Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter
Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)
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See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world and add your
Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Poetry and Stories
The Writings of John Muir
Robert Burns Lives!
The Scottish Church
Old World Scotland
The Bark Covered House
Fraser's Scottish Annual
Some Scotch Words Explained
Spent a few days in Toronto this week and
attended a Knights Templar Garden Party which was great fun. Amazing
the varied background of the Knights and Dames and the work they not
only do in Canada but also all over the world.
Our Aois Community is moving
ahead and at time of writing we have some 171 active members. As
some of you will know we're now making our weekly newsletter
available through this service.
As I mentioned in the
special one off mailing I sent we're now moving our newsletter to
our Aois Community.
Few points I would like to make...
First, when you sign up
through the registration process you will receive an email asking
you to confirm that you are who you say you are by clicking on a
link in that email. When you click on the link it also sends an
email to Steve, our admin, to say you're awaiting activation. Once
he activates your account he will send you another email confirming
this and that's you now a full member of the service. This just
means you need to watch out for those emails. This is the system we
are using to try and eliminate spammers from the service.
Second... I have been asked
by a couple why you are asked to give your Date of Birth. The reason
is simply to comply with family friendly legislation. Should we pick
up from the date of birth that the person is under age then we are
required to ask for their parents email address. This is so we can
email them informing them that their child has applied for an
account and asking their permission to allow them to join.
I might also add that this
system wasn't built with children in mind but we've already come
across one parent who wanted to allow their child in to play games
in the arcade. This also allows them to record their high score.
Should we end up with more
than a few children then we'll arrange to block most of the forums
from them and perhaps just add a couple of children's forums.
Third... One of the benefits
of becoming a member of the Aois Community is that you can receive
an email alert when a new newsletter gets put up. That said, it also
allows you to reply to that newsletter with a message to me if you
wish and we also have the ability to add a poll to it. And so we
could have an exchange of views about the contents of that weeks
Should you wish to get an email alert telling
you the newsletter is available simply select the Electric Scotland
Newsletter forum. Look at the menu bar where you'll see "Forum
Tools" and from there you'll find the option to "subscribe" to that
Fourth... By using this system it is now
possible for us to record the number of times the newsletter has
been viewed which from my personal point of view is a very useful
I hope you will all find the new system to be
workable for you and hopefully you'll also get benefits from your
membership. You of course can view the newsletter as a Guest at
join our Aois Community by going to
and clicking on "Register" in the menu bar.
Should you be attending the
Clan Gathering in Scotland this month please do send us in any
pictures you take as I'll build a photo gallery of the event to put
onto the site. This way folk that couldn't make it over there will
at least be able to enjoy it through your pictures :-)
of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check
out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in
our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter
or on our site menu.
THE FLAG IN THE WIND
This weeks Flag is compiled by Jim Lynch in
which he gives us his usual mixture of stories about politics in
Scotland. There is also a very good review of the Gigha Homecoming
There is also an article which I'll copy
Is the law an ass?
This week I was struck, yet
again, by the tale of Gary McKinnon, a young Scot, with Asperger’s
syndrome, who hacked into the Pentagon’s computer systems from his
girl friend’s aunt’s house in London, using his own email address.
Apart from the embarrassing fact that a teenager was able to hack
into their systems in the first place, he was trying to find out
about UFOs, he has offered to plead guilty in England under the
Computer Misuse Act. The English Director of Public Prosecutions
says that he cannot prosecute, and Gary is due to be extradited to
America to stand trial there; his case has been appealed
unsuccessfully to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human
Rights, but it seems that the Establishment is determined to have
him extradited to America, where he will probably spend the rest of
his life in gaol.
Also this week we read of the case of a Russian
oligarch, one Oleg Deripaska, who is being sued by a former
associate, Michael Cherney, who now resides in Israel, and claims to
be a part owner of a Russian oil company called Rusal; Mr Deripaska
is reputed to be the richest man in Russia. Apparently the law of
the disputed contract is Russian, a lot of it is in the Russian
language, and the events leading up to it all took place in Russia.
However, the pact is claimed to have been entered into in a London
hotel in 2001, so the English High Court has ruled that the case
should be heard in England; Mr Deripaska disputes this ruling.
