2007 - 2022

Polis Learnin

Hoo dae ye ken fan the chynges in yer Scoats dialect wes pairt o’ yer wark lang syne?

Fan I jined the Bobbies in Aiberdeen, a workit in the toon, then furr a fyew year ah wis oot the road in the landward areas.

It wisnae easy oan a chiel fa wis fae the Central belt, tae hiv tae try and learn a hale new dialect o’ Scoats. Ah hid bin workin on ferms, and drove buses aroon the Mearns, so ah wis kinna fameeliar wi the Mearns tongue which tae ma lug haes a different soun, an wey o seying wirds. Ah ken fowk think there is jist Doric in the North–East , bit that’s only hauf the story.

Ma tutor Bobby retired fae the Polis as a heid–bummer. He wis fae the Mearns as weel, as quite a few lads wis. Noo thae aw soondit as different tae me as a Fifer wid tae a Lanarkshire spikker.

E’en tho ah hid workit on ae ferm aroon Bervie ah cuid tell he wisna fae the coast. He yaised wirds and phrases at times ah jist hid a helluva hard time tae git the kenning o. Noo this lad cuid switch atween “ proaper” Scoats Inglis and the Mearns Tongue ony time he likit, bit a thocht at the time he wis jist a bittie roch wi me, bi keepin me tryin tae learn his leid.

Ah sippose he wisna daft, cause he kent that ah hid tae ken the wey folk yaised their mither tongue in ony seetuation.

Sae, in the furst months o’ ma probation, ah did wrassle wi whit he wis seyin, and fit fowk in Aiberdeen wis seyin. Ma Scoats wis mair mixed, because ah wis originally fae the Central Belt, bit ah hid workit in various joabs aroon Scotland whaur auld wirds wis yaised bi grieves or journeymen an wis specific tae a parteeclar trade or profession.

Ah didny hae time furr a crash coorse in the Aiberdeen, Mearns, Buchan, Deeside or Donside spik. Ah hud tae tak doon the statements o fowk that wid be yaised in coort. Noo ah wis jist like ivvery ither bobby, affa tempted tae jist translate the wirds ah heard inty English –an write them doon. Bit that’s pittin wirds in fowks mous. Some fowk wid switch fae therr ain leid tae “ proaper” Inglis, fan ah wid tak ma wee black book oot. Sae a wheen o fowk wid jist stert spikkin proaper Inglis in an offeicial seituation. So that saved me the boather o’ translatin therr leid.
Then again therr wis auld fowk, who widna or cidna spik excep in Scoats, an ah jist hid tae accep that statement verbatim.

It becam mair easy, an syne, ah cuid tell the differ atween the types o Doric they wurr spikkin. Aye, simbiddy cuid mebbe gie ye a fause name or address, bit they jist cidna appear tae shak aff their hametoon leid. It wis jist a a merk o’ where thae folk wis born and brocht up. Furr example a Brocher or simbiddy fae the coast therr, wid spik at a helluva rate, wi little inflection or modulation in therr veice. It soondit roch, an at times it wis jist that. Noo they differ fae fowk fae say Methlick or roon aboot airts in Central Aiberdeenshire . It wes as gin that leid wis different, wi a safter liltin type o’ soon, an a mair canny wey o spikkin. It wis as though the coastal Brochers and Peterheid yins hid tae get therr coastal Buchan oot acroass the deck o a ship in afore the howlin gale – afore the wind takkit therr braith awa.

In the furst year ah wis in Aiberdeen, ah buried masel in Johnny Gibb o’ Gushetneuk, A Scots Quair, an books by local scrievers in Doric, an tae hear the subtle soons, ah wid listen tae Scotland the What! Thae tapes wis affa guid, cos it gied me a wey o unnerstaunin the fly and canny humour that made fowk in the North –East lauch.

A wis forced tae wrassle wi ma ain tongue and that o’ ither places. Tae gie examples o jist hoo ye hid tae ken fit fowk wis sayin, here’s a few:
Ah hud a Serjent ask me “fit wye did ye jalouse that loon?” fan a gave him a report aboot ma thinkin oan a parteeclar case ah hud tae work oan.

Ah remember a fermer in Donside wis in ower his tractor in a park fan a caur hit a dyke an tummelt ower inty the plooed field. In his quaet accent he said “ Aye loon, the chiel wis jist fair cannipin oan, and skited aff the road and connacht his motor ower ae dyke”.

Ye winna meet a polis unless it’s a time o stress. Sae maist fowk nivver spik tae a Bobby in therr life.

Noo, iffen ye urr in Aiberdeen simday – an ye want yer heid in yer hauns tae pley wi, gae inty a pub an say “Awa ye radge ye” .

Noo this parteeclar phrase is sumhoo affa offensive in Aiberdeen, but for me it jist meant simbiddy that wis sexually itchy as ah kennt the wird Radgy. So colleagues would be affa offendit , bit ah simply couldny get offendit. Polis colleagues wid aye refer tae sim folk as “Indian Princes”, and it did tak a wee whiley tae catch up. Even in their ain spik they widna gan doon tae the flair an sweer in Aiberdeen Scoats – as they saw it – aboot gypes that wis jist a wee bit tryin!

Ah jist couldna unnerstaun sic offence onywey. So iffen the bairns or therr mithers an faithers ca’ed me a Tarry–hattit radge it wis jist pairt o ma historical lernin process!

Hameower is a retired polisman wha scrieves in his mither tongue but yaises a byname sae he disnae get intae bother wi the polis!


Comments (6)

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  1. Fay Kennedy. says:

    Thanks for that. Braw leid indeed.

  2. Billy Kay says:

    The muckle question I maun speir , Hameower, is: Did yer immersion coorse in Doric help ye huckle neds?

  3. Hameower says:

    Kennin the leid o’ fit fowk yais oan the street, is jist kenning a leid that is o’ the scunners, snauchles an bauchles so ye kin unnerstaun fit they say. That cuid be, ah sippose, Scoats or a secret leid o’ jargon. Ah cuid spik a leid; bit wis a’ any guid at liftin fowk furr ony kin o’ crime? Ah kent ma Law, as a wis qualified tae Inspector level, bit a wis jist a bobby at hert. Ah wisna a heich-flee’r, bit jist like a’ bobbies, clish-ma-clavers is jist pert o’ yer joab, an speirin at fowk in a hamely wey, wis mebbe mair productive. Fowk staunin at therr gairden yett urr mair set tae spik tae ye, iffen ye yais therr leid. Sae mebbe fit ah lernt fae a bit o’cleckin awa, wid be eneuch tae see a billy huckled, cos ah noo had sim intelligence oan that chiel. Fowks kin be helluva stroppy wi ony offeecial if therr leid gits richt up therr neb. Sometimes jist the soon o’ it gars fowk tae jist zip therr mou.

    1. Billy Kay says:

      A guid an wice-like repone. Meikle thenks,

  4. moi says:

    a tarry hattit radge av nae heard at said fer years min fer made me splooter ma fly!!

  5. Alf Baird says:

    Braw airticle, whit shaws thon Scots leid haes tae bi chynged slichtly whan taucht tae oor bairns in ony airt o Scotland. Gif anely wir Anglicised SNP maisters wid obleege! Whaur is thon Scots Leid Act, Alasdair Allan/Fiona Hyslop? Rogues an spivs aw ye, nae dout whitsaeiver.

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