Sunday, 27 January 2008

Who is running the Asylum - Part 2

Hoots ma boab. Jings, crivvens, help ma braw bricht moonlicht muckle nicht. The SNP has nothing better to do than plan to waste millions of pounds on 'the Scots language'.

Scots is a dialect of English, just like those of Yorkshire or Cumbria. With modern communication, they have all been completely overwhelmed by the power of the media. Apart from the less educated in Scottish society, it is not spoken. Of course, one or two dialect words can enrich dreich English in a way which would not necessarily be understood furth of Caledonia. Just as, quid pro quo, we may use an ad hoc Latin phrase. It does not mean that millions should be spent resurrecting Latin as a spoken language (although teaching Latin in schools is another matter entirely).

Robert Burns wrote in the Ayrshire dialect of his time. When he was hob-nobbing with potential patrons in Edinburgh, he moderated his speech and manners accordingly. I yield to no one in my admiration of Burns, but the Scots of the 18th Century is of little practical use in the global village of the 21st Century, any more than the English of Shakespeare.

My great great grandfather spoke Gaelic. At least, according to the Census returns when he lived in Golspie. After he moved to Ayrshire, where he lived for the rest of his life, it was not mentioned again. He spoke English. Not as a native speaker; maybe he never spoke it perfectly. But he recognised that the world had moved on. Now Gaelic is a distinct language - the oldest indigenous extant language of the British isles. Up to a point, it therefore deserves some funding. It is part of our history. Yet even Gaelic has had its day. We respect it as part of our history, but it is not a living language in any meaningful sense.

Is math sin! Tapadh leibh!

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