Lesson 7 Nouns and Names
In this lesson, you will learn about:
- parts of the face and head
- The Coortin’ o Miss Norris
What are the Ulster-Scots names for these buildings? (Answers at the end)
- Farm buildings
- Stately home
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’.
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’.
- Were Paddy's intentions towards Miss Norris the same as his mother thought?
- What was the mix-up?
- 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.