Mudcat Café message #407515 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #31375   Message #407515
Posted By: Don Firth
27-Feb-01 - 05:56 PM
Thread Name: Origins: The Great Silkie
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
Silky -- Silkie -- Selkie -- Selchie.

The spelling and subsequent pronunciation is a bit iffy. I had always seen the word spelled "selchie." The first syllable pronounced "sell" and the "ch" pronounced almost like a "k", but a bit softer, like a Scottish "ch" as in "Och, mon!" The first time I saw the spelling "silkie" was on the label of a Joan Baez LP in the very early Sixties.

I just typed "selchie" into and came up with a humongous bunch of stuff. Here are a couple:




Also, see People of the Sea by David Thomson, The John Day Company, New York, 1955. Thomson collected oral literature and songs while traveling among the Irish and Scottish isles. He'd drop into a pub for a pint, get to know the locals, then tell them a strange story he had heard. They would then open up with stories of their own. (Just for kicks, I just did a search on and discovered that it has been reissued or reprinted, 1996.) Fascinating book!

Don Firth

(My great-great grandfather and grandmother came from the Orkney Isles -- Sule Skerry is just to the west, I believe -- and settled in the San Juan Islands. None of their descendants feel all that comfortable unless we live somewhere near large bodies of salt water. . . .)