‘Wee’ and ‘gran’ among most popular Scots words

'Gran' and 'wee' were among the most popular words used by Scottish children. Picture: Getty

'Gran' and 'wee' were among the most popular words used by Scottish children. Picture: Getty

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GRAN and wee were among the most popular words used by children in Scotland this year, according to analysis of entries to a short story competition.

The term wee appeared in 191 entries to the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 WORDS competition, research by Oxford University Press (OUP) has found.

“Many Scottish children used the same techniques as adult authors, by embedding Scots in dialogue. We call this the Walter Scott technique”

Dr Susan Rennie

The second most popular word was loch - which appeared 80 times - while janny was used 11 times.

The top ten also included gran, sheriff, jetpack, haggis and pandas as well as couch and phoned.

The competition challenged children to compose an original work of fiction using no more than 500 words.

Experts from OUP analysed the 120,421 entries from across the UK to gain insights into the ways in which British children are using language.

They found that across the UK hashtag and the # symbol used to represent it was the most popular term this year.

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans said: “The OUP’s research for Radio 2’s 500 WORDS confirms just how incredibly creative children can be.

“They are so often at the forefront of both adopting and adapting to new language trends, and using them in all manner of inventive of ways.

“It’s clear that story-telling remains a hugely important part of a child’s life and that we as parents should do whatever we can to help them enjoy the worlds they create on paper.

“To use the favourite word of our young authors this year, their talent and imagination are #inspiring!”

Analysis of entries from north of the border found that many children are embedding Scots into their stories.

In a story titled Trick Switch, a nine-year old girl wrote: “BOOM! Everything was back in its place and the mess was gone. Even the floor sparkled. ‘Wow thanks man’, I said. ‘Nae bother pal’ said the Genie.”

Many also used typical Scottish words like crabbit and blether in their stories.

Dr Susan Rennie, of the University of Glasgow and a lexicographer for OUP, said: “Many Scottish children used the same techniques as adult authors, by embedding Scots in dialogue. We call this the Walter Scott technique.”

The research also found that children use their imagination to invent words when a suitable term does not exist.

Examples this year include Stegasuarez (a dinosaur and footballer Luis Suarez hybrid monster), wellysaurus and gloomful.

Vineeta Gupta, head of children’s dictionaries at OUP, said: “Language is constantly changing and adapting. Children are true innovators and are using the language of social media to produce some incredibly creative writing.

“What impresses me most is how children will blend, borrow and invent words to powerful effect and so enrich their stories.”

The bronze, silver and gold medal winners from the two age categories of the competition will be announced during the Breakfast Show tomorrow.

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