Morning name: Dudelsack / doodlesack

Maybe WQXR played some bagpipe music while I was sleeping, but this was the name in my head when I woke: German Dudelsack (aka Sackpfeife) or English doodlesack, take your pick. In either case, the skirling and droning was in my head. A sample: the “Skye Boat Song” on bagpipes:

And, in case you haven’t seen a bagpiper and his instrument:

On the noun bagpipe (a N+ N compound), from NOAD2:

(usu. bagpipes)  a musical instrument with reed pipes that are sounded by the pressure of wind emitted from a bag squeezed by the player’s arm. Bagpipes are associated especially with Scotland, but are also used in folk music in Ireland, Northumberland, and France.

So: a set of pipes (in one sense of pipe) sounded by a bag — a subsective compound, but one with a somewhat idiosyncratic semantic relationship between its parts.

As for the locations, these are in fact all Celtic: Scotland, Ireland, the county of England that is as close to Scotland as you can get, and not all of France, but only its Breton part. In Wales, it seems, everybody sings, but no one plays the bagpipes.

Then, the words I started with. First, Dudelsack. The Sack part is straightforward. OED2 gets the first element from dudeln ‘to play the bagpipes’, which I’d thought was onomatopoetic, but the OED says it is of Slavonic (that is, Slavic) origin and asks us to compare Polish dudlió.

English doodlesack is a borrowing of the German, with a spelling to suit English. It’s British, and various dictionaries identify it as dialectal or archaic, certainly not frequent or widespread. OED2 has two quotes, both of them 19th-century occurrences in word lists. The second:

1847–78   J. O. Halliwell Dict. Archaic & Provinc. Words   Doodle-sack, a bag-pipe. Kent.

(For what it’s worth, Kent is in the southeast of England, close to neither of the Celtic areas of the island, Scotland and adjacent parts of England, and Cornwall.)

Two spin-off topics: other uses of doodle in English; and candidate national anthems for Scotland, which will of course be played on the bagpipes as well as sung.

Doodle. First, the noun. The oldest noun use is:

colloq. a silly or foolish fellow; a noodle. [from 1629]

The OED relates this ‘fool, ninny’ sense to Low German dudeltopf, dudeldopp ‘simpleton’. According to the OED, it’s the basis for the compound doodlebug ‘the larva of an ant lion’ (informal, North American). And also the source of the sense ‘an aimless scrawl made by a person while his mind is more or less otherwise applied’, for which the quotation marks in this cite suggest that it seemed novel in the 1930s:

1937   R. M. Arundel Everybody’s Pixillated p. ix,   A ‘doodle’ is a scribbling or sketch made while the conscious mind is concerned with matters wholely unrelated to the scribbling.

The noun doodlebug, in turn, developed specialized informal uses: U.S. ‘an unscientific device for locating oil or minerals; a divining rod’; and Brit.‘a V-1 rocket’. And the compound was abbreviated to doodle in one further noun use (attested from 1887 on).

Then from the ‘ninny, fool’ sense of the noun doodle, we get a transitive verb doodle ‘to make a fool of, befool, cheat’ (dial. or slang, attested from 1823 on). From the ‘aimless scrawl’ sense of the noun doodle, we get an intransitive verb doodle ‘to draw or scrawl aimlessly’ (attested from 1937 on), with a figurative use (partly influenced by the verb dawdle) ‘to idle’; and then, later, a transitive use: “doodling his ideas” (1959).

Back to doodlesack, for which Urban Dictionary suggests a slang use for ‘hairy nutsack / ballsack / ballbag (that people doodle on ‘play sexually with’). UD is often not a dependable source, but this one sounds plausible as a piece of sexual slang.

(Side note. There are people with the family name Doodlesack. Two you can find on the net: a young man Gary Doodlesack from Reading MA, who in his years (2008 – 2012) at Boston University was an all-around jock, in BU’s men’s lacrosse, rugby football, inline hockey, and indoor track; and the older Garrison Doodlesack, possibly Gary’s father, a financial services rep in the Boston area. It would be nice if they were of Scots descent.)

Scottish national songs, played on the doodlesack. I start with the oldest I know of, “Scots Wha Hae”. From Wikipedia:

Scots Wha Hae (English: Scots, Who Have; Scottish Gaelic: Brosnachadh Bhruis) is a patriotic song of Scotland written in the Scots language which served for centuries as an unofficial national anthem of the country, but has lately been largely supplanted by Scotland the Brave and Flower of Scotland.

The lyrics were written by Robert Burns in 1793, in the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where Scotland maintained its sovereignty from the Kingdom of England. Although the lyrics are by Burns, he wrote them to the traditional Scottish tune ‘Hey Tuttie Tatie’ which, according to tradition, was played by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn, and by the Franco-Scots army at the Siege of Orleans.

A fiercely martial song, on Scottish bagpipes here:

From Wikipedia on national anthems for Scotland:

There is no official national anthem of Scotland. However, a number of songs are used as unofficial Scottish anthems, most notably “Scotland the Brave”, “Flower of Scotland”, and “Scots Wha Hae”.

For most international sporting events Scotland uses Flower of Scotland as its national anthem. These events include matches of the Scottish national football team and the Scottish rugby union team. The song has also been used as the victory anthem of Scotland at the Commonwealth Games since 2010, replacing Scotland the Brave.

“Scotland the Brave” has the tune that I think of when I think of Scottish bagpipe music. From Wikipedia:

“Scotland the Brave” (Scottish Gaelic: Alba an Aigh) is a Scottish patriotic song. It was one of several songs considered an unofficial national anthem of Scotland.

The tune probably first appeared around the turn of the 20th century, and at that time was sometimes known as Scotland the Brave. The [English] lyrics commonly sung today were written in around 1950 by the Scottish journalist Cliff Hanley for the singer Robert Wilson in an arrangement by Marion McClurg.

… “Scotland the Brave” is a popular song for pipe bands to play in American parades.

The lyrics are sentimental rather than martial.

On to “Flower of Scotland”. From Wikipedia:

Flower of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Flùr na h-Alba, Scots: Flouer o Scotland) is a Scottish song, used frequently at special occasions and sporting events. Although there is no official national anthem of Scotland, Flower of Scotland is one of a number of songs which unofficially fulfil this role, along with the older Scots Wha Hae, Scotland the Brave, and the more recent Highland Cathedral. It was written by Roy Williamson of the folk group the Corries, and presented in 1967, and refers to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, over England’s Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The song was composed and is sung in English, typically with Scots pronunciation of a few words (e.g. “Tae” as opposed to “To”)

The last verse:

Those days are past now,
And in the past
they must remain,
But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward’s Army,
And sent him homeward,
To think again.

On the doodlesack:

One Response to “Morning name: Dudelsack / doodlesack”

  1. John Says:

    Almost, but not quite. There are Welsh pipes, as well as Northumbrian pipes from below the Scottish border. Pipes make their way into Spain, with appearances across N. Africa, Sicily, and into Turkey. There are even variants to be found farther east in Poland, Russia, and several Caucasus states. Oh! And India, too, not counting those brought in with the Raj.

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