I have no comment on the
rights and wrongs of the Russian case, but merely point out the
oddity that two Russians, neither of whom are citizens of the UK,
are involved in a dispute relating to issues in Russia and are
having their case decided in London; in contrast Gary McKinnon, who
is a UK citizen, and who committed his offence in London, is to be
extradited and tried in the United States of America.
Something amiss, surely?
You can read the Flag at
Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is not available as the
Parliament are now on the Summer recess.
should add here that John is taking 4 weeks off to enjoy a summer
holiday so no poems or Short Story for the next week.
You can read other stories
in our Article Service and even add your own at
particular I noted Donna had sent in an article about "Naming the
Grandchildren" which I thought I'd include here...
John Ross Flood
We choose to call you Ne-Don,
OO-hah-zhingah which translates to
names are handed down from your ancestors, Ross. Your gggrandfather
John Flood was an outstanding gentleman. He was appointed as
bodyguard to Queen Victoria in England. He came to the United states
and is buried at Nardin, Oklahoma, out of Blackwell.
Your gggrandfather Samuel
Little Cook (Oo-hah-Zhingah) was given the name Little Cook by
interpreters who did not know the total meaning of what was his
place in the tribe. He was of the rain band and had a position as
elder over his clan. His duties were to divide the food, the hunt.
He was chosen to do this because he was honest, dependable, and not
partial. As leader of his tribe he was respected because he saw to
the taking care of any of those who needed counsel or help. Samuel
was a business man of his day and owned a sawmill. He rose every
morning early to go to his work. As a girl I was privileged to use
his old desk with the quartz cube inkwell he left when he died. He
was bi-lingual and could speak English as well as his own language,
We are going to call you Mii
zhingah, Little Sun. I give you this name in the memory of my old
friend, Bill Little Sun, who lived a long, productive life. He had a
large family and saw to it they all were educated. He was gentle,
kind and faithful to friends and family. I believe he would be
honored to have you carry his name.
Your grandmother, Esther
Epperson, has expressed her desire to have you carry Grandmother,
Velma Pensoneau Jones’s name, which is: Mii Mah Shin, Rising Moon.
We feel the time you spent with Grandmother Jones before she died,
gave you an opportunity to be tutored by her and that you do,
indeed, have many of her ways.
Last but not least. Dear
Anna, I wish to give you my name, Jen’ nee. It was the name of Chief
Standing Bear’s Mother. You will need to do some study and research
about your ancestor so you will know what a great man he was.
Colleen Jones Flood
Names of the children to date:
Rhonda Louise Flood,
Wahk-Chah-Ska, White Flower
Mark Joseph Flood, Ponca Ska,
Kay Flood Bojourquez, Easch Stah Moth Aunk-they,
Elizebeth Borjourquez, ,
Easch-Stah, Ne-Om-Bah, Bright Eyes, The name of
Standing Bear’s Sister
Alicia -Me-Kah-Yah, Ne Om Bah, Bright Star
John Ross Flood, Ne
Don-(Flood) OO-Hah-Shing gah, (Little Cook).
Mii-Shingah, Little Sun
Morgan Brown-Mii Mah Shin, Rising Moon
Anna Flood, Jen ne’ Water
These names are handed down or go to the
elements as is the custom for the He Sah Dah, Rain Band.
honored to have Sam Little Cook’s gggrandson, Chris Little Cook, to
come help us with this name giving. He performed the smoke ceremony
with cedar and explained to the children the reason for using the
cedar tree’s branches.
The tree stays green all year round and is said
to be a favorite tree of the Creator.
When the branches are burned
they give off a smoke and in this way the Creator’s attention is
caught and he takes notice of our prayers which are prayers for the
children to have their names.
Chris brushed the smoke off
toward the child with an eagle feather fan and each one held out
their hands to receive the fragrance, where upon, they took the
smoke in their hands and brushed it over their own body.
This was the first time
Chris performed this ceremony but he was given instructions from his
father, Edwin Little Cook, who told him, as the eldest son, he has
the right to accomplish this name giving.
The customary feast was
served to guests, but the name giving itself was for the children
and their excitement, respect as well as gratitude for their names
was enough to make our hearts glad.
My daughter Kay and I worked
for three days to make the event successful and we felt blessed and
thankful to our Creator for the beauty of his earth and his people
which is made available to us through prayer.
Writings of John Muir
We're now onto our 9th and penultimate volume.
The last two volumes are actually a biography of him including many
letters he sent and received.
