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Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:30 am
by david macdiarmid
Well Ya'll,what did you think of Christian Watt's life story :?: I first learned of this book in the 1980's,where i remember a relation of Christian's was a doing a talk about the book in Glenrothes,Fife,Scotland.I have forgotten the man's name unfortunately and i can't remember where he fitted into Christian's family.But if you are out there,you know who you are.Thank You for sharing her remarkable story with me.Regards,David

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:48 pm
by sheilajim
Hi All,

I had received the Christian Watt Papers earlier, put it aside as I was reading some other books and had misplaced it. I found the book a few days ago in a bookcase and I am now reading it. Although the book is fascinating, I am only half way through it as I am finding it hard going because almost every sentence has words and phrases that I don't understand. It is almost like reading something in a foreign language. There is a very small glossary at the back of the book which I wish that the editor, David Fraser, had made larger. It would have helped me if he had also included a map of Christina's travels inScotland.

All that being said it is still a very interesting book telling about a lifestyle that is thankfully in the past. Imagine that the fishermen were not allowed to own their own boats until the 19th century! I don't think that they could even own their own land either although they could build their own houses. I notice that David Fraser seems to side much more with the powers that be of the day than the ordinary people. Times must have been very bad in London and Glasgow if someone as poor as Christian Watt had been, was still shocked at the poverty in those citiess. Of course Christian Watt probably wouldn't have been considered poor by the standards of the day. I also notice the resentment in having to give birth to so many children. There was no birth control pill in those days and children seemed to be quickly sent out to work. What a hard life our ancestors had! They were really tough people and if they survived childhood might live a long time.
One of the most amazing things in this book is that Christian Watt and her family were literate. :shock: I wonder how they managed that.


When I finish this book, I will read it again later.

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:46 pm
by david macdiarmid
[book] Hi Sheila,i am so glad that you are enjoying,Christian's life stoy.This Lady has made me laugh and cry,a spunky and tough character.In "Scots" ,Christian would have had "smeddum" .Her literacy of the time would be for others to add comments to,all i can say is that Scottish education :geek: was held at the highest regard for centuries,remember William Wallace the Scottish Patriot,was said to have spoken French and Latin prior to his Murder in 1305.I think the churches may have helped in promoting education in Victorian times,i just don't know.Can you imagine what Christian's life would be like if she was alive today,she could be running the country,with her socialist and Nationalistic views.I wan't to offer you assistance,with some words and phrases from the book,if you just tell me the page numbers and what you don't understand,i will reply asap and i am sure this will help in your enjoyment of reading the book.That offer is open to anyone :- Speak Soon,Regards,David

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:03 am
by sheilajim
Hi David,

Thank you for the offer but there are really to many to list here. Even though my mother was born and raised in Scotland, I don't believe that she could have understood many of the words Christian uses either. :D

There is one thing that does confuses me that maybe you can clear up. She keeps saying that they speak Doric. I thought that Doric was Greek! :shock:

I also wonder if she may have solved one of my puzzles. One of my GGGGrandfathers died in 1872; he is listed as having died a pauper. Hoping to find out more about him, I contacted the local histories and was told that they had no record of him as far as Poorhouse, etc. Christian Watt's father died in 1868 and was listed a pauper because he chose to receive the 10 pense,( I think it was that amount) a week. I wonder if the same could be true to my ancestor.


Researching in Stirlingshire: McDonald, Dunn, Kay, Scott, Watson, Towers. Renfrewshire: Kennedy, Boyd, McLaren. Perthshire: Kay. Mull: McKinnon, Campbell. Ulster: Kennedy, Boyd, Mckee.

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:26 pm
by david macdiarmid
Hi Sheila,i am sure your Mum would have coped with Christian's language just fine.The Doric is a dialect used in the north east of Scotland particulary Aberdeen-shire and is wonderful to listen to when you hear it spoken by a group of people.I have to confess when i hear it spoken quickly,i struggle to pick it up.I am sure i could help you through with words and phrases you don't understand,."Fit Like" in Doric means,"how are you",see easy peasy :D David

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 6:42 pm
by SarahND
Hi Sheila,
In spite of what David says (!), understanding the Doric might not be completely obvious to you if you have never heard it. Even, dare I say, just the average Aberdeen speaker who would not claim to be speaking the Doric… But, as with anything, practice helps immensely. When my husband and I were in Aberdeen a few years ago we were in linguistics professor heaven :D and can't wait to go back. He was just talking about it last night with a wistful tone in his voice :lol:

When I was a college student in California I worked for one of the professors transcribing recordings of conversations with a variety of people in Aberdeen-- so I already had some exposure to the way people speak. Because of that, I actually found it EASIER to understand Aberdeen speakers than the Scots further south. So, it's really just practice in hearing that makes all the difference, not that one dialect is inherently more difficult than another.

