Learn Ulster-Scots

Lesson 2 Self, Family and Friends

In this lesson, you will learn about:

  • nouns for family members
  • nouns for parts of the body
  • describing appearance
  • describing yourself, family & friends



Read the following passage in which a young man describes himself:

A’m caa'ed Tammie. A’m twuntie yin, an’ A’m leevin in Greeba. A’m no ill lukkin fur A’m licht heidit an tal. A hae blue een an a sonsie fisog.

This translates as:

My name is Tommy. I’m twenty one and I live in Greyabbey. I’m not bad looking, for I’m tall and blonde. I have blue eyes and a cheerful face.

When you are describing or talking about yourself you will need to use some adjectives. See the words in bold:

"A'm stoot an rid heidit but A’m no ill lukkin." (I'm well built and red haired but I’m not bad looking.)


Here are some more adjectives (describing words):

Appearance

boannie
pretty
ill-lukkin
ugly
no ill-lukkin
reasonable looking (an adjective phrase)

Size

tal or lang
tall
sma or wee
small
stoot
well-built

If you are seeing a child who has grown since the last time you met, you might describe them as being "pooerfu big gat" or that they’ve "growed a brave bit".

Hair colour

licht heidit
light haired
rid heidit
red haired
gray heidit
grey haired
broon heidit
brown haired
blek heidit
black haired

If you have a receding hairline or are bald you could be described as - scaldie

Expression/ attitude/ mental capacity

sonsie
cheerful
glaikit
gaping; witless
girny
discontented
douce
serious
quick oan tha uptak
intelligent/smart

Eye Colour

broon
blue or blae
green
gray

In terms of personality you could describe yourself or another, if you wished to be complimentary, as:

  • "She's a geg" or "She's a quare geg"
  • "Sam's a stoot lukkin craither"
  • "He's gye weel lukkin"
  • "Mary’s gye stoot"

Note: gey; gye – very. The spelling of this word and of other words on these pages is not standardised. You will find different spellings in various texts and in different regions of Ulster.


Now try to describe yourself in the way Tommy did, choosing expressions from the lists of adjectives. Look back to Lesson 1 on introducing yourself and forming numerals if necessary.

  • The' caa me __________.
  • A'm __________, an' A'm leevin in __________.
  • A'm __________ fer a'm __________an__________.
  • A hae __________ een an a __________ fisog.

Literary Link

The Templepatrick poet Samuel Thomson (1766-1816) wrote a lively poem called ‘The Simmer Fair’ which begins with a vivid description of the many individuals who pour into Templepatrick village to buy, show off, drink and flirt and fight on Fair day:

Here grey-clad farmers, gash an’ grave
Drive in their sleekit hawkeys;
With many a flee, auld-farrant knave,
To sell their heftit brockeys;
An’ Jockey louns, sae gleg an’ gare
Wi’ boot-bedeckit legs,
To glow’r an’ drink, cheat lie an’ swear
An’ sell their glossy naigs
Come here this day.

Here grey-clothed farmers, shrewd and serious
Drive in their smooth white-faced cows
With many a fly, precocious young rascal,
To sell their black-faced milk cows;
And jockey boys, so quick-witted and talkative
With legs sheathed in fine boots
To stare and drink, cheat, lie and swear
And sell their well-brushed nags
Come here this day.


Here is a list of nouns (naming words) for body parts:

heid
head
ee(n)
eye(s)
lugs
ears
broo
forehead / brow
neb
nose
shooders / shoothers
shoulders
oxters
underarms
elba
elbow
wame
stomach
airm
arm
han
hand
finger
finger (pronounced like singer)
loof
palm of hand
nieve
fist
hurdies
hips / buttocks
hunkers
haunches
shanks
legs
fit
foot
taes
toes

If you wish to go into more detail about your appearance you might say:

A hae a lang neb an muckle shooders.
(I have a long nose and big (broad) shoulders.)


Adjectives to use when describing various body parts might include:

lang
long
skinnie
thin, skinny
smaa
small
braid
broad
stoot
stout / fat

Family

The members of the family are:

faither
father
mither
mother
brither
brother
granda
grandfather
grannie
granny
pairtner
partner
menfowk
the males in the family (or in a group of people)
wee fella
boy
wean
child
hissel
himself
oorsels
ourselves
baith o yis
both of you
hir
her
iveryboadie
everybody
naeboadie
nobody
growed-up
grown up

Here is a list of nouns (naming words) for family members:

father
faither; fether
mother
mither
partner
pairtner
brother
brither
child
wean; chile; grouselin
children
childer; weans
son
sin
daughter
dochter
nephew
nephye
niece
(sometimes) sister’s or brither’s dochter

Here is a short passage. Read it and try to work out what is being said. (Answer below)

The' caa me Tammie Mc Donald. A leeve in Boneybefore wi ma faither an mither. A hae twa big brithers caa'ed Johnnie an Michael. Baith are ouler nor me. A hae yin wee sister. She’s Ashley. She’s merriet on yin o ma freens. The' caa him Bob Taylor. We wus at schuil thegither but Bob’s twa months ouler nor me.

Bob’s gray heidit, sma an no ill lukkin. He haes a lang baird and he’s a quare geg. He an Ashley hae three weans – Jordan, Paul and Thomas.


Translation to Ulster-Scots Passage

I’m called Tommy McDonald. I live in Boneybefore with my father and mother. I have two big brothers, Johnnie and Michael. Both are older than me. I have one little sister. She’s Ashley. She’s married to one of my friends. He’s called Bob Taylor. We were at school together but Bob’s two months older than me.

Bob’s grey-haired, small and not bad looking. He has a long beard and he’s good fun. He and Ashley have three children – Jordan, Paul and Thomas.

Top

Other Lessons

Lesson 1

Meeting and Greeting

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

Go to this lesson: Meeting and Greeting


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)