all livin language is sacred

Interestin blog, richtlie talks aboot “the persistence of the Scots language in working class communities, and its gradual erosion to near extinction among the country’s middle class. That might not be the case with every dialect of Scots – perhaps there are different social dynamics where, say, Doric or the Shetland dialect is concerned. But in my experience it’s certainly true in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other parts of the Lowlands. It’s worth reiterating that the generations of children who have faced the snobbish fallacy of being told to “talk properly”, were not speaking “bad English” but “good Scots”. That’s not to say there isn’t slang thrown in there as well – there’s ever-evolving slang within the different dialects of Scots, as with any language, and it doesn’t make it any less legitimate. However, it changes the way the vernacular is valued once the myth has been debunked that Scots is a corruption of English“.


Set aff a braw blether on FB an aw…

Danny McTavishI think its possible to have a non restrictive use of Scots if a standard variety is extant for speakers and writers to be aware of just as Yiddish words can be used in German as well as there being a standard way of speaking and writing. The argument put forward by John M. Tait against what he views as Robertsonianism is cancelled out if a standard variety based strongly both on traditions of writing and traditional dialects is available and made known through schooling. There could then be forms of Scots that are somewhere between Standard Scots and Standard English without the integrity of Scots traditional dialects or Scots as an independent language being put at risk ie when people choose to switch into Scots to write “yer maw” etc. That will clearly continue and has historically done some damage to the idea of Scots as being separate from English among those who write, say and read such expressions. If a standard is there, such abberations will be of less consequence.
John M. TaitThe problem with this approach is that, in countries where a language is given a standard written form, that form is – must be – supported by the establishment of that country. In Scotland, it is the approach I describe as ‘Robertsonianism‘ that is supported by the establishment (because it offers no threat to the ongoing hegemony of standard English) and the idea of standardisation that is supported only by a few who are easily dismissed. In other words, non-standardisation is the Scots standard.
Danny McTavishI would like to see a standard and there are others who agree. I hope that this view will in the end win out over Robertsonianism as you define it and that that way of approaching Scots is something that may carry on without hampering the development of a proper standard.
Alan Edgey… we risk reproducing the hierarchies intrinsically forged in linguistic standards. We already see it in written ‘standard’ Scots which diverges so drastically from that spoken in the schemes and streets of the nation – academic and inaccessible.” No explicit mention of pronunciation there, however, since most commentators appear to be monoglot English speakers they only have a sample size of one on which to base their conclusions. Invariably they assume advocates of a ‘standard’ Scots intend to enforce a ‘standard’ pronunciation, something that, as far as I am aware, has never been proposed. The reality is of course that the pronunication in the speaker’s dialect is a correct pronuciation. It’s not clear the above quote refers to spelling, i.e. those based on traditional pan-dialect Scots conventions or phonetic spelling based on Standard English sound-to-letter correspondences, or if it refers to register. Nevertheless, an ‘educated’ register is a feature of all elaborated and standardised written languages. Although packaged and presented as liberating, the emphasis on the colloquial vernacular of ‘the street’ and a laissez-faire attitude to Scots spelling, concentrating on fun, entertainment and creativity is in part a de-intellectualisation of Scots. That then ultimately marginalises Scots and reinforces the advantages and status of Standard English as the primary medium of serious inter-community communication helping to underpin the view that Standard English is the norm from which Scots deviates. The approach above in an educational environment will also contrast with the acquisition of literacy in Standard English where the emphasis is on writing fluently and legibly in a range of registers with accurate spelling and punctuation. Pupils will soon notice that literacy in Standard English is taken much more seriously and themselves realise that Standard English is ultimately more important and of a higher status and utility than Scots.
Paul Johnston A standard will eventually emerge; but like Jack Aitken (who I Knew), I would like to see all types of Scots, and yes, that includes Pilton, Niddrie and East Side of Glasgow vernaculars promoted as real Scots, however eroded, along with the more traditional types and Literary Scots as all valid dialects. If a standard is to emerge, let it emerge from one or more actually spoken bases and let the amount of elaboration find its own level, as happened with English (and to some extent, Scots, the first time around) in the 1500s. There’ll be several generations of transition, but that’s how languages work. Anyway, I’m sick and tired of hearing that the working-class people of Niddrie and Gorgie that I interviewed in the ’70s speak bad Scots after 300 years of being told, along with the Borderers and Northeasterners, that they speak bad English. And yes, I’m a foreigner, so maybe I don’t have a right to say this, but I adore Scots of any kind and know that vernacular speakers (of any kind) can use language just as skilfully as anyone, given the right feel for their language can do (cf. folk tales, ballads, oral histories..).
Alan Edgey A standard Scots is no more likely to emerge on its own than a sports car will emerge by me, or anyone else, rearranging the pile of scrap metal I have in my back garden. If I want a sports car I’ll have to design it, build it, then teach people how to drive it.
Danny McTavish Im afraid I agree. It doesnt mean other dialects are lesser, just that a standard exists that is nearer to the less English influenced ones.
Harry Giles Yer position on language standardisation does tend to follow yer position on the nation-state and other big questions of politics in a globalised world. I’m interested in promoting diverse forms of Scots and other languages from precisely the anarchistic impulses John has pointed out. But if you’re in favour of a standardised Scots gaining strength, I think you have to look as much at what it would actually take for that to happen as at the arguments in favour of it happening. I mean, it’s one thing to create a standard (plenty have taen a tilt) and another to encourage or enable others to use it. If a standardised Scots is to not only emerge but be widely-adopted enough to be meaningful, it has to build on a critical mass of interest in and commitent to Scots in general — a critical mass that I’d argue can only be built through a freer encouragement to folk to investigate and play with their own tongues.
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