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I'M Not Same Yer Crazy
by Don Nichol

WHAT is the difference between a language and a dialect? Hamish Whyte cites Anthony Burgess's ABBA ABBA on this: "A language waves flags and is blown up by politicians. A dialect keeps to things, things, things, street smells and street noises, life." The character in the novel who utters this remark, Belli, the romanesco poet, has been more fittingly translated into Scots than into English.

Belli's desire to. record the enjambments, slurs and elisions of everyday speech ? "Avemmaria" 'instead of "Ave Maria" ? is echoed in Tom Leonard's tendency in saying "insane":

heh jimmy
yawright ih
stull wayiz urryi
heh jimmy
ma right insane yirra pape ...

To translate this as "Am I right in saying you are a Roman Catholic?" is to admit to the anal retentiveness of standard English


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