Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Rather dreich

Watching the weather forecast this morning on BBC Scotland, I had cause to pause when the introductory summary was given as "Rather driech."

My consternation was on two counts:

  • The return of horizon-to-horizon glowering clouds, persistent showers and gale force winds, with isobars tighter than a duck's proverbial;
  • I thought it was spelt 'dreich'.

From the kitchen window, the view of the ayre that separates the freshwater lochan from the sea has taken on a surreal... er... air. With the strong south easterly wind, the normally calm surface of Echnaloch is much more turbulent, with waves hitting the gentle grassy slope that defines the road verge. Whereas in a bizarre twist and despite it being high tide, Echnaloch Bay seems calmer, as it derives some shelter from the ayre and the gale pushes the sea water north west across Scapa Flow.

Whilst folk on mainland Scotland, rather than those in Orkney, are more likely to use 'dreich', it would appear that, according to my Oxford Dictionary, the word has its origins in Middle English, in the sense of 'patient, long-suffering'. This in turn came from a Germanic origin, corresponding to Old Norse drjugr meaning 'enduring, lasting'. At some point, the alternative spelling 'driech' seems to have sprung up. Confusingly, both are used by BBC Scotland.

A more in-depth discussion of the word can be found here.

Some Orcadian weather words can be found here.

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