Scots in ‘The National’ – scunnersom haivers?

Twa blog posts frae Ian James Parsley hae a go at the Scots o The National.

Scots is not just makey-uppy English; it is a linguistic system in its own right and, despite the lack of an absolute standard, that system has rules – including with regard to spelling….

Underlying this particular piece (and, it must be said, others like it in the same paper) seems to be the rather ludicrous notion that because someone is Scottish they can automatically speak and write Scots. Actually the vast majority of Scots speak and write English, albeit with notable Scots influence. Scots itself, however, is a different linguistic system with its own etymological, literary and orthographical heritage – something you would think independence supporters would recognise! Like anything else, it must be learned properly before it is used – otherwise the result just looks like scunnersom haivers.

Difference between Scots and Gibberish

Oh dear. Let us leave aside the sentiment. Linguistically, this is nonsense. Scots is not just makey-uppy English; it is a linguistic system in its own right and, despite the lack of an absolute standard, that system has rules – including with regard to spelling.

He follaes up…

So, yes, people who care about minority languages should use them. But they should use them with the ultimately objective of learning them thoroughly, and they should be aware there are certain levels of proficiency required before they try using it in certain contexts. It is also inappropriate to use it for the sake of political symbolism when it is not being used well – that just invites ridicule, as last week’s blog post demonstrated. To be absolutely clear, if you just write English with a few made-up spellings and pass it off as Scots, you will end up with everyone speaking English and not Scots.

Scots language – does allowing people to make mistakes work?

in response to this piece last week, one Scot responded arguing that Scots could not survive unless people were allowed to make mistakes. Up to a point, that is true of anything, of course, and particularly of language learning. I have argued for a long time that making mistakes and learning from them is central…

 

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