Residence: Aberdeen, Scotland
Date of Performance/Collection: April 11, 2020
Primary Language: English
“You a scunner?”/”You’re a wee scunner!”
“Scunner is like a bother, specifically like a kid or something. I don’t know what came first, but I say “You a scunner?” and so do many people I know around here, but my friends in Edinburgh say “You’re a wee scunner!” We use it to kind of callout a child for being a whiner.
This informant, MS, comes from Aberdeen, Scotland and has lived there for all of her life, except for a few years she spent in London. She’s from the silent generation so she has heard a lot of different sayings come and go over the years, but she says she remembers telling this to her sons, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She even remembers her mother saying it to her when she was a little kid.
I invited MS, my great grandmother, to talk with me after a family reunion zoom call. A few
days later, we got together and we live streamed a rerun of Strictly Come Dancing over zoom and during the commercial breaks, we talked over some folklore from her life in Scotland, specifically from her childhood in Aberdeen.
What’s fascinating to me is the dichotomy of this statement. It appears that the idea of calling kids “scunners” when they misbehave is universal among the Scottish folk group as a whole, but the way it is said is regional within the folk group which shows you slightly different meanings. The Aberdeen way of saying it is so much more questioning, while the Edinburgh way is more accusatory and statement based. It shows you that variation is a very huge part of folklore, especially in this way of saying the same thing.