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Haud Yer Wheesht

Quiet Day

Feb 25

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore


A day for quietude may be just too long for the average dancer. Talking too much in Scottish Country Dance class? Naughty, naughty! First used in the 14th century, ‘wheesht’ can be used as a verb, a noun, and an interjection as in asking someone to ‘haud their wheesht’. Ironically, the word itself comes from adding more sounds to the original and widely-used command to ‘shh’, which acts as the root for the Scots word. It also features in English as ‘whisht’, but has fallen out of favour compared to its Scots counterpart! A time for small moments of peace and quiet without the din of normal life may be just the thing to refresh the spirits. The temptation, however, to talk or "heuch" loudly during the last circle of this 32-bar jig may be irresistible, but one can always try. 😆 🤫

Haud Yer Wheesht

Different cultures have developed unique sounds and methods for signaling the need for silence, apart from the widely recognized "shhhh." These variations often reflect linguistic, cultural, and social nuances. Here are a few examples from around the world:

  1. Tsssss or Psst: In many Latin American countries and parts of Europe, a sharp "tsssss" or "psst" is commonly used to catch someone's attention quietly or to signal them to be quieter.

  2. Chist: In Spain and some Spanish-speaking countries, "chist" is used similarly to "shhh" to ask for silence, especially in places like libraries or when trying to quiet a group.

  3. Scht: In Germany, "scht" or "pst" is often used to shush someone, with a soft but firm pronunciation.

  4. Hush: In English-speaking countries, besides "shhh," "hush" is another term used to soothe or quiet someone down, often used with children.

  5. Silenzio: In Italy, while "shhh" is understood, saying "silenzio" softly can also be a way to ask for quiet.

  6. Quieto: Similar to "silenzio" in Italian, "quieto" in Spanish-speaking countries can serve the same purpose when asking for silence.

  7. Cis: In Poland, "cis" (pronounced "chis") is a common way to ask for quiet, especially in informal settings.

  8. Shi: In some Asian cultures, such as China and Japan, a soft "shi" with a prolonged "i" sound can be used to signal the need for quiet. This is especially prevalent in places requiring solemnity or concentration.

These sounds and words, while different in pronunciation and origin, all serve the same purpose of promoting silence or drawing attention quietly. They are a fascinating aspect of nonverbal communication that demonstrates the variety and richness of human cultures and their approaches to common social situations.  For more about different customs about hushing your fellow humans, click the picture!

Haud Yer Wheesht

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Haud Yer Wheesht

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