Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nae Prootas in Scotlann

Now there are some who say that the Ulster-Scots language doesn't exist, that it's just the Scots language spoken in Ulster.

The Low Country Boys have spent weekends over the last few years performing in Moniaive in Dumfries and Galloway, in Prestwick in Ayrshire, and in Fraserburgh up north of Aberdeen. And many of the folk we stayed with and got talking to were amazed by our Ulster-Scots songs and speech. Many of those same people dispute that there's even such a thing as a single "Scots" language anyway - there are significant regional differences within Scotland. There are many words and expressions used in Southern Scotland that aren't used in North East Scotland, and vice versa.

One of the arguments for the distinctiveness of Ulster-Scots (ie as separate from "mainland Scots") is that over many hundreds of years Ulster-Scots has had a strong influence from the Irish language. And the picture here is what has triggered this post.

The humble spud. My parents, my grandparents, and probably their ancestors for generations before them, always called "potatoes" "prootas". There was the occasional reference to "tatties" (which is of course Scots), but 95% of the time it was "prootas".

So just today I decided to look up "prootas" in the 6 or 7 Scots language dictionaries I have. Wee yins and big brutes o yins. And not a single mention of "prootas" anywhere!!!

So I did an online search. It turns out that the Irish word for "potato" is "prĂ¡ta" - which sounds a lot like "proota" tae me, and gives more support to the claim of the Irish language influence. Here's a wee wheen mair:

- I will always call a potato a "proota" and not a "tattie".
- I also call children "weans" and not "bairns".
- I say "yin" but never "ane".
- I never say "fit like" (which is a very popular figure of speech in NE Scotland).

Any of you have similar examples of words that are used here and not in "mainland Scots"? It would be interesting for someone, or some organisation, to do a project on the differences and on the Irish influence. I wonder which organisation...


Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Mark,

All this talk aboot food is makin' me hungry! Ye had Egg an' Onion sandwitches a few posts ago, and I covered the Ulster Fry on my ain blog. Re: this posting...we talk aboot the "tattie bread" or the "tattie farls" do we not?

Mark said...

Aye some folk do talk about "tattie bread" and "tattie farls". Folk about Belfast talk about "taytee bread" and "taytee farls" - isn't "taytee bread" Belfast rhyming slang for "dead"?

In oor hoose it was ayeways "proota breid" and "proota farls". An A ate mair than my fair share o them!

In Co Antrim o' coorse, "proota breid" is "fadge".