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Evertype: Alice in Wonderland -- in Shetland Scots!


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Chuck is English slang for "throwing out" say rubbish or can be a term of endearment. (Edited cos His lordship interrupted me mid-flow!)

 

I don't think anyone is arguing otherwise.

 

You queried whether it was English slang.

 

 

Oh I see. What I said was 'The fact that 'chuck' is English (whether slang or not I don't know - I would say 'colloquial' English) doesn't mean that it isn't Shetland as well.' The important point here is that it is a word used in general English rather than a peculiarly or characteristically Shetland one (like 'bal' or 'bruck'). Whether it is 'slang' or not is more a matter of opinion than anything - the important point here is that it is used in general, if not quite standard, English.

 

 

Sh*te isn't used all over the north of England; in Lincolnshire it is sh*t, sh*ite being more Geordie.

 

Not being used over all over the north of England doesn't mean that it isn't a northern English form - if that's what you're implying? Geordieland is in the North of England.

 

Just merely giving an example of regional differences.

 

 

Ah - I see.

 

 

I don't get your argument re "abortion", especially if you adopt your argument that words used in Shetland end up being Shetland words.

 

Are you talking to me here? If so, I don't recall any argument of mine about abortion. Were you referring to something I said in particular?

 

Yes.

 

 

And???

 

 

I would be interested to know what the characteristics of 'pigeon' (I think it's 'pidgin' BTW) Shetland are. ...

 

Oops, serves me right for not proof reading. :oops: I blame Ghostie for depriving me of nicotine. :wink:

 

I'm still waiting for the characteristics of what I will now insist on calling 'Doospaek'.

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Here's me answerin possts muckle sphincter (can I say dat?) first agen.

 

Obviously 'trash' was used in some places. But that doesn't alter my main point, which is that Ghostrider, while deploring the use of 'chuck' as' English slang,' prefers 'trash' - which is certainly as much an English word as 'chuck' is, in the sense of not being peculiarly Shetland - to 'bruck' which is, if not peculiarly Shetland (certainly Orkney as well) at least characteristically Shetland. So we have:

 

Bal as against Chuck

Bruck as against Trash (or sharn)

 

In both cases, the left hand word is a particularly (if not exclusively) Shetland one, and the right one is also English. One would think that, from a 'purist' point of view, you would want to use the characteristic Shetland forms 'Bal' and 'Bruck'. To prefer 'trash' or 'sh*te' to 'bruck' while repudiating 'chuck' doesn't make sense.

 

I beg to differ. On a personal level I never heard the word "chuck" used anywhere in Shetland by anyone prior to the late 70's - considering multi channel TV and a Ro-Ro service arrived 76/77, I would contend that there may be some sort of correlation, but it was maybe nothing more than it took that long for the word usage to filter down to my bit of the south end. "Trash" on the other hand was in common usage by the oldest members of the community as early as I can remember, as in. "Yea, boy, goadliss weet simmer dis, wir ayr o' hey is naethin bit lags o' wirtliss traash".

 

"Bruck" on the other hand I never heard used outwith the example previously given in my neck of the woods, and would speculate that today it is virtually obsolete, as those most likely given to using it in the example given have virtually all passed on now.

 

I'm not contending that "chuck" and "bruck" aren't valid Shetlan words, they may well be someplace in the isle, I'm just saying that in the spoken Shetlan I've personally experienced, the former IMHO hasn't been in common usage for long enough to distinguish whether it has become a permanent addition or a "trend" of a generation or two. The latter on the grounds that its use in the last half century has been minimal, in a different context, and has been steadily declining to have reached the point now of virtual extinction.

 

 

I think these comments are all examples of the 'snapshot' tendency I was speaking about. With regard to 'chuck' I'm not falling over myself to defend its use, although I don't see anything wrong with it. I'm more concerned about the idea that 'bruck' is obsolete. My comments about 'chuck' were more to illustrate the inconsistency of repudiating this use of a - perhaps recent- English loanword while recommending the use of other shared words rather than the to me obvious 'bruck'. (The fact that I can't remember hearing 'trash' used in everyday Shetland speech is another example of how shared English, as well as peculiarly Shetland, words can be localised, either in where they are used or where they aren't. If I heard anyone from another location saying it, I would probably just have thought it was an Anglicism and not remembered it particularly.)

