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Sir Patrick Spens

Violet Crown

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Dd7 learns a new poem every week, usually one we select from her Oxford Book of Poetry for Children. Lately she's been reciting bits of Sir Patrick Spens, prompted by recent visits to Aberdour Castle and Dunfermline.


I can't bring myself to ask her to learn the whole thing by heart, though, for the probably stupid reason that it's in Scots dialect in her book, and honestly, when dd7 reads "O whaur will I get a skeely skipper/ To sail this ship o' mine?" in her good, honest Texas accent, it makes me cringe. It's available in non-Scots adaptation, but it's the version with all the Scots that she likes.


Should I just assign her to memorizing the whole thing, which she will love, and ignore the massive Scots/Texan dissonance? It sounds silly and petty not to, but if you could just hear her saying "'Tis we maun fetch her hame" you would understand my dilemma.


Has anyone had similar difficulties with dialect in literature? What did you do?

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Gee, I think in your shoes, I would try to squelch my own aesthetic sensibilities that are being wounded here, and just let her have fun. She's only 7 after all. And it is cool that she is so interested in the Scots' 'version' of it. Maybe when she gets older she become an elocutionist! Or at least be able to do really good accents when she's reading aloud (I've found this to be something I've perfected over the years of homeschooling.) I think you should video her reciting it. Then in ten years you can get it out and watch/listen and have a good laugh!


I think I saw some PBS show waaayyyy back in the day that talked about how the American Southern accent (which Texan is definitely related to) is actually derived from those Scot-Irish that settled in the South.


Maybe you could go on a linguistics rabbit trail!

Edited by Faithr
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If she loves it I would let her go with it, especially to keep encouraging her memorization skills and love for poetry.


I understand your concerns about the delivery/ accent though.

My dc are all involved in speech class (the older ones for competition) and I am constantly suggesting "try it this way..."


For my younger daughter, because I just want to encourage her and give her ideas, I look for youtube videos of kids delivering recitations.


I always affirm what she's doing, but the videos give her an incentive to polish it up.


She probably can't do anything about her accent (which I'm sure sounds sweet!) but if she sees other people work on accents, that may prompt her to try as well.

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Thank you both, Faithr and Sophia. Of course you're right; it's silly to think about dissuading her because of the dialect. Besides it's nothing compared to how her Latin prayers sound from her tiny tongue.:) Anyway it was all made pretty moot today when I asked her if she'd like to learn Sir Patrick Spens by heart entirely, and she rattled it off.:tongue_smilie:

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