Jump to content

Should Norn be revived?


Sanchez
 Share

Should Norn Be Revived?  

37 members have voted

  1. 1. Should Norn Be Revived?

    • Yes
      15
    • No
      20
    • No opinion
      4


Recommended Posts

Is the decline of "da dialect" more due to the lack of teaching and use of "proper English".

We used to speak Da Dialect at home/with friends and change our speech at school and when speaking to non-dialect speakers. Nowadays people speak english and dialect mixed together to the point that the watering down makes the dialect completely undestandable to all. i.e. watered down to zero.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 103
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Is the decline of "da dialect" more due to the lack of teaching and use of "proper English".

We used to speak Da Dialect at home/with friends and change our speech at school and when speaking to non-dialect speakers. Nowadays people speak english and dialect mixed together to the point that the watering down makes the dialect completely undestandable to all. i.e. watered down to zero.

 

I think that's exactly right.

 

Traditionally, dialect is something that exists only by default. Shetland dialect only existed in the past because there was no reason why it should not exist. Although we learned standard English at school there was no reason to speak it in everyday life, because almost everyone spoke Shetland, and those who didn't could understand it.

 

Nowadays, the various pressures of modern life - mobile society, media, etc - mean that dialect can no longer survive by default.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Macafee, in a study conducted in Glasgow (I think in the eighties) spoke about a phenomenon called 'style drift', where speakers of a dialect would gradually incorporate more and more of a 'dominant' speech form into their daily vernacular until that dialect became virtually extinct. In interviews, she found that younger Glaswegians referred to remaining dialect words as 'slang', whereas older city dwellers called their own speech 'Scotch'. She quotes Johnny Graham's work in saying that Shetland was one of the few places in Scotland where 'bidialectism' (the speaking of dialect and standard English entirely separately) was maintained.

 

I think many people in Shetland can and do 'spik Shaetlan bit can knapp tu', while many younger people 'dunna hardly hae a wird o' Shaetlan avaa'.

I wonder, though, that if in the last quarter of the twentieth century the decline of the dialect has seen a hugely marked acceleration. While each succeeding generation of Shetlanders from the time Norn was spoken have probably experienced a progressive degree of 'style drift', I don't hear many teenagers in Lerwick speaking a watered-down form of the dialect- most just don't (and can't) use it at all. My own bairns fall into this category - they know what 'peerie' means, but not much else. Of course, this varies from district to district in Shetland.

 

As DePooperit says, changes in speech forms are a reflection of greater cultural changes within a given society. If western society manages to sustain itself in its present form, our spoken dialect will go the way of Norn (although a pretty extensive corpus of literature should remain).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Anonymous
^^ I doot dat wid be "Gyt ta bug*ery oot ö heer dü deil's eerip". :wink:

could easy draa a bead appuda hill daeks a Lüte fae here , fir a fee :shock:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Macafee, in a study conducted in Glasgow (I think in the eighties) spoke about a phenomenon called 'style drift', where speakers of a dialect would gradually incorporate more and more of a 'dominant' speech form into their daily vernacular until that dialect became virtually extinct. In interviews, she found that younger Glaswegians referred to remaining dialect words as 'slang', whereas older city dwellers called their own speech 'Scotch'. She quotes Johnny Graham's work in saying that Shetland was one of the few places in Scotland where 'bidialectism' (the speaking of dialect and standard English entirely separately) was maintained.

 

I think many people in Shetland can and do 'spik Shaetlan bit can knapp tu', while many younger people 'dunna hardly hae a wird o' Shaetlan avaa'.

I wonder, though, that if in the last quarter of the twentieth century the decline of the dialect has seen a hugely marked acceleration. While each succeeding generation of Shetlanders from the time Norn was spoken have probably experienced a progressive degree of 'style drift', I don't hear many teenagers in Lerwick speaking a watered-down form of the dialect- most just don't (and can't) use it at all. My own bairns fall into this category - they know what 'peerie' means, but not much else. Of course, this varies from district to district in Shetland.

