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Norn But Not Forgotten: Sounds of Shetland

The dialect of the Shetland Islands is one of the most distinctive spoken within the British isles: heavily accented, and studded with words left over from the now extinct Norn language which was spoken on the islands until the late 18th century. Even now, reaching for expressions to describe the natural world, places, the seasons of the year, food, tools, colours, moods or states of agitation or excitement, Shetlanders will often use Norn words.

Kathleen Jamie visits Shetland to meet up with the poets who revel in the language, both those born on the island and those who have moved there.

Shetland, and its distinctive accents and words, has proved surprisingly receptive to poets from mainland Scotland and England who have chosen to make it home. What is it about the Shetland dialect that so excites and fascinates poets? Kathleen asks the T.S. Eliot award-winning poet Jen Hadfield, who was born in Cheshire, and Raman Mundair, who was born in Ludhiana in India and came to live in Glasgow at the age of five, about choosing to write about Shetland's distinctive landscape, people and way of life in its own tongue.

Kathleen also meets acclaimed Shetland language poet Christine De Luca who was raised on the island and who has made the opposite journey, leaving the rugged landscape of the island to live and work on the mainland.

Rich with the sounds - and not just the language - of the islands, Kathleen Jamie explores how this dense linguistic community has managed to excite and engage some of Britain's leading poets.

28 minutes

Last on

Wed 9 Feb 2011 18:10
BBC Radio Scotland BBC Radio Shetland only
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