Learn Ulster-Scots

Lesson 1 Meeting and Greeting

In this lesson, you will learn to:

  • greet people in Ulster-Scots
  • introduce yourself
  • talk about where you come from
  • count in Ulster-Scots



Read the following brief dialogue, showing people greeting each other:

Bob:
Mornin, Fiona
Fiona:
Guid to see ye, Bob
Jack:
Hi ye, Sarah
Sarah:
Fair faa ye tae Ulster!
  • ‘Mornin’ means ‘good morning’
  • ‘Evenin’ means ‘good evening’
  • ‘Guid nicht’ means ‘good night’

Ulster-Scots greetings can be formal or informal.

  • You should say ‘mornin’ or ‘evenin’ to be formal.
  • You can use ‘Ay’ or ‘Hi ye’ with friends.
  • ‘Fair faa ye’ can be used as a formal welcome or hello.

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Literary Link

Fair faa ye’/ ‘fair faw ye’:

In recent years this expression has been adopted by Ulster-Scots enthusiasts as a form of greeting or welcome. It has been characterised by some academics as a ‘revivalist’ rather than a traditional Ulster-Scots expression. It does appear, however, in poetry, both Scots and Ulster-Scots.

The poet James Orr (1770-1816) employed it in his poem about the 1798 Rebellion, ‘Donegore Hill’. When one of the would-be rebels who has fled the battlefield returns home, his wife expresses her relief at seeing him again thus:

Donegore Hill Photo: Donegore Hill, near Templepatrick. On 7th June 1798 it was the mustering ground for the United Irishmen who rose in Rebellion, led by Henry Joy McCracken.

Whit joy at hame our entrance gave:
Guid God! is’t you? fair fa’ ye!

Robert Burns also used this expression in his famous ‘Address to the Haggis’, recited at Burns Suppers. These are held on January 25th, to celebrate Burns’s birthday with traditional Scottish food and drink, including haggis, turnip, potatoes and whisky. Burns began the ‘Address’ with:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!


Jack:
Hi ye.
Sarah:
Hi ye.
Bob:
Guid to see ye.
Fiona:
Guid to see ye. Hoo ur ye daein?

When we want to ask how someone is we can say:
'Hoo ur ye daein?', 'Hoo's things?' or 'Whit wye ur ye?'
Replies can vary:

  • 'No that guid' – 'not great'
  • 'Mair nor middlin' – 'average'
  • 'Brave an guid' – 'I’m fine/pretty well'

Read how some friends use these and some further expressions when they meet:

Julie:
Hi ye, Linda! Hoo's things?
Linda:
Mair nor middlin. Whit wye ur ye, Julie?
Julie:
Brave an guid.
Jack:
Ay, Bob. Guid to see ye! Hoo ur ye daein?
Bob:
Guid to see ye Jack! A’m gran. Ye'r lukkin pooerfu weel yersel.
Sam:
Whut aboot ye, Tammie? Ye keepin weel?
Tommy:
A'm brave an guid, Sam. An yersel?
Sam:
Mair nor middlin. A cud be waur.

New Expressions

  • ‘A’m gran’ – ‘I’m very well’.
  • ‘Ye'r lukkin pooerfu weel yersel’ – ‘You look very well indeed!’
  • ‘A cud be waur’ – ‘I could be worse’.

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If we are meeting people for the first time we may wish to ask them their name and find out something about them. Read the following dialogues.

Sam:
Guid to meet ye. Whit dae the' caa ye?
Tommy:
The’ caa me Tammie.

This means:

Sam:
Pleased to meet you. What's your name?
Tommy:
I'm called Tommy (or I'm Tommy).

Here is a slight variation.

Sophie:
Guid meetin ye. Whit dae the' caa ye?
Linda:
The' caa me Linda.

Or you may wish to ask someone else’s name.

Sam:
Whit dae the' caa him?
David:
The' caa him Tammie.

This means:

Sam:
What is his name or What is he called?
David:
He’s called Tommy.

Carrying the conversation on, you may wish to ask where someone is from – where they live.

Sam:
An whaur dae ye leeve?
Tommy:
A'm leevin in Greba.

This means:

Sam:
Where do you live?
Tommy:
I live in Greyabbey.

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In order to give your address or telephone number, you need to be able to count in Ulster-Scots:

1
yin or ane*
2
twa
3
thrie
4
fower (Co. Down – fivver)
5
five
6
six or sax
7
seiven
8
echt
9
nine
10
ten
11
leiven
12
twal
13
thurteen
14
fowerteen
15
fifteen
16
saxteen
17
seiventeen
18
echteen
19
nineteen
20
twuntie
30
thurtie
40
foartie
50
faftie
60
saxtie
70
seiventie
80
echtie
90
ninetie
100
a hunner

* One is the only numeral which has two completely different forms. When it is being used as a noun it is ‘yin’ or ‘ane’ but there is an older literary usage of ‘ae’ or ‘yae’ when it is being used as an adjective - eg Burns’ song “Ae fond kiss”.

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Read the following dialogues:

Mary:
Whaur dae ye leeve?
Anne:
A leeve at saxteen Newtown Brae. Whaur dae ye leeve?
Mary:
Twuntie-yin Rid Brae.

