The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Geordie's Mingin Medicine

Well known books by famous authors get translated into different languages all the time. However for a while now there's been a drive to have more translated into Scots.

Whether Scots (originating in the Scottish Lowlands, as opposed to Scottish Gaelic which was/is more prevalent in the Highland and Islands) is a distinct and separate language or as just a regional dialect, is fiercely debated in some circles, and I don't know enough on the subject to get involved.

What is certain though, is Scots does make up part of the rich culture of Scotland, especially as it was the language of choice for "The Bard", Robert Burns. And you can guarantee across the land, on the run up to Burn's Night (25th January), schools were setting all sorts of assignments based on it.

Now some of you may be familiar with Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine. I would guess far fewer will be familiar with the Scots translation by Matthew Fitt, called Geordie's Mingin Medicine. And even less will have heard Meg reading an extract.

One of the odd things about your own family is that you don't hear their accents. You recognise their voices, but because you hear them talking every day, you cease to notice the regional differences and inflections.

And so it is with Meg. I know it might sound strange, but it's never particularly crossed my mind that she would have a Scottish accent - Meg's voice is just Meg's voice. But hearing her reading an extract of Scots out loud, I became very aware of it, especially as I know if I were to try it would just sound like an English guy trying to use Scottish words.

With the exception of Sam and Dr Maroon, and unless you're familiar with Scots, I don't expect anyone to be able to follow what's being said, so here's the text and you can have a bit of fun translating it back into your version of English.

And if you get really stuck you can always try the online Scots-English Dictionary.

So here's the text, and you can hear Meg reading it below

An Extract of Geordie's Mingin Medicine by Roald Dahl, Translated by Matthew Fit

Weel, weel! Thocht Geordie, aw O a sudden. "Fings-bings! Richtitie-pichtitie! I ken exactly whit I'll dae. I'm gonna mak her a new medicine, a magic medicine, naw a mingin medicine is what we're gonna hae!"

Sae gie me a golach and a lowpin flee,
Gie me twa mauks and speeders three,
And a slivverie skoosher fae the sea,
And a poisonous jag fae out a bumbee,
And the juice fae the fruit o the pokey-hat tree,
And the poodered bane o a wombat's knee.

And a hunner ither things and aw,
Things wi a hummin honkin blaw.
I'll steer them up, I'll bile them lang,
A mixter roch, a maxter strang.
And then, bang-wallop, doon it gaes,
A guid big spoonfu (mind yer taes)
Jist gowp it doon, and hae nae fear.
"Hoo's that for ye, Grannie dear?"

Will she lauch or will she greet?
Will she tak aff doon the street?
Will she explode in a fuff o reek?
Or blaw herself intae nixt week?
Wha kens? No me. Let's hing on and see.
(I'm gled it isnae you or me.)
Och Grannie ye've no got a clue
Whit I'm gonnae mak for you!

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Eryl Shields said...

That was tops! Meg sounds as cute as she looks.

Archivalist said...

That was great. Or should I say, "grete?"

On a side note, the wife and I recently rented "Red Road" from Netflix. One of the DVD options was English subtitles. Now, we've watched plenty of shows from the UK, but this is the first time we've had to resort to using English subtitles with English speaking actors.

Anna van Schurman said...

That wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. It was much easier to understand when I could read it while listening to Meg. Is it the Scottish mil? Studying Middle English? Reading all those copies of Viz? A canna tell.

Mary Witzl said...

That was great! (No, not 'grete!' Isn't that a synonym of 'kvetch?')

My kids brought home plenty of Scots stuff when they were in primary school here, but now they get much less. I love it when people use the word 'bile' here for 'boil.' We used that in my family sometimes.

I know what you mean about accents, too. Whenever we go back to the States, I am shocked to hear my husband's British accent. Even the kids have them in America!

PI said...

Brilliant! Tell Meg I'd give a lot to be able to speak with that fantastic accent and Rabbie would have been proud. She really relished 'bang wallop'.
What about Burns' 'O what a panic's in thy breastie?'
Can't remember the name of the poem - to a mouse.

Gyrobo said...

You've inspired me to create my own language.

It will be hieroglyphic, with a hundred thousand distinct characters. And it will be nonverbal.

Brave Astronaut said...

When my mother would travel to Maine on a family vacation, after a few days she would start to sound like Mainers. That's when my father knew it was time to come home.

Nice job by Meg!

Binty McShae said...

"With the exception of Sam and Dr Maroon"

Ahem. I may be a teuchter but ah still ken whit's bein' said!

Tell wee Meg that wis richt guid! Braw even! An' a'body glaikit or crabbit enough tae suggest different - ah'll gie 'em laldie! That'll wheesht the wee scunners!

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - like all kids, she is the cutest until she decides to become a pain in the arse

Archivalist - Red Road isn't a movie I'm familiar with. However, there did used to be a programme on TV about a Scottish guy with a very thick accent called Rab C. Nesbitt, and if you selected the subtitles they deliberately did some dodgy interpretations which added an extra dimension to the humour.

Anna - Yes, Viz would help, although you really want to see if you can get a copy of "The Broons" or "Oor Wullie"

Mary - I remember when I was in Canada on a Student Exchange - I was asked what it was like coming to a country where they didn't have accents... mind you, to them I sounded like something out of a bad Monty Python sketch

Pat - the Bang Wallop was definitely the highlight :)

Gyrobo - you're still alive! Although with the beard you look more like Tom Hanks in Castaway - have you been lost to us on a desert island somewhere in the South Pacific?

Brave Astronaut - So how would you say a Maine accent differs?

