March 22nd marked World Water Day. In Scots, the word water relates to rivers and burns. The Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) defines this usage as:
“A large stream, usually thought of as intermediate in size between a burn and a river, frequently a tributary of a main river or occasionally applied to the upper reaches of what becomes a larger river”.
Waters are usually named, as in this early example (1732) from W. Fraser’s history of the Chiefs of Grant published in 1883:
“… I came to the water of Nairn with my friends…”.
Whilst reading around for this week’s word, I came across a new water to me in the Press and Journal of October 2021:
“The venue, set on the banks of the Water of Dye, hidden in a private estate in Deeside, has fast become one of the UK’s most in-demand staycation spots”.
Edinburgh, of course, has its Water of Leith, which has a walkway running alongside. Eco-friendly tourists are encouraged to explore it (the Sunday Post of October 2021):
“Edinburgh Bike Tours offers half or full-day tours taking in historic buildings, hidden trails and coastlines. Or fitness enthusiasts can join the Edinburgh Run Tour, taking in Stockbridge and the Water of Leith”.
This water, however, has joined an unenviable list of rivers that have been labelled “bad” in 2021 by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency:
“Amongst the Scottish rivers with a water quality rated as bad or poor were the Almond, Carron, Dee, Don, Earn, Esk, Kelvin, Lossie, Nairn, Nith, Spey, Tay, Tummel, and Water of Leith”.
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel, Dictionaries of the Scots Language https://dsl.ac.uk.