John Michie suggests that many Scots words can send a chill down your spine. Words like 'mirk', 'smoored', and 'thrappled' and the phrase ‘Howe Dumb Dead’ combine to link crime and murder with traditional Scottish language.

This clip is from:
Blethering Scots, 1
First broadcast:
20 June 2011

This clip is useful when studying atmosphere in fictional texts. It could be used as an illustrative example of effective vocabulary choices, as a start to the topic or as a contrasting atmosphere to a written text being studied.
It is also helpful as a creative writing stimulus to encourage students to reflect on language choices they make as writers. Students could construct their own murder mystery story relying on their knowledge of Scots words when describing the crime scene. This clip could be linked to Burns’ poem ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ and the section which lists all the grizzly crimes that the route home has witnessed over the years. Students could label a Scots skeleton and take on the role of the forensics expert as he outlines the wounds sustained by the victim (not for younger students or the faint hearted). This clip could be linked to extracts from Scottish crime fiction (eg Ian Rankin, Denis Mina, Val McDiarmid, and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Students could be asked to rewrite as much of the scene as they can in Scots).