Gaelic and Scots; in the same boat, but one “in steerage”

It’s no you, it’s me: or, sorry Gaelic, but Scots still haes issues tae wirk throu

Syne we’r aw on the subject nou o whit mis-uisses o the leid a Scots spikker is or isnae alloued tae feel affrontit bi – whither it’s sneistie Disney-Pixar memes or the Diet Scots on American telly programmes – can ah lat ye in on wan o ma ain wee wirry-carles?

Thomas Clark claims, maybe correctly, that,

Mony Scots spikkers ar gey keen on mairyin thegither the Scots cause wi the Gaelic. There’s a sense there that the haird-focht forders o the Gaels can somehou be cairit ower tae oorsels, that we can jouk the hale queue bi jynin them at the front. Or mebbes, at the verra least, that thirlin the twa leids thegither legitimises oor ain strauchle, anoints us wi a wee skoosh o second-haund coolness — opens up doors tae us that we cannae manage for oorsels. It’s a bonnie wee narrative; but like mony sic stories, it’s leadin us places we shouldnae want tae gang.

He argues that any potential solidarity between Scots and Gaelic is hampered by, “the fact that, even whan we’r in the same boat as ithers, some o us ar huddled doun in steerage” There is a risk of false equivalences and unhelpful parallels, “the strauchles we aw face ar different. The places we’r stairtin fae, the airtins we’r heidit”. Moreover there is a competitive edge between the two tongues, “The knives ar that shairp, as Henry Kissinger wance said, acause the pie is that tottie”. Gaelic activists ask why Scots doesn’t get its own house in order. But, as Clark says

.. tae learn a man tae fish for himsel, ye at least hiv tae gie him the catter for a net. The current level o fundin for Scots — £270k per year — isnae sae muckle a bequest as a puinishment, an as per maist sic Biblical notions, puinishment is a thing that’s as like tae faw on bairns o the guilty as on the guilty theirsels… The upshot o which is that the stairvation rations Scots is dwynin awa on dinnae juist mean that me an you get oor comeuppance for no bein able tae share a room wi’oot argyin hou tae spell ‘room’; they mean that oor bairns dae an aw.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top