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Poems, Stories, Plays in the Scots Language by David Purves
Scottish Folk Tales

    Scotland has a unique heritage of folk tales and fairy tales.  Many of these are of Gaelic origin and must have drifted across the Highland Line in earlier days to become part of the Lowland oral tradition in Scots.  However, in general, folklore in Scotland has its origins in the medieval North Sea community. Until the end of the eighteenth century, such stories were part of the extensive oral tradition in Scots, which developed when the Scots language was still, for most people, seen as adequate for every purpose of  life.

    It is not now possible to discover exactly what the language of many of the stories in this tradition was like, since most of them are now recorded in English. Written versions in Scots were not always available and versions were published in English, sometimes in stilted Victorian English, largely in order to capture the larger international market.  The occasional guidwyfe or henwyfe  was often introduced in an English syntactical context, to add  a Scots frisson or flavor and  to locate the origin of the story.

    In an age subject to headlong globalisation, leading to the destruction of natural communities and trust everywhere, we should beware of discarding as provincial and irrelevant, traditions which characterise the essence of Scotland’s being.  Accordingly, I have made renderings of  twenty-six Scottish folk tales in a narrative, non-localised Scots, based on surviving linguistic models, such as the language of  traditional Scots songs.  In some of these tales, their European origins are clearly evident.  The Wal at the Warld’s End is a medieval version on the Frog Prince theme,  there is a Sleeping Beauty in The Weidae’s Son an the Streinger, Snow White reappears in a glass coffin in Gowd Tree an Siller Tree, Rumpelstiltskin becomes Whuppitie Stourie and Cinderella and her slipper is transmogrified into Rashiecoat at the Kirk, instead of  the Ball.

    The origin of some of  these stories is evidently pre-European and some familiar themes are recognisable in ancient Sanskrit documents.

Titles of Folk Tales

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