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The state o Scots


(airticle first furthset in Edinburgh Review, wi an excerptit version ti appear in Harper’s magazine shortly.)


A Staunpynt


            I thocht aboot no writin this in Scots, dislikin for ti be sel-referential, daelin wi sindrie issues o spellin, register or the like; but ma freins in the Scots language muvement is aa seik readin aboot Scots in Inglis, an forby, a language at canna speak for itsel tells ye it’s hauf-thrappelt at the ootset. Scots is faur frae thrappelt yit, but we div staun in danger o killin it oot bi neglect. I ken the reader micht finnd it haurd gaun, as the feck o readers isna weel-acquant eneuch wi’t ti read it as oor een reads Inglis, gollopsin hail sentences an paragraphs at a quick sklent. We canna coont on ye kennin whit wey things is ettelt ti be sayed, sae the modren vice in Scots spellin is hyperphonetics. Ilka writer haes his or her ain wee hamelt quiddities sae ye can tell us apairt! As wi aa things, uiss maks maister.


            Maistery o Scots I canna claim, for in involvement wi it this monie years by I keep lairnin whit mair’s ti lairn, an in speakin it I canna haud til it gin fowk roun aboot me speaks Inglis. I get cowpit, an knype: I dout this is a common experience wi bilingualism in sib leids. But I hae haen the triple benefit o haein a faither at wis a Scots makar, o bydin lang eneuch in bairnheid in a Scots-speakin place (the Maurlage, near Larkhaa), an o by-trainin in the leid muvement frae a wheen writers an speakers frae monie airts, sae at nou I’m the wrang side o fifty I think I’m on the wey ti sortin the damage duin ti ma Scots bi years o Anglophone education. An a puckle things I dae ken (lik the existence o the verb gollopse as a variant o gollop ti swallae gutsily) I ken weel eneuch bi ‘native speaker competence’ ti be shuir o.


Owerlayin ma oreiginal Wast o Scotland Scots bi nou, I hae a wheen lifts frae ither airts, for thon day job fowk aye tells me no ti gie up haes taen me up an doun Scotland sortin fowks’ computers, an at ae time I haed contracts as faur apairt as Inch, Jeddart an Ayr, that as luck haed it neiver aa phont me the same day. Ye meet a wheen o fowk gaun aboot in that wey, in aa kinna wee shops an businesses, an at some places an in some treds, the workplace leid is Scots yit, whyles fair braid.


            Yet I’m conscious at amang some groups o fowk amang ma ain freins an faimlie, the’r aamaist nae Scots spoken ava at onie time, an that anes seems ti exist in a sel-sustainin bubble o Inglis, sae at it’s aesie for thaim ti believe at Scots is deid, ti aa intent. Speirin at fowk, it seems ti be a quaisten whan did Scots dee oot in thair ain faimlie, juist as the same quaisten in monie a faimlie can be asked aboot Gaelic. (Ma ain faimlie’s Gaelic wis tint in ma maternal graundye’s time – gin he haed onie himsel, an I dout he maun likely haen a puckle, he didna fash wi passin it on til his bairns in Sooth Africa. But that’s anither story.)


            Weel, this is the vera condeition o bein fleemit frae yer ain hame, the stuff o alienation. Ye’r like ti wauner aboot talkin ti yersel some days, wunnerin whit wey aathing seems sae fremmit an dounricht orra, the hail kintra queerly oot o kilter, ful o fowk at canna speak richt. Ither days at ye micht wauken on the ither side o the bed, the Inglis ane, an stert awa thinkin in Inglis yersel, Scotland busks in its mair ordnar Anglophone duds, an thare ye ar, aamaist at hame in the bubble yersel. Ma pynt here is at I experience a mental sinderin atween the twa leids I speak weel, an the warld disna seem juist the same dependin whit ane I’m thinkin in. (A frein tells me the general shape o the bubble: it haps the feck o central an middle-cless an offeicial Glesca an Embro, an it’s jynt hermetic bi the road an rail tunnel atween the twa. We hear tell the’r puir bodies stotes back an forrit inby an neever wins oot.)


