Sunday, December 04, 2016


Forsaking One's Native Language

Helen B. Cruickshank (1886-1975), "To An Aberdeen Poet Who Writes Solely In English," in David McCordick, ed., Scottish Literature in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology (Dalkeith: Scottish Cultural Press, 2002), pp. 252-253 (line numbers added):
What ails ye at yer mither tongue?
Hae ye forgot the tang o' it?
The gurly guttrals, malmy soonds,
The dirly words, the sang o' it?
An wad ye cuist it a awa,        5
Like bauchles on a midden-heid?
Man, think agen afore ye sell
Yer saul tae saft-like English leid.

Wad ye forget the ballad-speik,
Melodeon's chord and fiddle's clink,        10
Forsweir yer grandad's wey o' life,
Swap uisge-beatha for Kola drink?
Say 'Shinty is too rough a game
And cricket's more my cup of tea.'
Weel, hyne awa fae Aiberdeen,        15
For feich, ye'e owre genteel for me!
The "wey o' life" and language of my Scottish ancestors are too distant and mysterious for me to understand at first sight, so I need some notes:
3 gurly: rough; malmy: soft, mellow
4 dirly: thrilling?
6 bauchles: old shoes
8 leid: language
16 feich: exclamation of disgust, cf. faugh
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