Creative Scotland an the sowl o Scots

Repost from The Sair Fecht.

Are we enterin a new Gowden Age fur the Scots tung? Aw levels o government noo richtlie caw Scots a language. We ken frae the 2011 census that Scots is faur frae deid, wi mair nor a million an a hauf folk declarin they baith ken an speak it. The Scottish Government’s Scots Language Policy respondit tae the census wi the muivin wirds, “it is, therefore, richt that Scots shuid continue tae be refleckit in education, airts, media an mair”. Pairt o the policy is an ongaun action plan frae Education Scotland an we’re e’en hearin Scots spoken a bittie mair in the scuils. Aw this is certie a muckle stap forrit in the historie o the tung. But we’re no oot o the wuids yet, an faur frae’t. A doot there still a muckle airgument tae be haid ower the verra sowl o Scots.

See, its no eneuch tae jist awn that Scots is a language, we hae tae conseeder whit kind o language it is an whit it’s future cud be. Fur Scots language acteevists the ainlie road forrit fur Scots is tae big it up swith-like intae a modren tung, able tae be yaised fur jist aboot awthin in Scottish societie, the model bein post-Franco Catalan. Thon ambeetion is aften cawed ‘normalisation’ aifter the successfu process in Catalonia. It aw soons like a sair fecht, but it’s no as muckle a lowp as monie fowk think. Scots awreaddies haes a braid yaiser base, a guid reenge of weel-foondit dictionaries and gremmars, an guid-gaun social media netwarks.

Hoanivver it’s no that sicker the high-heidyins o the Scottish estaiblishment aye see it thon wey. Tae be fair Scots is a kinna new thing fur monie o thaim, an they mibbies dinna unnerstaun whit modren Scots is aw aboot. Lat’s tak oor freens at Creative Scotland as a example. Wi siller frae the Scottish Government Embro-basit Creative Scotland uphauds the airts an creative industries in Scotland. Ower the laist twa year the bodie haes brocht a walcome focus tae the public forderin o Scots an in 2015 they lencht the twa-year post o Scots Scriever that won a fair bit positeeve kivverage in the media.

Aw fine an guid, but then later thon year alang cam Creative Scotland’s Scots Leid Policie”. Weel, alairm bells suin stairtit dirlin; it wis a utter guddle. Nae the gist or the guidwillie but mair the style. Noo awbodie kens spellin can aye gar a shushie amang Scots upsteerers but some fowk tak this tae mean there nae stannerts at aw. But thon isna stricklie true. A lowse stannert haes kinna warked itsel oot ower the years, “ooie” shair but a yaisable stannert nanetheless. We ken there nae Académie Écossaise tellin awbodie whit tae write, but there noo braw yaiser-freenlie Scots dictionaries biggit wi public siller. Fur example, the Scottish Language Dictionaries’ Essential Scots Dictionary”, is 20 year auld an e’en warks as a app for yer iPad? The wice Online Scots Dictionary is jist as kenspeckle. There Colin Wilson’s Scots language coorse, Christine Robinson’s Modren Scots Grammar, ma ain Scots Learners’ Grammar an the ‘big yin’, the Scots Language Centre’s (SLC) ootstaunin, inspirin an, oweraw, consistent wabsteid, kivvverin mair nor 15 thoosant wirds. Noo these dinna aw line up perfeck-like – an the gleg amang ye’ll see A masel dinna line up 100% here aither – but Scots prose writin is a lang wey frae the wile linguistic anarchie some fowk like tae mak oot. Sae it wis a surpreese that the Scots Leid Policie, a offeecial document, mind, mair or less owerluiked aw that ‘saft stannertisation’ an cam up wi a aff-the-wa , mak-it-up-as-ye-gang-alang writin style, that haed monie fowk pure stammygastert. 

Fowk howpin it wis jist Creative Scotland gaun a bittie aff-piste, wis suin sair disappyntit. This month the Creative Scotland buikie An Introduction to Scotland’s Languages. makkit awthin clairer, an no in a guid wey. Maistile in English, the puckle Scots in it wis aince mair jist a bit aff. E’en the Scots vairsion o the title An Innins tae Scotlan’s Leids didna luik richt. The reglar dictionary aqual tae “introduction” is jist innin. An wha writes Scotlan onieways? But that wisna the rael problem; it wis whit wis in the English text.

Lat’s stairt we a wee girn o ma ain. Creative Scotland (an indeed Education Scotland) is richt keen on yaisin a adjectival phrase “Scots language” insteid o “the Scots language”, a noun phrase. Wha cares? Weel, apairt frae it aften comin aff ungrammatical yon raither pyntit yiss kinna maks oot “Scots” is a jist a description an no a linguistic “bein” or thing in it ain richt. Fur example, is forderin the yiss o “Scots language” an forderin the yiss o “the Scots language” the same? A’d sey it’s no.

Mibbie thon’s ower perjink, but on page 10 Creative Scotland’s wirryin ideologie is makkit muckle mair clair, 

Scots is the official name for the dialects of Scotland (such as Glaswegian, Doric, Ayrshire, Shetland and Lallans)”. 

Sae Scots as a thing apairt frae the dialects disna raellie exist, then. “Scots” is the braid label fur a rickle o unconnecktit wee dialects, accordin tae Creative Scotland. While awnin that “the literature of both languages dates back hundreds of years” in this defineetion the modren tradeetion o writin nae-dialectial Scots is wipit oot, dichtit clean frae oor cultural historie. Mibbies o coorse that’s whit they meant by the auld-farrant an nooadays aften pitdoon tairm “Lallans”, but A wudna coont on it. They conteena, Scots “use today is widespread” but it “was retained in oral traditional storytelling and songs”. Sae we’re telt naebodie writes – or here e’en speaks – ilkaday normal Scots.

In this licht the fremmit Creative Scotland likin fur unco-leukin Scots orthographies maks mair sense. The guid fowk at Creative Scotand arenae illiterate eejits, o coorse, they’re ideologues. Although they ken fine weel Scots “is recognised as a language in its own right”, the Creative Scotland defineetion o a language isna at aw the same as that o Scots language activeests. Language is a mair a tairm o convenience. In the wey Creative Scotland write it and the wey they write aboot it, Scots is praisentit as a a linguistic midden, wi nae stannerts, nae gremmar, a naethin apairt frae the fragmentit, fest deein-oot spoken dialects. The ootcam o thon nairra ideologie frae Scotland’s foremaist cultural bodie is semple. At the hinneren Scots can nivver hae a future ayont the couthie an the colloquial. Aifter aw, naebodie can normalise a naethin.

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