We have almost completed
this volume with just one chapter to go. The chapters up so far
Chapter I. The Ancestral Background
Chapter II. Life on a
Wisconsin Farm, 1849-1860
Chapter III. As a Questioner at the Tree of
The Sojourn in Canada, 1864-1866
Chapter V. From Indiana to California,
Following the Sheep, 1868-1869
Chapter VII. First Yosemite Years, 1869-1870
Yosemite, Emerson, and the Sequoias
Chapter IX. Persons and Problems
VI contains an interesting incident...
Some mountaineer had tried
to establish a claim to the Flat by building a little cabin of sugar
pine shakes, and though we had arrived early in the afternoon I
decided to camp here for the night as the trail was buried in the
snow which was about six feet deep, and I wanted to examine the
topography and plan our course. Chilwell cleared away the snow from
the door and floor of the cabin, and made a bed in it of boughs of
fernlike silver fir, though I urged the same sort of bed made under
the trees on the snow. But he had the house habit.
After camp arrangements were
made he reminded me of my promise about the gun, hoping eagerly for
improvement of our bill of fare, however slight. Accordingly I
loaded the gun, paced off thirty yards from the cabin, or shanty,
and told Mr. Chilwell to pin a piece of paper on the wall and see if
I could not put shot into it and prove the gun's worth. So he pinned
a piece of an envelope on the shanty wall and vanished around the
corner, calling out, "Fire away."
I supposed that he had gone
some distance back of the cabin, but instead he went inside of it
and stood up against the mark that he had himself placed on the
wall, and as the shake wall of soft sugar pine was only about half
an inch thick, the shot passed through it and into his shoulder. He
came rushing out, with his hand on his shoulder, crying in great
concern, "You've shot me, you've shot me, Scottie." The weather
being cold, he fortunately had on three coats and as many shirts.
One of the coats was a heavy English overcoat. I discovered that the
shot had passed through all this clothing and into his shoulder, and
the embedded pellets had to be picked out with the point of a
penknife. I asked him how he could be so foolish as to stand
opposite the mark. "Because," he replied, "I never imagined the
blank gun would shoot through the side of the 'ouse."
You can read the rest of
this chapter at
The rest of the chapters can be read at
Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw
Burns the Improviser by
Robert H. Carnie
This is the last speech I have at this time
from the files of the late Dr. Robert Carnie. His son Andrew has
been quite gracious in allowing me to share the work of his father
with our readers. Just who is Robert Carnie? This Dundee Scot is a
graduate of the University of St. Andrews and earned a PhD in
English literature. His life was spent teaching at various colleges
in England and Scotland and then for 20 years at the University of
Calgary in Canada. Bob was also an author, and his inspiring and
wonderful book, Burns Illustrated, published by the Calgary Burns
Club, was reviewed October 30, 2008 on my website A Highlander and
His Books and can be found at
Like most of us who speak and write about Robert Burns, Dr. Carnie
was an avid collector of signed decorative books on Burns. In 2006
this wonderful book collection was donated to the University of
Calgary. Dr. Patrick Scott, Director of Special Collections, Thomas
Cooper Library, and Professor of English at the University of South
Carolina, said in the Significant Scots section on
www.electricscotland.com that “Bob was the bard, distinguished life
member and past president of the Calgary Burns Club and a life
member and frequent speaker at the Schiehallion Scottish Society.”
To read more about the remarkable Dr. Carnie, please refer to
You can read the rest of this article at
And you can read other articles in this Robert Burns Lives! series
The Scottish Church
From Earliest Times to 1881, By W. Chambers
Our thanks go to John Henderson for sending
this into us.
we've added the final lecture which now
completes this book...
How far an outgrowth from the past, and an
expression of the religious thought and life of Scotland By the Rev.
James Macgregor, D.D., Senior Minister of St Cuthbert's Parish,
IN discharging the duty which has been imposed
upon me, I have, in this concluding lecture, to review the ground
traversed by my predecessors; to trace the historic links which
connect the existing Church of Scotland with the distant past and to
indicate its present position, aims, and prospects.
You can read this lecture at
The other pages can be read at
Old World Scotland
Giving Glimpses of its Modes and Manners, By T.
F. Henderson (1893).
Added further chapters this week...
