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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Learnin by Fran Baillie

13th May 2014

This short poem is by Fran Baillie, who has started writing seriously in retirement since joining an M Litt course at Dundee University. Her poems are in Dundee Scots, and this one celebrates local Scots names used by the children, and the way these children learned in Scots among themselves. In particularly the name of a flower which has a Sunday name, antirrhinumz, is itself cleverly Scotticised in the poem.

It gives us great hope for the Scots language that all writers now feel they have a right to use Scots, which would have been frowned on as not proper English in the past, when as Fran says, 

   thir wye o speakin / wiznae ti be yazed in the real world... 

Not only is Scots accepted today in most situations including being welcomed into schoolrooms, we can also hope that people will confidently use it in the real world, knowing when to use international English in appropriate contexts, and when tae jist talk normal. 


Doon Magdalen Green busy bairns wir learnin.
Forty-aa-awa, Kick-the-can an Boxies.
Hide-an-seek, Wirly-a-Dab an Doubies.

Thae fund oot pinchin barkin-doagies
an snapdragons fae the park
wiz wrang, an thit thae flooers
hid a Sunday name. Antirrhinumz.

Thae learnt tae thit thir wye o speakin
wiznae ti be yazed in the real world
o skail an received pronunseeayshun.
Thon ither world o proper English.

Fran Baillie