 

I think other people have said enough to illustrate that 'bruck' is not obsolete. In fact, in common with JGHR I get the impression that it's one of the more commonly used words, maybe especially in the sense - general rubbish - that you consider to be obsolete.

 

 

If I'm going to be accused of being a "purist" (whatever that may mean),

I'm going to base that "purity" on what I have personal knowledge of having been in usage in the remembered past and what is in current usage, regardless of where it originated from, rather than disregard my own experiences in favour of an alternative just because it has unique usage somewhere else in Shetland. I largely learned my speech from my grandparents who were born almost 110 years ago, who in turn learned it from their parents who were born as much as over 150 years ago. While I realise spanning a 100-150 year of source and evolution is but a blink in the big picture, I would hope it counts as a little more than just a "snapshot" in speech that has after all only existed in one form or another for around 500 years.

 

 

I'm certainly not accusing you of being a purist - which is why I put the word in inverted comments. If you read back that post, you will see that I said that, from a 'purist' point of view, the peculiarly Shetland words 'bal' and 'bruck' would have been recommended. Since you didn't recommend 'bruck', but rather - um - unrecommended (?!) it - I can hardly be calling you a 'purist'.

 

However, what you say about your approach to the Shetland tongue illustrates what I was saying. You are explicitly basing your approach to it - and your criticism of other versions of it - on what you describe as your personal knowledge. But your personal knowledge is by definition a localised snapshot - as your apparent lack of familiarity with the wide use of 'bruck' in other parts of Shetland illustrates.

 

This is an example of how the dialect perception is inevitably reductionist. Rather than being expanded by the addition of words from different localities, as a language would be, it is reduced to a form which can only contain words or expressions which people are already familiar with from their own personal knowledge. This has two results. From the Infinite Variation point of view, only the dialect of a particular area is acceptable to the people from that area. From the Lowest Common Dialect point of view, a form of dialect is produced which has all or most of the characteristic traits taken out of it in order to not offend people from different localities and increase its acceptance among the people with the least traditional speech. In both cases, the result is reduction rather than expansion, and any expansive form of writing - such as I used to try to do, and which is what any speech form regarded as a language does - is repudiated from both viewpoints.

 

 

 

Incidentally I agree with you concerning the "dialect" terminology and what follows on from it. I always describe Shetlan as a "language", as I believe it is (was?) sufficently alien from any other "language" to justify such a classification.

 

However, the dialect terminology is in keeping with both the viewpoints I have described above. Whether something is a language or a dialect is largely a question of how it is regarded and treated by its speakers. Dialects remain essentially at the oral level (although in modern society they are more likely to die out than remain) being written only for specialise purposes - usually literary, and then usually verse - and survive only by default, more or less like the plants which agriculture and horticulture regard as weeds.

 

Languages, on the other hand, are deliberately cultivated - most obviously by being given a common written form - and are used in all the domains of a given society. Faroese was, not so very long ago, an unwritten collection of very different dialects which Svabo - the first significant Faroese lexicographer - regarded as too corrupt to be worth saving, yet now it is used comprehensively in Faroese society and media, oral and written. Calling Shaetlan a language is pointless unless it is treated as one, and all the trends of Shetland society are against this. It seems pretty obvious to me that Faroese would never have achieved the level of success it has on the basis of your approach of repudiating the use of words which happen not to have survived in your locality.

