2007 - 2022

The Gorgonzola Cheese/ The Caledonian Antisyzygy

EenbigFin I wis wee, English bedd in the wireless, or in ma mither’s mou fin she wis on the phone. Ma brither spakk a fantosh pan-loaf kinda English because he gaed tae a posh skweel nearhaun an wis aulder than me. Bit faither an Granmither (fa bedd wi us) spakk anely Scots., gey braid, for faither wis 45 fin I wis born an ma Granmither wis 65.

I failed the IQ test tae win intae the nearest skweel at 5 year auld , because o the fermyaird. Sorra wis, the examiners spakk English an I spakk anely Scots. ‘Show me a C-OW,’ quo ane. I wis clean dumfounert. I held up a yowe in desperation. We spent ilkie wikkeyn on relatives’ ferms, bit they ained COOs an yowes, of coorse. She caad me a moron, an failed me.  Ma wis ragin.

At skweel the dominie chakked ‘MANY’ on the blackboard. ‘And what does this say?’ Ma haun shot up, ‘MANNIE’. Aabody leuch. Sae I larned gey faist tae hae twa leids, Scots an English. Fur years, I didna hardly spikk at aa…I pit aa ma time an thochts intae Art an draain. Naebody leuch at draains, or skelped yer lug fur getting the wirds wrang.

Sae I’m delichtit that since the Census brocht oot the fack that mair nur ane an a hauf million fowk in oor kintra spikk Scots, it’s bin gien a real heeze in skweels. This year I’ve bin chairged wi gaun intae skweels tae promote the eese o Scots…presevation’s fine, bit ye maun gie bairns Scots they can relate tae eenoo. Diane Anderson is the Scots co-ordinator fur the North East, an wi her Aiberdeen’s Barry Donaldson is pittin thegither resources an programmes fur participatin skweels tae try oot. I micht add that  www.scotshoose.com  bi Matthew Fitt an Education Scotlan arenae blate in addin tae this, whyles on Glow, the skweels ain resource,  frae aa ower Scotlan new material’s bein uploadit on ‘Blethers’

Noo in primary skweels, the curriculum’s like a gorgonzola cheese…there’s a rowth o wee holes fur Scots tae creep intae…history, poetry, drama, music, daunce ay, an Art, aa helpit on bi a rowth o new buiks bi Matthew Fitt , Jeems Robertson an ithers. Fowk say ‘bairns dinna ken muckle Scots.’ Ay, weel bairns dinna ken muckle English either, as they’re anely larnin the leid. Stert smaa an bigg on’t .

Here’s a puckle swatches frae the Scottish government’s ain Scots Language Policy published in September 2015:

“We are fair blythe tae be eekin on a cuttie innins tae this Scots Language Policy. We, in the Scottish Government, are continuin tae tak important steps tae heize the profile o the Scots leid. This paper sets oot policy commitments an context, oor reasons for supportin Scots, the ettles we hae as a Government an the practical steps we will tak. We wad like tae encourage ye aw tae recognise the valuable heritage we hae in the Scots leid and tae continue tae promote its popularity and recognition across sindrie aspects o Scottish life.”

Fiona Hyslop,Cabinet secretar for Culture, Europe an Fremit Affairs
Alasdair Allan, Meenister for Lairnin, Science an Scotland’s Leids

A Scots Language Policy (Scottish Government)

The Scots language is an essential element o the culture an heritage o Scotland.  For mony o us, it is a weel-kent aspect o oor sang, poetry and literature and a kenspeckle feature o the wey we express wirsels in oor community life.

The Scots leid is only spoken within Scotland and it is no yaised onywhaur else in the warld by a community o significant nummer or extent. Therefore steps maun be taen within Scotland, tae mak its preservation siccar.  The 2011 census indicatit that mair nor 1.5m folk identifeeit theirsels as Scots speakers.  It is, therefore, richt that Scots shuid continue tae be refleckit in education, airts, media an mair. The Scottish Government will heize an uphaud Scots and encourage its respect an recognition in order that, whit for mony is the language o the hame, can be yaised in ither areas o Scottish life.


The Scottish Government’s manifesto commitment includit the establishment o a network o Scots co-ordinators an aw. This network haes been establisht an is locatit in Education Scotland

I’m blyther at the coal face than designin the mine lay-oot. There’s  a rich seam o Scots rinnin ben oor kintra. The co-ordinators hae speired for wirk tae be screived bi bairns an for bairns, suited tae the needs o this young century: Here a wee poem I screived yestreen, aboot Scotlan an it’s close neebor, Ooter Space…

Bella Caledonia, 50 miles up

Daniel Deudney: Space, the High Frontier in Perspective 1982    ‘Space is only 80 miles from every person in Earth- far closer than most people are to their national capitals’

