Shetland view of Orkney Conference
The following article by Mary Blance appears in the most recent edition of Shetland Life. Thanks to Mary and Shetland Life for giving permission to reproduce the article on this site.
A young man fae Siberia at’s studying in Canada an an Australian-American wirkin in Frankfurt ir onnly two folk at’s researchin aspects o da Shetland dialect eenoo. Yuri Yerastov’s interested in “lexicalised reflexes o da Scottish transitive be-perfect” while Dianne Jonas is taen up wi “word order in Shetland dialect from a diachronic perspective”.
I met baith o dem at a conference I guid tae in Kirkwall ta represent Shetland ForWirds. Da event wis organised be da Forum for Research into the Languages of Scotland and Ulster, FRLSU, whaar mair as a third o da papers delivered dealt wi some aspect o da dialect or writing in Shetland an Orkney.
Last mont in da Shetland ForWirds column, Davy Cooper wrote aboot da “heritage within” – da non-tangible aspects o wir culture an heritage at’s a vital pairt o whit maks Shetland distinctive. Dat includes da dialect an da powerful attraction da wye we spaek haes fir folk fae aa da airts wis proved ta me while I wis Sooth.
I enjoyed da opportunity ta hear aboot da research at’s gyain on an ta meet folk it’s chosen ta study Shetland. It wis also a chance ta catch up wi auld friends – as I peched up da brae tae da Orkney College ta register fir da conference, a car stoppit alongside me, an da driver offered me a lift. It wis Michael Hance fae da Scots Language Centre an I wis very blyde ta see him becis I wis been tinkin I wid keen naebody. We hed twartree yarns an gaffs ower da rest o da week. Dan as I dirled in da college doors, da first I saa wis da smiling face o Edit Bugge fae Norway at I kent fae her time researching dialect here.
Da paper at Edit delivered in sparkling form wis “The role of “family” in intergenerational dialect transmission in Shetland”. Shö demonstrated how some families nurture linguistic awareness an value dialect, idders don’t, an how dat haes implications fir da future. Fellow-Scandinavian Peter Sundkvist fae Sweden spak aboot his research inta da wye at Lerwick’s professional class pronounces Scottish Standard English. Fae da University o Koblenz-Landau cam Holger Schmitt wi a presentation on “Linguistic Identity in the Northern Isles; Observations from a Qualitative Survey” which included a slide o da tourist sign ta da Up Helly Aa exhibition wi da thistle scrubbit oot. I wis interested ta see at two o da texts Dianne Jonas is been wirkin wi is da old folk tale “Lang Lies Lowrie at da Mill” first written doon in da nineteenth century an Joe Gray’s “Lowrie” fae da 1930’s. Derick McClure took wis fir a dander trow some o Shetland an Orkney’s vernacular poetry under da headin “Distinctive semantic fields in the Orkney and Shetland dialects”. Poet Christine de Luca, da onnly Shetland speaker, explained how shö uses da dialect far mair in her wark noo as shö used tae, learnin at da soond o it appeals no juist ta da folk at hame bit ta audiences as far afield as India, Italy or Iceland. We also heard aboot regional dictionaries, fishing dialects, oral history, island names, geology, da Scottish diaspora, island poems in Scotland and Ireland, an, if coorse, learned a bit aboot Orkney and its dialect.
Tom Rendall is juist completin his Ph.D on “Immigration and Attitudes to the Orkney Dialect” which is based on folk’s use o Orcadian an why an whan dey choose ta knap or chant, as wir neebirs ta da Suddard say. In Tom’s research da influx o incomers in recent times is seen as haein da maist effect on da strength o da dialect, clossly followed be da influence o da media. Tom says he envies Shetlan’s dialect wird fir spaekin Standard English. He wisses Orcadian hed a wird laek “knap” instead o “chant” at haes an alternative English meaning.
Bit, at da end o da day, der wan experience o my Orkney week at’s etched in my memory mair as onything idder I heard or saa. Hit stars Professor Michael Barnes at delivered a masterly exposition on da study o Shetland and Orkney Norn. Bit my mind pictir haes naethin ta dö wi dat. It’s da image o Professor Barnes, at’s also an expert in runes, tracing da marks o dat ancient writing on een o da standing stanes at da Ring o Brodgar, telling wis whit hit said. Dat really is “reading the runes”.
There is no English version of this article.
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Scots Language in Scotland's Census 2011 | Shetland and Orcadian Scots dialect | Caithness Scots dialect | North East Doric Scots dialect | East central Scots dialects | Angus and Tayside Scots Dialect | Galloway Scots Dialect | West Central Scots Dialect | Borders Scots Dialect | Ulster Scots Dialect | Scotch language | Scots leid | Scottish Language | Ulster Scots Dialect |