 

As DePooperit says, changes in speech forms are a reflection of greater cultural changes within a given society. If western society manages to sustain itself in its present form, our spoken dialect will go the way of Norn (although a pretty extensive corpus of literature should remain).

 

An interesting comment from one of my sons (now 25) when he was at school was, 'I thought it was impossible for anyone growing up in the North East not to learn Scots, but (name of friend) seems to have managed it. That's why he can't get on with neds. He can't understand a word they say.'

 

This one comment almost encapsulates the 'style drift' described by MacAfee. My son learnt Scots because he lived in Banff, but his friend, who had come from middle-class Aberdeen originally, knew none at all. Whereas in Banff the Scots language was still seen as 'Doric' (which is more or less equivalent to 'dialect' in Shetland) among young folk in Aberdeen it has become regarded largely as 'nedspeak' - in other words, spoken only by the tribe known as 'neds'. So in Aberdeen, my son could communicate with neds because he spoke the same language as them, not because he was a ned but because he grew up in an area where the language had not yet become stigmatised to such an extent, whereas his friend, who had grown up as a middle class Aberdonian, was oblivious.

 

The nomenclature thing is obvious here too. When I came to Aberdeenshire first, my neighbour apologised that he could only speak 'Broad Scotch.' But even by then most people were calling it 'Doric' (a word which means 'Rustic Dialect'.) And a survey done in Elgin some years ago found that, as in Glasgow, the young people regarded the remains of the speech as 'slang'.

 

I've also argued that the subtle shift in Shetland from referring to the 'midder tongue' as 'Shaetlan' to referring to it as 'dialect' reflects a change in how it is perceived - from being the 'de facto' spoken language of the place called 'Shaetland' to being a dialect which some people in Shetland speak.

 

In my opinion, the demise of the speech now is more even than increased acceleration. It is a change in category, from the slow drift towards standard English which we saw in our generation to a sudden total collapse. I think it's because people are still thinking in terms of the older 'slow drift' model that any measures taken to try to 'preserve da dialect' or whatever are bound to be ineffectual.

 

Actually, I agree with the kids who think of what they speak now as slang. The Scots language pundits in Edinburgh, who appear to the primary influence on dialect promotion in Shetland, now largely define 'Scots' in terms of what is spoken in the cities where it has mostly deteriorated. Emphasising the more traditional country varieties is regarded as derisably 'purist'. In fact, Christine Robinson, who took over the teaching of Scots (including what I inadvisedly called 'Shetlandic') in the UHI, regards forms like 'I done it', 'I've gave it' 'I've took it', 'I taen it', and so on as more advanced than the traditional Scots forms. so to emphasise the forms of traditional dialects such as the sort of Shaetlan I speak, and as described in Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, would presumably be seen as retrograde.

 

So 'Scots' is defined in terms of the forms that are most stigmatised. Clearly in order to be more advanced it is necessary for Shetland Dialect to adopt as many of these more advanced Central Scots forms as possible.

 

In my view, however, once a form of speech is no longer the speech of a whole community, but only of a social subset of that community, it is accurately described as slang.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW, this does have a connection to the thread topic, because this process almost certainly describes how Norn died out. It would be ironic if, once the current Shetland dialects have fizzled out through 'Shaetlan' to 'dialect' then 'slang' and then nothing, a future generation tries to revive something which they might not be ashamed to call 'Shaetlan' (or 'Shetlandic' in English) on the basis of the written and recorded material. This would be a much more viable option than reviving Norn because very much more is known about it than about Norn. In fact, once the present muddle is truly dead and gone, a future generation, free from the influence of Nornism on the one hand and Edinburghism on the other, might manage to do what we can't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 'nedspeak' point is an interesting one. Some reckon that this variant of Scots is an aspect of urban life representing a meeting place between traditional forms of community and globalised/freemarket influences - Cairns Craig says that underclass dialect 'gestures to the lost community which dialect had represented in the Scottish tradition and which has now been corrupted into fearful individualism'. Nedspeak is the vernacular of a city-located culture shot through with social dynamics such as welfare dependency, lack of employment, exaggerated health problems and sundry other manifestations of social deprivation. Of course, in the west of Scotland, these phenomena are concentrated in the peripheral housing estates, among a population whose ancestors were drawn to the cities to serve industries which no longer exist. However, it's probably true, though, that a certain 'coolness' is associated with central belt ned speech, no doubt because of modern Scottish novelists (especially those punting their work to Hollywood) in the same way that the speech patterns of urban America are portrayed in rap/hip hop etc. The tongue of the 'underclass' does preserve elements which can be considered as 'Scots', and if younger people think it's 'cool', it will be used and it will survive. I think that if a particular form of speech can't find a 'cultural carrier', to give it relevance to younger people (be that specific cultural practices, or popular adoption as a worthy indicator of identity) it will inevitably die.

