by garrin us think an imaigine the chairacters, the plot an the settin o story. An imaigination is a gey an human skeel, a capacity that ither ainimals cannae uise like we can. Wir capacity tae imaigine the futur is ane o the raisons we maunt tae pit ower sae lang in Eastern Africa, an expand intae ither continents.

Creativity is sel-like, an connectit wi, imaigination: thay are baith verra human capacities that del intae the various possibílities o life. Creativity is a brawly important aspect o narrative.2 An creativity is forby ane o the weys tae actualise wir ettles in life. Sel-actualisation is ane o the psychological needs identified by Maslow. This is partícularly important for bairns’ psychological development whaur the need for imaiginative play is a indicator o success efter; in partícular, Nobel Prize winners dae mair creative play whan thay war weans. Haud on readin . . . “Crack throu the keekin gless: the story o stories an thair importance”

Cultural diversity outthrou time an place

Thare is ither places the warld ower, an ither times outthrou history, wi differs: whiles it’s ither places we’v niver been tae (A’v niver been tae Oceania, for ensaumple) an whiles it’s e’en places we’v niver haurd o (maist fowk haesnae haurd o the island whaur A’m steyin, Réunion). As for ither times, thay can shaw differs an aw, whither it’s times we can mind wirsels, times we can project wirsels intae (sae the naur futur) or times remote fae wir ain experience.

Sae, aw in aw, we arenae alane in wir ain cultur nor in wir ain pynt in time.

Tae some stent, we’re mindit on ither times an places ilka day, but we’re aften mindit o the same times an the same places, whan thare a fair braider spectrum o existence available. The focus is mainly on recent epochs an dominant kintras, yer superpouers o the day: wir attention is a fair feck mair aften focussed on modren-day Americae as on New Guinea or the Mbuti; though, sae we’ll see later in this airticle, it isnae acause thir ither fowks dinnae hae things tae shaw us. Haud on readin . . . “Cultural diversity outthrou time an place”

Widney’s Fuil

Fa’s fuil are you?

Out o an aafu wee village, cam an aafu big chairacter. At first glance, Langside is juist a kintra village aside Peterheid, wi nae much gaun on. Wi a population o less than a thousand, fowk can even sometimes forget that the placie exists. But, ‘at disna mean that great things, an fowk, hinna cam fae there, an nae lang ago ah wis lat in on the story o a great Langsider — the story o Widney’s fuil.

Sae, come on than, “fa wis he?”, ye ask. Weel, some puir bugger wis wunnerin the same thing fan he says tae Jamie Fleeman, “Are you the Laird of Udny’s Fule?”, tae whilk the Doric spikkin loun shairply replied, wi his best kent wirds: “Aye, an fa’s feel are you?”

Born in Langside in 1713, Fleeman went on tae be ane o the very last o the faimily jesters in Scotland, whilk in itsel maks him staund out. Fit really made Widney’s fuil spécial, tho, wis the fact that he wisna really a fuil at aa. Aye, he wis a chiel wi a sense o humour, fa enjoyed naething better than kickin about the kintra. He even conformed tae the stereotypical glaiket-leukin appearance o fuils. Houiver, aa o the anecdotes o his life suggest that he wis faur fae stupit. In fact, Fleeman wis sic a signíficant chairacter in Scots history that he’s haen a beuk — The Life and Death of Jamie Fleeman — written about his life, an wis even mentiont in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories.

Haud on readin . . . “Widney’s Fuil”