Chapter XV. Squalor
Chapter XVI. Football
Chapter XVII. Assassination
Chapter XVIII. New
Light on the Darnley Murder
Chapter XIX. The Highland Chief
Chapter XX. Executions
Chapter XXI. The
Chapter XIX starts...
His office had a hoarier
antiquity than that of kingship itself; he represented chieftaincy
in almost its most antique form. Indeed if chieftaincy underwent a
change after the break up of the larger tribes, the probability is
that it was a change towards the earlier and simpler form. Also the
attempt at feudalism was successful within but a very limited area
of the Highlands, and even here the success was more apparent than
real. The two systems could never properly commingle, for
chieftaincy was independent of material considerations. Besides,
most clansmen were simply hunters, or herds, or raiders, as their
forefathers had been from time immemorial. The circumstances and
surroundings seemed to defy change. Of the arts of civilised life
they, less than two centuries ago, knew practically nothing. Their
social system pointed backwards to primeval ages. To them the past
alone was great; the future could be great only in so far as it
resembled the past.
The reverence with which the chief was regarded
was neither official nor personal in the usual sense. The clansman
honoured the dead more than the living, and the common ancestor
above all his descendants. The chief was the representative of this
common ancestor, and of an uninterrupted succession of ancestral
chiefs whose achievements in war and whose prowess in the chase were
the perpetual theme of the bardic songs and recitations which formed
the true litany of the clan. The consideration which determined
succession was nearness of relationship to the common ancestor.
Hence the brother of the reigning chief was preferred to the son in
the case of mental and physical fitness the elder son by concubinage
or handfast marriage to the son of priestly marriage. Failing
brothers or sons, the choice was limited to the Gaeilfine, or
relations to the fifth degree. The successor was recognised during
the chief's lifetime. That an interloper should usurp the office was
almost beyond the bounds of possibility, for it was guarded as with
a wall of fire, by sacred tradition; and that it could not be
degraded by one unworthy or unfit was guaranteed by a privilege of
veto vested in the elders of the elan. No young chieftain who had
failed in the test of valour—generally the leadership of some
desperate raid—was permitted to rank in the succession ; and if,
after attaining the dignity, he approved himself incompetent or
tyrannical, lie might be summarily removed.
The goodliness of the
chieftain's heritage was truly remarkable. Does any worthier or more
genuine sphere for ambition now exist? Probably no human being ever
cherished a profounder sense of personal dignity—undoubtedly a most
important aid to happiness. Though rude might be his dwelling and
squalid his surroundings, no monarch ever received such noble
The rest of this chapter can be read at
The book index page can be found at
The Bark Covered House
We have several new chapters up for you to
Chapter 6. how We Found Our Cattle
Chapter 7. Trouble Came on the Wing
Chapter 8. Hard Times for Us in Michigan,
Chapter 9. A
10. How We Got Into Trouble One Night and I Scared
Chapter 11. The Indians Visit Us—Their Strange
and Peculiar Ways
Chapter 12. The Inside of Our House—A Picture from Memory
Here is "How we found our
THE old cow always wore the bell. Early in the
spring, when there were no flies or mosquitoes to drive them up the
cattle sometimes wandered off. At such times, when we went to our
chopping or work, we watched them, to see which way they went, and
listened to the bell after they were out of sight in order that we
might know which way to go after them if they didn't return.
Sometimes the bell went out of hearing but I was careful to remember
which way I heard it last.
Before night I would start
to look for them, going in the direction I last heard them. I would
go half a mile or so into the woods, then stop and listen, to see if
I could hear the faintest sound of the bell. If I could not hear it
I went farther in the same direction then stopped and listened
again. Then if I did not hear it I took another direction, went a
piece and stopped again, and if I heard the least sound of it I knew
it from all other bells because I had heard it so often before.
That bell is laid up with care. I am now over
fifty years old, but if the least tinkling of that bell should reach
my ear I should know the sound as well as I did when I was a boy
listening for it in the woods of Michigan.
When I found the cattle I
would pick up a stick and throw it at them, halloo very loudly and
they would start straight for home. Sometimes, in cloudy weather, I
was lost and it looked to me as though they were going the wrong
way, but I followed them, through black-ash swales where the water
was knee-deep, sometimes nearly barefooted.
