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Evertype: Alice in Wonderland -- in Shetland Scots!


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Evertype would like to announce the publication of Laureen Johnson’s translation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland into Shetland Scots, Alice’s Adventirs in Wonderlaand. The book uses John Tenniel's classic illustrations. A page with links to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk is available at http://www.evertype.com/books/alice-sco-zet.html . Bookstores can order copies at a discount from the publisher.

 

http://www.evertype.com/pics/blogpics/alice-sco-zet.gif

 

Michael Everson

Evertype, alice-in-wonderland-books.com

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Da Caterpillar an Alice lookit at een anidder for a start athoot a wird bein said: at da lang an an da lent da Caterpillar took da hookah oot o his mooth, an spak in a döless, sleepy voice.

 

“Wha’s du?†said da Caterpillar.

 

Hit wis nae wye tae encourage a body ta start spaekin wi him. Alice answered, kinda blate-wye, “ I—I hardly ken, sir, eenoo—at laest I ken wha I wis whin I raise dis mornin, but I tink I most a been altered twartree times fae dan.â€

 

“Whit means du be dat?†said da Caterpillar, soondin faerce. “Explenn deesel, lass!â€

 

“Oh less, sir, I canna explenn mesel,†said Alice, “becaas A’m no mesel, you see.â€

 

“I dunna see,†said da Caterpillar.

 

“I doot I canna say it in ony clearer wye,†said Alice, aafil ceevilly, “for I canna understaand it mesel ta start aff wi; an bein sae mony different sizes in ee day is laek ta merr a body.â€

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This is good, as far as it goes, but, and this is intended as constructive criticism, the translation suffers from the same "fault" (IMHO anyway) as many attempts to write in Shetland do. In this case, the translation is literal, as in it largely adheres to the English phraseology, structure, grammar and punctuation of the original, and this is a formula many authors also adopt even when penning an original work.

 

Shetland phraseology, structure, grammar and punctuation (as I know it anyway) differs quite significantly from English, therefor while this is probably much more readable to a wider audience, it is (by what I know as Shetland) a rather dumbed down diluted version. Which poses a supplementary question, is this purposely translated in this way so that it is more acceptable for a wider audience, or is what I know as Shetland now only known and understood by so few that finding a writer would be difficult and their completed work pointless, as it would only be fully comprehendable by so few.

 

IMHO (with the Shetland I know as Shetland) you cannot take English, or Shetland and literally translate one in to the other, doing so either loses a element of meaning or language, or becomes a form of pidgin Shetland/gibberish. You need to read a passage in one, then start over and wholly construct a fresh passage in the other language to achieve a full translation.

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This is good, as far as it goes, but, and this is intended as constructive criticism, the translation suffers from the same "fault" (IMHO anyway) as many attempts to write in Shetland do. In this case, the translation is literal, as in it largely adheres to the English phraseology, structure, grammar and punctuation of the original, and this is a formula many authors also adopt even when penning an original work.

 

Shetland phraseology, structure, grammar and punctuation (as I know it anyway) differs quite significantly from English, therefor while this is probably much more readable to a wider audience, it is (by what I know as Shetland) a rather dumbed down diluted version. Which poses a supplementary question, is this purposely translated in this way so that it is more acceptable for a wider audience, or is what I know as Shetland now only known and understood by so few that finding a writer would be difficult and their completed work pointless, as it would only be fully comprehendable by so few.

 

(Edit: I had forgotten that Shetlink censors scatalogical expression. For 'sharn' read another word with a similar meaning.)

 

IMHO (with the Shetland I know as Shetland) you cannot take English, or Shetland and literally translate one in to the other, doing so either loses a element of meaning or language, or becomes a form of pidgin Shetland/gibberish. You need to read a passage in one, then start over and wholly construct a fresh passage in the other language to achieve a full translation.

 

I can't understand how you can regard this passage as translated literally form English.

 

“In that direction,†the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter:

 

“Doon yon wye,†said da Cat, wavin his richt paa aboot, “der a Hat-makker at bides:

 

Where is the literal translation here? The Shetland translation doesn't have any literal translation of the English syntax. 'Doon yun wye' for 'In that direction' where a literalistic translation would have been 'In dat ert'; 'Der a hatter at bides' - using the characteristic Shetland constructin with 'der' (or 'dae'r' as I would spell it) and the use of 'at' as the relative pronoun, where a literalistic translation would have been 'bides a Hatter.' There's no basis whatsoever for saying that it is translated literally, and I suggest that you have started this post by saying that it has been translated literally because - exhibiting the characteristic negativism of Shetlanders towards anything that is peculiarly Shetland - you assume that it must have been without really having read it.

