Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Auld Lang Syne & Guid-willie

Auld Lang Syne is an odd sort of song to have attained general currency, the words written as they are in a dialect that hardly anyone speaks or understands any more. It has a peculiar power, though, perhaps especially so around midnight after a long evening's drinking and fellowship. Its currency, by the way, is global: visiting the People's Republic of China in 1982, as that nation was just emerging from the long, xenophobic Mao Tse-tung despotism, I found that there were three Western tunes known to everyone under thirty: a feeble pop tune named Red River Valley, the old classic Clementine (which, however, Chinese people all believed to be of North Korean origin), and Auld Lang Syne.

The dialect here is Lallans, the speech of lowland Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries. "Auld lang syne" translates literally as "old long since," i.e. times long past. "Guid-willie" means "hearty," or "filled with goodwill." A "waught" is a deep draught of some potent drink.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' lang syne!
[Chorus, twice]

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Then here's a hand, my trusty frien',
And gie 's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak' a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne!
[Chorus, three times]

And of course, the incredible mp3 of Auld Lang Syne (complete with guid-willie reference.


Blogger bmoss said...

Prof. Goodwillie will be offering a speciality course this semester: Economics and Historical Jams. Drop that science son!

10:35 PM  
Blogger zk said...


Check them apples, Quizza.

3:01 PM  

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