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Dialect Endangered (Shetland Times letter)

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I noticed this letter on the Shetland Times website - http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/01/24/dialect-endangered-robert-laurenson-2


It realises some interesting points about the future of Shetland dialect, but seems to miss the point that all dialects change over time and also seems to lay the blame with the schools.


What do you folks think?

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Sadly, he's right.


My school generation was 70-80s and we all spoke/speak Shetland.


Now, there's not a Shetland word in the Lerwick bairns' heads - it's all pure English.


Sadly, the little that is being done is too little too late and if the School System is still against it then there's no hope.


On a personal level I have serious reservations about what Shetlandforwirds are doing(Poetry, Prose & Drama??).


In other words, the little that is being done, is being done in a skewed and questionable way. 


I see no point in promoting the spelling of words such as "faece/face, "sand/saand or "word/wird" while ignoring actual words like Sol Brigda(Basking Shark), Smirl(Merlin) etc, etc.


For some strange reason, Shetlandforwirds uphold John J Graham's "The Shetland Dictionary" as the oracle for Shetland dialect and words while ignoring a far superior and more correct book called "Shetland Words" by A & A Christie-Johnston.

Edited by Kavi Ugl
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Never mind about losing the Shetland dialect, that's bad enough! but if the SNP have their way your kids will be learning gaelic instead.

Ask them about the "gaelic development plan" whereby every council in Scotland will be required to have one,


Please lets leave Shetland as it is, as a separate entity from mainland Scotland, with a vastly different history, without the kilt, tam o'shanter, caber tossing, clan tartan, and the bloody awful skirling bagpipes.


And Charlie Gallagher and his clan need to be reminded that we voted overwhelmingly in these islands in favour of the union. Charlie has been behaving like some misguided missionary, preaching his version of the gospel that we neither need nor wish to hear. Missionaries have a chequered history and so do many politicians of whatever persuasion.


Why not just hop on a plane and preach to the converted in the central belt, to those who wish to listen. They seem to be happy with centralisation of all powers to Edinburgh, that's not so here.

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I fairly agree we da letter an certainly agree we Kevin but I tink dat whit Shetlandforwirds is doin is a good thing an da only wye tae keep da dialect alive atall is tae promote it as best as it can be.


Da dialect is dat wattered doon eenoo dat very useable wirds an phrases ir noo lost never mind a lot o actual wirds lik Smirl an Sol Brigda (dat I didna keen an certainly hivna much hed tae use but in seein it here I hiv been educated) so as lang as it is bein promoted atall an encouraged  I see nothing wrang


.As weel as dat da use o da dictionaries fur a dialect mibee isna  da usual use if dat maks sence. In my opinion da Shetland dictionaries ir mair a guide tae da wirds as a spellin kis da wirds differ district tae district fur instance "coll o hay " an "cole o hay" so tae depend on ony dictionary ower muckle  whin it comes tae a dialect mibee isna a good idea.


  I hiv heard dat dey ir a lok o Shetland fok wha moved tae New Zealand in da 40's, 50's an 60's an med dir hom in Mount Manganui in Tauranga an da Shetlanders wha visited in da 80's fan dem still usin a lok o da old Shetland dialect dey left Shetland we an wir usin wirds dat dir ain generation wha wir geen oot tae veesit dem wir forgotten. Da reason dat dey kept it sae weel wis kis whin dey fell in we dir neebirs an idders fae Shetland dey spok awa we it but afore dey managed tae mak a life fur demsells oot dare dey most o been able tae mak demsells understood tae da New Zealanders.

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Nae doot twa hunder year ago da owld eens wir axing whit wye da young eens didna spik da Norn lik dere fokk did. Rayder dey wir spikking dis mirry-begyit half Scots slang dat dey caa "Shaetlan".


If du listens tae a film fae da 1930's du'll hear dialects naebody spiks noo. Even da very Queen dusna  spik da sam wye as shu did when shu wis crooned. An I doot du'll no hear onybody say "Cor Blimey mate Love a duck" upon East Enders.


I wis at a lecture twartree year fae syne when a man spak aboot dialects in genaral an Shaetlan in particleer. Ee ting I took fae him wis da story o da New Zealand accent. Dey wir recordings made o some o da origial settlers wha cam fae aa da erts o da Breetish Isles i da 1940's. Da settlers spak wi every accent o da UK bit aa dere bairns spak New Zealand.


Dey ir mony raysons why fokk spik da wye dey do. Pit "sociolinguistics" intae Google an read some o da articles.

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Surely da point is dat da whole community wid need tae embrace da dialect tae keep it livin fur future generations. Dir seems to be folk laying da blame squarely wee da schools (no sae much on Shetlink though) but I ken dirs plenty o born and bread Shetland folk who knapp tae dir bairns at home onywye.

Den dirs da curious phenomena of folk writing in da Queen's English bit spaekin in dialect (I'm tryin tae write in dialect here but makin an akward backside o it!). Wan really interesting thing is how a lot o Whalsa folk post messages on Social Media - I luff reading it as they write exactly as dey spik and I hae tae read it oot lood in a Whalsa accent fur it tae mak sense!

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  • 1 month later...

In response to Downtown2. In my experience bairns hiv always learned English but still spak dir ain dialect tae. I spik fairly broad Whalsa an I still managed ta "go South and get an education".

Is du really suggestin dat da bairns here ir too stupid ti switch atween dir ain tongue an understandable English?

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Oh heavens!. I wonder how all our youngsters so far, have managed to go to university and become doctors, lawyers, teachers etc and some of them still speak with a strong dialect. Universities are full of people from all over with many different dialects. They don't all speak the queens English.


Like someone said, we can all cannap when we have too, but our dialect is special and different and should be held onto.

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Evidance seems to be indicating that bairns who speak more than one language are brighter and more switched on.  Indeed, I have seen this in my Scandinavian friends.


It's just a shame the old attitudes in the schools still prevail where Shetlandic is frowned on and the bairns are not allowed or encouraged to speak it.  And then you have Shetland born and bred teachers knapping to the bairns......give me strength.


Apparantly some schools have "word of the day" where a Shetland word is promoted but the over-all attittude is, at best, lethargic and at worst still against the Shetland Dialect.

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  • 4 years later...

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