BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

The Voices Recordings

About this interview
Lunch club members Lunch club members on the Isle of Mull talk about how Gaelic mingles with their Scots - and how they have many words for rain.

Mary Brunton, Euphemia Wood, Anne MacRae, Margaret MacKechnie, Elizabeth Wilson,

Click on names to find out more about the participants.

Relationship of interviewees: Lunch club members

Where: Fionnphort, Isle of Mull

Language of interview: Scottish Gaelic
About this interview
Voice clip 1
The group discuss words for raining lightly which have subtly different meanings and which are used in different ways.

Voice clip 2
The group discuss a range of words for tired, some of which are from Gaelic and some of which are thought to come from America.

More clips from this interview

Anne MacRae
Anne makes sure her grandchildren know how they should spell grandmother - or, how she likes it, grannie - with an I.E.

Elizabeth Wilson
Elizabeth recalls her school clothing and going over to Oban High School without her liberty bodice.
Interview's notes

Long description of interview: The group comprised older housewives. Elizabeth was the most vocal contributor and conversation became lively when contributors discussed the idea of being drunk.

Recorded by: Iain Ferguson, Radio Scotland

Date of interview: 2005/03/09
Interview's notes

Jonnie Robinson, Curator, English accents and dialects, British Library Sound Archive, writes:

Code-switching - mixing words, phrases or even whole sentences from two different languages within the same conversation - is typical of speakers in bilingual communities. In most cases this process is subconscious and, as these speakers explain, it indicates that a speaker feels a particular word expresses far more more accurately the meaning they're trying to convey, such as the words given here: dreach, meaning aspect, mosach meaning nasty or dirty and smurach meaning drizzle. The occasional or even frequent use of a Gaelic word or expression within an English sentence can communicate a great sense of shared identity or solidarity with other speakers.

Equally importantly perhaps in terms of the nature of English spoken in Scotland, listen to the 'guttural' sound used for the final consonant in all these words: dreach, mosach and smurach. This is a sound produced in the velar region at the back of the mouth and used, for instance, in the traditional Scottish pronunciation of the word loch and a sound we might perhaps associate with spoken German. English is of course a Germanic language and at one time this sound was in fact a feature of spoken English throughout the UK and explains some of our seemingly anomalous spellings, such as night, through and cough, where the would originally have been pronounced using a similar sound. In most cases, such as night and through (modern German Nacht and durch) this sound has now disappeared, whereas in other cases, such as cough it has transmuted to an sound. The velar articulation is, however, part of the sound system of Scottish and Irish Gaelic and thus it's not surprising that it has even been retained in a number of words in the English spoken in those two areas.



Map © Crown copyright. All rights reserved BBC AL100019855 2002

Also on Voices:

Where I live:

British Library's Collect Britain:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

In Your Area
What do you think about your local accent?
Talk about Voices in your area

Did You Know?
Elizabeth l allegedly spoke nine different languages, including Welsh, and did a number of translations.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy