NEW HORIZONS THROUGH THE HIGHLAND HAZE
Hallaw therr! Hou’s it gaun?
We’re richt gled tae see ye in Auld Reekie!
*For Scots expressions put in italics please consult the glossaryThe big yin
and ECTA members 15, 110 and 705 are richt gled tae see ye
in Auld Reekie
and wish you a’ the best
and a very warm welcome to the 38th ECTA Annual Conference
and to the historic city of Edinburgh (Dunn Eidann
in Gaelic or Auld Reekie
in Lallans or Lowland Scots), where we will try to guide you safely to “New Horizons through the Highland Haze”.
We have a number of excellent working sessions, and our social programme, which is
equally compelling, will take us to Dynamic Earth which is situated close to the Scottish Parliament buildings and Holyrood Park, in which Arthur’s Seat can be found. We will also visit one of Scotland’s finest country houses: Hopetoun House located in 6500 acres of outstanding natural Scottish beauty. If the kilt is your delight, this is where it can be shown off to best advantage.
On Friday night we invite you on a journey of discovery through the history of Scotland to dine in the main gallery of the National Museum of Scotland, which has been justifiably described as one of Scotland’s most beautiful spaces. Cocktail or evening dress, or if your kilt has gone astray in the airport, business suits will be entirely appropriate.
Edinburgh has much to offer that can be explored conveniently on foot or using the local tram service. Cashel Travel, who helped to put all of this together, will have one of their agents on site, where they will be very happy to make tailored suggestions and offer expert advice on individual sightseeing trips during your stay in Scotland’s Capital City, Auld Reekie
But, you may ask, why did Edinburgh, a city lauded as the “Athens of the North”, get the nickname Auld Reekie
? In the late Middle Ages, the entire city comprised what we now call the Auld Toon. This was enclosed by a city wall, which along with the Nor’ Loch
(a small lake or loch which no longer exists but was sited where the Princes Street Gardens are now located) formed the city’s early defences against threat of invasion. Unfortunately, the city’s waste and effluent drained into the Nor Loch,
which was also used for dumping dead bodies. We probably cannot imagine the resultant smell. however, if you stand in Princes Street and look up at the Castle across Princes Street Gardens – and imagine that as a small loch
–, you may be able to imagine how difficult it would be to attack the castle and its environs successfully!
Add to the smell a thick smog created by the coal fires that fed the city’s chimneys (all concentrated in the small area bounded by the former city walls) and the nickname Auld Reekie
begins to come alive. The defensive walls of the old city (some of hich may still be seen) prevented expansion and concentrated dwellings into the area we now call the Auld Toon
(Old Town). A walk from the Castle down the Royal Mile will eventually lead to the very modern Scottish Parliament buildings, past small shops where tartan, tweed, whisky and Scottish memorabilia can be bought, or visit Princes Street and the New Town, of which more below.
Alternatively, walk from the Castle down the steps towards the Grassmarket, which is dominated by the Castle. Leading off from the south-west corner is the Vennel (a passageway between two buildings), on the east side of which can still be seen some of the best surviving parts of the Flodden Wall built in the years between 1514 and 1560 following the Scottish army’s defeat by the English at Flodden in 1513.
If you visit Princes Street look up at the Castle across Princes Street Gardens. This is where Scotland’s biggest New Year party takes place. When facing the Castle, behind you will be the New Town, which was built in stages between 1767 and 1850 and retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian period architecture. Some say its most famous street is Princes StreeT but many of us prefer George Street, which runs parallel to Princes Street and is the central thoroughfare of the original New Town. To the east of George Street lies St. Andrew Square built in 1772, which is dominated by the Melville Monument commemorating Henry Dundas, the first Viscount Melville. Possibly of more immediate interest, the Harvey Nichols department store and a number of restaurants, including the London based Dishooms and The Ivy, are now located on the Square.
We have tried to give a flavour of English as spoken by Scots. Many see this as a language other than English and - just like American - may not mean what you think it means, even if you can understand the accent. Therefore, we have compiled a very short glossary of useful terms.
We very much hope that you will all enjoy your wee stay in Auld Reekie
and lang may yer lum reek
. In conclusion we leave you with a sentiment from the grand old man of Scottish entertainers, Sir Harry Lauder:
Just a wee deoch an doris,
just a wee drop, that’s all.
Just a wee deoch an doris afore ye gang awa.
