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Topic of the week The Scots tongue Twas a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht ...

Roxanne Sorooshian writes that "dreich" is the nation's favourite word, using a spelling that has been used by other commentators (Not all richt on the nicht, Comment, January 27).

If you based it on the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation principle as in German, should it not be ie rather than ei? Consider Dienstag (Tuesday), liebe (love), tier (animal) – they are all pronounced "ee" not "y" as in mein, wein, stein, dein and so on. On this basis it would sound drych.

As one who grew up in Ayrshire's mining community, I would add that you can walk the streets of Cumnock, New Cumnock and Auchinleck and still hear nicht, bricht, licht and micht hear ither aul' Scoattish lingo.

My daughter, an English teacher in Italy, has a broad east Ayrshire accent. She gave a writing exercise to one of her young students, who had written: "I goat a nice present for my burthday." An acute foreign observer of an old Scottish tongue!

Michael Flynn

Glasgow

The word "dreich" is of Middle Scots and originally Anglian (the northern dialect of Anglo-Saxon) origin. English, a cousin, comes from the Saxon dialects of the south, which developed into Middle English.

When Scots ceased to be the language of authority, it remained as a language of speech, song and poetry. Each area developed its own dialect, from Shetlandic to Doric to Ulster Scots and, as pronunciation varied when it came to be written down, the spelling varied also. Anyone writing in Scots today has to decide which spelling to use, from the seven or so possibilities in the Concise Scots Dictionary and then be consistent.

We have always known the celebration as a "Burns Supper", and considered "Burns' Night" to be the English translation of "Burns Nicht". There is a loss of the "ch" sound in the speech of some younger people in Scotland, and in commentators from elsewhere (who have no trouble with Bach). There is also a loss of Scots, or even Scottish English terms: for example, we see the use of English "jab" for "jag".

Susan FG Forde

Scotlandwell

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