Wednesday 25 September 2013


I was going on about whether Lallans (lowlands) aka Scots was a language or a dialect in the context of the poetry of Rabbie Burns and Hugh MacDiarmid and reflecting that while it was possible to read and understand text in Scots, it was not easy for the Saxons south of the borrrder.  You can see why they (we) might get a little tetchy at such places as the The Scots Language Society where they take no prisoners in how they write their manifestoes.  And be snitty about "televeision" being the same as standard English but phonetically (i.e. badly) spelled  and the way written Scots is very careless about losing its consonants (gie for give; an for and; awfu for awful).  But I applaud anything that maintains diversity of language and culture because we are losing languages - forever - worldwide at an alarming rate.

So if you find Scots difficult, but want to support the cause, find out more about it, and boost your vocabulary a bit, I give a puff for a new Tintin book called The Derk Isle which is written/translated into Scots by Susan Rennie. Apparently she went directly from French to Scots bypassing English, so that will emphasise the differences as well. You can buy it on-line for £8 at ScotlandMusic.  It's so much easier to make sense of the language if you have a few pictures to carry the story.  But I should warn you that they've changed the white dog's name to Tarrie as the Anglophones changed it to Snowy from the original Milou.  The same publishers have also made the same story available in Gaelic as An t-Eilean Dubh. That's also available for £8.  But the gaelgoirs have called the dog Dileas (Scotia) which is just wrong, because Milou/Snowy/Tarrie is clearly not a Scots terrier but more of a wire-haired fox terrier - ask Google.  Tsk! You can read a review of the (ad)venture(s) in The Scotsman.  If you scroll down the comments after that article you can read a curmudgeonly comment about more people speaking Polish and Urdu in Scotland than Gaelic (whatever about Scots) and so this is a waste of the tax-payers money that subsidised the Gaelic edition into print.

I disagree.  I have a good pal and neighbour who, up until the Financial Collapse of 2007, was an Arts Officer in the next county over. She now makes films. She was, back than, on a short-term contract (like all the best people) and I predicted that she and people like her would (and by implication should) be the first to lose their comfy government billet.  Whereas I, and scientists like me, would (should) be given a longer tether because we were, or had the potential to be, delivering something of economic value.  She replied (I paraphrase) that there was more to life than money and that she, and people like her, were equipping people for the inevitable years of hard graft by helping to develop their aesthetic appreciation, their sense of wonder and delight and a belief that Quality (which may be all that matters) can be found if you go out and look for it.

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