Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Style tips for scrievin in Scots: translatin fae Inglis yaisin ‘Search an replace’

Gin we’re honest, mony o’s likely funs it easier whiles tae marshall wir thochts an get thaim doon on paper in Inglis, than translate thaim intae Scots efter. Ah confess Ah dae, whan the subjeck is yin that streetches the leid. Easier tae concentrate on clauchtin haud o the sense, an get that sortit, an than Ah can think on sayin whit Ah wintit tae say in guid Scots. Ah’ll come back anither time tae the question o guid Scots. In this note, Ah’m gaun tae knap aboot a cheat that’ll turn yer Inglis intae gey wersh Scots, juist as a first go aff.

Ah’ll assume ye’re yaisin Word for Windows. Gin ye’re a Mac yaiser ye’re probably cleverer nor me onywey – wirk it oot for yersel.

Sae lat’s say ye hae a blaud in Inglis that ye’re wintin tae caa ower intae Scots, for whitever reason. Ye’re no gaunnae warstle through thon chyngin ilka ‘gh’ intae a ‘ch’, are ye? Naw, ye’re gaunnae yaise ‘Search an replace’. 

Bit div ye daur tae hit ‘Replace all’? Weill, gin ye’re canny, ye micht e’en be able for tae dae that whiles. Juist be shair yer item is unique in yer blaud – for instance, ye micht yaise ‘Replace all’ tae chynge ‘I’ tae ‘Ah’ (makin shair tae tick ‘Find whole words only’), bit gin ye’ve got ‘I’ as a Roman numeral (likes o ‘Warld War I’) ye’ll pu that in an aw.

Think inpits an ootpits – certain chynges haes tae be taen in order, sae that ye dinna, for example, mak three hunner new ‘oo’ wirds juist afore ye wis gaun tae chynge aa yer ‘oo’ wirds tae ‘ui’. An try no tae get intae the seetuation whaur ye hae tae track doon monsters o yer ain creation, e.g. gin ye chynge aa yer 'most' strings tae 'maist', ye'll mebbies create 'almaist'. Better tae chynge 'almost' tae 'aamaist' as a first step.

Mind oot for homographs likes o ‘tae’ (to) an ‘tae’ (toe). Gin ye hae tae gae back a wee for ony reason, ye can ‘Un-do’ (ctrl+Z), bit a hantle muves furder on, an ye loss that option. Gin ye ettle than tae flit ilka ‘tae’ back tae ‘to’ ye’ll get yer taes catched in yer ain trap. Ah tend tae save the document gey aften, than Ah can backtrack, if necessar, be re-openin it.

Spickin for masel, Ah haenae gotten muckle advantage fae the ‘Match case’ option. Gin ye’ve a place-name, say ‘Black Law’, an ye wint tae lea that ‘Black’ at the same time ye’re chyngin ither ‘black’ tae ‘bleck’, ye can yaise it for that. But mind if ‘black’ kythes at the stert o a sentence, ye’ll miss it (cos o the capital letter).

Wildcairds. Ah, wildcairds. They dinnae eywis dae whit ye think they’ll dae. Or at ony rate, they dinnae eywis dae whit Ah think they’ll dae. Ah cannae spick for Mac yaisers. Ah tend tae juist keep it simple:

• an asterisk * stauns for ony string o characters, sae ye can fun wirds regairdless o their endin;

ye can specify the en o wirds, e.g. (ing)> means ‘ing’ juist at the en of wirds; likewise (ed)> is ‘ed’ at the en o wirds, etc.

Gin ye’re searchin yaisin wildcairds, there a box tae tick (‘Use wildcards’) in the dialogue box. Dinnae copy the wildcairds intae the replacement text – they’ll prent!

Whiles it’s needfu tae mak exceptions tae a chynge, e.g. ye micht wint tae chynge ‘ing’ at the en of wirds tae ‘in’ except for the wird ‘thing’. There a wildcaird meanin ‘not’ but it disnae interack yuisfully wi ‘replace’. Ah fun the easiest wey is tae temporarily pit bye the exception. For instance, ye could chynge the hale word ‘thing’ tae ‘thinw’ or some ither byordnar string, mak yer ‘ing’ chynge, than chynge aw ‘thinw’ back tae ‘thing’.

Ye micht wint tae keep yer spellin technology-freinly. In parteecular, ye can replace ‘oo’ (e.g. ‘moon’) wi ‘ui’ but no wi ‘u’ + consonant + ‘e’.


• eywis save the file afore hittin ‘Replace all’, than ye can ay gang back an stert again fae a kent pynt;

be awaur o chynges that haes tae be duin in a certain order;

• mak a list o the chynges ye’re gaun tae mak i the order ye’re gaun tae mak them (or halp yersel tae mines, ye’re walcome, Ah’ll pit it up in ma neist post), an tick them aff;

• afore ilk chynge, hing on an check whether ye’re wintin ‘Find whole words only’;

• afore hittin ‘Replace all’ be shair yer item is unique in yer blaud.


  1. What about the grammar and idiom of Scots?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Alan - that's next on ma agenda.