            It’s commonly sayed at Scots an Inglis forms a ‘linguistic continuum’, at gin we think on it as a straucht line, haes whit – Scots-Inglis aiblins, at the ae end an braid Buchan at the tither – sae at a bodie lik masel keeps a hoose baith bits, trevellin up an doun nae dout, but spendin maist time somewhaur near the ends. Contarwise, it’s the common souch wi a wheen fowk – aften Scots speakers at that –  ti lat on ‘I aye speak the same wey’. Whitiver the truith or itherwise o that in the case o Scots speakers, it dis suggest monolingual experience insteid, sae at thair language hoose is steidit at a pynt on the line, an thay’ll oscillate, babbin roun aboot it. This dis seem like eneuch wi Scots Inglis speakers at canna speak Scots ti onie great extent, frae the social condeition o no hearin eneuch ti lift an uise it; but it disna seem juist as credible for Scots speakers the day, for commonsense seems ti tell ye at gin sicna fowk haes harns able for ti hain Scots weel, in the vera teeth o aa the pouers o Inglis in battle fornent it, ye wad dout but whit a puckle Inglis cuidna but sype in, wi fowk at’s aiblins the better natural linguists, for aa thay thairsels wadna be awfu like ti pit muckle value on it. The alternative is ti think at Scots is hained the best in harns ower dozent ti get the guid o schuilin, an I wad be sweir ti think sae. Hingin bi a threid, aiblins, but no hained.


                But o coorse, nae straucht line model can ser, ti gie a stertin pynt for richt analysis whit’s happenin. Ye wad want a nummer o ither dimensions: the contexts for speakin, for readin, for writin; the reinge o words, the uiss o Scots graimar, Scots idiom, Scots accent. An ti pit the fingir richt awa on the sair bits, whaur the state o Scots shaws up gey waek fornent, say, Gaelic, lat’s speir hou monie speakers o Scots we hae, at writes it accurate tae, wi onie fluency, in onie context thay want, an is aesie able for ti unnerstaun whitiver Scots text (athin raeson) is pitten in front o them?


            Whaurbyes wi Gaelic an Inglis aa thae ordnar tests o the guid o schuilin is passed bi monie an monie speakers o thae leids, we micht say at Scots canna yit, or canna nou (dependin gin ye think the leid is re-emergin or deein oot) be wrutten accurate ava – juist ti owerstate the case ti dramatise it – sen baith its graimar an spellin is maiters in contention, an its vera uiss strikes fowk as orra. Its prose registers is haurdly uised ava in some contexts, an maist fowk at’s guid speakers o a modren variety haes nae schuilin in it, sae at eien the act o readin isna as gleg as it micht be.


            The govrenment itsel says the’r aiblins 1.5 million fowk Scots speakers amang us the day. Present policy laes us aa, frae poet ti punter, in a condeition gey like illiteracy. Gin ye canna be richt an ye canna be read, the vera pynt o language, ti communicate, is tint aathegither. In thir respects wrutten Scots is a damaged leid the day, mankit bi the ettle o extirpation in education ower a wheen o years.


But o coorse, it wad be wild owerstatement ti imply that the’r nae sic a thing as mensefu spellin, nae sic a thing as Scots graimar, or that fowk canna read Scots ava. Eien whan writers lik Kelman or Welsh maks up spellins aa thair ain ti set oot urban parteicularities thay want ti hielicht, fowk reads thair dialogue weel eneuch.

That Scots abides as a spoken leid ava is wutness til its thrawn maucht, mairatower, an I coont masel amang optimists. It seems the’r twa processes gaun on: its auld forms is deein oot in a puckle airts bi aa accoonts, but its literature is nou makkin heidwey in status; an education is takkin mair tent wi’t, throu teachers an throu sweir an slaw policy chynge.