‘The man and woman aboard the Inspiration Mars mission set to fly-by the Red Planet in 2018 will face cramped conditions, muscle atrophy and potential boredom. But their greatest health risk comes from exposure to the radiation from cosmic rays. The solution? Line the spacecraft’s walls with water, food and their own faeces. “It’s a little queasy sounding, but there’s no place for that material to go, and it makes great radiation shielding,” says Taber MacCallum, a member of the team funded by multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who announced the audacious plan earlier this week….’ The New Scientist, onlin

Scaffie day. I wis pittin oot the bins
Green fur girse cuttins, blaik fur bairns hippens etc,
Fite pyoke fur papers, a  green  guffin boxie fur compos
Syne I tuik tae thinkin 50 miles up…

Furlin ower the heid o oor Bella Caledonia,
Spent rocket stages
Auld satellites,
Hauf a million bitties o sottar
Aa speedin (nae hidden cameras) at17,000 mph
1,000 satellites that dinna wirk
2,600 satellites that DAE wirk (an risin)

Aa this clanjamphrey o orrals
Tae aid navigation, communication,
Weather forecastin, militar espionage
Weaponary , exploration fur science, agriculture
Alang wi a glove tint bi astronaut Ed White
On the first USA space wauk
A perr o pliers
A briefcase sized tool boxie
A teethbrush
A spatula drappit bi Piers Sellers
Spent rockets an telescopes
Nuts, bolts,
Dauds o aluminium slag
Pyokes o soss haived oot bi cosmonauts
Birlin roon the cosmic highwye
Wi Buddhist Bodhisattvas,
Arkangels,  cherubim, seraphim
Thor, Zeus, och ma heid fair stoons
Wi the thocht o’t….shawin fariver
Man gyangs, he aye creates a sotter

Preserve, bi aa means. Bit dinna forget tae promote, fur thon’s far the future lies.

Tae finnd oot mair aboot Sheena’s scrievins, veisit: http://sheenablackhall.blogspot.co.uk/


Comments (9)

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  1. Vera Taylor says:

    Aye yir recht Bella, thir mun bi a lotta trok, fleein abeen.

  2. Bryan Weir says:

    I don’t think that version of Scots would be familiar to many people. Skweel indeed!

    1. Billy Kay says:

      It would be familiar to absolutely everyone in the Doric North East – one of the dialect heartlands of Scots.

      1. Anton says:

        Aye, Billy, and there you put your finger on it. Scots is not one single, unified, language. It varies greatly between different areas. Thus the Scots Language Society notes that there are four main versions, which can be subdivided into ten sub-regions. We can argue about the detail of their analysis, but I don’t think there’s anyone who’d deny that the Scots spoken in (say) Glasgow is very different from the Scots spoken in (say) Orkney.

        All of these versions are authentic voices of the Scottish people, and that’s why I’m deeply suspicious of those who argue for a standardised spelling and grammar, and for “Scots” to be taught in schools. Which Scots language is to be the “standard” version, and which Scots languages are thereby to be abandoned? Or is the idea to create some sort of “average” version which by definition nobody actually speaks?

        Let’s celebrate the diversity of our culture rather than diminish it.

        1. Jim says:

          It would be perfectly possible to write Scots using a polyphonemic spelling system based on traditional literary Scots conventions. That could then be pronounced in the reader’s own dialect and still allow for the grammatic and lexical variation there is between the dialects.

          However, such a spelling system would not readily indicate to the reader how the writer actually pronounces their dialect of Scots similar to the way written Standard English tells us nothing about how the writer pronounces his particular variety of English is spoken.

          Since the whole point of dialect writing is to show the reader the writer’s (or character’s) pronunciation a polyphonemic spelling system would be pointless. Standard English is available for serious communication to speakers of all dialects.

        2. Charlie says:

          And don’t forget “Scots” itself was originally introduced as a lingua franca, in perference to, say, Latin or Norwegian. If you start to make rules about communication, if you start to make communication too difficult, the Street’s just going to bypass you & leave you standing there looking like a Feel

      2. Bryan Weir says:

        It may be familiar to those in the North East but I am from the West. Making an attempt at spelling it differently when in most cases it is just a case of different pronunciation seems unnecessary.

        If you read or pronounce the word “used” as “yased” then there’s nothing wrong with that but writing it as “yaised”, “yased” or “yaysed” just confuses things. It gars me greet when I see it.

    2. Gibby says:

      Aye Bryan, at’s e problem. Foo wid ye kain e wye fowk spik in Buchan fin ye wis wis niver ere yersel, a doot? At’s my Scots, my ain. Ken foo at mak’s me feel? Jist gran. Ere’s fowk at eese ilkie een o at wirds yit, fae Buckie til e Broch. Skweel indeed.

  3. GPK says:

    Gey braw airticle*, an a gey fine poiem!
    But whit Anton said an aa.

    *Ah’m English bi birth but livin in Fife near fifty year noo. Ah understood aa ae it, exceptin twa or three wurds.

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