The Scottish Word of the Week: Grandwean

THIS coming Mother’s Sunday, many mothers will look forward to visiting their grandchildren as well as their adult mothers. Grandweans first appear in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) in DE Brown’s 1897 Clydeside Literateurs: ‘Till grand-weans and Ur-grand-weans, clap and applaud’. However, DSL does not take up the subject of their applause.

Our next quote is from the September 1992 Herald: “The use of language and that: A rare example of verbal talent overheard on a North Sea ferry. A Scottish grandmother admonishes her half-German grandson: “Gretchen! If you don’t bend that down, you’ll drive yourself insane to play with him.”

A later example perhaps reflects the sentiments of some grandparents. Visiting grandweans can be exhausting – as here in History on your Doorstep: The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum (1993): “My mother said I like to see my grandweans but I like to see them going away”.

A search for other examples yielded many, including the following from the May 1960 Motherwell Times: ‘Gilchrist’s beat band, made up chiefly of young lads from the scheme, gave the grandfathers and grannies a glimpse of what their Teenage Grandchildren Enjoying.” .

Gregor Steele wrote a poem for DSL in 2021 entitled When Scotty said “Scunner” which also includes our word: “And the words wull pass tae ma wean’s wean’s wean, And their wean’s grandwean’s wean’s grandwean…”

I hope many grandchildren will enjoy the company of their grandmas and grandpas this Sunday.

Scottish Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at The Scottish Word of the Week: Grandwean

Grace Reader

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