The State o Scholarship        


It is a peitie ti hae ti lippen on impressions, whan a quaisten or twa in the 2001 Census wad hae pitten us on a better fittin ti analyse the state o the leid – wi the maist basic an uissfu wittins ti haun syne, as til whit fowk thairsels says aboot it – but academic studies o the maiter isna aathegither wantin. Frae Caroline Macafee ’s 1983 study o Glesca speak, Varieties of English Around the World: Glasgow  (Amsterdam, Benjamins 1983 ) ti Sheena Booth Middleton’s ‘A study into the knowledge and use of Scots amongst Primary pupils in Upper Deeside’ (unpublished thesis; Aiberdeen University, Sep 2000), the tale seems ti be maistlins ane o a dwynin awa: loss o words, loss o accent, loss o frequency, loss o graimar.


            The’r a view amang scholars at a new Linguistic Survey o Scotland is needit, ti see whaur dis the leid raelly staun the day. Jalousin again, we micht think at it wad finnd aulder by-leid boondaries brekkin doun, whit wi fowk muvin aboot mair, wi aiblins the growthier by-leids spreidin. Professor Charles Jones o Embro University (the foondin Convener o the Scots Language Resource Centre at Perth, a volunteer post I uised ti haud masel) recently gied wittins o some sic finndins frae a study cairriet oot in Livingston, pittin an apparent spreid o Glesca influence amang teenagers doun ti peer emulation an Rab C. Nesbitt. Aiblins thair Glesca owerskail faimlies haed a something ti dae wi it tae.


            Dae we hae eneuch scholars, Scots specialists, in eneuch university depairtments, ti cairry oot an owersee sic wark til a richt staundart o quality, an wad the sources o research siller ti haun be aesie persuadit as pey?


                I can dae nae mair nor pit thae quaistens, no kennin the aunswers, but gin the war onie chaunce o a muckle research programme bein pitten in haun, I dout maist fowk in the Scots muvement wad raither see it airtit at schuils for ti uphaud the best wey o daein something for the neist generation o speakers, nor at finndin oot whit auld fowk kens.



The Offeicial Poseition


                Scots haes lang haed a semi-offeicial presence in Scots education policy, throu the actions o dominies an advisers. Frae the Lanimer Books o verse o ma ain schuildays, throu Poets Quair til the Kist, thare haes aye been some effort ti bring forrit teachin graith, for poetry an sang in parteicular, sen this aspect o Scots culture is aye ti the fore, a kenspeckle national treisure.


But the first signs o rael chynge at poleitical level, for positive offeicial encouragement o Scots, wi something like a definitive policy statement, cam frae Scottish Office meinister Hector Munro MP aerlie 1994, whan he fundit the Scots Language Resource Centre wi a Ł50,000 graunt peyment, an spak in his press release anent it o ‘an important living heritage ... that continues to accrue.’


In 1996, the General Registrar’s Office cairriet oot a muckle survey, speirin at aboot 5,000 fowk in the daein o’t, an frae statistical projection formed thon view alludit til abuin, that thare micht be as monie as 1.5 million speakers.


Ye hae ti fairly howk education policy ti finnd explicit, thocht throu support for Scots, an whit ye finnd is nocht but crottles: but the 5-14 curriculum guidance dis speak o ‘respecting the languages that children bring to school’; ither documents enjynes the study o ‘Scottish’ literature, at bi onie raesonable wey o readin maun tak in Scots texts; an the’r an opt-in paper at Advanced Higher for a Scots language quaisten. We’r aye waitin on scholars optin for it yit, as the feck o them gets taucht ower little, faurer doun the schuil. Liz Niven is the eident scholar o aa this, an in her evidence til the McGugan Report (see ablo) she says, ‘In Scotland we have National Guidelines, not a compulsory curriculum as in England and Wales . This democratic approach means that, for Scots language in the curriculum, even although supportive statements have been made in official documents, teachers are not obliged to include any Scots language element in their classrooms.’ (SP Paper 778; Volume II: Evidence)


