Tres disappointed to hear that ‘selfie’ has been designated THE new word of the year. I was rooting for ‘floordrobe’ although I understand it may have previously won the title. And hence been disqualified this year. We that is us me and she him and her husband and wife have a number of floordrobes. There’s no excuse since there are no half-man half duvet half-woman half hair and nails people I.e. teenagers in the house. The floordrobe in the photo is ‘hers’ and it is strictly temporary and for Christmas purposes. And before you can shout ‘gender bias’ mine has already been posted on Facebook.
But selfie’s success set me thinking. In Dundee like most other places we have what might be termed linguistic idiosyncrasies. Among the better known and documented ones in the Radical Town as we’re sometimes known are the following. Firstly we call roundabouts circles. I know it’s not very specific but we know what we mean! Then we have the Law Hill with its stunning views over the city and the river. But the word law means a hill in English. So in effect it’s a hill hill! But then this is Scotland and that’s Dundonians for you – we’re not going to let you miss the point.
But probably one of the most noticeable things about people speaking Dundee Scots is the abundant use of ‘ken’ (know in English) at the start of a sentence where it bears little or no relationship to the meaning. As in ‘ken this’ ‘ken whut’ (what) etc. if you don’t speak Scots you could be forgiven for thinking that there are large numbers of men in the city ‘ crehd’ (called) Kenneth. Women too. Confusing I know. As to how all this comes about you’re talking looking in a black hole of linguistics! And Psychology! And Culture! And History! And that’s enough – Ed!
The good news is that Dundonians are mostly friendly welcoming people who will assist you with any linguistic difficulties you may experience. Much like most of the human race. ‘Lang micht yir lum reek! In English ‘I wish you good health! Now while I’m not posting any selfies I do have a floordrobe to attend to.