 

I've noticed this in your posts before. There was one, if I remember correctly, where you complained that 'Dunna chuck bruck' - which you described as an 'abortion', a word which has been used for some of my own writings before now and for similar reasons - should have been 'dunna bal sh*te'. I can understand why you might want to change 'chuck' to 'bal', but it beats me why 'sh*te' should be regarded as more 'Shetland' than 'bruck', except insofar as 'dialect' is subconsciously regarded as a medium peculiarly suited to the scatological. Of course, I'm only repeating this from memory, so if I have misrepresented your views on 'dunna chuck bruck' I apologise in advance.

 

I would also suggest that you have fallen into the trap of regarding authentic Shetland in terms of your own speech and that of your own locality without having an understanding of which aspects are characteristic of Shetland as a whole, as the 'der' etc. constructions certainly are. It is a tragedy (or would be, if the issue wasn't already effectively dead) that writings such as this which attempt to follow the characteristic Shetland syntax are criticised for that very thing, when there are many 'dialect' writings which don't even attempt to do so and are still regarded as good 'dialect' writing.

 

My take on this is that it doesn't matter what is done about the Shetland Dialect - anything will be regarded negatively by Shetlanders.

 

I have my own reservations about this translation, and I could be negative about it too. For one thing, to me, 'mad' doesn't have the English meaning - it means 'angry', as in American English, and the natural word with the 'insane' meaning in Shetland is 'vod'. Before I finally gave up writing my native tongue I increasingly found that the 'old' Shetland words, and words which conflicted in meaning with English (such as 'traivel' meanin 'walk' rather than 'travel') were becoming unacceptable in 'dialect' writing constrained by the digs and jibes of the Shetland intelligentsia. And what do you think of the term 'Shetland Scots' - is this more acceptable than the despised 'Shetlandic' or 'Shaetlan' which nobody can agree on how to spell? (I've seen it spelt 'sh*tland' on some forum or other.) But literal translation is certainly not a fault of this text - the idea that it is just illustrates that ultimately nothing written in their native tongue is going to be acceptable to the majority of Shetlanders.

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... 'Der a hatter at bides' - using the characteristic Shetland constructin with 'der' (or 'dae'r' as I would spell it)

This is interesting. As a toonie with only toonie parents and grandparents, my dialect is clearly less trad than many. Consequently I'm certainly in no position to challenge that construction. Nevertheless it does seem surprising. I would have used 'Der's a hatter...,' as in 'There is a hatter...' Is that a toonie development?

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The Shetland "Der" is thought to be a contracted version of Norwegian "Det er" which is "There is". The Norwegian "det er" is pronounced "dae ir/aer".

 

Whether "Dere's" is more of a Lerwick thing I don't know, but there is no doubt that Lerwick has, or Lerwick natives have, the most watered down version of the Shetland dialect.

 

Sadly, the terminology "Dere's" is just the dropping of th in "there" and is just one tiny step away from being 100% pure english.

 

Der, because of it's Norwegian root, is a little piece of treasure in the Shetland dialect.

 

I use "Der" and "dae ir"(There is) in both my spoken and written dialect.

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The 'der' construction is, unfortunately, obscured by the reluctance of writers to spell the 'dae' bit as a separate word. That it is a separate word is clear from the following examples:

 

Dae'r a maa on da ruif

Ir dae a maa on da ruif?

 

Dae wir a maa on da ruif

Wir dae a maa on da ruif?

 

Dae'r maas on da ruif

Ir dae maas on da ruif?

 

And even:

 

Dae wid be maas on da ruif...

Wid dae be maas on da ruif...?

 

etc.

 

The fact that 'dae' - as I spell it - can be used in questions in the form 'ir dae' and wir dae' shows that it is a separate word, and that the 'r' on the end is from 'ir' meaning 'are'. But Shetland writers, obsessed with varying as little as possible from standard English, persist with the 'der' form which confuses it with English 'there', or alternatively spelling it 'dey' which confuses it with English 'they'. The result is that an intrinsic aspect of traditional Shetland grammar is lost in orthographic confusion.

 

Note also that, in these cases with both singular and plural subjects, the verb is plural.

 

The 'der's' an 'is dere' forms are merely Shetland versions of standard English 'there's' and 'is there.' However, in this case, the verb tends to be singular in both singular and plural, e.g: 'Dere's a lock o cars on da rod da day'. Some writers - I don't know about speakers - mix these together, using the 'dere's' form in the singular and the 'der' form in the plural. Any robust attempt to do anything about the Shetland tongue would have emphasised the traditional forms, but in the Lowest Common Dialect ideology which Shetland has inherited from Edinburgh, anything is as much dialect as anything else.

