Change and loss

The poet describes how a girl's accent changes from being full of evocative Scots words to adopting the longer English vowels. The 'English' she describes is very much the 'Queen's English' and the implication is that, universally, local dialects and words are often lost in the wake of globalisation and standardisation. The loss Kay describes is personal, as she lists all the words she used to say and how she wants them back, but then she invites the reader to delight in the Scots as well, so that we too miss them by the end of the poem.


Kay reminiscences fondly about her then-partner's past by focussing on the language of her youth. She lists many of the words and expressions she used to say, encouraging the reader to listen to them and to experience them too. She contrasts this with her new English accent and implies that it does not belong to her in the same way. The poem ends by recalling her old phrases in a lively manner as if she is enjoying delving back into the "great cauldron full of riches" that is the Scots language.

Displacement and identity

It is clear the poet/speaker feels a sense of displacement in this poem, as the words she is used to saying simply disappear as a result of relocation. This is upsetting to the speaker who wants them back and writes the poem in an effort to summon them from her memory. There is an implication that they give her feelings of belonging and identity.


This poem fits well with Whilst Leila Sleeps, as both explore the theme of displacement and identity. My Grandmother's Houses also works as a comparison under the theme of childhood and change.

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