George Anderson continues his masterclass series in Doric, offering an appreciation not only of the spoken language, but also the wealth of meaning between the economically delivered lines – and a breath of fresh air.
When Aberdeen Voice’s editorial team asked me to conduct a series of Doric Master Classes I jumped at the chance. The language lab above my garage in Auchnaclatt can be stifling in summer. Besides, I was fed up teaching American tourists how to order breakfast (Kin I hae a bug o rowies and a slack handfae o yer floory baps please?) But first things first I told them. Students of Doric must learn to breathe correctly. So that’s where we’ll begin.
… is vital for survival. Stop doing it long enough and your tatties will soon be ower the side.
The ancient Tai Chi masters knew this (about the breathing that is; not the tatties). They were taught from the temple crèche to breathe in through their ears and out through the soles of their feet. Though this practice was discontinued in the seventeenth century after complaints from monks about condensation in their gym shoes.
Good breathing is no less essential when learning to speak Doric properly.
This exercise has been designed to allow students to experience for themselves the correct way to breathe during conversation. Throughout the exercise do bear in mind the two fundamentals of Doric breathing: when listening, only breathe in; when speaking, only breathe out.
Students should work in pairs and have a paramedic on standby.
One person plays the speaker. The other takes the role of listener.
Start reciting the words to the ‘The Mucking of Geordie’s Byre.’ These must be spoken in Doric, at about twice the speed of an hysterical auctioneer on his third line of coke.
Just as the speaker begins, draw a gaspette of air in through the mouth while saying the word, ‘Aye’. Repeat this for as long as the speaker is speaking. Take care not to breathe out.
If you feel light-headed or confused, if you experience vertigo or the feeling that your lungs might at any moment explode, call your GP immediately – and tell him you have just mastered the art of Doric inhalation.
It has been clinically proven (67% of 285 breathers agreed) that your lungs will now contain levels of carbon dioxide similar to those recorded at the bottom of a colliery lift shaft.
Aim to reach this point at the precise moment when the speaker stops talking. Some feel nauseous at this point. If you are one of them, it helps to ground yourself by holding on to something — a telegraph pole, tree or a Ford Mondeo usually hit the spot.
Whatever you do, don’t faint; it will shortly be your turn to speak.
But you can think only of filling your burning lungs with oxygen in vast, life sustaining quantities. To do this you will first have to expel all of the noxious gases your lungs contain. And here we have a dilemma. Your conversational partner may believe that you are having a hairy fit. Worse; they may believe that you are feigning a hairy fit because you can’t bring yourself to share their concern for the cleansing of George’s cowshed. What to do?
Well, the answer is to use the blast of carbon dioxide your body will at any moment force from your chest (with or without your permission) as the carrier for your reply.
Stop speaking. It is your turn to say ‘Aye’ while only breathing in. Get to it.
(now adopting the speaking role): Recite the chorus to the Barnyards o Delgatie (reproduced below), out loud and real
fast (if you can distinguish one word from the next you are not speaking fast enough). Aim for 0.8 seconds from start to finish.
Luntin addie, turin addie,
Luntin addie turin ae
Luntin lowrin’ lowrin’ lowrin’,
The barnyards o’Delgaty!
Now that we have covered the mechanics of breathing the subject of our next masterclass will be ‘Doric and the beatnik culture’.
Image credit: © Max Blain | Dreamstime.com