Review of Dat Trickster Sun

Christine De Luca's Dat Trickster Sun, a well-produced pamphlet from Mariscat, contains Shetlandic poems interspersed with English ones. It ends with an ambitious poem on the subject of dialect, which is mostly in English. The middle section here quoted talks of who decides what is dialect. The poet first suggests "it is the boundaries and commissions/ that decide," but is that true?

It's the way our forefathers moved
To the forest floor, and in the tonality
Of their vocal chords said 'I' and 'You'
In a thousand different ways ...

... It's the famous thesaurus that suggests
three meanings for dialact - other than
dialect and language - speciality,
unintelligibility and speech defect.

...dat Heron Heights and Hegrehøyden
is baith languages but Hegri-heichts is dialect,
dat Hrossagauker an Snipe is language
but Horsegock is dialect.

The answer comes at the end, in Shetlandic:

Hit's da passion we haad whin we nön ta wirsels,
whin we baal soond fae wir bosie inta da heevens
whin we lay a wird o love apön een anidder
whin we dunna budder wi nairrow definition.

Review of 'Dat Trickster Sun', Sally Evans, Northwords Now Issue 28, Autumn 2014


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