Anither blether aboot standardisation

Question frae FB Whit are the heidmaist airguments thit are pitten ower fir hou a wrutten staundart orthographie fir Modren Scots shuildnae be fordert and whit are the coonter airguments agin thum?

Ma view: Scots canna haud on in the modren literate digital warld athoot a regular wey o representin it. It jist canna. It’ll be a sair eneuch fecht wi a standart, but Scots will just dee oot wi’oot ane. An’ll tak aw the dialects wi it, o coorse.

Stuart Paterson: Ony leid has a staunnert orthographie. Hoo no wir ain?

Michael Dempster: Heidmaist is probably “I dinna want tae.”
An the conter is “weil ither fowk wad mibbie fun it easier tae read if ye did.”
Susi Briggs: that’s how I mind this debate in my heid. Very simply put. ?

Maist-like pro

Lindsay Colin Wilson: whan A luik at a news wabsteid, A dinna want tae see items aw written in different weys o spellin fae different writers an tae hae tae try wirk awthing oot. A’m wantin tae see spellins A can read quicker seein as A’v seen them afore. A think whit this comes doun til in the end is difference o visions for the language’s future.
Steve Byrne: Derrick McClure noted the following in his article ‘The Debate on Scots Orthography’ (Görlach, 1985), all points people were regularly making, and, it seems, still do:

  • Scots is a language distinct from English , and therefore merits a distinct orthography.
  • A systematic spelling for Scots would increase its social and academic respectability.
  • A standardised spelling would lessen the confusion resulting from the licence currently permitted to Scots writers to spell more or less as they please.
  • Since there are several distinct dialects of Scots, there could be no ‘standard’ spelling for the entire country.
  • The proposed new spellings for Scots are outlandish in appearance.
  • There is no point in trying to introduce a reformed spelling for Scots, since nobody will use it.
    Lindsay Colin Wilson: when people say “nobody will use it” there’s a lot of projection going on.
    Stuart Murray: I would certainly use it as an artificial standard the way I do with other languages.
    Diane Anderson: Education. A ken faan A screive ‘tae’ thit A wid say ‘ti’. A cuid get eesed tae ‘wh’ bein said ‘f’ gin A hid tae. Fowk need tae hae it fae schuil.
    Kevin Robb: As a non-native speaker, I really would have liked to learn some kind of standard. Maybe there should be some kind of standard for us ‘aliens’, not to “override” all the other dialects but to sit beside them, and let the native speakers of other dialects work on their respective dialects – and bring them all up to speed. As an outsider, there seems to be so much that could be easily standardised, and much of that can be formed within its own spelling rules and not by local particulars.
    Stuart Murray: How no hae a staundart Scots alang wae staundart Doric, Staudart Borders etc? like a Staundart Bavarian, Staundart Swiss German etc. Thon wuild at least mak it possible tae dae awa wae Inglis as the ainlie kenspeckle staundart.I think its possible to have a standard written form and to choose whether to use it for a particular situation. Just as with texting and casual online chat people in English often use sociolects, shorthand, slang and dialect, that could be the case with Scots if it had an artificial standard to fall back on.
    Nicola Black: Standard orthographies do not cover the breadth of pronunciation in any country. Gaelic dictionaries allow for a number of different words and spellings quite often. There’s already strong ” attempts” as someone put it ower the years at Standard Scots Spelling and it existed as part of education tae the 20th century. There are folk whae see Scots purely as their language of their own childhood, whae are content no tae add tae that,some whae want tae unnerstaun it an learn aboot new an auld words, non Scots speakers whae want tae learn. Learners are no able tae spell as they speak because they don’t know how to yet. Gaelic often allows for a number of spellings o the same word, English does occasionally as well.

Maist-like agin

Angus Shoor Caan: Each tae rur ain. Dialect dictates.
Margaret Cowie Tong: I ken ivry wird Angus Shoor Caan says and he unnerstans fit I say. That’s nae tae say he unnerstans me ataa. Same wi Neil Anderson. We’re fae difrent areas. That’s richness o Scotland. I dinna fancy a peely wally macky on language.
Alan Edgey: We have a standard orthography, I’m using it now. Scottish dialect is great for creative personal self-expression though.
John McNairn: Alan Edgey is right. The whole purpose of creating a standard orthography is to remove any difficulties in communication caused by local dialect spellings being hard to understand by people unfamiliar with that dialect. Standard orthographies, will never reflect the diversity of a spoken language. They simply can’t do that. English is an extreme example of how spellings just don’t reflect how anybody speaks. In fact, English orthography probably reflects Scots speech better than it does English speech. Just think how the English say a word like ‘starter’, compared to how Scots say it. Because all Scots learn Standard written English in school, we can reach for that when we wish to communicate more widely than our immediate social/dialect group, be it Borders, or Doric, or whatever. This reserves and protects our dialect Scots for family/friends/workmates, or for expressive and poetic written purposes without it coming under pressure to conform to any new Scottish standard. Border folk are not going to give up oo for we, and Doric folk are not going to give up fit for whit. Any attempt to create a Standard Scots spelling might actually hasten the decline of spoken Scots, by making people feel their natural dialect is not proper Scots. We should embrace Standard English orthography and see it as liberating rather than as a threat to Scots. Scots authors and writers have contributed massively to written English. In a way, like the pound, it is as much ours as it is theirs.
Alan Edgey: John, a standard spelling can be polyphonemic. There’s no intrinsic reason why Border folk cannot write we and pronounce it oo or Doric folk cannot write whit and pronounce it fit. The only reason Border folk write oo and Doric folk write fit is to show other English-speakers how they pronounce we and what respectively. That is the whole point of dialect writing.
John McNairn: but a decision has to be made as to which form should go into the standard. Oo or we, fit or whit, fowk or folk, spik or speak, change or chynge,. nicht or night etc etc etc. Who would or could make such decisions? Nicht is kind of prescriptive whereas night allows for pronouncing nite or nicht. I fear that any attempt to create a standard would inevitably alienate some Scots speakers. I know for example I find fowk alienating as a borderer. It definitely implies a pronunciation to me. So many difficulties that surely the whole idea of agreeing on a standard Scots orthography is hopeless.

A conclusion?


John McNairn: Alan Edgey you seem conflicted about the need for a standard written Scots and I think a lot of Scots are – myself included. There is something about the ‘spell as you speak’ Scots which diminishes rather than enhances the status of Scots as a language. As you point out, a lot of it is the attempt to render Scots dialects using English linguistic norms. But the alternative of establishing a truly Scots written standard is incredibly daunting. Maybe we need to bite the bullet and go for it. We would need to agree among ourselves though that such a project would be desirable. Maybe Government needs to take some initiative here.

See an aw

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