Aw aboot cless

Mathew Fitt (richt-like) taks the strunts at Muriel Gray tweetin that the Scots language he writes wis


Matthew Fitt: Flytin my Scots is aboot class, not Yes or Naw

WHEN nane ither than Muriel Gray tweetit that the Scots language I write in this hummle dottled much-malkied newspaper column wis ‘P-I-S-H’, I taen it as a badge o honour. I’ve aye liked her style. Muriel never hauds back and caws a shool a shovel and me a ‘dumbed doon’ chibber o the auld Scots tongue.

Masel, A’v thrawn a deiffie at Gray aifter she wrote in a paper monie years syne.


But onieways he makes the guid pynt:

We need tae be mair honest. It’s aboot class. Onybody that thinks the Scottish middle classes in general dinnae hae a problem wi the wey the Scottish workin class speak doesnae ken Scotland.

Scots is aw aboot cless.

We should talk about languages, Scottish ones.

David Leask makes the important point that many people seem unable to talk about languages in a grown-up way.

It is as if, in an era when we barely feel the need to study any language other than English, Scots are no longer even equipped to talk about languages in any kind of remotely informed way.

David Leask: Why do so many Scots cringe when they see the language of their neighbours written down?

We should talk about languages, Scottish ones. In the last few months I keep coming across people who get angry when they see the speech of their compatriots written down. Whether it is road signs in Gaelic, or our sister paper, The National, printing articles in Scots, there is something about native languages that enrages a certain kind of unionist.



Scots and Jamaican patois

Really interesting article comparing Scots to Jamaican patois

“Limited use of Patois is tolerated as a commercial tool, but no as the language o rebellion or cultural expression. In Scotland, Scots is only tolerated by the mainstream media as long as it’s couthy, cute, an associated wi Kailyardism an tartanry. If it’s accepted an respected as a livin leid, the folk that talk it have tae be respected an accepted as valid an equal: that’s a step too far for folk whose existence an livelihood is dependent on an unchallenged sense o entitlement an superiority”.

Forked Tongues

Rabbie Burns, Elephant Man, Sheena Easton, Bob Marley, Louise Bennett an Liz Lochead walk intae a pub in Dunfermline… The rammys aboot the Scots edition o The National an Stephen Daisley loupin on a few typos on the Scottish Government website got me thinkin aboot the power o language in Scotland an Jamaica.

Trudgill on “Accent, dialect and the School”

Following a discussion on the Shetland dialect and its value in education, it was mentioned on FB that “Peter Trudgill seems to be informing the approach taken to Scots in the schools“. What does this mean?

Peter Trudgill is a well-known authority on the sociolinguistics of English dialects, and has written widely on the subject. One of his earlier works Accent, Dialect and the School (1975) apparently created quite a stooshie.

His basic claim was that literacy and knowledge about grammar would be helped by knowledge about and use of students’ own dialects. This gives students confidence in their language skills.

Within a few years the book was on the curriculum for most English Dip.Ed. etc. courses, but apparently not in Scotland, where children could still being belted for using Scots words for another decade.

Trudgill himself spoke on the value of dialect diversity this in a fascinating presentation in 2013.

Bristol University | School of Modern Languages | 2013: trudgill lecture

Professor Peter Trudgill recently gave a lecture on the importance, if any, of teaching grammar vs. teaching about grammar in schools. This lecture formed part of the collaborative project on ‘Bristol – Language, Identity and Region in Past and Present’ Using the contemporary reception of his 1975 book ‘accent, dialect and the school’, Professor Peter Trudgill, FBA (Fribourg, Agder, La Trobe, UEA) spoke about the importance, if any, of teaching grammar vs.

He referes to the 2013 paper by Karen Grainger ‘The daily grunt’: middle-class bias and vested interests in the ‘Getting in Early’ and ‘Why Can’t They Read?’ reports. Language and Education, 27:2, 99-109 Her presentation here covers the same ground.

Grainger makes the claim that that Trudgill’s original argument is losing ground again under attack from more traditional educationalists and politicians who want to promote and roll back to elitist ‘standard only’ approaches.

What has this got to do with Scots? As usual Scots sits in an unusual position. There seems no doubt that the 70s idea that dialects are generally a good thing has at last reached some parts of Scottish education. On the other hand the “resurgence of the deficit view in media reports and (English) government documents” noted by Grainger could have an effect in Scotland causing the what she calls the “the pathologisation of normal linguistic behaviour”.

The standardisation of Scots, I argue essential for its survival, could be caught in a pincer  movement between a reactionary re-assertion of Standard English and a late Scottish flowering of dialect diversity on the other!


Insular Scots

A really interesting Project.There is enough anecdotal evidence to show the language used at home should be utilised more in school as it would be the best one for pupils to express themselves confidently and creatively. There is a wealth of vocabulary that is not currently explored in the classroom to its full potential.

