Saturday, 16 April 2011

What a Bonny Wee Bairn

Picture by Kieran Meehan.

If you didn't uderstand a slightest thing in the whole joke, there's no need to feel devastated, for it does not mean you have failed in your English (which was actually Scottish)! Yet it does mean you'd better read this post up to the end not only to get the humour right, but to learn some more amusing Scottish words.

Let's start with one of my favourite words that could be well heard in the closes (= alleyway that leads between the blocks of flats sharig a common entry) of Edinburgh or Glasgow. The word is wee.

To hear the word and it's explanation you can visit The English We Speak, where there are two funny showmen to teach you how not to confuse the Scottish wee with the Japanese Wii. But if you do not feel like making that wee research, simply look at the picture again! Can you try and deduce the meaning of the word yourself?

Oh, yes, I can well imagine that puzzled look in your eyes right now. But do not stop trying! Let's do it together step by step.

Step 1.
Describe the picture. Whom do you see in it? Aha, right you are! An old lady talking to a young lady with a little baby in a pram. Three characters in total. So, who is HE in the talk of an auld (=old) lady? Presumably, a baby! Well done!

Step 2.
Describe the action of an auld lady. Whom is she looking at? So, any clue on whom is the What a wee bairn exclamation aboot (=about)? I'm more than sure you've guessed, she's talking aboot a little baby. So who is a wee bairn? Exactly!

Step 3.
The auld woman is amused by the wee bairn, yet she sorrowfully says he'll soon be sloating about street corners. Give a synonym to the phrase. Brilliant!

Step 4.
Just learn what Buckie is. Buckie is a tonic wine. Usually considered as rather cheap. Mostly drank in Scotland.

Step 5.
Read the sentence again. What have you understood? An auld lady is talking to a mother of a wee bairn, who can possibly grow up to drink Buckie in the streets, making a diddy of himself. Guess what is the meaning of the word diddy. Still face a problem? Peep into!

Hurray! We have done it!

Now that you have understood the joke, we may discuss it!

Do you think this picture depicts a burning issue of a modern society, especially in terms of a growing generation?

I'm eager to hear from you! What are YOUR thoughts on the issue?

PS Those who still require the translation, do not hesitate to ask for it!


  1. What is it to say? We bring up our children and do all the best, and, what is pretty bad, that we can’t be sure what kind of person we are bringing up. Recently, I’ve heard the phrase, I liked it: “Let’s not missing smth that we can fix”. So, I believe that we are able to do smth in order to prevent such situations in our society when those old women would be right. It doesn’t have to happen with our children.

  2. @Sandra, what you are saying is, beyond a shadow of doubt, correct. I dare say, this is how it should be really: we are all in power of the proper upbringing of our "wee bairns". We should and must be responsible for the adequate upbringing which is not only giving birth to a baby to live some indefinite life, but the responsibility, first of all. It is not the school and teachers only to be in charge of the process of socialisation of a child, but the family, too. What young Moms and Dads tend to do nowadays is nothing but blaiming others.
    Yet, of course, both parents and teachers should be aware of the possible negative effect of a variety of so called "bad social groups" under a spell of which a child may be.
    We are ALL concerned!

  3. BTW (By the way), Sandra, have you listened to the wee radio show about the meaning of the word? I'd listen to your comments on it with pleasure! .) I found it rather amusing,) Though probably there happened to be too much of dramatising there, yet it was nice.)

  4. I liked the exercise but I didn't understand the meaning of the word "wee" except for the fact that it refers to the baby. Enjoy your sparkling sense of humour!

  5. @Olga SE, hehe, that's my fault perhaps ( I mean the definition of the word). But have you listened to the Radio show? They explain it well enough there, just click on the link, if you wish.))
    Yes, you've got it right. WEE may both be used as an adjective - meanng "tiny", "little", "small" (that is why am Wee) and as a noun, meaning "a little kid"! E.g. When I was a wee = When I was a kid.))
    Thanks for such a nice compliment, Olga! And I do enjoy your thoughtful post, too.)

  6. Oops, the answer must have been in the show which I didn't listen to.

  7. Oh, ney bother, hen (= do not bother, dear! (Scottish)).
    Yet, the show is nice and the explanations are well worded and clear enough, with a bit of humour and awesome pronounciation of native speakers.) Moreover, it's rather short (2-3 mins or so). So, if you have some spare time, I recommend you enjoy the listening.)