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Make no mistake with our languages

Michael Flynn has his heart in the right place, defending Scots vocabulary and pronunciations (Topic of the week, Letters, February 3).

His suggestion that "dreich" should be spelt and pronounced on a German principle is agley, though. English, Scots and German are related but have different histories. While German "ei" gives the sound in "stein", and English "ei" gives "veil", Scots "ei" is as found in "dreich". "Dreich" comes from "dree" – to endure.

Walter Scott, who revived the phrase "dree your weird" ("endure your fate"), spelled dreich "dreigh" but pronounced it with the "ch" sound, as did Chaucer. "Weird" is a Scots word, as evidenced by the spelling. There was no "ei" spelling in Anglo-Saxon.

Iain WD Forde


Maybe Alan Taylor should check his sources to save getting his linguistically challenged tongue in an erroneous twist (Diary, February 3).

The Gaelic for "Are you going to the shop today?" is "A bheil thu dol dhan bhùth an diugh?" and the answer is either "Tha" (I am) or "Chan eil" (I am not): easy enough for Gaelic speakers.

Mr Taylor could visit my native island of Skye for a quick course at Sabhal Mór Ostaig, the Gaelic college. He could find that eye-opening – or even life-changing in a pleasant way.

Ailean Dòmhnullach


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