This means

Mary:
Where do you live?
Anne:
I live at sixteen Newtown Brae. Where do you live?
Mary:
Twenty-one Red Brae.

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Try translating these addresses into Ulster-Scots (answers below):

  1. 20 The Loanen
  2. 11 Bradshaw’s Brae
  3. 8 Ardnavilly Road

Here are some more dialogues to read:

Michelle:
Guid tae see ye, Doreen. Whit wye ur ye?
Doreen:
A’m brave an guid the day.

This means:

Michelle:
Good to see you, Doreen. How are you?
Doreen:
I’m fine - or I’m not so bad today.
Andrew:
Hello, Mike. Guid to see ye. Hoo’s it gaun?
Mike:
Ach A’m bravely. An yersel?
Andrew:
A’m rightly.

This means:

Andrew:
Hello. Mike. Good to see you. How are you - or how are things with you?
Mike:
I’m not so bad. How are you?
Andrew:
I’m fine.

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When we finish our conversation, of course we need to say goodbye.

There are several ways to do this. If is it evening we might say ‘Guid nicht’; or at any time of day we could say ‘Sae lang noo’. ‘Tak tent’, meaning ‘take care’, is another way of taking your leave. A more archaic and literary leave-taking is to use ‘Sonse faa ye’.

Michelle:
Sae lang noo, Doreen.
Doreen:
Guid nicht, Michelle. Tak tent noo.

This means:

Michelle:
So long now, Doreen.
Doreen:
Good night, Michelle. Take care now.
Sam:
A’m aff tae the shaps. Tak tent, Mike.
Mike:
Sae lang noo, Sam. Be seein ye.

This means:

Sam:
I’m off to the shops. Take care Mike.
Mike:
So long, Sam - or cheerio, Sam. Be seeing you.

Answers to Addresses:

  1. twuntie Tha Loanen
  2. leiven Bradshaa’s Brae
  3. echt Ardnavilly Road

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Other Lessons

Lesson 2

Self, Family and Friends

Self, Family and Friends
  • nouns for family members
  • nouns for parts of the body
  • describing appearance
  • describing yourself, family & friends

Go to this lesson: Self, Family and Friends


Lesson 3

Moods, Feelings and Clothes

Moods, Feelings and Clothes
  • moods, feelings & characteristics
  • words for items of clothing
  • talking about appearance
  • traditional Ulster & Scots dress
  • clothing & characteristics in Scots & Ulster-Scots poetry

Go to this lesson: Moods, Feelings and Clothes


Lesson 4

Hobbies, Interests and Work

Hobbies, Interests and Work
  • describing hobbies & interests
  • words for some jobs
  • working life & leisure time
  • traditional Ulster-Scots pastimes
  • traditional pastimes and jobs in Ulster & Scots poetry

Go to this lesson: Hobbies, Interests and Work


Lesson 5

Food and Drink

Food and Drink
  • examples of food and drink
  • ordering food in a restaurant
  • discussing eating habits
  • food and drink in Ulster & Scots poetry
  • finding Ulster-Scots recipes

Go to this lesson: Food and Drink


Lesson 6

Weather and Seasons

Weather and Seasons
  • words for types of weather
  • weather conditions
  • words for different seasons
  • seasonal activities
  • the weather in Scots & Ulster literature

Go to this lesson: Weather and Seasons


Lesson 7

Nouns and Names

Nouns and Names
  • buildings
  • parts of the face and head
  • The Coortin’ o Miss Norris

Go to this lesson: Nouns and Names


Lesson 8

Meeting and Greeting (2)

Meeting and Greeting (2)
  • Meeting and Greeting (2)
  • The Coortin’ o Miss Norris - Practice Reading and Dialogue
  • Markers of Ulster-Scots

Go to this lesson: Meeting and Greeting (2)


Lesson 9

Grammar and Pronunciation

Grammar and Pronunciation
  • the Definite Article before a Noun
  • spelling and pronunciation
  • saying, doing and being

Go to this lesson: Grammar and Pronunciation


Lesson 10

Pronouns - and Linen-Making

Pronouns - and Linen-Making
  • Pronouns
  • A Byre o a Hoose
  • Tha makkin o tha lïnen

Go to this lesson: Pronouns - and Linen-Making


Lesson 11

A closer look at Dialect (1)

A closer look at Dialect (1)
  • what is dialect
  • when to use dialect speech
  • dialects in Ulster?
  • dialect spelling
  • ‘language versus dialect’

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (1)


Lesson 12

A closer look at Dialect (2)

A closer look at Dialect (2)
  • what good is it learning about dialect?
  • country matters
  • farming vocabulary
  • farming practices of old

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (2)


Lesson 13

A closer look at Dialect (3)

A closer look at Dialect (3)
  • words with a story
  • what’s in a name?
  • Ulster ‘crack’
  • scunner, sheugh and black-mouth

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (3)


Lesson 14

A closer look at Dialect (4)

A closer look at Dialect (4)
  • similes
  • forms of ‘be’ and ‘do’
  • Match the meanings
  • Wordsearch
  • The Minister’s Cat
  • Call my Bluff

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (4)


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