“We’re all reduced to the language we half-learned as a wean/bairn/child.”

Poet: I have given up writing in my heartfelt language of Scots

SHE could almost be described as scunnered. One of Scotland ‘s most lauded poets, whose words adorn the national monument at Bannockburn and who has been honoured in poetry’s prestigious awards, has revealed she has given up writing in the language she loves the most: Scots.

In an article in the journal Irish Pages, writer Kathleen Jamie said disputes over the language, “increasing political connotations”, and “problems of legitimacy, as well as readability” mean she cannot write in Scots any more. Recognising some writers prefer Scots “unfixed, unteachable, like a sparrowhawk”, she takes words “from hither and yon”, from people, books and dictionaries, “then its ‘synthetic’, which is wrong, apparently.” The poet says that if “synthetic” Scots is judged to be illegitimate, then “we’re all reduced to the language we half-learned as a wean/bairn/child.” 

Ye need a gey thick skin tae scrieve in Scots!

A SCOTTISH poet made the news the ither week wi the heidline “I have given up writing in my heartfelt language of Scots”. Ah cuidnae help but think tae masel whit prominence Kathleen Jamie wid hae goat in the national press gin she’d said: “I have given up writing in English.”

Poet Rab Wilson’s response  in The National on 12 April 2018
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