 

But of course, success isn't the aim here, is it? That was my fundamental misunderstanding when I started to write my native tongue - the idea that success was ever an option. When Andy Murray won the US Open, the commentator commented - it being a commentator's job to comment - that there would be no 'glorious Scottish failure' today. Shetland (including the Nornomaniac viewpoint, which largely echoes the tokenistic citation of Gaelic as the true Scottish language by people who don't speak it) is part of the 'glorious Scottish failure' mentality, where satisfaction seems to be derived from being generally negative. When I still came to Shetland, people who knew I was interested in 'dialect' scarcely missed an opportunity to declare that teaching 'dialect' in school would kill it off, or to make a disparaging comment about 'made up dialect' on the radio or 'dis dialect writers.' When I say 'success' I mean relatively, of course, because failure of 'dialect' to rise out of the stank and midden - with a token effort to salve the collective conscience - is of course success for standard English and the mainstream Scoto-British ethos, just as the failure of the council to manage Shetland finances seems to be working out as a success for the entrepreneurial classes.

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Back to this one now:

 

^ I wid sae wi you wi maist o' yun. Hoosumivver I wid ventir dat you're been affroed fae kerryin on ritein yoursell be precious little o' ony wirt. Dir nane yunder it kens bettir is ony idder een o' wiz aboot Shetlan, dir aw gotten da laer dey hae fae an among fornirs onywye, an maistlee biddin and wrocht among da sam....Hit widna be saein rang da windir foo muckle dir hed's ir been turnid I dunna tink.

 

 

The reason I gave up writing the Shetland tongue was simply because there was no longer any point. Whatever you might say about the opinions or knowledge of the Shetland intelligentia and media, the fact is that they hold the knobs (can I say that?) that determine (or reflect, depending on your point of view) public opinion. Any form of Shetland writing that threatened to take on the characteristics of language rather than dialect must be seen as a threat, and come to be increasingly cited as a bad example.

 

Anyway, my learning - if you mean academic learning - comes from outside of Shetland anyway, and I've lived outside Shetland most of my life, so I wouldn't meet your requirements either. The marrying of academic linguistic knowledge with the instinct of a native speaker is precisely what the mainstream view of 'dialect' finds unacceptable. Dialect speakers are supposed to the objects of investigation, not start to interfere with the process like Gerald the Gorilla in the famous Not the Nine o' Clock News sketch. But the Faroese language revival was brought about mostly by people who had studied outside of Faroe.

 

 

Noo, an dis is laekly juist da twartered an traan side o' me cumin furt, if I wiz ta rite ocht a Shetlan, an I'll no, fur hits no me, I wid be blyde if hit aw med estableeshed "experts" most wrath - Fur I wid ken den it I man be duhin sum o' hit richt, and hit wid spur me on ta mak aw da mair.

 

If you did so you would be fitting into exactly the role that the Scottish establishment has carved out for dialect speakers. Did I ever mention that I was once taken to task by the Shetland literary establishment for disagreeing with the statement by Scottish writer James Robertson that Scots (but you can substitute 'dialect' because that's what he really means) is valuable for its 'less-than-respectable status: writers turn to it because it offers a refuge for linguistic individualism, anarchism, nomadism and hedonism.' It seems that Robertson was due to be feted by the Shetland establishment, and any criticism of this - English born, Glenalmond educated - pundit by one of the speakers of a form of language which is only supposed to be turned to for disreputable purposes was an embarrassment to the people who are ostensibly promoting that form of speech. If you write with the express purpose of being an awkward sod you will only be fitting into the niche which mainstream literary society has allocated to dialect speakers, and which is reflected in the literary lionisation of works like Trainspotting. But, with your propensity for scatological terminology, perhaps you would have some sympathy with this viewpoint anyway.

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You’re not familiar with the word ‘vod’ then? It’s a familiar word to me with this meaning, so I’m surprised to be unable to find it in either Jakobsen or the Shetland Dictionary. It’s more familiar with the meaning of ‘empty’ as in ‘vod hoose’ of course, and may be the same word.

'Vod' is surely an old Old English or Saxon word (a dozen of words in Shetland lexicon are traceable to the old Saxon language). Obviously the same word as English obsolete wood, Sax. wod, ON óðr. The last word is related to 'ød', Sand/Wests 'yd' (to long for, to wish impatiently and anxiously; esp. of cattle), as given by Jakobsen. It a question whether JJ disregarded 'vod' as being Anglo-Saxon or just didn't catch it at all.

