"gin" (old english / scottish)

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Helper's Help

Hi everyone,

I'm reading this old scottish ballad where a fairy comes in our world and abducts someone nicknamed Thomas The Rhymer in order to bring him to fairyland. This use of "gin" I don't get (and I'm pretty sure she doesn't offer him a drink). She tells him how to behave in Fairyland :

'But Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever you may hear or see,
For gin ae word you should chance to speak,
You will neer get back to your ain countrie'

I get the global meaning of the sentence, that he is supposed to keep his mouth shut or else there won't be no turning back, but i don't really understand the whole sentence properly.

Is he supposed to hush while in Fairyland ? Or not to speak about it afterwards (which would be paradoxical, but maybe I didn't get it well)

Thanks a lot,
  • Garoubet

    Senior Member
    French - France, Quebec
    Gin est une forme archaic de begin. Je pense que c'est le cas ici. Mais attendons d'autres avis.
    Est-ce qu'il y a d'autres phrases dans la ballade qui utilisent ce mot?


    Senior Member
    UK English
    The version in Chlld's collection actually reads 'if' :
    "But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
    Whatever ye may hear or see,
    For, if you speak word in Elflyn land,
    Ye'll neer get back to your ain countrie."
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