Stewart’s use of dialect gives the voices of the play an authenticity, which adds to the poignancy and impact of the Morrison family’s plight.
For example the household is often referred to as a
midden – the Scots for rubbish dump, and Maggie talks about
reddin up the place which is again Scots for tidying up.
These words provide us with a social document, giving us a much more immediate experience of life in an East End tenement in the 1930s.
When John gives Maggie the red hat, he delays it with a rhyme
nievy-nievy-nick-knack, which haun will ye tak? which evocatively conjures up the childlike enthusiasm and delight he has for giving Maggie this gift.
Later when John tears the ticket off the hat, Maggie calls him a
great muckle ham-fist. This displays the humour and warmth between them. Overall the language is animated and lively, reflecting the play’s spirited protagonists.