Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous Paxman

Paxman on the run

Paxman on the run

I thought I’d start this with a handy line borrowed from Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, and his poem “To a Mouse”, since it will involve dictionaries, and gives us a chance to define sleeket for the non-Scots:

Sleeket (sleekit): Scotland, sly: superficially charming but cunning and untrustworthy.

Yes, that’ll do nicely.

If you didn’t spot the story in the news, once respected television presenter Jeremy Paxman has added to his previous offensive remarks about Scotland by referring to the work of Robert Burns as “sentimental doggerel”. Previously, he angered Scots MPs, causing 20 of them to sign a Commons motion condemning him when he compared the dominance of Scots at Westminster to British rule in India.

His remark appears in print in the foreward to the new edition of the Chambers Dictionary, which will be available from August 22. There, Paxman writes, “Although I am afraid I find the Scottish national poet no more than a king of sentimental doggerel, one might as well have used his ramfeezled to describe our state.”

Clearly neither a lover of Burns’ poetry, or of clear or plain English, a quick consultation of Chambers Dictionary is needed to enlighten us, and note that doggerel is “badly written poetry”, and that ramfeezled means tired or exhausted. Scottish editor-in-chief Chambers Dictionary, Mary O’Neill, defended the comments, saying they were not an attack on Scotland, and that he is known for liking to poke fun at Scotland.

Hmmm… isn’t “poking fun” now considered to be a euphemism for bullying?

A pity he’s probably unaware of any good Scots phrases, or we could ask him to arrange the following words into a well known phrase, often heard in Scotland:

yer, bike, oan.

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August 15, 2008 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , ,

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