jackie kay

I'll never lose my Scottish words

I dig the Scottish thing. That's obvious by now ( I hope ). People I work with know me as The Weegie and Sarah the Edinburgher. I say the word 'film' funny and after an evening at home with my mum and dad I quickly slip back into ayrshire and sound even more weegie - but I did live in Dundee for 5 years so I can also do a mean impression of a Dundonian (or Kate Pickering ) whenever it takes my fancy ;) I often catch snippets of conversations on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow City's Centre and cringe at what I hear. I've cringed so much before  I've scoured the web for elocution lessons - in a cold sweat thinking I have to get rid of this awful accent! But of course I didn't and I don't think about it too much anymore - I just get happy when people say I sound really Scottish ( then I can pretend that I actually look like this girl )


So I discovered poet and author Jackie Kay who reads her poem 'Old Tongue', which laments the fact that those who move away from Scotland often lose their Scottish words in the process. This poem made me feel happy and I know I'll come to back to it in future when I need to connect with my Scottish words. ( you have to watch the video - this is a poem you have to hear )

Jackie Kay - Old Tongue by poetictouch

Old Tongue

When I was eight, I was forced south. Not long after, when I opened my mouth, a strange thing happened. I lost my Scottish accent. Words fell off my tongue: eedyit, dreich, wabbit, crabbit, stummer, teuchter, heidbanger, so you are, so am ur, see you, see ma ma, shut yer geggie or I’ll gie ye the malkie!

My own vowels started to stretch like my bones, and I turned my back on Scotland. Words disappeared in the dead of the night, new words marched in: ghastly, awful, quite dreadful, scones said like stones, Pokey hats into ice-cream cones. Oh where did all my words go - my old words, my lost words? Did you ever feel sad when you lost a word, did you ever try to call it back like calling in the sea? If I could have found my words wandering, I swear I would have taken them in, swallowed them whole, knocked them back.

Out in the English soil, my words buried themselves. It made my mother’s blood boil. I cried one day with the wrong sound in my mouth. I wanted them back; I wanted my old accent back, my old tongue. My dour, soor Scottish tongue. Sing-songy. I wanted to gie it laldie.

Just for you Jo x