Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Hae a Soo's Snoot Stewed"... (A Glossary of Words in Use in the Counties of Antrim and Down by W. H. Patterson, 1880)

I was talking to my aunt Betty this evening at Carrowdore Mission Hall, and earlier in the week she remembered a rhyme that her father (my grandfather, William James Wilson, 1906-1982) used to say:


Whither would you rither

Or rither would you whither

Hae a soo's snoot stewed

Or a stewed soo's snoot?


It makes no sense, but is just a bit of a tongue twister - and one that he had great fun with when his 9 weans were wee. So, as you do nowadays, I came home and Googled it. It's included in "A Glossary of Words in Use in the Counties of Antrim and Down" by William Hugh Patterson, on page 95. Patterson's glossary runs to 188 pages and was published for the English Dialect Society in 1880. Not all of the words he collected are of Scots origin, some are just general Ulster dialect. The introduction makes for interesting reading, telling in a very simple way the story of the huge migrations of "Scotch" and English into Ulster in the early 1600s. He states that some of the words had been gathered from printed sources, but that"most of the words and phrases have been collected orally either by myself or by friends in different country districts..." . Patterson uses the term "Ulster Scots" to describe the people (see his definition of the word "break").

As a certain Mr C.R. keeps rightly reminding me, the Antrim/Down bond is close - we are the two counties adjacent to Scotland - and the older generation in particular has a deep well of folk customs, local history and vocabulary which were carried across the narrow sea and which developed here. Patterson recognised this back in 1880; far more work needs to be done today among rural communities in Antrim and Down.

PS: Anybody for some pig nose stew?

• Patterson's Glossary is available here on



Bob Waters said...

You may think that's appetizing, but it's snot.