View site in Scots
Flickr YouTube

Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Scots place names in Northern Ireland

IanJamesParsleyThis airticle bi Ian james Parsley is the latest contribution tae the ongaun discussion aboot hou tae represent Scots place name forms in signage in Scotland. There is nae English vairsion o the airticle.

A taen a fair interest for the wee bit screed frae Michael Hance anent Scots-langage road signs, for we hid tryed the lyk in Norlin Airlan aareddies!

This aa gaes bak tae 1995, whaniver the Student Council o the Queens Vairsitie in
Belfast put signs up in the Airis Gaelic. Thay war gart tak thaim doun for the coequalitie law, but twathree bodies wi an interest in Ulster Scots faun tae giean thocht tae daean the lyk wi "Ulster Scots".

The inlet wis kenspekkil wi road naems, for ilka Council in Norlin Airlan grees tae hae road naems in Airis Gaelic or in Ulster Scots, an the fowk as bieds on the road gaes wi thaim. This haen, for me, the unfortunate outcum o "langage mairkin", i.e. maist fek Catholic airts "mairkit out" wi Airis Gaelic signs an maist fek Protestan airts "mairkit out" wi Ulster-Scots anes. For aa that, in the waer o 2000 whit wis syn cryed the "Ulster-Scots Heirskip Cooncil" sat a wheen propoens furth anent "Ulster-Scots" naems as cud kythe in Aist Belfast the lyk o the Airis Gaelic anes appearan in the wast o the cittie. The "Cooncil" wis sat up for tae be a netwark o "Ulster-Scots" groups, tho the propoens cam frae juist twathree fowk.

The law gien nae help, but. Hit sayed no juist at the signs cud kythe wi the greeance
o thaim as bieds thar, but at thay maun be a "richt translate" o the Inglis. This brocht problems ein in the Airis Gaelic, whaur wirds frae "offeicial Airis" as niver haen uiss in Ulster cam intae uiss on road signs (a kenspekkil ane bean "bothar" for "road", fact meanan "cou gaet" an wi nae tradeitional uiss benorth Dublin).

This law niver daen a mukkil for the Ulster Scots aither. Naems in uiss frae thaim as
taaks the Braid Scots in Norlin Airlan whiels cudna kythe on the road signs acause thay warna translates o the Inglis - ein tho the Inglis wis aften a laeter incum. In the Airds, thay hid ay gat aroun that wi pittan up "heirship signs" (in broun) at the hinner end o the 1990s, wi the "auld" (Scots) naem. In Belfast, thay taen nae tent o this - but thay sud hae!

The outcum wisna braw, themair that wis mebbes in pairt acause we hidna gien thocht tae aa the maiters necessar afoer we tryed it! We maed a wheen mistaks as is for evietan ithergaets.

First aff, the ar a muckle differ atween the Scots (or Ulster Scots) an the Gaelic (o Airlan or o Scotlan). A wheen place naems on the baith sieds o the Sheuch haes seimilar forms in ilkane - Airds an Ards, Peterheid an Peterhead, an monie ithers. Ye cudna juist say whilk ane bes the 'Scots' an whilk ane the 'Inglis' - fact, the oreiginal naems (aftener Scots nor Inglis in baith Scotlan an Airlan) is the lyk naems takkan differan forms as lippens tae the langage in uiss (for ensaumpil, ye hae 'airm' an 'arm', an 'heid' an 'head' forby).

Seicont, ye maun tak tent at whaur the Gaelic is a gey differan leid frae the Inglis, Scots is seimilar. Scots an Inglis wis the lyk leid till the 15t centurie, an monie wad allou thay ar cam sae aince mair. Settan out ettilt at makkan out the Scots is mair sindert frae the Inglis bis is the richt wey o it juist daes skaith tae the haill thing, for it gies it a form aabodie kens isna richt. An ye ar for pittan up place naems in Scots. ye sud be daean it for reasons o richt heirship or siclyk, no for reasons o makkan a poleitical mixter-maxter o things as disna ansuer tae sic gaems! In Norlin Airlan, we peyed fou for daean thon, whaniver a wheen "Ulster-Scots" signs wis thrawed ower intae a yaird acause the Loyalists in the airt wis thinkan thay war Gaelic!

Thrid, the ar pynts o langage ye maun think on, gan on ayont juist the spellings (tho
whiels that bes haurd aneuch!). A ae ensaumpil in Norlin Airlan wis the want o a richt translate for "Beersbridge". Hit is a brig gien its naem for a bodie cryed "Beer", no for the drink, but fowk taen nae tent o thon an cam up wi "Yillbrig"! Siclyk is juist daft! The ar the maiter o whit ye daes wi Gaelic names - for ensaumpil, twathree fowk wis for cryan Shankill "Auld Kirk" (for Shankill cums frae the Airis leid, beiran "auld kirk"), but thay buid tae tak tent at Scots fowk cumman intae thon airt (monie aiblans acquent wi the Gaelic) cryed it "Shankill" yet, an niver wantit a translate!

No aa linguistic problems is sae kenspekkil as thon. Ye hae tae gie thocht tae the wey o dealan wi naems as bes aareddies pairt Scots - for ensaumpil, if "Bridge o' Don" is "Brig o Don" in Scots, is hit no nou wantan an Inglis translate tae "Bridge of Don"?! The ar ither maiters forby - wad ye pit in "The" in the lyk o "The Renton" (sic places is aften ay gien the "The" in Inglis anaa, hit juist disna kythe on the signs - the ar monie ensaumpils in Norlin Airlan, the lyk o "the Moy", "the Argory", ein "the Shankill").

Sae, can A gie onie reed tae thaim as bes for daean siclyk in Scotlan? A amna qualifeed tae mak comment anent the pairticular poleitical maiters as applees in Scotlan, but the ar siccar maiters binna spellins tae gie thocht tae.

Fact, niver be put aff wi maiters o spellin! Monie place naems ithergaets taen thair
spellin thenou frae afoer the langage wis gien a staundart. Think on "Duisburg" in
Germanie (whaur "i" wis a mairk o a lang vowel, sud nou be "Duhsburg"), or the maiter o "Aalborg" but "Århus" in Danmairk (baith sud nou be "aa", yet "Århus" is juist efter chyngean its naem bak tae "Aarhus"!) - an ye hae "Brigg" in ae airt an "Brig" in anither, it isna ideal but whit daes it maiter?

But tak tent o aa the maiters abuin, as we niver taen tent tae in Norlin Airlan: niver juist dae ocht acause the Gaelic anes bes daean it; niver juist chynge naems or spellins juist for the "leuk" o it; an gie thocht tae the fou reinge linguistic maiters - whit sud yis dae wi naems alyk or near alyk in Scots an in Inglis, whit cud yis dae wi Gaelic naems, whit wad yis dae wi "the" an ither short wirds?

Sonse faa yis aa, an wirkan out the ansuer tae sic quaistens. Juist ae mair thocht: mak siccar at aa tyms whit ye ar daean is for the enjyement o the leid - ay hae mynd at we ar ettilt at pittan it intae uiss for aabodie!

Ulster Scots

Northern Ireland Screen