Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Ulster-Scots : language and community

When, in 20 years time, somebody comes to write a 'proper' history of Ulster-Scots, I hope that the chapter on the 1990s has very little to say about politics and a lot to say about locality. These two books are perfect examples of local people who cared enough about local tradition to gather words up and publish them in booklets to share and sell among neighbours. In one sense they are nothing fancy. In a deeper sense they are shining diamonds.

• Some Handlin' - the Dialect Heritage of North Ulster is 80 pages, compiled by the pupils and friends of Ballyrashane Primary School, and first published in 1986 by North-West Books of Limavady. Some of my Facebook friends were involved in it, and it has an insightful foreword by Professor John Braidwood of Queen's University Belfast.

• Barnish, Co. Antrim Dialect Dictionary is 64 pages, published by May and Francis Montgomery in 1993. Their home farm was at Barnish on the Tildarg Road near Doagh. The family moved in there in 1902. My friend Robert sent me a copy a few months ago.

These are from a different time, long before the 'D' word became a pejorative, and the 'L' word became a statement of legitimacy and power. Just community life and oral tradition that the folk loved and spoke and wrote down.