In 1998, meinister Brian Wilson MP gied notice at the (Wastmeinster) govrenment ettelt ti awn Scots unner Pairt II o The European Chairter for Regional an Minority Leids, a Cooncil o Europe human richts instrument. This haes international treaty status an pits obligations on the state accedin til it, for ti tak action an report publicly whit action it haes taen. Nae action haes been taen yit follaein accession, sae the Scots muvement in aa its pairts is juist efter tellin the Cooncil o Europe ’s Comatee o Experts, at veisits ti see aboot it, whit aa oor plaints is.


(It’s warth threipin at the language daelt wi in this context o international law is the Scots leid an no its get, Scots Inglis. As a by-leid o Inglis, that haes nae status or awnin unner the Chairter.)


This year, the Education, Culture an Sport Comatee o the Scots Pairlament haes adoptit (nem but ane Con, Brian Monteith MSP, that didna like ae paragraph that sayed siller wad hae ti be spent) an furthset a Report pitten thegither bi Irene McGugan MSP: Report on Inquiry intil the role o educational an cultural policy in uphaudin an bringin oot Gaelic, Scots an minority leids in Scotland. (SP Paper 778 (Scots)). Thon teitle is the Scots teitle o the Scots version o the Report, a first essay in offeicial Scots for a puckle hunner year, frae an owerset bi Colin Donati , Matthew Fitt an Andy Philip.


            In airticle 9 o this Report, the’r a key statement frae Professor Jo Lo Bianco: ‘a country haein nae specific policy for its hamelt heritage leid/s in actual fact has a sleekit policy. Its policy is tae let the leids dwine an dee.’


            The conclusions o the Report is twafauld:


·        This report concludes by sayin that the mony questions an concerns anent the leids o Scotland an their place in education an culture can ainly be richt dealt wi throu makkin a inclusive, cohesive Leids Policy.


·        For tae mak siccar the oncome o a satisfactory Policy, research, consultation an reportin needs tae be cairried oot tae gaither muckle mair information on the specific needs o ilk leid than is tae haund the noo.


            We can be shuir at it winna be afore the neist Pairlament sits, til we ken gin this braid-foondit guidwill is gaun ti rax ayont the forrit-leukin policies o the poleitical pairties at gies rise til it, aa the wey intil the pooch o a new Executive.


Scots an nutters


            A time efter he haed demittit office as SLRC’s Convener, I happent ti be speakin ti Charlie Jones (as aabodie cries him) an speired at him whit wey he wisna sae active in aboot the Scots language muvement as he haed been afore. “Too many nutters,” wis the aunswer. In reaction til the McGugan Report, he wis quotit bi a Daily Mail journalist as sayin at the Scots version o the Report wis “... written in a language that’s an invention and a fabrication. If they showed that to the man in the street, he would find it difficult to understand.” The Daily Mail eien condescendit faurer in its Editorial (21/2/3 heidit ‘Quit havering’):


... The proposal is absurd. Scots is not a language but a dialect of English. It has effectively been extinct for generations.

  The artificiality of any attempt to revive it was illustrated by the committee’s own experience: it commissioned two totally different translations of the report, both incomprehensible to modern Scots.

  The dialect was different in every county, but the proposal is to create a ‘standardised orthography’, an artificial language said by a university professor to be ‘an invention and a fabrication’.

  That is where, even on its own terms, the proposal is Philistine and in the worst interests of Scottish culture: it proposes to take the relics of diverse dialects, from Lerwick to Gretna , and forge them into an artificial construct.

  Whit a scunner! A’ thae gowks frae Halyrood, skailin’ oot folks’ bawbees oan siclike havers an’ whigmaleeries – it wad gar ye grue!


