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TITLE
A Traveller's Tale - Language & Superstitions
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_TRAVELLER_INTERVIEW_06
PLACENAME
N/A
DATE OF IMAGE
2003
PERIOD
2000s
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
11720
KEYWORDS
travelling folk
travellers
A Traveller's Tale - Language & Superstitions

In 2003 Inverness Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition on travelling people. To help with the research for the exhibition, Willie, a traveller, took part in an interesting and very informative oral history interview. Here, he talks about the travellers' language (known as cant) and some of their superstitions. (The image shows a typical traveller's camp from around 1920-1940)

Can I ask about the cant?

Well likes, ye've got dogs - we call it a buffard; them in Gaelic call it a coo, coo. Sounds like a cow! Ye've got a gadgie; in Gaelic they call it a glough! An ye've a gerrach, which is a woman! On my side o the family they call it a mannachy - funny words, eh! A house in Gaelic is kir - we just pronounce it the same way. We call you folk the country folk. Ah'm not very good war words!

Any superstitions?

Well, ma mother was very superstitious, ye know? Likes of a Friday night, if ma father was at the pub she wouldn't comb her hair or anyhin like that - it wiz unlucky. In the morning, likes if ma mother an father had a little fight or somethin likes, an they said some o the names, that was it. They would just sit there all day. They said this mebbe name - Ah'll no say the name just in case somethin happens - or even some animals; they mentioned some animals - the salmon, or a snake (a snake was really bad!) - if they mentioned a snake, ye wid think somethin wid happen tae them if they went out, or they'd get that much bad luck they'd get picked up by the police or somethin like that.

Do travellers still burn the caravans when their owners die?

They still do it in Scotland, aye. A lot o the travellers now don't burn them, they just put them up tae the crusher. Ye know yerself, now ye burn things, ye get in trouble for it! They either burned them or - Now they take them tae the crusher. Same wi cars.

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A Traveller's Tale - Language & Superstitions

2000s

travelling folk; travellers;

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

A Traveller's Tale

In 2003 Inverness Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition on travelling people. To help with the research for the exhibition, Willie, a traveller, took part in an interesting and very informative oral history interview. Here, he talks about the travellers' language (known as cant) and some of their superstitions. (The image shows a typical traveller's camp from around 1920-1940)<br /> <br /> Can I ask about the cant?<br /> <br /> Well likes, ye've got dogs - we call it a buffard; them in Gaelic call it a coo, coo. Sounds like a cow! Ye've got a gadgie; in Gaelic they call it a glough! An ye've a gerrach, which is a woman! On my side o the family they call it a mannachy - funny words, eh! A house in Gaelic is kir - we just pronounce it the same way. We call you folk the country folk. Ah'm not very good war words!<br /> <br /> Any superstitions?<br /> <br /> Well, ma mother was very superstitious, ye know? Likes of a Friday night, if ma father was at the pub she wouldn't comb her hair or anyhin like that - it wiz unlucky. In the morning, likes if ma mother an father had a little fight or somethin likes, an they said some o the names, that was it. They would just sit there all day. They said this mebbe name - Ah'll no say the name just in case somethin happens - or even some animals; they mentioned some animals - the salmon, or a snake (a snake was really bad!) - if they mentioned a snake, ye wid think somethin wid happen tae them if they went out, or they'd get that much bad luck they'd get picked up by the police or somethin like that.<br /> <br /> Do travellers still burn the caravans when their owners die?<br /> <br /> They still do it in Scotland, aye. A lot o the travellers now don't burn them, they just put them up tae the crusher. Ye know yerself, now ye burn things, ye get in trouble for it! They either burned them or - Now they take them tae the crusher. Same wi cars.