I always carried a gun,
sometimes father's rifle. The deer didn't seem to be afraid of the
cattle; they would stand and look at them as they passed not seeming
to notice me. I would walk carefully, get behind a tree, and take
pains to get a fair shot at one. When I had killed it I bent bushes
and broke them partly off, every few rods, until I knew I could find
the place again, then father and I would go and get the deer.
Driving the cattle home in
this way I traveled hundreds of miles. There was some danger then,
in going barefooted as there were some massasauga [The prairie, or
Michigan variety of rattlesnake. Formerly abundant, as Nowlin notes,
with the settlement of the country they have tended to disappear.
They are still found in southern Michigan, however, and their
possible presence is still to be reckoned with by rural dwellers and
visitors.] all through the woods. As the country got cleared up they
disappeared, and as there are neither rocks, ledges nor logs, under
which they can hide, I have not seen one in many years.
You can read the rest of
this chapter at
read the other chapters at
Fraser's Scottish Annual
We have added some more articles from this
Scottish Poet in Canada
"The Soul of Every Living
Scotch U.E. Loyalists
The Stones of St Andrews
Drummond of Hawthorndon
The British Empire
and Necessary Changes
The Greatness of Scottish Women
Here is a
bit from "The Highland Scotch U.E. Loyalists"...
BEFORE 1775 many natives of
the Highlands of Scotland emigrated to America and settled within
the borders of what is now the United States. Sometimes this
emigration was of an individual character, but the emigration whose
influence is yet distinctly felt in the Dominion of Canada and the
United States was different in cause and character. Whole families,
many times whole communities, were compelled to leave the glens they
loved so well and seek new homes in America.
The Highlanders, like all
peoples that live in rocky picturesque countries, love their home,
their family and their freedom. From earliest times the Highlanders
sought foreign service in various capacities. Accustomed as they
were to scanty fare at home, their industry, perseverance, frugality
and honesty soon enabled them in more highly favored countries to
acquire a competency. With this the wanderer returned to his native
hills and heath to live in homely affluence the rest of his days.
When families or communities
migrated it was from necessity, not from choice. When they bade
adieu to their past surroundings it was with a heavy heart, because
they never hoped to return. The preparation for the journey has been
graphically described by more than one writer. They approached the
kirk and the adjoining yard with tears in their eyes. They kissed
the walls of the sacred edifice, they prostrated themselves on the
mounds of earth that marked the resting-place of their departed
ones, and after a short prayer they moved slowly away from the
hallowed scenes with heavy steps and aching hearts.
A Highland poet thus
Farewell to the land of the mountain and wood,
Farewell to the home of the brave and the good,
My bark is afloat on the blue-rolling main,
And I ne'er shall behold thee, dear Scotland,
Adieu to the scenes of my life's early morn,
From the place of my birth I am cruelly torn;
The tyrant oppresses the land of the free
And leaves but the
name of my sires unto me.
Oh I home of my fathers, I
bid thee adieu,
soon will thy hill-tops retreat from my view,
With sad drooping heart I depart from thy shore
To behold thy fair valleys and mountains no
there that I wooed thee, young Flora, my wife,
When my bosom was warm in the morning of life,
I courted thy love 'mong the heather so brown,
And heaven did I bless when it made thee my
The friends of my early years, where are they
Each kind honest
heart, and each brave manly brow;
Some sleep in the churchyard, from tyranny
And others are
crossing the ocean with me.
Lo! now on the boundless
Atlantic I stray,
strange foreign realm I am wafted away;
Before me as far as my vision can glance,
I but see the
wave-rolling wat'ry expanse.
So farewell, my country and
all than is dear,
hour is arrived and the bark is asteer,
I go and forever, oh! Scotland adieu
The land of my fathers no more I shall view.
You can read the rest of
this article at
The other articles can be read at
Some Scotch Words Explained
I thought it was about time I helped with your
education and mind they'll be a test next week!!! :-)
Many Scottish terms have
crept into English and require no comment, The best known of these
are; `wee', that is `small'; 'bonnie', `beautiful'; `bairn',
There is a peculiar tenderness in these words
that is lost in the translation.
`Bonnie Scotland', for
example, is a term of endearment as well as of description. It
brings a whole picture before the mind; and you can see the sun
shining, and hear the larks singing. And you almost listen to the
plashing of the burn at the foot of the brae.
`Bairn', meaning `child', is
not known to all Southerns. And on the other side a word very like
it, `bearings', (meaning `whereabouts'), is scarcely understood by
the Northern peasant.
