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Elphinstone Kist

A Welcome to the Elphinstone Kist
from the Director of the Elphinstone Institute, Dr Ian Russell


Welcome to the Elphinstone Kist. In it you'll find a wealth of material in the distinctive Scots of the North-East, affectionately known as 'the Doric'. Sheena Blackhall, Scottish Arts Council Creative Writing Fellow in Scots at the Institute, and Les Wheeler, Research Associate, have worked tirelessly over the last three years to put together this extraordinary Scots language resource which includes poetry, fiction, drama, song lyric, reminiscence, and days-in-the-life of all sorts of North-East folk from oil-worker to hairdresser. Contributors range from established authors to school children, and the 'E-Kist' is a fully searchable and downloadable resource.

The Scottish Executive has emphasised that our linguistic heritage is central to our sense of personal Union Streetand national identity. It has recommended that Scots should have a place in the school curriculum to help pupils appreciate and value what is often the language of their home and community, and become confident and creative in their use of it. It will also help them to understand the diversity of language, and gain insights into the work of Scottish writers. The Executive recommends that 'Scottish texts should be actively sought for use in the classroom' (Scots Language Factsheet, April 2001): the Elphinstone Kist meets the need by providing teachers with an accessible, rich and diverse resource which has the potential to support many kinds of teaching - from language work through to personal and social education.

Imagine the hard-pressed teacher seeking inspiration for a class of 'primary sevens' at eleven pm on a Sunday night. 'What is the class studying?'... 'Work: oil.' Three clicks later, and Bill Buchan's account of 'A Trip Affshore' is downloaded and printed. Clydesdales at Dunecht Even the ever-resourceful headteacher will find a wonderful hairst in the Kist to brighten up assemblies, and bring to them the integrity of the local tongue. It's possible to search for material about particular days and festivals: 'Hogmanay', for example, brings up eight entries, including pieces by the Rev. Charles Birnie and Mary Munro.

Of course, the Kist is far too good to be kept for teachers and pupils alone. It will be relished by everyone who has an interest in or love of the Doric. It draws on a long tradition, stretching from John Barbour's fourteenth-century epic on the life of Robert the Bruce and ballads like the Battle of Harlaw, to Sheena Blackhall's up-to-the-minute reflections on contemporary issues. You'll find the fantastic here, and also the down-to-earth - as well as everything in between. Many of the established names in the rich North-East tradition are in the Kist - Charles Murray, David Rorie, Violet Jacob, Hunter Diack, J.C. Milne, Ken Morrice, Peter Buchan, David Ogston, and many more. And, who knows, some of our school contributors may be the weel-kent Doric writers of the future. What the Kist shows is that the Doric has a vital and meaningful future in this electronic and information age.

Dr Ian Russell

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