 

I haven't met any young Shetlanders who think the language of their grandparents is cool. Few Shetlanders today need to use traditional words to refer to traditional activities. The lack of the 'great Shetland novel' has been debated on this forum. Our tongue has no relevance to many young Shetlanders - it has no popular cultural media to sustain it.

 

Will we ever see best-selling 'croft rap', or a Hollywood blockbuster set in Yell (Big Bannock boys and John Shuttleworth notwithstanding)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that if a particular form of speech can't find a 'cultural carrier', to give it relevance to younger people (be that specific cultural practices, or popular adoption as a worthy indicator of identity) it will inevitably die.

 

I think that's the main point. EM made the point earlier that language is about communication - but one of the things communicated by language is a social and cultural value system. It's true that you won't use a language unless you need it. The point here is that not all needs are exclusively practical. Some societies see linguistic identity as a need. But, of course, these are the ones that are typically ridiculed by the mainstream British society of which Scotland, including Shetland, is a part.

 

As I've probably said before on these forums, James Robertson the Scottish novelist makes it clear that the value of Scots lies in its disreputable connotations In other words, its frams of reference is not national or even regional, but social, or perhaps more aptly, antisocial. (Why this should be compatible with its promotion in education, or why Shetland should be influenced by this school of thought, remains a mystery to me.) This is in direct contrast to Wales in particular, where young people see Welsh as a mark of Welsh identity. (There will of course be many who do not, or who don't care about Welsh identity, but there are plenty who do.) This, and the fact that many young Welsh people are literate in it, means that it is used in modern applications, such as pop music. (Many well-known Welsh artists, such as Cerys Matthews and Duffy, are Welsh speakers and sing in Welsh as well as English, and there is an additional long-standing presence of artists - Dafydd Iwan, Meic Stevens, Bryn Fon, Meinir Gwilym, etc, not to mention several bands) who sing only in Welsh. It is practically impossible to imagine anyone singing rock or pop in Scots. Hardly any of the Scottish singers they periodically wheel out to sing Burns can even pronounce it.

 

In Shetland, as I've frequently said before, the local speech was once called 'Shaetlan' and was a mark of Shetland identity. But Shetland society has chosen to follow the Scots rather than the Welsh example, and its marketing as 'dialect' immediately relegates it to a world - the world in which dialects survived by default - which most young people will inevitably see as irrelevant.

 

Again (to return to the topic, and again I am repeating myself) remember that although we now think of Norn as having been a 'language' contemporaries referred to it with terms such as 'corrupt Norse' which shows that, at the time, it was probably regarded as being just as irrelevant and retrograde as Scots and 'dialect' now are by Scottish and Shetland society.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Anonymous

^^

 

Whesht man, I laek Da Proclaimers.

Dey remind me o a Fleck barn dance eftir da eela. Drunk men faain atil runnicks. Me witterin a car atil da towin hitch o a auld trailer, an annider boady dat a'll no mention at posts upö dis site, tryin ta wap a leg ower i da stripe o da midden.

Loard bliss dat days o youth. Dir lang geeng noo, bit weel minded.

:wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...