A jeely piece? Or not?

Is it still a piece if it disna hae a lid? Image: Su Leslie 2019

I’ve mentioned here before (no more than a million or so times) that I was born, and spent my first few years, in Scotland — Kirkcaldy to be exact.

My parents emigrated to New Zealand with great enthusiasm and a strong desire to assimilate. But we came to an area already full of Scots — including a few we knew from “back home.” So although Mum and Dad fairly quickly developed their “visiting-Minister” voices to be understood by the non-Scots around us (particularly our Presbyterian Minister whom my parents felt they had to particularly impress), we generally spoke fairly broad Scots at home.

In fact for years, I could talk to a school-friend in my perfect Kiwi accent, with Kiwi idiom, and literally turn to Mum and sound like a different person. Over time that happened less and less, and one day I realised that I’d begun to think in Kiwi.

As an adult, I’ve returned many times to Scotland, though never to live, and have begun to use words and phrases of my mother tongue that express what I’m thinking or feeling better than English — in the same way that I use Maori.

So when I slapped some apricot jam on a bit of bread this morning, I found myself thinking “jeely piece”. That’s jam sandwich to you.

But. I’m not sure if it is a piece if it doesn’t have a lid, or top slice.

Hopefully Anabel at Glasgow Gallivanter can help me out.

Meantime, it was shot with a 100mm macro lens, so it does at least make the cut for Macro Monday.

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54 thoughts on “A jeely piece? Or not?

  1. My grandmother wasn’t Scottish (she had a broad (in more than one sense) Scottish mother-in-law )but she would have called that a piece. She put jam on the bread and then she sliced off the ‘piece’. I am guessing you wouldn’t have any trouble deciphering our small collection of letters written by my great great uncle David to the folks back in Scotland. When he wrote about his brother Tom, he always wrote Tam.

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    • That’s really interesting. I’d not have thought of spreading then slicing!! I think my parents and their correspondents wrote in English (though I’ll have to look through the old letters I have to confirm that); Scots was our spoken language. I suspect that by mum and dad’s generation it was also the language of informal encounters.

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      • My father reports being very taken with his grandmother’ Scots but it’s possible she just spoke it at home. Her son, my grandfather, didn’t have even a trace of Scots in his accent. And I expect my great great uncle David only used Scots in his letters. And we were enormously impressed by our grandmother’s ability to slice a piece off a loaf of bread. She didn’t put the bread on a board either. She held the bread and sliced off the piece!!!!

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      • That is a really neat trick. I can only imagine the mess I’d make trying it 🙂
        My brother and I “lost” our Scottish accents even at home eventually — probably because we were so young when we came here. I used to say that Mum and Dad kept theirs, but when I listen to them now, they sound very different to family members who still live in Scotland.

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      • Interesting. My parents left NZ in their late 20s. They had accents typical of their generation but after decades away from NZ their accents were nothing like the modern NZ accent. Their accents had stayed more or less static. The rest of NZ had moved on. Accents are so intriguing.

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  2. I really enjoyed what you wrote! My mother has Scottish ancestry via her maternal grandfather from Nova Scotia, but he wasn’t a part of her mother’s life and so the connection was lost. When she was a little girl, Scotland was the place she wanted to visit most. She did finally get there as an adult (in her fifties), and it was everything she hoped it would be. I have yet to visit, but will someday.

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  3. We had a Scottish lady living in our flat for a while and she would come upstairs for a cuppa and a chat occasionally. When she went back downstairs Jack would turn to me and say “ now you can translate what all that was about…”

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  4. This was enlightening … I thought English was spoken in Scotland and New Zealand 🙃
    All silliness aside, I appreciate that there are considerable differences but I admit that I blinked at your comment that at some point you had begun to think in Kiwi.

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    • English is overwhelmingly spoken in Scotland and NZ, (though here Korean and Mandarin are increasingly common), but I think in both places if you recorded chunks of natural day-to-day speech and then asked the person to repeat themselves (or write it) specifically for someone who wasn’t local, there would be noticeable differences — much more so in Scotland. Here, we probably wouldn’t consider “Kiwi” a language, but as it’s becoming more and more common to include Maori in our daily speech, this may change.
      I’ve noticed recently that Maori is a wonderfully inclusive language. In English we have lots of words to describe specific relationships with people, whereas Maori words seem to capture the importance of the relationship. I’m explaining this badly! The Maori word whanau loosely means family, but naturally includes people we think of as family whether connected by biology or not. English doesn’t do that nearly as well. Similarly mokopuna is basically any young child in the family — not “grandson” or “great niece” or “baby of second cousin twice removed”.

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  5. So glad you explained that—I had no idea what it meant! I didn’t realize that Scots spoke such a different form of English—I assumed all of Great Britain spoke the same language albeit with different accents. Ignorant me! Of course, here in the US we have lots of regional differences in accents and even some word usage and idioms, but overall we all spoke the same American version of English.

