Wielkum t’da Fokkmjoozieim
Hit’s a pieriemootie kroft
growin pieriemootie aets
fir pieriemootie jows
an pieriemootie horsis.
Sies du da pierie Sjaetlin ky,
da pierie poorie, lyin kloorin,
an da pieriemootie hoos
fir da pieriemootie fokk
spaekin pieriemootie wirds
aboot pieriemootie maetirs
“Will we hae enjogh t’kiep da baerns?”
“Tinks du sall we mak fir Kanada?”
Welcome to the Folk Museum
It’s a tiny little small-holding
Growing tiny little crops
For tiny little sheep
And tiny little ponies.
Look, see the little Shetland cattle,
The little cat, lying scratching.
And the tiny little house
For the tiny little people
Talking tiny little words
About tiny little matters
“Will have enough to feed the children?”
“Do you think we should start afresh in Canada?”
Though we speak it perfectly well,
We kan, bit sanna.
We kan spaek it perfiektlie wiel bit
I am not
We are not
You (singular) are not
You (plural) are not
He is not
She is not
They are not
We can, but shan’t.
RØTTIN AT DA FOONDS
A Problem of Definition – ta Tom Leonard
At the public wake to celebrate
the death of the Shetlandic tongue
two of the pall-bearers came to blows.
The first, a poet, cries “Lament
the fine old language we have lost,
Those Norn words, that quaintest grammar.
This is a day of deepest drama.”
The second, a linguist snorting, says
“Cease your histrionics. While I
agree it is a loss, It was a dialect
at best. I can’t agree it was a
language, had no capacity at all
for abstract thought of fine expression.”
When in walks the gravedigger
wiping soil from his hands,
who looks at both and says:
“Jun’s hir itida grund dan, bojies.
A gjiurm A’m hed wie’ir.”
Da Veksaesjin a’Nemin – to Tom Leonard
At da awpin waek
T’seliebraet da daeth a’Sjetlin
Twa oda paal-baerirs got up dir birss.
Da first, a pojit, roars ‘Laamint
da fyn aald lied’at we ir lost.
Jun Norrin wirds, jun quhaentist grammir.
Dis is a dae a’aafil draama.”
Da sekint, a lingwiest snurtin, sez
“Du’s gien klien gyt. Quhyl I
idmit hit is a loss, hit wis a dyalikt
at best. I doot’at hit wisna a
langwiech, hed neddir wirds nor vynd
fir toght a’oght bit aertlie maettirs.”
Quhan in kums da grejiev-dellir,
Shaakin da møld fae his haands,
Qhua looks at da baeth and saes:
“That’s her in the ground then, boys.
A messy business I’ve had with her.”
The young scholar of English
came home from the mainland, full of wonder,
at the end of the first semester.
His mother went to collect him from the ferry.
He was like a professor, speaking English terribly well,
“The gloarie a’da Engliesh langwiech
is da brodnis an da friedim a’ikspresjin.
I doot I hae nae fardir’ös a’joor tung,
Middir,” he said, then saw her look at him.
“I doot hit laekie saers fir makkin, kaain jows,
an mylkin ky, bit … quhit ir ju glowrin’it?”
‘I am merely admiring the size of your mouth,’
and laughed a little,
Da jung Engliesh skollir
kam hem fae sooth, foo a’windir,
end a’da first semestir.
His middir met da boat.
He wis laek a professir, knaapin mostaafil,
Choost faerlie laein aff’im.
“The glory of the English Language
is the range and freedom of expression.
I feel I have no further use for your tongue,
Mother,” he sed, dan saa’ir glowir.
“I mean it’s adequate for knitting, keeping sheep
and milking cattle, but … what are you staring at?”
“A’m choost glowrin at da chaas a’de,”
an kynda laaght,
Stap ir prog? – t’Elaine Johnson
Fokk wid nevir priev dat da dae,
shö sed, pittin by da book, da
‘Cookery For Northern Wives’
hir middir, bliss hir, gied’ir.
Shiep’s hed broth, braens an aa – na na.
Liver Krolls, Haaka Muggies – gadsh!
Fokk wid nevir aet dat da dae.
Dae widna evin ken quhit hit wis.
Bit choost dan didn’ir moo kum wiet,
tinkin a’dat tie a mutton riestin.
An didn’shö dat verie nyght makk banniks?
Stap or Prog?1
People would not stomach that today,
she said, laying down the book, the
‘Cookery for Northern Wives’
her mother, bless her, gave her.
Sheep’s head broth, brains and the like – no no.
Liver Krolls, Haaka Muggies – revolting!
People would not stomach that today.
They wouldn’t even know what it was.
But just then her mouth filled with saliva
thinking of that leg of salted mutton, drying.
And didn’t she that very night bake bannocks?
1- two similar traditional Shetlandic dishes