Scots stylistics

A dangerous thing wi style

Tae dae a dangerous thing wi style is whit ah caw airt – Charles Bukowski As a scriever ye’r no meant tae read ablo-the-line o yer ain airticles, gang gallus intae yon dour Apache laund o Unicode emoticons an racist GIFs an illiterate comments bi fowk wha micht mean wan thing an micht mean anither but naither thing maks ony sense.

Thomas Clark considers some of the problems in writing in the ‘Rebel Tongue‘. On on hand Scots provides an instant, easy dissidence, “whit could be mair dangerous tae ony scriever than tae thraw ower the hale global jingbang, this readership o potential billions that we’v aw got access tae, an scrieve anely in this disreputable, deein leid o ours”. On the other hand the act of writing in Scots becomes an end in itself, “Currently, the primary function o a wark in Modren Scots is tae evangelise for Modren Scots”.

Because ‘writing Scots’ is foregrounded, creativity and style are flattened. Firstly, “…for want o ony ither viable authority, the responsibility for representin an codifyin its scrievit form haes fawin tae the verra fowk wha ar in the warst position tae dae it: the scrievers”. Secondly “…like it or no. Scots disnae hiv styles; Scots is the style”. The result is, “The writers wha should be stormin the tours insteid hae been left mannin them; airtists wind up as advocates; an makars ar laundit wi the psychic cost o scrievin warks that act principally as their ain glossars”. Clark feels that, “the pressure on ony Scots writer tae conform tae a uniform ideal o the leid is enormous7 tae the pynt that it drives oot aw ither considerations”. 

So what is his solution? A standard that writers can work within (or against). The reason writers are in this position, “maist obviously, is acause o the absence o a government-fundit, government-sanctioned Staundart Scots an associatit body”. Clark himself was formerly against standards, and many fellow writers remains so, but that leaves the “vacuum o authority” which is the root of the problem in the first place.

Clark makes a call for action, “There’s a wheen o fowk oot there wha’v got muckle ideas aboot whit they’d dae if they war in chairge o Scots — weel, guid. Here’s their chance. It’s past time for the makars tae muive up an muive on”.

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