Back of the North Wind

Discussions of theology, philosophy, religion and life inspired by the writings of George MacDonald (and perhaps others such as CS Lewis) posted by "recovering fundamentalists".

My Photo
Location: California, United States

I am a "recovering fundamentalist". The trick is to figure out how not to throw out the Baby with the bathwater. I learn through dialogue, and so invite commentary on my posts to Back of the North Wind.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

George MacDonald: Scottish Brogue

One of the things I really enjoy about George MacDonald novels, such as Sir Gibbie and Heather and Snow is his use of the native dialect -- the Scottish Brogue. The "Summary" printed on the inside cover of the latter is humorous: "...Written with vigorous vernacular."

Here's an example of that "vigorous vernacular". Heather and Snow opens with a conversation between a girl with her feet on the ground and a boy with his head in the clouds:

'I'll no hae the warl' lichtly me!' he said.

'Mebbe the warl' winna tribble itsel aboot ye sae muckle as e'en to lichtly ye!' returned his companion quietly.

Did you follow that?

I found the dialogue tricky at first, but that it eventually sort of flows over and into you. And then, it's just a wonderful read, because you really do feel more inundated in that world. It's the same effect that happens when reading one of Patrick O'Brien's novels (made popular recently by the movie Master and Commander), where the language is seafaring old-world and the reader is left to sink or swim. One learns to swim, and then finds the water enjoyable.

For my birthday a couple of years ago I bought (from the wonderful folks at Johannsen Family Publisher) a complete set of George MacDonald's written works. Sometimes, when I choose the next book to read, I am "in the mood" for some Scottish Brogue, and look first to make sure the novel has some dialect in the dialogue.

And here's my transliteration (GMD helps with "lichtly"):

"I'll not have the world make light of me!" he said.

"Maybe the world won't trouble itself about you so much as even to make light of you." returned his companion, quietly.

It occurs to me one could have a "Scottish Brogue" quote of the day, and let the reader attempt translation. Okay, here's one, from Castle Warlock:

"Whan the coo loups ower the mune,
The reid gowd rains intil men's shune."

I invite translations in the comments...