Bairns an Books – Braw!

A rare project wis run in Dundee a file syne – fir Book Week Scotland in fact. Junior Scots Ambassadors wis the name o this pilot.

Twa richt fine quines, Elaine Hallyburton and Moira Foster, faa wirk wi Dundee City Cooncil Libraries, ken aw aboot foo tae gaur bairns wint tae read. Their stamagaster o an idea wis tae gie Scots texts tae bairns in P6 and gaur them get eesed tae readin them. Syne, the big bairns went intae P1 clesses an read tae the wee bairnies there.

They hid a puckle o siller, an bocht a wheen o books fir the bairns tae choose fae. They gied them some advice an trainin an aw: A wis lucky eneuch tae be invitit tae help wi that bittie. An the bairns, Scots spikkers or no, were aw fair chuffed wi fit they were daein.

Twa clesses fae Craigowl an ane fae St Clement’s were inno this pilot. Their teachers helpit tae: singin sangs an yaisin Scots wi the bairns tae help wi their confidence.

Dis this soon lik somethin ye could dae yersel? Ye’ll need the books tae begin wi: yer library service micht help here. Yaisin picture books that the aulder bairns mind on fae faan they were wee is nae a bad idea.

Time tae plan is anither guid idea. Mak sure aabidy involvit kens fit ye’re ettlin for an faa is gaun tae dae fit. An mine an plan fir evaluation an aw. Foo will ye ken fit wirkit an fit maun be sortit afore ye dae it again?

Haud gaun! There’s mair nor ae wye tae gaur bairns read. This ane micht wirk fir you.


Tae an Toast an a Blether in Scots

On Tuesday 2nd June, Kirtonholme Primary Schuil in East Kilbride hid a Tae an Toast an a Blether in Scots fae 9.30 til 10.30 in their muckle ha. It did ma hairt guid.

The weans hid been wirkin on The First Warld War an Scots an Warld Waur II. They entertainit freens an faimlie fyle they ate toast an drank tae. The siller raisit fae donations is fir the wirk o Poppy Scotland, wha supports ex-service men an weemen an their faimlies in this countra.

Eifter the spikkin fae grown-ups wis by wi, the weans could tak the stage. Mr Murray Constable’s P5/6 cless cam first. They hid been wirkin on WWI. They gave us a scriptit history o the War, they actit oot fit enlistment wis like an syne ontae the Christmas Truce, wi actin and singin in German an Inglis, wi nae accompaniment. Wi heard a couple o poems read bi the bairns faa hid written them an pen portraits o medal winners they hid researchit. Eifter some information aboot the wirk o Poppy Scotland ilka wean pit doon a wreath fir minin a faimilie member or name-sake faa hid deit in the fechtin.

Neist cam Mrs Wilma McLaughlin’s P4/5 cless faa hid bin studyin WWII an Scots. First they gaurt us think o the ither wars involvin sodjers supportit bi Poppy Scotland. Wi then got a series o wee dramas fae Chamberlain annooncin the War, throwe evacuation, air raids, rationin, Dig fir Victory tae the tae pairties come the eyne o the War. Aw in braid Scots. Aw deliverit wi confidence an pure enjoyment on the faces o ilka bairn.

The hale group jynt fir ‘One Little Voice’ in the hinner eyne. Nae a dry ee in the hoose!

Faimilie and freens wis aw treatit tae rale evidence o the bairns’ lairnin. The Scots wis a natural pairt o fit they hid deen: they can yaise Inglis an aw an switch atween the twa leids wi nae bather.

The staff an weans o Kirtonholme shuid be congratulatit. Fit a rare mornin oot!

Tae and Toast 4

This is a pilot ongaun: mair information aboot hoo tae hae yer ain event can be socht fae or


Orrie? A Dinnae Think It!

Having taught in Dundee for eight years I have noticed an alarming belief amond Dundonian Scots speakers that their language is orrie. ‘Orrie’ is a much more pejorative term than its cognate in Doric, ‘orra’. The ‘orra loon’ was the odd-job boy on a farm and the word has come to be associated with dirty things as a result. An orra story is a dirty joke. In Dundee ‘orrie’ signifies something more completely beneath contempt and is the almost universal moniker for broad Dundonian Scots.

But why? Mary Slessor, Dundonian by upbringing and celebrated heroine of altruistic African missionary work, was a braod Scots speaker; Matthew Fitt, who has undoubtedly done more for Scots in Education than any other individual, is a Dundonian; the Dundee Makar, Bill Herbert, writes in Dundee Scots and English; Michael Marra, legendary, late-lamented folk singer, sang frequently in Dundonian Scots; Oor Wullie and the Broons, responsible for most of the written Scots read regularly over the last fifty years and more, are both products of Dundonian journalism. The list could go on.

The fact is, Dundonian is many things. Orrie is not one of them.

The most unique and distinct thing about the dialect is the ‘eh’ sound, pronounced ‘aye’ in much of the rest of the country. “Eh sehd eh!” was a frequent statement made to me in the early days of my time in Dundee when I was questioning reluctant teenagers. Now, the romanitc story is that this emphatic sound developed in the jute mills where a less robust ‘aye’ might disappear in the noise. Sadly, this is but a myth. The mills were so loud that workers developed their own sign language. The ‘eh’ is more likley due to the mix of Highland and Irish immigration with the local Scots.

Not orrie but adaptable – jinky, indeed.

“A plain peh and an ingan ane an aw” is perhaps the most famous phrase to come out of Dundee. This is beautifully explored by Saint Andrew and the Woolen Mill. Dundonians, it seems, feel the need to accept the plain before they can dream of asking for the extravagent.

Orrie? No – unassuming, or blate and canny.

‘Cundie’ is another particularly Dundonian word. the West of Scotland calls is a ‘sheugh’. Coming from the same root as the French ‘conduit’ this word demonstrates Dundee’s international outlook and ‘come awa ben’ attitude to new things and new comers.

Nae orrie, but inclusive. Fair freen-lyk.

One of my favourite Dundonian expressions is ‘Eh’ll no miss her an hit the waa.’ To me this typifies the direct, no-nonsense approach of Dundee in particular. And for historic reasons, Dundee women are particular. They tended to be the bread winners, working in low-paid jobs in the mills while the unemployed men of necessity ‘biled the kettle’.

This is not orrie, it is feminist pragmatism: sodger-clad but major-mindit.

When a Dundonian takes her leave, the ‘cheerio’ of much of Scotland tends to be abreviated to ‘cho’. So much more couthie, werm and succinct.

Orrie? A dinnae think it.

So if you are lucky enough to have Dundonian Scots, throw your shoulders back, hold your head high and rejoice. It’s nae orrie!cow pie