An English schoolboy when on a walking tour in
the Lothians once lost his way. He called at a farmhouse and
enquired of the "motherly body" he met there if she could direct
him. "Can you help me, please?" he said. "I have quite lost my
He probably dropped the g of the last word; but
even if he hadn't, this common nautical expression was quite strange
to the farm-girl. Her amazement was unbounded when she noticed how
young her interrogator was.
"Lost your bairns!" She
exclaimed. "An' is their mither with them?" This so electrified the
tourist that he deemed it prudent to beat a hasty retreat.
The game of cross purposes
between English and Scotch is not uncommon. Once an English
sportsman, who was staying at an inn for the summer fishing, was
much troubled to get the right fly. He tried to get one of the maids
to bring him what he wanted, but she could not understand.
"Dear me," he said at last
impatiently, "did you never see a horse-fly?"
Willing to please, she
replied apologetically: "Naa, Sir, A never saw a horse fly; but onct
A saw a coo jump over a precipice"
But even the Scottish
language itself has certain local usages that may be misleading. It
seems that once upon a time in Edinburgh the word "carry" got to be
used in a kind of technical sense, meaning "show upstairs", "usher
in". Now one day an aristocratic lady belonging to that stately city
was expecting two friends in the afternoon. So she had ordered her
new Highland servant to "carry up the ladies" to the drawing-room
when they should arrive.
The Highlander, however, had
learned his English out of books, and was quite unacquainted with
the local idiom. He took the word literally.
When the time came round,
the aristocratic lady was aroused by hearing a funny scuffling noise
on the stairs. Emerging from her room to ascertain what was the
matter, she was horror-struck to perceive Donald ascending the
stairs with some difficulty, bearing an indignant and struggling
lady in his arms. It seems that he had said to the visitors: "Bide
the rest of ye here awhile: I'll take this little one first."
In Edinburgh there are many
words in common use that much resemble French. In fact these words
are distinctly of French origin, and are only slightly Scotticised
from the original. 'Douce' and `dour' speak for themselves. Then 'vizzy'
means to `aim at'; and 'dementit' means `out of patience'.
`To fash oneself' means 'to
be troubled about'. These and several others of a similar kind
betray their derivation at a glance.
Some words closely resemble
Dutch. Indeed the Lowland dialect possesses hundreds of these
A good story is told of a learned professor and
his nephew, who once visited Rotterdam and tried to discover the
house where Erasmus was born.
The professor knew Dutch
very well out of books; and could read, without too much trouble,
the writings of two hundred years ago. But he could not make himself
in the least degree intelligible when he tried to speak the
After repeated and disheartening attempts to
secure the needful information from a derisive streetboy, the
traveller was inclined to give up the quest in despair, when his
nephew interposed: "Let me try Scotch on him, uncle, I bet I'll get
something out of him."
He looked the youth straight in the face and
said, broadly with emphasis: "Com' here; com' here, noo, an' tell
's, whaur's the hoose o' Erasmus?" At once the streetboy grasped the
situation. "Jao, baas;" he said. "Zeker". And leading him to the
well known gable he pointed it out triumphantly. "Doar heb je het
huus van Erasmus." He thought it was some Hollander from far away,
perhaps from the Betuwe.
And for the matter of that,
it would not be difficult to imagine a conversation in Lowland
Scotch which the same Rotterdam street-boy could have easily
followed. Here it is: "What for thing is that, Davvid, afore yir
dure?" "It's a lang, brade stane for the new kirk; an' it's a bit
sherp on the tap. I'll breng it tae the kirk the morn, an' set it
whaur it'll no hinner folk gangin' oot or in." Speak these sentences
deliberately and every Dutch peasant will understand them.
A still more striking
resemblance to Dutch lies in the Scottish love of diminutives.
These, however, are formed in many cases by a clever use of the
words `bit' and `wee'.
If we take the word dog, for instance, we can
pile on diminutive upon diminutive in the Lowlands in a way that
quite outdistances any dialect in the Netherlands.
Little dog is "doggie"; if
it is to be still smaller, we may say "a bit doggie". If smaller
still "a wee bit doggie". We reach the climax of diminutiveness in
"a wee bit doggetie".
As a contrast to this similarity to Dutch one
cannot help noticing how easily Scotch can drop its consonants.
