Lesson 6 Weather and Seasons
In this lesson, you will learn about:
- words for types of weather
- weather conditions
- words for different seasons
- seasonal activities
- the weather in Scots & Ulster literature
Tha Wather (The Weather): Basic Vocabulary
- soaked through or drenched
- Souch o wun
- sound of the wind
- raining heavily
- frozen / really cold
- A blather/brattle o thunner
- a rattle or rumble of thunder
- Bruckle wather
- a heavy downpour
- damp, misty, drizzling, murky
- clearing up
- a snow drift
- A nirlin wun
- cold, sharp, nipping
- a light shower
Here is a conversation. Read and see if you can follow what is being said. See if you can answer the questions. A translation and answers are at the end of the lesson.
- Mornin, Mary. It’s brave the morn, Mary.
- Ach, Helen, it wuz teemin whaniver A left hame this morning. I wus droondit afore A cum tae ma work.
- Weel it’s been a lang wunter, nae doot. A've niver seen a wunter like it fur snaa. The simmer’s a lang while cumin noo.
- Aye but A dinnae mine tha snaa. A cannae thole tha wun. A wus foondert last nicht fur oor central heatin’s no warkin.
- Yer makkin me coul jist taakin aboot it. Nae central heatin. Thon's wile. Sure tha wun wud cut strecht throo ye. Awa hame an wairm yersel nixt tha fire.
- How does Helen express the idea that the weather is good today?
- What expression indicates that Helen cannot bear the wind?
- How does Helen tell Mary to go home without using any verb?
- The word ‘fernenst’ is a common preposition in Ulster-Scots, meaning ‘right beside’, or ‘close up against’. What other Ulster-Scots word with a similar meaning has been used here?
Now read this dialogue. Can you answer the questions following it?
- Whaur did ye gae fer tha simmer holidays this year Bab?
- Weel, the wife wus wile tae get tae Spain, but I cannae be daein wi planes an airports, an a thocht A’d be thortured wi’ tha hait, so ses I, ‘Tha nor coast‘ll dae fine. We neednae follae tha crood.’
- Whut way wus tha wather?
- Middlin’ guid. But ye ken thon nirlin wun ye get cumin in alang tha aist shore at Portrush? A wus lukkin tae get a sweem but wi tha cauld A cudnae tak a danner in ma shirt sleeves, nivver mine get aff me!
- It’s a braw spot aa richt, but sure it’s nae wairmer up thonner in tha simmer nor it is in hairst, nor mebbe even in tha wunter.
- Ay, an tha wife’s a right cowlrife boady. A’ll hae tae tak her tae Spain fur till get her wairmed up afore tha wunter. Mebbe roon aboot Haleve.
- What expression does Bab use to show his wife was very keen on a Spanish summer holiday?
- How do we know Bab isn’t interested in keeping up with the Joneses?
- Find the expression used for removing clothes before a swim.
- Haleve is Hallowe’en. What is the Ulster-Scots for the season it occurs in?
- Now try to write a description of the weather during your own holidays. If you were lucky enough to escape to a warmer climate was it ‘wile het' (hot)? Was there ‘nivver a clood in the lift’ (sky)? If you prefer to go away rather than stay at home look back over previous lessons to find the expression for ‘prefer’.
Literary and cultural links: Weather and seasons
Weather, particularly of the cold and miserable kind, frequently features in traditional Scots and Ulster-Scots poetry. Sam Thomson, the Bard of Carngranny near Templepatrick, wrote an Epistle, or letter, in verse to his friend Luke Mullan from nearby Craigarogan in which he expressed his gloom as autumn declined into winter:
While yellow Autumn hies apace,
An’ ripening fiel’s and blighted braes
Confess the waining year:
To you my frien’ , in Burns’s way,
I thus sooth up a roundelay,
My drooping spirits to chear.
Ah me! Dear Luke, the season’s fled –
The flow’ry months o’ joy;
The tuneless wood an’ ravish’d mead
Proclaim the winter nigh.[...]
Robert Burns, also writing a verse epistle, vividly described the severe Scottish winter and the need to huddle up close to the fireside, saying that it made him envious of the greater comfort enjoyed by wealthy people:
While winds frae off Ben-Lomond blaw,
And bar the doors wi’ driving snaw,
And hing us owre the ingle,
I set me down, to pass the time,
And spin a verse or twa o’ rhyme
In hamely, westlin jingle.
While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
Ben to the chimla lug,
I grudge a wee the Great-folk’s gift,
That live sae bien an’ snug.
From ‘Epistle to Davie, a Brother Poet’.
James Orr recorded his shock and sense of the importance of the occasion of Burns’s death by describing striking and sombre weather conditions:
The lift begud a storm to brew
The cloudy sun was vext, an’ dark;
A forket flash cam’ sklentin’ thro’
Before a hawk, that chas’d a lark
forked lightning; slanting downwards
From ‘Elegy on the Death of Mr Robert Burns’
Then, in hin-hairst, when wee an’ big ane,
Tak’ to the fiel’s, an fa’ a diggin’,
Spades risp – tubs rumble – cars are jiggin’ –
L--d! what a noise is!
the latter end of harvest
rasp; carts are rocking (with the weight of spadeloads of potatoes)
Orr’s ‘Song, Written in Winter’ is one of the most striking meditations on the season in Ulster poetry, perfectly capturing its cold beauty and the fun of winter games, while emphasising the dangers of its treacherous conditions for the poor and vulnerable:
The green warl’s awa, but the white ane can charm them
Wha skait on the burn, or wi’ settin’ dogs rin:
The hind’s dinlin’ han’s, numb’t wi snaw-baws, to warm them,
He claps on his hard sides, whase doublets are thin.
tingling; snow balls
How dark the hail show’r mak’s yon vale, aince sae pleasin’!
How laigh stoops the bush that’s owre-burden’t wi’ drift!
The icicles dreep at the half-thow’t house-easin’
When blunt the sun beams frae the verge o’ the lift. [...]
low; drifted snow
drip; thawed; eaves
Perhaps, singin’ noo the dirge I tak’ pride in,
She thinks on the last storm, wi’ pity an’ dread –
How the spait crushed the cots – how Tam brak his leg slidin’,
An herds in the muir fand the poor pedlar dead.
shepherds; moor; found
Answers: Dialogue 1
Answers to questions
- She uses the word ‘brave’, in the sense of ‘fine’.
- ‘A cannae thole’ – ‘to thole’ means ‘to bear’ or ‘to put up with’.
- ‘Awa hame’.
- Morning, Mary. The weather’s not too bad today.
- Ach, Helen, it was pouring with rain when I left home this morning. I was soaked through before I got to work.
- Well, it’s been a long winter sure enough. I’ve never seen a winter like it for snow. The summer’s a long time coming.
- I don’t mind the snow. It’s the wind I can’t stand. I was freezing with cold last night for our central heating isn’t working.
- You’re making me cold just talking about it. No central heating! That’s terrible. Sure, the wind would cut right through you. Away home and get yourself warmed up beside the fire.
Answers: Dialogue 2
- She was ‘wile tae get tae Spain’.
- Bab said ‘We neednae follae tha crood’ – he’s not interested in ‘following the crowd’.
- get aff me