That's my two cents anyway :D


Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:32 pm
by AnneM
About the Doric, it is not the easiest of dialects (for though I bow to Sarah's superior knowledge I think it is a dialect rather than an accent) to understand. I am a born Scot and understand reasonably well the patois of my native South West of the country but when I moved up here and particularly when I started working in Fraserburgh I was totally baffled by what people were saying. Partly this was the Buchan accent but also the vocab and the syntax used. There is quite a difference between the language as spoken in Aberdeen and in the various parts of the Shire. Buchan has a lingo all of its own but they are all also variations of Doric. Locals still painstakingly translate things into English for me.

Mind you there are a lot of words and usages in the Central Belt which outsiders struggle with so it's probably just what you're used to.

Anne bytheway

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:13 am
by sheilajim
Hi David, Sarah and Anne,

What a tragic life Christian Watt had. All of her brothers dying and her children too. I still haven't finished the book but I have read most of it. I find it interesting when she reflects that her children had a harder and poorer life than she did. Today we think that life for each succeeding generation must get better but history tells us that this is not necessarly so.

David- I am not so certain that my mother would have understood Christian Watt's way of speaking. No doubt she would have understood her better than I do. However I remember that my mother had a friend who was also from Scotland. This friend of my mother would often say words which I didn't understand. When I asked my mother about this, she laughed and said that even she sometimes couldn't understand her friend.

Sarah- You were fortunate to have some exposure to various Scottish speach before you went to Scotland :D .

My mother was born in Paisley and spent most of her Scottish life in Renfrewshire with the occasional trip to Skye. Sometimes my mother would talk about people who spoke 'Broad Scots'. #-o Does anyone know what she meant be that?

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:27 pm
by david macdiarmid
[book] Hi Sheila the expression "Broad Scots" could be the same as "Braid Scots".Both things mean the same,and roughly speaking is a term used,to describe the Scottish language.For example i speak english and Scots but the Scots i speak is nowhere near the language that would have been spoken in Scotland say more than a hundred years ago.Very sadly a lot of the "Braid Scots" words are dying out.I am sticking my neck out here,but today i still think Broad Scots is still spoken in most old heavy industrial areas,which pulled folk in from a' pairts (all parts).Fife for example was a deep mining county and the language is still there in pockets and the same could be said for the north of Scotland with the Doric alive and well.Although the Scots spoken today can still be recognised as a language,the magical colourfull words attached to it are gone.I hope to be corrected by someone.I will give you a passage fom a book called " Heid or Hert" (Head or Heart) written in "Braid Scots".: As they turned,she leukit up inta his face wi' sweet een,an' said: "Allan,A'm richt thankfu' tae the bull for pittin' an' en' tae yer fecht." "Fatna fecht,my dearie?" "The fecht atween yer heid an' yer hert." "An the hert wan." "Ay,the hert wan," said Mary,leukin' up wi' saft,deep walls o' een.Allan pat his arms roon her,an' gae her a lang,fond kiss. See how you get on with that Sheila :- ,i'll be asking questions at the end :roll: .I am glad that you are enjoying Christian's book,i think it was a story better told on this site than just sitting on a bookshelf.Slainte Mhor,David

Re: The Christian Watt Papers

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:54 pm
by WilmaM
Broad Scots to me is what 'ordinary folk' speak to each other - but never write down.

I'd say it is alive and well all over the country - but no two areas will be alike.

The schools here are actively encouraging the use of the local tongue [where as in my day it was frowned on]
My youngest son's school proudly displays notices saying "the Gairdin" " the Wee Ain's" " the Dennir Ha" and my fav, on the Computer suite door, " Dinna birl oin the Chairs".

I'm going on holiday to 'Doric-Land' and expect half the time to be totally flumoxed by half of what the locals say :shock: , my husband studied Swedish and he understood a lot of that from his knowledge of the Doric - so the Vikings have a fair input.