Scots, Scottish English, Scottish language

Derrick McClure commenting on FB: “Aye, it’s a fine article, but THERE’S NOTHING IN IT THAT HASN’T BEEN SAID OVER AND OVER AGAIN AD INFINITUM FOR HALF A CENTURY AND MORE. The book she cites, Languages of Scotland ed. A.J. Aitken and Tom McArthur, was published in 1979. Why the HELL do some people still need to be told the things that Jack Aitken, David Murison, Tom McArthur, David Abercrombie and your humble author, among others, were telling them back then, and further back still?”

In my view Scottish Standard English (SSE) and Scots are quite different varieties, as the article explains. However it doesn’t really go into the most interesting part of their relationship and spoken practice; how and why they are blended in spoken language. Such crossover is quite common in contact languages where there is high levels of bilingualism. Think of ‘Spanglish’, the Spanish-English mix along the Tex-Mex border. Surprisingly, there is no common term for the everyday dynamic mix of Scots and SSE. We lack a label such as Spanglish, so end up with the endless confusion people have between Scots and SSE. ‘Spoken Scottish vernacular’? ‘Scottish language’? A dinna ken, but better terminology would help people recognise Scots as a component in the vernacular Scottish language mix without denying the fluidity of the spoken blend.

Scroll to Top