Lowland Scots Lesson One: The Basics
English, has the words "the", "a" and "an". These words are called "articles" and are used to refer to concepts which are specific (the, which is definite) or general (a and an, which are indefinite).
- A man. The man. A group of men. The men.
Some languages will have one but not the other. Some languages have niether. Scots has both, and the rules are slightly simpler than in English.
The Scottish word for "the" is also the (pronounced more like "theh" instead of how we pronounce it "thuh") and it almost exactly like in English. The only difference is that it is also used before the names of seasons, days of the week, many nouns, diseases, trades, occupations, sciences and academic subjects. It is also often used in place of the indefinite article and instead of a possessive pronoun: the hairst (autumn), the Wadensday (Wednesday), awa tae the kirk (off to church), the nou (at the moment), the day (today), the haingles (influenza), the Laitin (Latin), The deuk ett the bit breid (The duck ate a piece of bread), the wife (my wife) etc.
- Scots: The hoond. The tree. The waw.
- English: The dog. The tree. The wall.
The Lowlands word for "a" and "an" is simply "a".
- Scots: The hoose. A aiple. The loanin an a tree.
- English: The house. An apple. The field and a tree.
Am, Is, are, was, were
"Am", "is", and "are" are the same in Scots, but "was" and "were" are simply "wis", though "were" is sometimes "war" in the language.
- Scots: A am, she is, we are, he wis, thay wis/war.
- English: I am, she is, we are, he was, they were.
Words like "he" and "she" are pronouns. The Scottish system has a few differences over English, as you will see below:
- A1 I
- me2 me
- ma3 my
- ye4 singular "you"
- he he
- his his
- she she
- her her
- him him
- it5 it
- we6 we
- us7 us, me
- thay they
- thaim them
- thair their
- yese8 plural "you"
- yer9 your
The most recognizable difference is the distinction between singular and plural "you". English used to have the same distinction; it used "thou" for singular "you" and "ye" for plural "you". However, "thou" fell into disuse, and "ye" took its place and became modern "you". "Yese/Youse" would be used in a sentence such as, "A lue10 yese/youse", which translates to, "I love you all". "Ye" would be used in all other cases, like "Wha are ye?", meaning "Who are you?" Scots:
- Hou11 are ye?
- Hou are yese?
- How are you? (Friendly)
- How are you? (More than one person) or How are you all? or How are all of you?
- 1: Also "I" when used to emphasize.
- 2: Also "us" or "hus".
- 3: Also "ma certes".
- 4: Also "you".
- 5: Also "hit".
- 6: Also "oo".
- 7: Also "hus", "us".
- 8: Also "youse".
- 9: Also "your".
- 10: Also "amour" or "love".
- 11: Also "whitwey".
Prepositions, like the name suggests, describe positions and the relationships between things. Some language courses choose to describe these in more advanced lessons, but it's difficult to form sentences without them. Here we will introduce a few basic prepositions, but we will discuss them in greater depth in a future lesson.
- in in
- on1 on (as in I put my books on my desk)
- unner under (very similar to the English word)
- ahint2 behind
- wi with
- neist tae3 next to
The number of sentences which you can now build with a minimal vocabulary has increased dramatically.
- Scots: We are in the hoose.
- English: We are in the house.
- 1: Also "ontae".
- 2: Also "aback" or "hinder".
- 3: Also "til".
This is a vocabulary list. Some of these words have appeared previously in this lesson and some are new.
- aiple apple
- tree tree
- door door
- eat eat, to eat
- hair hair, a small portion
- dug1 dog
- cat2 cat
- meat3 food
- lassie4 girl
- moose mouse
- waw wall
- reid red
- laddie5 boy
- son son
- sit sit, to sit
- sleep sleep, to sleep
- the toun city
- chyre chair
- black black
- table6 table
- hackit7 ugly
- loanin8 field, paddock, lane
- bide to reside, live at, lodge, stay
- 1: Also "duggie", "hoond", or "tike".
- 2: Also "baudrons", "cheetie", "pous", or "pousie".
- 3: Also "farin", "leevin", "mealtith", or "fuid".
- 4: Also "lassie" or "quean".
- 5: Also "callant", "lad", "boy", or "loun".
- 6: Also "buird".
- 7: Also "grugous", "ill-farrant", "uggsome", or "ougly".
- 8: Also "lea".
Translate these sentences into English.
- Ye are John.
- The hoose is reid.
- She bides in the toun.
- The lassie wi black hair.
- The dug sleeps unner a tree.
- The cat eats the meat.
- A sit on the chyre neist tae the table.
- Yese are ahint the door in the waw.
Translate these sentences into Lowland Scots.
- I am Jack.
- It is under the table.
- The door is in the red wall.
- The mouse lives under the house.
- A dog is sleeping behind the chair.
- The tree is in the field.
- The boy with food.
- You eat an apple.
Answers to the above exercises.
- You are John.
- The house is red.
- She lives in the city.
- The girl with black hair.
- The dog sleeps/is sleeping under a tree.
- The cat eats/is eating the food.
- I sit/am sitting on the chair next to the table.
- You are behind the door in the wall.
- A am Jack.
- It is unner the table.
- The door is in the reid waw.
- The moose bides unner the hoose.
- A dug sleeps ahint the chyre.
- The tree is in the loanin.
- The laddie wi the meat.
- Ye eat an aiple.
End of lesson one
That concludes the very first Lowland Scots lesson, and by now you should already be able to form simple sentences. Use the vocabulary you have learned to form your own sentences!