Burns has rendered this peculiarity familiar to all English readers,
when he uses pu' for pull, and fu' for full, and a' for all; but it
is not so well known that one can have an entire conversation in
Dean Ramsay instances the following. A woman
entered a draper's shop, examined some cloth lying on the counter
for sale, then looking up said, interrogatively: "Oo?"
"Aye, oo"; said the shopman.
She continued: "A' oo'."
"Aye; a' oo," was the prompt
She repeated her question more explicitly: "A'
aeoo?" To which the reassurance was forthcoming: "Aye a' ae oo."
The explanation is simple.
The woman wishing to know the quality of the cloth she was about to
buy said: "Wool?" The shopman's answer was: "Yes; wool."
She then asked: "Is it all
wool?" and he replied "Yes, all wool."
Not satisfied, she enquired
again: "Is it all the same wool?" "Yes," he said. "It is all the
Most of the characteristically Scotch words
require to be translated, if indeed translation be possible. There
are two adjectives continually appearing in poetry, which can, no
doubt, be adequately rendered in English.
These are 'braw' and 'couthie'.
'Braw' means `fine' or `strapping,' and is the term generally
applied to the lads. 'Couthie', or loving, is of course the word to
be applied to the lasses.
Among terms, however, that
cannot be translated the most remarkable are 'pawky' and `canny'.
'Pawky' means slow, knowing,
sly, shrewd, very modest in manner, but very keen of insight. There
are many flavours of pawkiness, like fine brands of wine.
Here is one with a touch of
pardonable insolence. A young, bombastic, preacher had wearied
everybody with his affectations and with his extraordinary demeanour
in the pulpit. At the close of the service he was introduced to a
plain old laird, who had been especially restless. They had some
talk together, and amongst other things the youth informed the old
gentleman that he was very tired. "Tired, my man!" said the laird,
"you tired? Man, if you are half as tired as I am, I pity you."
But mostly pawkiness is not
so tom-plain, thought it may be sarcastic enough. "Come and dine
with me next Friday," said a masterful old dame in Edinburgh to an
acquaintance. He was quite willing to go, but answered in that
semi-apologetic manner which some people affect: "Yes; I will, if I
am spared." "Weel," replied the lady "if you're dead, I'll no expect
But, as generally understood, pawkiness as a
rule wears a more benignant aspect, and may even be deferential. An
inexperienced sportsman was out shooting once, and had missed all
the birds in the course of the morning. At last, towards mid-day, he
thought he hit one, and said excitedly: "Keeper, keeper, that bird
will come down." "Aye, Sir," was the patient but significant
response; "It will come down, when it's hungry."
One of the most pawky
remarks that tradition gives us refers to a minister's long sermons.
They were very long - these sermons - and though he was a good
preacher, his people did not care for hearing so much at a time.
They had protested again and
again, but without avail. Indeed he seemed rather to expand than to
contract these admirable prelections of his.
One day he exchanged pulpits
with a neighbouring clergyman. The stranger preached quite a short
discourse, and despite of the fact that it was a trifle abrupt about
the end, everybody was pleased.
When all was over, he seemed
to feel that something required explanation. And in the vestry he
told his elders how it was his sermon was so short. "I had my sermon
written," he said; "and had left it on my study table. At the last
moment, however, my favourite terrier entered the room in my
absence, and worried the manuscript, devouring the last half. "I'm
exceedingly sorry," he added.
"It's a right," said the
elders, "there is no need to apologize for such an excellent
A quiet voice was heard from the end of the
table: "Could ye no give oor Minister a young pup from that fine
terrier dog of yours?"
As for 'canniness', that is perhaps best
exemplified by the proverbial phrase: `A Scotch mist', meaning 'a
One can allot high praise to something by using
that canny and highly characteristic formula: "It is no bad" or, "It
might be waur."
There was a fearful scrimmage once between a
farmer and a gamekeeper; and the case came up for trial. The lawyer
wanted to show that the farmer was quarrelsome and questioned him
accordingly, asking him did he not fight with every gamekeeper he
met. "Me feicht! A niver feicht with onybody."
"Did you not with George
"Hoots, man, A see what you're at, noo. Geordie
and me had a bit o' an argument. He called me a lear; and A just
flung him over the dike. But there was nae feichtin' about it, ava'"
(ava - at all).
And that's it for now and
hope you all have a good weekend :-)
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