            This is fair typical o a foustie auld line o attack on the Scots leid at springs frae the fact at it’s weel-kent an no extinct ava; an wrutten doun, is aesie unnerstude in smaa dose bi Inglis readers wi a bit effort. Gin it haes 1.5 million speakers, its onie public uiss haes 5 million skeilie creitics at kens it fine weel at hame, or sae thay think. An for aa the alleged airtifice o its riggin, it haes hunners and hunners o millions o Inglis-speakin readers aa ower the warld, at kens it fine weel eneuch throu letters, whaur frae time ti time whan a Burns, a Scott, or a MacDiarmid kythes amang us an dings doun Philistinism for a whylie, Scots shouthers its wey oot thae ‘relics of diverse dialects’ an stauns its ben. Pace Charlie Jones, nae uninformed creitic him, but ane o the kintra’s heidmaist leid historians, I dout his mannie in the street wadna hae sic a fash as he thinks, but wad like as no hae fair weel-informed creitical views o his ain. Eien the Daily Mail canna hinner itsel ti shaw aff it kens the language it wants ti ding doun, ye’ll note.


            We need ti think on complex paitrens o linguistic competence ti see the situation richt. It fair taks yer braith awa, but, at the impidence o the  3.5 million, as representit bi Charlie, haudin doun (oppressin!) the 1.5 million, in plain denial o thair vera existence. For whyle the guid professor is quotit ithergates as thinkin the hail 5 million’s aucht the Scots leid an no the 1.5 million curn, an whyle he unnerstauns me fine in prent, he disna tak serious the fact at (for example) I canna speak til ma ain mither in Scots an be unnerstude, nae maiter whit tent I micht tak no ti uise auld words I happen ti ken. The vera accent haes ti chynge, an I micht say at gin I wis ti speak at the speed, wi scarce a consonant, the wey I wis acquant wi in Lanarkshire no that monie year sinsyne, I dout he himsel wad hae a tyauve wi’t. Scots an Inglis as spoken leids isna symmetrically unnerstude bi ither ava, nae maiter hou accessible wrutten Scots is til the (hail 5 million) Scots fowk. It’s aften sayed bi Scots speakers wantin ti threip on oor richts as a language commonty, at we wad aa be better respectit gin we haed bleck skins. Oor claim for attention wad be poleitically correct syne, nae quaisten, an thare wadna be this patronisin assumption that the leid belangs fowk at disna uise it.


            The asymmetry o unnerstaunin o speak fornent writin is ae straund in the paitren. Anither straund is that mair fowk ken mair aboot Scots nor whit they aiblins think: the evidence comes frae the vera fact I did pynt til abuin, at we finnd competent creitics sae plenty, faur mair it seems nor speakers. Nou, I ken French weel eneuch ti haud an extendit conversation ower a reenge o subjects in a Brittany pub, I wis (no that lang syne) raither surprised an pleased ti finnd oot. But the masculine or the feminine o’t, its idiom, or whit micht coont as bad French is aa lang tint wi me gin iver I kent it frae schuil an university. Contarwise, I wad say the average Scot snowks oot fause Scots fair gleg, an that wad airgie at a hie degree o linguistic competence in Scots bydes seilent amang us. Whaur can it come frae? Weel, gin this is richt, it maun come sypin quaetly in by the lugs, takkin advantage o the hie degree o mutual unnerstaunin aye possible atween Scots an Inglis. 


Til whit degree dis modren Scots hain itsel as an independent leid? It’s no possible in onie practicable wey for ti aunswer this quaisten bi gaun oot wi a tape recorder, an I wad airgie it’s a wutless, ootlan wey ti aunswer the quaisten. The wey ti aunswer it frae ben the Scots commonty is faur simpler: ti whit extent is it aye possible the day ti hae a collective discussion wi ithers at unnerstauns whit ye’r talkin aboot, anent whit the Scots wey o sayin a thing is. An whan we come ti that, it is in the vera fact that the’r a braid grund o discoorse possible an a lot o wark ti dae ti dae it weel, nae less nor in a like bit Inglis, that tells us we’r no aa daft.