 

The idea of a Norn origin is probably mistaken. The 'Der' and 'ir dae' forms are both current in Scottish and Ulster Scots, where they are often written as 'The ar' etc, and where the grammar is exactly the same as it is in Shetlnad. As usual, non-knowledge about Scots means that things are misinterpreted as Norn - if the form is derived from Norse, it is characteristic of various forms of Scots, not just Shetland. And, as usual, concentration on Norn on the one hand and English on the other results in the Shetland tongue bein seen only of value insofar as it is related to something else. Kavi's comment that the 'der' form is a 'little bit of treasure' seems to me to be as much as saying that only Norn bits of 'dialect' are worth anything.

 

Needless to say, the above comments can be ignored, as they are merely the opinion of someone whose writings are now of value only insofar as they provide bad examples to be cited by the Shetland intelligentsia. And what I say about Norn is equally valueless as, in the dialect ideology, myth - whether Nornomania or its equally unfounded counterpart, Nornophobia - is much more important than knowledge - which mere speakers of dialect are not supposed to have anyway, dialect being per se an index of ignorance, and knowledge about it being the prerogative of those who speak it least. The unchallenged progress of standard English is the only possible - and in the view of most Shetlanders doubtless the only desirable - result.

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@ DePooperit:

 

Ahh....I did not intend my assertion that the translation is literal to be taken so literally (pardon the pun). The point I was trying (and apparently failed) to make, is that when considered as an overall passage, it comes over as more of a literal translation than an actual one. As you quite rightly point out, certain phrases etc have been "translated" somewhat which makes it not a word for word translation, but (IMHO) more than enough English sentence structure, phraseology, grammar and punctuation remains to conclude it is more "English" than Shetland. I'd describe it as "tweaked", ie. enough Shetland has been inserted in place of the original to give it a Shetland "flavour", but the end result is not entirely Shetland by a long shot. Put it this way, if a Shetland speaker was asked to read the relevant passage in the original book, then write it or speak in in their natural tongue, this is nothing like what would be produced.

 

I'm not going to argue that I have fallen in to the "trap", if indeed it is a trap, of judging the piece according to Shetland as I know it. Its the only version I know, so how else can I judge it? I will argue though that I am criticising it on the basis that I consider the version I know as being the only "authentic" form of Shetland, far from it, I would contend that there is no one "authentic" version of Shetland, but numerous ones. However, what is written in this passage I have never come across any Shetlander speaking unless perhaps a handful in Lerwick and a few incomers who have been here quite a long time. I would further contend that writings such as this which attempt to write in a Shetland "style" by effectively borrowing bits from here and there among the many variants does far more harm than good. It creates a mish mash that virtually no-one actually speaks or has spoken, and pleases none of the people none of the time. Where speech has such wide variants as a syllable being correctly pronounced as "ik", "ook" and "week" depending upon the speaker's exact origins, I would argue any attempt to create speech "common" to all is always going to meet with negativity all round, as its nothing to no-one. Either you preserve as many variants as possible equally (a Herculean task), or you let it all go where its fast going already, to the grave.

 

As regards your cited example, viz:

 

“In that direction,†the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter:

 

“Doon yon wye,†said da Cat, wavin his richt paa aboot, “der a Hat-makker at bides:

 

I would contend the translation should be:

 

Den, is he flappit wi his richt fit athin dat ert, da cat sed, "dir a man it makks hats it bides ower yunder(oo)".

 

"Doon" means either literally "downhill" or "southwards", nothing else. Description of situation usually precedes repeating actual speech. Gesticulating with a limb in a particular direction doesn't constitute a "wave" as I know it, the meaning of "wave" is quite narrow. "Paw" I'd contend in not a Shetland word, animals either have a "fit" or a "cliv".

 

This of course is Shetland as I know it, I'm not suggesting that mine is any more "authentic" than the quoted "translated" statement, just illustrating two equally probable "correct" Shetland passages, which supposedly say exactly the same thing, but end up being so different in composition and structure. In turn illustrating why I believe a Shetland "style" piece of writing is so wrong, and displeases everybody.

 

As regards "Dunna Chuck Bruck", "chuck" to me is not Shetland, its English slang, if you are going to throw something, you bal it. "Bruck" I would contend, as used in the slogan is the incorrect word, now had they chosen "brucks" instead, that would have been better, even if it would have been something of a mis-usage, it would have been near enough to do. "Bruck" to me is a very rarely used word in Shetland, only ever used in the phrase "lok o' bruk" and preferred by a few too "prim and proper" to use the alternatives "lok o' hellery" or "lok o' sh*te". It has no other usage that I know of.