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You’re not familiar with the word ‘vod’ then? It’s a familiar word to me with this meaning, so I’m surprised to be unable to find it in either Jakobsen or the Shetland Dictionary. It’s more familiar with the meaning of ‘empty’ as in ‘vod hoose’ of course, and may be the same word.

'Vod' is surely an old Old English or Saxon word (a dozen of words in Shetland lexicon are traceable to the old Saxon language). Obviously the same word as English obsolete wood, Sax. wod, ON óðr. The last word is related to 'ød', Sand/Wests 'yd' (to long for, to wish impatiently and anxiously; esp. of cattle), as given by Jakobsen. It a question whether JJ disregarded 'vod' as being Anglo-Saxon or just didn't catch it at all.

 

It's certainly cognate with the Scots 'wod' or 'wud' with the meaning of 'mad', 'demented'. The 'vod' pronunciation doesn't suggest at first sight that it came by this route, or that it's derived directly from the Norse form. But old Scots had it written with 'v' as well as 'w', although again 'v' and 'w' were sometimes conflated in old texts.

 

I'm not sure if its the same word as 'vod' meaning 'empty' in the expression 'vod hoose', which I can't find in Jakobsen either.

 

The salient point here, though, is that although this is a familiar word to me in the sense of 'mad' or 'crazy, this sense doesn't seem to be well known in other parts of Shetland. Thus, whereas I would have introduced it into the Alice text in order to spread the usage of a traditional Shetland word, this would be repudiated by all the approaches to 'dialect'.

 

The Lowest Common Dialect approach apparently prefers not to introduce words which will not be understood off the cuff by young Toonies or even recent incomers. One of the reasons I gave up writing was that words which are natural to me - such as 'laalie' meaning 'toy' - were being questioned, and I was given to understand that, if teachers read out my childrens' verses in school, they would simply substitute easily understood words - such as 'toy' presumably. I couldn't see the point in writing at all in that case.

 

The use of 'mad' in the British English sense reflects another tendency of the Lowest Common Dialect approach - of excluding any usage which conflicts with 'proper' English meanings. I was told by some dialect promoters that, although the Shetland word for 'tooth' is 'teeth', they had gone through a text deliberately making sure that all references to teeth were in the plural, so that the singular 'teeth', which they fully realised was the natural Shetland form but appeared to be 'wrong' from a standard English perspective, would not appear.

 

Similarly, to me, to 'lock' a door means simply to shut it (another genuine Norse usage). To lock it in the English sense, you have to 'key' it. I was told by dialect promoters that this usage had 'gone'. Yet my sister, who is ten years younger than I am and lives on mainland Scotland, uses this naturally and confuses her children. 'Gone' not from natural usage, but from the acceptability index of the Lowest Common Dialect approach.

 

Similarly, the Variationist approach would reject any words which happen to have survived in my area but not in their's as 'Burra' or 'obsolete' or whatever, much as Ghostrider rejects 'bruck' in spite of it being in general use in many parts of Shetland.

 

Finally, the Nornomaniac approach wouldn't be interested in 'vod' because it appears in Scots dictionaries but not in Jakobsen.

 

Game, set and match to the Anglophonograph hegemony.

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Speaking as a Westsider I would use bruk for rubbish and bruks for left overs.

 

As would I,an Eastsider. To me, 'brucks' is the remains of specific thing(s) - e.g. 'no lang ago, I cleared awa da brucks o wir aald borrow'.

 

'Bruck', by contract, is rubbish in general. 'Dis is da day da essykert comes ta takk awa da week's bruck.'

 

'Da week's bruck' bein, as I hoop we can agree, fairly different fae 'da brucks o da week'!

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if you are going to throw something, you bal it. "

 

What about wap instead of bal, does anybody use that word outside of Unst anymore?

 

The slogan in question could then become 'Dunna wap crap'. :)

 

You're swapping one slang word for another!

 

To my mind wap means to throw violently "I wappit yun hellery furt"

 

Whereas bal means to throw "bal me owre an aipple"

 

Incidentally does anyone remember Bal it oot sales?

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