Gangin back til the threid o the Daily Mail airticle, it wis a tyauve owersettin Irene McGugan’s Report inti Scots, nae dout o that. I wis yokit masel, as a memmer o the editorial panel responsible for it. The twa-version report alludit til abuin stertit oot frae a sinderin o views on the richt wey ti gang aboot it (basically, wad a ‘literary’ or a ‘licht’ Scots be better), but at the hin end the baith versions wis pitten forrit bi the ae editorial comatee, an it wis the MSPs o the Education Comatee thairsels at waled oot the Donati / Fitt / Philip version (the ‘licht’ version) ower Bob Fairnie’s ane. I shuid add at Bob Fairnie’s ane wis aiblins hackit aboot ower muckle bi ower monie hauns (twa o them mines) for its author’s ain likin, an that wis a peitie, sen Bob Fairnie is ane o oor foremaist writers o guid plain Scots. For thaim that’s interestit, the baith versions micht aye be fund on the SLRC wabsteid at www.scotsyett.com an whit micht strike yer ee is at ilk is gey sib til ither, maugre thair sindert ettle in authorship. Something at I canna descryve nae ither wey nor as an immanent pouer in the Scots leid itsel teuk a haun wi us aa, I dout, an wrocht a ‘convergence of the twain’.


            The struissle wi a predator language is gey difficult, an in tecklin a piece o offeicial Inglis lik the oreiginal language o the Report, ye’r takkin on whit’s aamaist a hailie new context for the uiss o Scots: at threit o faain inti fause language, thinkin oot whaur it’s mensefu ti pree a neologism, dreein the risk o raxed meanins whyles, an kennin whan ti jouk possible problems bi juist uisin shared words – an deil tak the idiom – an whan ti pit idiom abuin exactness o owerset. The’r the quaisten o whit I cry the ‘howk rate’ ye can weel uise: hou monie aulder terms can ye dig up athout yirdin the hail wark in obscurity, for o coorse Scots exists wi the muckle word-bing o its ain historical dictionars ahint it as its first source for borraein in onie language development darg. Dae aa this wrang, an ye’r a nutter, nae dout. Dae it weel an mak the best uiss o shared words athout connachin the Scots, an we hae a wey forrit. For ti cry aa this Philistine is tae hae nae idea whit ceivilised activity micht be.



Breards o Growthe


Gin it wisna for Scots letters, I wad dout Scots wadna be spoken ava the day. I daursay ye’ll no aesie pruve me wrang oniewey. The Vernacular Revival (wrocht in letters an no in speech sin the time o Ramsay, Fergusson an Burns) stauns an growes as the wutness statement til the leid, an ilka writer at adds til it pits something back til whit can be spoken an unnerstude. It is a lang, slaw an kittle process, an the’r aye sair bits ti be seen whaur writers exceeds the possible howk-rate – but we hae ti mynd at monie a thing aince fremmit or auld-farrant is nou kenspeckle til onie Scot reader, an think on words lik ‘dour’ nou re-invadin Inglis itsel, whyles eien pronounced the richt wey on Radio 4, tho whyles yit ‘dower’. We ar leivin throu the lang trajectory o thon Revival yit, an it isna duin an by wi bi onie means. It’s ma impression a modren preference in Scots speak, as weel as writin, for Germanic ower Latin terms is rael eneuch, an aiblins haes its origin hereaboot.


            In the ‘literary renaissance’ generations frae MacDiarmid ti Neill, the rin o the best writers, Lorimer exceptit, wisna in the main prose writers but poets. In thair day, the language thay uised wis deridit bi a puckle aulder, kailyairdie poets as ‘synthetic’ or ‘plastic’. Sen fowk juist richtly sees the guid wark amang it aa as clessic, ye dinna hear muckle o that nou, ither nor in relation til a hantle o the mair exotic aerlie dellins o MacDiarmid. Whit thae poets did as a collective act o will ower seiventie year wis braiden the possible registers awa frae the kailyaird, an stert an rescue hauf the words o the language ti some chance o new currency, as thair scholarly fieres Aitken an Murison passed the ammunition. Synthetic becam possible Scots again: but some reaction wis ti be expectit.