 

"Brucks" as I know it, is leftover/redundant/surplus/unsuitable for the job at hand, but not necessarily useless, as in "da brucks o' Yul" or "gie da dennir brucks ta da dug", so although it wouldn't have been entirely incorrect to direct it at discarded litter, by definition it does not cover "waste" of all sorts. Hence the preferred "sh*te", or its probably more socially acceptable alternatives "hellery" or "traash", which do cover all "waste" items.

 

Yes, again I don't doubt Shetland as I know it clouds my opinion on this one and all, but again I can't think of anyone who would have actually naturally have said "Dunna Chuck Bruck" before the slogan was invented, unless perhaps again a few in Lerwick. Hmmm....Common theme developing perhaps?

 

I'll concede that it appears to have been a reasonably effective slogan, but I'm never going to get past the opinion that it is an abortive hotch potch of language and one of the most irritating pseudo-Shetland slogans ever thought up. It irritates me considerably more than someone saying "The Shetlands"....don't ask why though, as I don't know either. It just gets my hackles up on sight/sound.

 

I'll agree with you though about "mad", it is angry in my world, but would contend the the Shetland equivalent(s) are haf-krak, lost dir judgmint, fairly krak and possibly entirelee deranged. With you too on the older and confusable words being rather "derided" by some, probably in the same way as the remnants of Norn were put down by the educated chantry of that day slowly killing it off. "Shetland Scots" I just chose not to comment on, its not right, its not entirely wrong either, but it hardly seemed worth making a fuss over as it informed of the thread contents to a reasonable degree. I just call it and spell it "Shetlan" and beggar what anybody thinks or says.

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DePooperit, my understanding of the origin of "Der" was actually from John Graham's Shetland Dictionary.

 

It's not a lack of understanding at all - I disagree with you in relation to the origin(I believe it is a norse relic) but I didn't say or suggest that this is why it's a little piece of dialect treasure - I said that because it is and isn't a simple morphing of an english word like Dere's > There's.

 

I have no problem accepting that some words are Scots and some are Norse.

 

I'm not saying this in a bad way but what I can't understand is your(apparant) anti-norse attitude.

 

It has echoes of Shetlandforwirds anti-norse leanings and whose dialect writings are an abortion.

 

Sometimes I think some people can't see the wood for the trees......

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As regards "Dunna Chuck Bruck", "chuck" to me is not Shetland, its English slang, if you are going to throw something, you bal it. "Bruck" I would contend, as used in the slogan is the incorrect word, now had they chosen "brucks" instead, that would have been better, even if it would have been something of a mis-usage, it would have been near enough to do. "Bruck" to me is a very rarely used word in Shetland, only ever used in the phrase "lok o' bruk" and preferred by a few too "prim and proper" to use the alternatives "lok o' hellery" or "lok o' sh*te". It has no other usage that I know of.

 

"Brucks" as I know it, is leftover/redundant/surplus/unsuitable for the job at hand, but not necessarily useless, as in "da brucks o' Yul" or "gie da dennir brucks ta da dug", so although it wouldn't have been entirely incorrect to direct it at discarded litter, by definition it does not cover "waste" of all sorts. Hence the preferred "sh*te", or its probably more socially acceptable alternatives "hellery" or "traash", which do cover all "waste" items.

 

Yes, again I don't doubt Shetland as I know it clouds my opinion on this one and all, but again I can't think of anyone who would have actually naturally have said "Dunna Chuck Bruck" before the slogan was invented, unless perhaps again a few in Lerwick. Hmmm....Common theme developing perhaps?

 

I'll concede that it appears to have been a reasonably effective slogan, but I'm never going to get past the opinion that it is an abortive hotch potch of language and one of the most irritating pseudo-Shetland slogans ever thought up. It irritates me considerably more than someone saying "The Shetlands"....don't ask why though, as I don't know either. It just gets my hackles up on sight/sound.

 

 

Speaking as a Westsider I would use bruk for rubbish and bruks for left overs. Incidentally bruk seems to have been used in Caithness as well. A few years ago I heard an elderly newspaper man from there describe what he had to to report as including "all the bruk of the day"

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^ Rather reinforces my point about their being too many variants with too many differences and confusables for any one "common" version to serve much purpose.

 

An entirely seperate usage I'd have for "bruck" is to crush, or break down in to pieces/crumble. As in "bruck yun bread", or in the variants "he tuick a bruckin" or "he's gotten brawly brukkit" referring to someone whose suffered extensive multiple injury.

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