Learn Ulster-Scots

Lesson 7 Nouns and Names

In this lesson, you will learn about:

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

What are the Ulster-Scots names for these buildings? (Answers at the end)

  • Cinema
  • Abattoir
  • Church
  • Theatre
  • Farm buildings
  • Stately home
  • Cottage
  • Restaurant
  • School
  • Aviary

The face and head


A noun names things, whether you can touch them or not. On the picture, mark the different parts of the face and head in Ulster-Scots. Can you point out the features on yourself and name them? Answers at the bottom.

‘The Coortin o Miss Norris’ is a short abstract from Robin’s Readings by W G Lyttle. These stories were first published in the Newtownards Chronicle in the 1880s, then published separately as The Adventures of Paddy McQuillan and Robin’s Readings around 1890. They differ from the ‘kailyard’ novels of the day in that not only is the dialogue in Ulster-Scots, but so too is the connecting prose.

The Coortin o Miss Norris

A hae din that at last, ma.

Din what? quo’ she.

A hae axed her tae merry me, sez I.

Weel? sez she, an’ pit on her specs an’ glowered fair doon my throat.

Oh, weel, sez I, she’ll tak me.

Och, Paddy, sez she, yer a darlin’! Noo A’m prood o’ ye, an’ the hale cuntry side wull envy ye; min’ ye the like o’ Miss Norris is no tae be catched ivery day.

Ma, dear, sez I – an’ A felt the tug o’ war wuz cumin’ noo – Ma, dear, sez I, A niver tried tae catch her.

What dae ye mean, boy, sez she. Didn’t ye tell me this minit that she wud tak ye; ye didnae mean tae say that she did a’ the coortin’ hersel’!

Sez I,A niver coorted ony at her, an’ it wuznae her A wuz talkin’ aboot ava.

An’ wha then? sez she.

Sez I, A lass that deserves a far better man than me – Maggie Patten, o’ Kilwuddy.

A declare A wuz scaured at the change that cum ower the auld buddy’s face. As shair as ye’re stanin’ there but A cud see the hair turnin’ far whiter on her heid – she tried tae speak twa or three times, but the words cudnae cum.

Wud ye like a moothfoo’ o’ cauld watter? sez I.

A shud tak an’ throw ye in the hoose hole, sez she, ye unmennerly houn’ ye. Didn’t A think ye wur coortin’ Miss Norris a’ this time.

Agh, haud yer tongue, sez I. What use wud that wuman be tae me unless A wud set her up tae scaur craws aff the prittaes! Is it her, sez I, the cross-lukin’, lanky, flet-fitted crayter!

She’s naethin’ o’ the soart, sez my ma.

Isn’t she, sez I, why if she wud only luk into the crame crock it wud soor it; an’ she’s that thin that whun she turns sideways A cannae see her.

Weel, she’s no flet-fitted, sez my ma.

Why, sez I, her feet’s as flet as flounders, an’ whun she pits them doon – och, sudden daith tae a’ creepin’ things.

She sut doon on a wee stool, an begood a rockin’ hersel’ back an’ forrit.

Noo, sez I, ye neednae say anither word, for my mind’s made up, an’ if ye dinna let me tak Maggie A’ll gang an’ list.

She said nae mair, an’ the nixt day she begood tae mak preparations for the weddin’.

Linguistic Commentary

The writings of W G Lyttle are particularly rich in Ulster-Scots words, spellings and grammar. In this short abstract alone, we find numerous common Ulster-Scots forms and words. For example, we find the ‘guttural’ –ch in words like thocht; the negative auxiliary verbs like dinnae, cannae, wuznae and cudnae; and a ‘wheen o ithers’ that hardly need explanation (like doon, oot, aboot, mooth, soor, weel, noo, naethin, aff).

The spelling of some words that are shared with English gives some interesting precedents for those trying to agree standard spellings for the modern language: fur, cud, luk, sez, efther, watter, shud, tak, mak, wur, whun, crame, daith, wuz, tae, dae, hae (have), etc.

‘Cold’, ‘old’ and ‘hold’ appear in their conventional Scots forms, cauld, auld and haud yer tongue. The same applies for words like heid, ava (at all), puir (poor), hale (whole), A (I), craw, forrits (forwards), flet-fitted, wha, naethin, heid, shair (sure), pit (put), nae and mair.

Past tenses of some verbs are interesting – axed (asked), tell’t (told), catched (caught) – and, while on the subject of grammar, Lyttle makes some interesting uses of the infinitive (which is a subject worth study in its own right). For example, he uses the expected ‘English’ equivalents to ‘began to make’ and ‘began to think’ as begood tae mak and begood tae think, but frequently also uses distinctive forms like begood a rockin for ‘began to rock’. Some phrases are worth pointing out, like A niver coorted ony at her – ‘I never courted her at all’.


  1. Were Paddy's intentions towards Miss Norris the same as his mother thought?
  2. What was the mix-up?
  3. What did Paddy threaten if his mother wouldn't agree?

Answers: Dialogue 1

pictèr hoose
slaughtèr hoose
meetin hoose
Farm Buildings
fairm hoose
Stately home
bïg hoose
cottar hoose
atin hoose
schuil hoose
burd hoose

Answers: The Face and Head

mooth / gub

BBC Northern Ireland gratefully acknowledges that this lesson was provided by the Ulster-Scots Language Society - and copyright belongs to Philip Robinson and Anne Smyth.

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 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 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)