Thursday, 11 September 2014

BBC Ee-jits











The BBC has an interesting report on the finding of a 300-year-old gold "posy" ring near Newtownabbey.
"The delicate ring, which has been dated to the late 1600s and is 85% gold, bears the Old English inscription 'I noght on gift bot gifer'.
That translates as: "Look not on the gift, but the giver"."
If the quotation has been correctly transcribed, the "I" is presumably a form of the verb "ee", in this case used with the preposition "on".

People with a modicum of linguistic knowledge, of course, refer to the speech variety in question not as "Old English" but as "Middle" or, less precisely, "Older" Scots. Indeed, going by the picture of the ring on the BBC website, it may even read "nocht" rather than "noght", which would reduce its "Englishness" yet further. Here, of course, the BBC's ignorance is unfortunately only a part of the much wider ignorance of the Scots leid in Northern Ireland.

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