Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1997-11 > 0880225117

From: linda Merle <>
Subject: Re: Irish Immigrant Literacy
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 10:58:37 -0800

Dear Tom,

I don't think we have done enough research to know what percentages
of Scotch Irish emigrants could read and write. We all have an
opinion but we'd have to research large numbers of folk to really
know. Not that lack of scientific info should stop us from fighting
about it here....

Probably he spoke and wrote English but there are cases of Scots
communities in the Americans ordering themslves a minister who spoke
Gaelic. Most Ulster Scots were descendents of lowland Scots,
who did not tend to speak Gaelic in the 17 and 1800's. Though
again, we do have records of Presbyterian ministers preaching in
Scots Gaelic in Ireland. What the majority spoke was Scots.
Scots is still spoken in parts of Scotland and Ireland today.
If you go to the Ards penninsula in Co Down, you will find areas
where the street signs are in Ulster Scots. And again we now do
have records that show that Gaelic was spoken in Galloway as late
as the mid 1800's, but only by a few.

If you are living in the Ulster Scots heartlands of America, you
may know a few words yerself. Ever "red up" your room? Are your
neighbors nebby? Even the term "hill billy". "Billy" is Scots
for "guy". I've been reading "A Scots Quair" by Lewis Grassic
Gibbon, three novels written in Scots. Not as hard as you would
think because a fair amount of it I knew but didn't know I knew.

The novels are great. I understand my family a lot better due to them.
I liked the guy who almost died when his wife of 50 years of so
walked in on him while he was naked. Married 50 years and she'd
never seen him naked. Yep, that's my family, thought they were
abnormal, nope, just Scots.

Linda Merle

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