                A caa back the wey, no the kailyaird road, but the road o naturalistic speech, cam aboot in the Seiventies wi the pleys o that time lik The Bevellers, Willie Rough, an The Slab Boys, an in the wark o 7:84, aye ful o local colour weel-researched the bits thay pleyed at. This haes been follaed bi a wheen prose writers wi guid lugs for the natural language – Kelman, Welsh, Paisley, Blackhall (an ithers at wad be a lang leet o wemen maistly, at haes fund thair creative voices in Scots an fair dominates whit wis a gey male scene the generation afore) – that tho the first twa o them isna muckle seen in aboot the Scots muvement, fair dramatises in thair wark the condeition o Scots-speakin fowk leivin amang pouer-structures whaur Inglis rings. An Iain Forde an Matthew Fitt haes baith wrutten ful-lenth science fiction novels hailie in Scots.


            (Naturalism canna evyte but tak Scots letters mair onti the debateable grund o Scots Inglis, the get language at the mids o the straucht line model, an some fowk likes ti cry this Scots an aa. Aiblins we’r faain oot wi Charles Jones ower naething mair nor a nem, or a mairch. It is Scots, shuir, bi an ambiguity in the word Scots in Scots, sen thon’s the Scots word for ‘Scottish’. An claerly, the’r nae haurd an fast merkins on the line ti sinder the bits whaur Scots ends an Scots Inglis begins, nor yit whaur hit ends an kythes as Inglis aathegither. Shuir, maist academic depairtments will dael wi the hail line. But that disna mak a Clydesdale a Shire horse, for aa thay’ll breed thegither.)


            It is ma habit as a man o letters ti talk aboot the writers first, sen tho Scots haes nae airmy an navy, an that maks it bi some meisures a by-leid, yit it dis hae that avant-garde. But the kythin o a braider public support system for Scots haes begoud, growein roun sindrie centres o influence – the CFO organisations fundit bi the Scots Airts Cooncil – (the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, Scottish Language Dictionaries, Scots Language Resource Centre) – some ither project-fundit bodies lik The Elphinstone Institute at Aiberdeen, the Itchy-Coo project, Scottish Corpus at Glesca, university language depairtments; an the Cross-Pairty Group for the Scots Language, whaur we aa forgaither at the ploy, an Rob Gibson’s skeilie chairin hinners aabodie ti bite an scart ower muckle as a wey o wooin in the ordnar Scots mainer.


            Til this gaitherin force maun be addit thae individual teachers the braid o the kintra at maks ful uiss o the pedagogic freedom oor system allous them, ti lairn the bairns Scots aareadies. The rin o this teachin works weel, as I ken frae the annual submissions til the Lallans Schuils competeitions. Juist a hantle o Cooncils, as yit, encourages sic wark ti gang forrit. The anes at springs ti mynd is Aiberdeen an -shire, Angus, East Lothian, Gallowa, Moray, Sooth Lanarkshire – but I hae a sense the’r faur mair stertin ti happen nor I ken aboot.


            Ti feinish on a caa-caunnier note, a puckle o this teachin disna work weel, as I ken an aa frae ither o the submissions. Aiblins some bits the’r no eneuch Scots bydin at hame or oot in the pleygrun ti mak mair nor a surface Scotticisation aesie for the bairns, or the teachin’s puir. We face a struissle for the leid, an need ti bigg up capacity aa weys. Ma ain opeinion is we need mair specialists, eien gin Scots is teached alangside Inglis – something I think needs pruved is ti the guid, no juist acceptit blinnd. We need help frae the braidcast media abuin aa. Efter aa, gin the’r 1.5 million speakers, whit wey is thare no nearer-haun 5 million?



© John Law


(this version updatit July 2004)