There’s a wee wifie waitin’ in a wee but an ben.
If you can say,
“It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht”,
Then yer a ‘richt, ye ken.Haste ye back!Sozos-Christos Theodoulou
President of ECTAEric Ramage
Member of the Local Organising Committee - 101Keith Havelock
Member of the Local Organising Committee - 15Maggie Ramage
Member of the Local Organising Committee – 705Useful Scots phrases
- Auld Reekie: Edinburgh.
- The big yin: Literally “the big one” but is usually used to indicate the leading light in a particular situation, as in “Sozos is the ECTA President, he’s the big yin on the Council”.
- A’ the best: Literally “all the best” - sincere good wishes.
- But and ben: A two-roomed cottage or a humble dwelling usually in the Highlands.
- Lang may yer lum reek: Literally “long may your chimney smoke” but used to wish someone a long and healthy or successful life.
- Hallaw therr! Hello!
- Haste ye back! Come back soon!
- Hou’s it gaun? How are you?
- [Ah’m] richt gled tae see ye: Literally “I am very pleased to see you” used as a greeting; usually of an old friend, or a valued new acquaintance. A similar greeting for a new acquaintance would be Ach, Ah’m that gled tae meet ye.
- Deoch an doris: An alcoholic beverage (whisky, of course) offered to guests before they leave, also called “the parting dram” (a dram being a reference to a shot of whisky, also called a nip, from which comes the Glaswegian nippy sweetie euphemism for whisky). Contrast also gill (pronounced Jill) being a measure in which whisky was formerly sold; thus if someone says to you Yell hae the hauf? you are merely being offered a whisky. To add to the confusion, whisky which was formerly sold in a measure of a half gill, (hence “the hauf” is now dispensed as a measure of 25ml or as 50mI (for a double). When member 110 was a young Scottish student, the usual measure was one quarter gill. Posh hotels that wanted to create the illusion that they were not distressingly expensive used measures of one fifth or even one sixth gill. Despite the fact that whisky has not been dispensed in half gill measures since I don’t know when, many old stagers may still be heard to say to the bar man Haw Jimmy, gie’s a haut! (It is a curious fact of life that all Scottish barmen are called Jimmy.) Question: If a hauf is a single shot of whisky, what is a hauf an’ a hauf? (There are no prizes, but I will tell you about Dan who could sink a pint of heavy in less time than it took me to lift it to my lips and other tales of my time as a barman in Scotland, if you care to buy me a hauf an’ a hauf I may also tell you about putting a pint into a hauf intae a pint gless).
- Wee wifie: Literally a small woman but used of any woman of humble status or deserving of pity. In the latter case, the wee wifie would usually be referred to as a puir wee wifie, from which we might construct the sentence The puir wee wifie wis jist left staunin in the road efter the bus drove awa an left her. This may describe a female delegate who missed the last coach back to the hotel after the Gala Dinner; so, dinna be that puir wee wifie or dinna be the puir wee man nie, wha’s left runnin efter the bus.
- “It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht”: Literally “it is a beautiful bright moonlit night”, but because it is generally thought that no one but Scots can pronounce the “ch” it is commonly used to indicate that if you can pronounce the phrase in a proper Scottish accent then you can be accepted into Scottish society.
- Haud yer wheesht : Shush! or Be quiet! or simply Shut up!
- Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye: Literally “whatever is intended for you will not pass you by”; our way of saying “que sera sera”, whatever will be will be.
- Keep the heid: Keep your head, stay calm, don’t get worked up.
- Awa an bile yer heid: Literally meaning “away and boil your head”. In other words, get lost!
- Gies peace or awa an gies peace: Give me some peace – stop annoying me and go away and quiet!
- Gie it laldy: Give it everything you have! Give it all you’ve got! (When bagpipes come out, spectators tend to shout either Gie it laldy or Awa an gies peace or even Awa an bile yer heid, dependant on point of view.)
- Yer bum’s oot the windae: Various meanings dependant on context but can mean variously “You are in a very precarious position” or “You are on to a loser here” or “You are talking absolute nonsense”. Variations of the phrase may be used for example to indicate that one was in a precarious position (usually in a humorous story concluded to one’s satisfaction) as in Ach ma bum wis right oot the windae, so it wis!
- Up to high doh: Worked up or stressed out, and in this situation you should probably try to keep the heid.