    Now watching TV shows from England or Australia often requires use of closed captioning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scots has had to fight to be recognised as a language, rather than regional “slang” — and it is still sometimes referred to such. My parents with their “visiting-Minister” voices were effectively downgrading their own tongue in an attempt to fit in, and even my Gran used to change the way she spoke to something much more “English” sometimes. My mum increasingly came to consider use of Scots words to be “common” — her favourite insult!
      Many of the words are effectively the same as English, but pronounced so differently that if you write them phonetically it looks completely different. And when you add in words and idioms that are different to the way English is constructed, it is arguably a language.
      I think accents are the biggest barrier to understanding different regional spoken voices — even the familiar is strange.
      When those voices are written down — that’s when it seems really alien! I remember the first time I picked up a novel written in Scots. I had to sound out the words like a kindergarden kid until it began to flow.

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  6. I know a thing or two about the language problems myself. My first (and mother) tongue) language is the Swiss German, contrary to the better known High German or Good German, which we only learn at school. Later on, I added French and English. I also took some Italian but I don‘t use it regularly. However, the minute I spot an Italian, words fuel back in my brain and within some 20-30‘ into it, much of what I knew comes back. Hero Husband – on the other hand – is a French spoken Swiss and he‘s not a natural language buff. So, we talk in French with each other, most of my days I think, write and read in English, on the phone and with Swiss family and friends it‘s German, but as I‘m often having to take ultra-rapid decisions, I can‘t always think of the right expression and therefore my ‚speak‘ is not very clean and correct. A bit like the Scottish taking over the English or Kiwi…. But isn‘t it such fun to be able to do it in the first place? I feel so privileged to know languages and for years I want to learn Portuguese too. Only I haven‘t found the leisure time and opportunity to do so. AND it keeps those grey windings up in our heads working…. as do Sudoku, writing, etc.
    btw – nothing wrong with a nice ‚tartine‘, that‘s what it‘s called in France. A slice (or three) of lovely crusty bread, slathered in butter and yummy, tasty ‚preserve‘ (configture, Gomfi). I love it! – And I love a Monday (Tue/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat/Sunday) macro too…. 🙂

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      • As different as two languages….. but easy on us because at school we learn to speak ‘proper’ German! Many Swiss speak ‘high German’ quite badly, others are very ‘fluent’ and you can tell only from their influence of their Swiss region that they are definitely not German. Hero Husband’s brother is a language talent and his Swiss German is really good, HH will never speak ‘dialect’ because he just can’t…. His ‘high German’ however is quite charming, with that French touch to it and it wins him the hearts of all females in the German spoken world ….. 🙂

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  7. I love the whole language thing, Su. I will likely never speak Kiwi or Maori, but I’d love to learn to do a haka. 🙂 It’s fabulous when we get to watch the All Blacks on tv and they do the haka. Makes me smile and laugh out loud. (My husband played rugby for a number of years before I met him and for a few after, so we watch when we get a chance.) As for the photo, whatever you call it, it looks good.

    janet

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    • The widespread use of haka by non-Māori is quite a contentious issue here, with some people feeling that it’s disrespectful cultural appropriation. It is a really important part of Maori culture, with each haka having special significance. It’s a tough one; I think the fact that Ka Mate (the most commonly seen haka) has become so integral to NZ rugby makes it difficult to stop people wanting to use it. And to be honest, taking part in a haka is a very cool feeling!

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      • I didn’t initially realize there are hakas for all sorts of occasions until I saw one at a funeral for a service person. I have a bit of a problem with cultural appropriation anyway, because so many things in every culture came from the cultures before them who got them (often) from a culture before theirs. Unless the “thing” is used to mock or be intentionally disrespectful, I don’t see it as a problem, especially in the trivial areas that have surfaced in the US–white girls wearing hoop earrings or braids, for instance. So many other real issues to worry about. I understand it a bit more in this instance, but I don’t think with the All Blacks it’s at all being used disrespectfully.

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      • Seriously — it’s considered disrespectful to wear hoop earrings and have braids (I know these are examples, but that sort of thing?)
        That seems crazy; and missing the point of what is important in a culture.
        I think the problem with haka is that they are so often — perhaps unintentionally — parodied and “performed” with no regard to their meaning and importance in the culture. The ABs have an incredibly long tradition with the haka, and that’s fine.

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  8. Accents are such fascinating things! Thank you for sharing your journey through these accents.

    I have recently begun to appreciate the bits of language that are part of one’s heritage; often when we are young, we shed these in the hopes of fitting in (trying to shed the extremely Singaporean accent so my Texan classmates could understand me), but as I grow older, it occurs to me that these are all to be embraced as they are like treasures we pick up through life.

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  9. It sounds quite tricky to change accents to and forth. I for one am very fond of Scottish accents although I have to admit having trouble understanding it sometimes. 😂
    When I started learning English at school my accent must have been dreadful. Later on I tried for a British accent, mainly because my aunt always kept correcting me when I slipped into American pronunciation due to me watching more American than English films and series. I’m not quite sure how it sounds now, surely strange to native speakers but I’ve long since given up to sound like the BBC. 😉

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