Shetland Dialect and Education

I’ve been in Lerwick for a week, researching Scots language dialects for a new performance provisionally entitled Building a Nation which aims to look at the growth of a city (Glasgow) against the backdrop of inter-country migration from various parts of the country, and the impact that has had on our language(s) and ability to communicate, as well as exploring ideas of class, judgement and the infamous Cringe.


However over on FB Bruce Eunson’s advice that “Each pupil can choose to codify Scots any way they like as long as they consider it and remain consistent. And then the question of it’s consistency is no different to the lessons of how to spell in English – it reinforces literacy” was challenged as this seems a heavy demand on individual students and ignores the important issues of readability.

The later comment was also discussed, “I’m happy with the idea that someone could take a careful in-depth approach as to how we can standardise Scots but I am not in favour of accepting central belt Scots that mostly gets published getting called Scots language – to me that would be a death nail (sic) between relations between regions. Why do we need to have one way to say something?“. Again there seems to be a curious understanding of the relationship between the written language (which can be pan-dialectic i.e pronounced in different ways) and the spoken tongue.

As I said, every serious minority language movement in the world is faced with the standard vs spoken dialect issue. Every single one. With exactly the same arguments. Most seem to manage to overcome it some way.

Another post on the Orkney dialect below.

Orkney Dialect with Tom Rendall

​For the past year, I have been investigating my practice within the realm of the Scots language, and it’s place in contemporary performance and poetry. When I first began writing my own material for performance, including spoken word, I admit that I started with the intention of making people laugh.



Then they fight you…

Interesting that the recent  Stephen Daisley (STV) and Graham Grant (Daily Mail) attacks on Scots as a language have triggered a pleasingly robust response from Scots language activists. Here the Wee Ginger Dug gets tore in.

Wee Ginger Dug: Scots language under attack from Daily Mail – again

WELL here we go again. This week the Daily Mail graced us with a full page of ignorant nonsense about the Scots language, or more exactly, what at least one of its prominent fanboys promoted on Twitter as the truth about the pretend slang that you’


Shrieking Privilege

Following the recent  Stephen Daisley (STV) and Graham Grant (Daily Mail) attacks on Scots as a language, Michael Hance, the Director of the Scots Language Centre responds.

Shrieking Privilege

When you’re accustomed to privilege equality feels like oppression. A carefully constructed argument using the every day example of workplace relationships that was widely shared on social media explains in straight forward terms what happens when those used to having their status and rights taken for granted encounter an obstacle – in this case someone not prepared to be pushed out of the way.

This country is one of the most interesting, lively and exciting linguistic spaces in Europe. We have a thrilling range of language forms. In every street, every train, every boring old supermarket you can encounter a symphony of voices and accents. Wonderful voices replete with the cadences and words of our long language history. Words and expressions that would have been used and understood by those who preceded us centuries since. Scots jumbles alongside the arresting accents and idiosyncratic grammar of Scottish Standard English. Many of our place names reveal the Gaelic and Brythonic past and in the islands Gaelic and Scandinavian influenced Scots live on. How wonderful it all is and what a splendid linguistic space we are privileged to inhabit. It’s something that makes us unique and special and, really, what could be wrong with that?

It appears some people for political reasons don’t want Scotland to be unique and special at all.

Put your principles into action

Scots language denier Stephen “It’s slang, people” Daisley is at it again, prompting the blog response below. Wouldn’t it be nice if an open unionist actually supported language diversity and dignity for a change? Ye ken, just to show us that British nationalism is not opposed to all expressions of Scottish culture.

Random Rants from a Mad Scotsman

Freelance “journalist” (I use the term lightly) Stephen Daisley has cam unner attack for haeing the temerity tae post a Tweet, trying tae claim that contemporary Scots isnae a language in it’s ain richt.

On the ither haun mibbie Daisley’s seyin we shud yaise Scots mair, an in mair formal contexts. It’s a caw tae airms tae reclaim the wark and the baunks fae the pan loafers an anti-Scots bigots. 

New Scots Makar

Poet Jackie Kay revealed as Scotland’s third Makar

The award-winning novelist is the third person to hold the prestigious position and succeeds fellow poet Liz Lochhead in the role. The first ever Scots Makar was Edwin Morgan, who was appointed in 2004. The announcement was made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

An a interview.

Jackie Kay – Scotland’s new Makar

Jackie Kay is Scotland’s new Makar, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced. Ms Kay, who was awarded an MBE for her services to literature in 2006, will succeed Liz Lochhead as the National Poet. The role will see Ms Kay create new work and promote poetry throughout the country, particularly encouraging young people to engage with the art form.

Ana fyow o her thochts on Scots frae a 2012 BBC series.

‘Old Tongue’ by Jackie Kay, 1, Blethering Scots – BBC Two

Jackie Kay reads ‘Old Tongue’ and reflects that many Scots miss their native words.