Thursday, 13 June 2013
Scots Aroond Us
The Blether Region spotted this poster for a play at Belfast's Lyric Theatre while out and about this afternoon.
The word weein (more usually spelt wean) of course derives from wee ane or "little one" and originates in Central Scots. Originally disyllablic, the word, according to the DSL, has not completely coalesced to form a monophthong in Perthshire, Angus and Northern Scots, where it may still be viewed as two distinct elements (in today's Central Belt, wean exists alongside wee yin and wee one).
Ulster may be a little different, in that the region has "vowel breaking" whereby a monophthong becomes a diphthong. Thus many Northern Ireland people would pronounce the second element in "Sinn Féin" disyllabically despite its being a monophtong in Irish (the second element in the digraph actually indicates only a palatal consonant).
Wee itself may be used rather differently in Ulster from how it is used in Scotland. Rather than describing physical size or the lack thereof, it often appears as a mitigator to indicate politeness: "Take a wee seat"; "You all right for a wee ticket?"; "Can I see your wee number?". On the other hand, constructions such as "It's a bit wee" would be rare. It also forms a stressed element in new compounds such as wee-girl, weefla (wee + fallae) and weetchil (wee + chield) — which, as far as the Blether Region can make out, have not yet made it into the DSL, although the last two are in the Concise Ulster Dictionary. The words' origin may lie in the fact that, although adjectives more usually follow the noun in Irish, on those occasions where they precede it, they are stressed.