Binty - when I wrote this post, I thought about adding your name, but then i thought it must be something like 6 months since you last commented here, so I wisnae sure you were coming back

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Very cool. It was much easier to follow with Meg reading it.

I always thought "mingin" meant "not nice"?

Brave Astronaut said...

I think my point is just that you can be standing in front of someone who purports to be speaking the same language as you, but there is no possibility of understanding what they are saying. New Englanders (and "Maynahs"), Southerners ("Y'all"), and even "Nyu Yawkahs" ("How you doin'"), we can all speak American English and still not be able to communicate with each other.

Kim Ayres said...

FLG - it does - it's putting an extra twist into the translation

Brave Astronaut - there's been a major problem with that in the UK where many companies have shifted their helplines to India, and it's the luck of the draw as to how thick the accent is of the person you're talking to. Even harder for them as they have to try and distinguish between all the British variations

Tom said...

Excellent! You mentioned that your enjoyed the film Fargo; wondering if you had to watch that one with the captions on because of the Minnesota accent.

Charlie said...

That was great, Kim and Meg. I agree with Eryl that she sounds as cute as she looks, but I also agree with you about the pain in the arse part.

Anne said...

I bee-bopped over her from Tom's blog to hear Meg reading. Her recording was beautiful.

I took a Medieval literature course in college which required me to read similar texts. I so struggled through that course. I had a difficult time "getting it."

TheAmpuT said...

Kim, I gave you a "You Make My Day Award" over on my blog today. I know you've had your fill of these things, so no need to play along. I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate your blog. Thanks!

Binty McShae said...

Ah, Kim... I may not have said much but I've been back and forth all the same! ;-)

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Aye, she made a guid job'o'it, an' tha's no me haverin'.

That was smashing!

I do have a bit of a hard time following every word of that actually - save for my grandpa from time to time I didn't hear Scots at all growing up. It's all Gaelic over our way.

I remember when my brother was working in Aberdeen. He hadn't a clue what people were saying to him half the time. He said people kept asking him "Furry boots?" and he was mystified for ages before he twigged they would sometimes say "Furry boots are ye frae?" They were asking him from whereabouts he was from. He said it was like another country.

Archivalist said...

Sam -- "Furry boots are ye frae?" LOL. There's a catchphrase for the 'Oughts.

Kim -- 'Red Road' was good, but difficult to watch, and not for the accents. Definitely NOT for the kiddies, too. And the thing about Maine accents (I'm surrounded by them now) is mostly the lack of the letter 'r'. The hardest US accent I've ever encountered is from backwoods Appalachia. Imagine Scots spoken through moonshine and 'backy, and you've got it.

Kim Ayres said...

Tom - I do love that film, and I love the accents - no problem following them though :)

Charlie - thank you :)

Anne - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment. Language is a constantly evolving thing, which is why I'm always surprised when people get upset when certain words, phrases and grammatical structures change.

AmpuT - thank you - I won't join in, but I really appreciate the thought :)

Binty - and I see you have a new Blunt Cogs script on the go! Woohoo!

Sam - I must admit, after I wrote it I began to think that it was more likely you'd have a gaelic background than Scots, however, there was always a chance you'd have been raised on Oor Wullie and The Broons.

And I nearly fell of my chair laughing at the furry boots story - superb :)

Archivalist - isn't backwoods Appalachi Deliverence country?

sarah said...

i remember reading a something called "the twa corbies". like this.. i understood what i was reading.
(maybe i'm a closet Scots)

i'm certainly a big fan. ;o)

Meg, of course, is friggin' adorable.

Kanani said...

Wow! I loved it.
I listened without reading it, and enjoyed the rhythm!

Freakazojd said...

Much easier to follow when I can read it at the same time. My hubs said he always had to "translate" what his grandparents were saying for his friends - his mom & family are frae Aberdeeeeen.

I loved how you read this, Meg - you really captured the spirit of it, and I enjoyed listening to you very much! I was going to suggest the same Burns poem about the mouse, but it looks like someone beat me to it. :)

Carole said...

Great stuff. First I tried to read it out loud to see how I would say it and then I listened to Meg. I got a few words right but mostly I got it all wrong.

MaLady said...

Meg does sound wonderful, and her accent is really cute.

Appalacia - now that is an interesting place with beautiful, beautiful land.

Then there's "ebonics"...

Foot Eater said...

I don't hold with all this 'Scottish' carry-on. There are no heretical Scotch thoughts that a cold shower followed by a harsh and prolonged birching couldn't remedy.

Kim Ayres said...

Sarah - you can find a translation of the twa corbies here

Kanani - thank you :)

Freakazojd - well, as Sam mentions above, Aberdonians have a dialect all of their own :)

Carole - now that would be fun - maybe we should get as many people as we can to record a version of it and see how it changes from accent to accent :)

MaLady - what's ebonics? I take it we're not talking about the 6 million dollar man...

Foot Eater - a cold shower followed by a harsh and prolonged birching is how every Scot starts the day

Jupiter's Girl said...

Awesome reading. I first read the poem to myself and then listened to Meg. So precious, I can't stop smiling. I can only guess at some of the words meanings.

I've always been interested in how people speak. Being an actress, I easily pick up accents and regional inflections. In New Orleans and it's surrounding parts, heck - make it all of Louisiana -, we have many accents here; twangy and country, New Yorkish, Cajun french. I am considered a Yat because of my accent. It comes from the made up contraction of "where yat" which means how are you doing, or where are you. People around here are word conservationists.

MaLady said...

I found a link to a page that explains it well. I'm sorry, I thought you would have already heard of it. The term "Ebonics" is just one way the dialect is named.

MaLady said...

no sorry, not the six million dollar man

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