Tuesday, March 03, 2009


In the inventory of British tongues - Scots, Cornish, Gaelic, Welsh, English - this ranks among the rarer:
Dis daes
a njoo sylins
faas wie da haar.

The author of Nort Atlantik Drift, Robert Alan Jamieson, does not say that his collection of poems is the first to be published in the language of Shetland, but his hope that the books "goes some distance towards representing a unique shoot of the Germanic tree of language in script form" suggests that it is. Jamieson provides a crib for his poems on the facing pages. Some, like the above, are fairly straightforward. ("These days / a new silence / falls with the sea-mist"), while others succeed in evoking a vigorous Shetland sound, even to ears unaccustomed to it:
Bobbie a'da aald Haa,
his mukkil oobin laagh boosin lugs,
tells agen his
best-kent tael.
(Bobbie from the old Hall, / his great hooting laugh buffeting ears, / tells again his favourite story.)

J.C., "Cheap Books", TLS Feb 15 2008, p.40