Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

I trust you've all recovered from your celebrations. I myself overindulged - in dogs. There were legions of dogs at the party I went to, and I had the mother of all asthma attacks. I'm laying in bed, lungs collapsing, imagining wading through drunks at the ER and being certain I was going to start off the new year by suffocating. Mind you, it wasn't a serious asthma attack by any stretch, I'm just prone to histrionics. Lack of oxygen to the brain does not help the situation.
So anyway, I'll get to the point: the good old days. Which is one rough translation for the words auld lang syne
Auld Lang Syne was first written down by Robert Burns in 1788, although variations had existed for many years - Burns' reports that this is a folk song relayed to him by an old man. The version in original Scots goes like this, according to Wikipedia:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

Which brings me to Scots. It's interesting - you'll notice that a bunch of the words above aren't so much English. I'd always thought that when I couldn't understand a Scotsman, it was because the accent is so thick and the speech so fast. In fact, Scots is more language than dialect, and is still spoken in many areas throughout the UK.
According to Wikipedia, however, it's hard to tell how many people speak Scots, because most people who speak it don't think of themselves as speaking something called Scots. They just speak. Most Scots speakers consider themselves to be speaking non-standard English. Wikipedia says this is because the line between language and dialect is really squishy, especially in this case. 


VEG said...

I'm a Scot myself and my ancestors (and grandparents even!) spoke Scots as opposed to the more highland 'Scots-Gaelic'. I know some Scots-Gaelic but I know a lot more Scots. It is a deviant hybrid really of English and Lowland Scots and an entity all of its own. A lot of foreign people hear it and think it's slang or dialect as it has that sound, but it's an entirely different thing as you said.

I got all bent out of shape on new year's eve at some woman on TV singing "We'll DRINK a cup of kindness" during Auld Lang Syne. What the hell? At least sing the real words, they're not that hard. :)

Happy new year!

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

Personally, I'm jealous that Scots is so much better off than Gaelic, the language of my ancestors :(