This is the second paper in the Professor Alf Baird ten part series outlining the key determinants for achieving Scottish Independence. This paper centres on the importance of language. The idea is to broaden our understanding of all the factors involved and arm the YES side with an abundance of relevant fact to strengthen our case….in all environments!


“The most urgent claim of a group about to revive is certainly the liberation and restoration of its language. Only that language would allow the colonized to resume contact with his interrupted flow of time and to find again his lost continuity and that of his history. To this self-rediscovery movement of an entire people must be returned the most appropriate tool; that which finds the shortest path to its soul, because it comes directly from it. (Albert Memmi)

The tenets of any society are founded on language, which is the ‘master tool’ representing and making its own culture. Language is what makes culture possible and without a people’s language the culture is lost for that people.

Languages are powerful political instruments, so powerful they may be viewed as a threat to national allegiance and identity. Language, culture and national identity intersect to form our belief in ‘who we are’. When a people become incorporated into a more dominant imposed language and culture that has subsumed them, they have then lost their heritage and identity, and hence lost their way.

Because language is the fabric of culture, when a language dies, the demise of the culture that gave birth to it becomes imminent. Language wanes not because of physical extinction, but because of cultural subsumption. To the indigenous Scots speaker, English gaes in ane lug an oot the ither and will never touch the heart and soul of the people in the same way the Scots language does: the ‘Scots (language)is a mirror of Scotland’s soul, according to the writer Billy Kay.

The cause of language death is attributed to the marginalization of indigenous communities and the subordination of their languages, where the speakers of a culturally dominant language in a particular area or nation marginalize the speakers of minority languages. The Scots language is a minority language in Britain and has now been made a minority language in Scotland; according to the 2011 census just 1.6 million Scots speakers remain, less than a third of the Scottish population. This is a consequence of the Scots language being marginalised in Scotland through Anglophone domination and a refusal by UK and Scottish governing institutions to teach the language in Scotland’s schools, despite repeated requests by the European Council for the Scots language to be taught based on rights under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Resolution (Article 14) holds that aboriginal languages should be treated as fundamental rights and that: ‘A mother tongue is a human birthright.’ This means the Scots language should be respected and protected but even more important it needs to be taught! If a language is not taught to new generations, it will be lost.

Depriving a child of their language at the ‘sponge’ time of life, the most precious learning years, means a cultural bond is broken. Scotland’s bairns go into Anglophone dominated classrooms and have their own language squeezed out of them, often by teachers who themselves have little or no knowledge of, never mind qualification in, the Scots language. An Anglophone hierarchy is linguistically programmed to consider Scots speakers as less articulate than them, reflecting the prevailing view of Scotland’s social institutions that the Scots language is not a ‘valid’ language, which is linguistic prejudice and ethnic discrimination.

It is accepted almost universally that the English language is useful for communication, however, language is far more than merely a means of communication; language is the principle means by which humans can claim diversity and define their identity. To preserve language is also an effort to preserve a people and their unique heritage and culture, as well as their national identity. By ignoring and marginalizing the Scots language, a consequence of Linguistic Imperialism and linguistic policy of an Anglophone elite hegemony running Scotland, this means Scots speakers are made subordinate, their Scottish culture is being replaced, and with Scottish identity and therefore national consciousness diminished.

Scots speakers are therefore discriminated against (from birth)in their own nation and continually disadvantaged throughout life by prevailing Anglophone language domination and prioritisation. Scots language discrimination results in inequality and the so-called ‘attainment gap’; many Scots speakers are left behind, considered as inferior and less articulate, discarded by an Anglophone elite, many of whom are not Scots yet who control Scotland and its social institutions. This ongoing linguistic discrimination ‘introduced a schizoid element into the national psyche’,according to Dr. David Purves, with significant adverse psychological effects.

Scots have a right to a ‘Scots Language Act’ to end linguistic oppression and discrimination and to respect and reinstate the unique irreplaceable connection between their culture and language. The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis states that the way a people think and view the world is determined by their language, and culture and language are undeniably intertwined. Yet, with just 1.6 million Scots speakers left in Scotland, the number of speakers will inevitably fall further if the language is not taught. Coincidentally this is also the same number of ‘Yes’ voters in the 2014 referendum, highlighting the significance of language in the development of culture, identity and national consciousness, and a key driver in the self-determination of any people.

Language is one of the main factors that serves to define and unite a nation, reflecting the fact that language gives people their identity. Take away a ‘peoples’ language you take away their identity, which is the brutal objective of Cultural Imperialism and colonial oppression. 

For centuries the Scots language has been ‘scorned as the language of a backward people’. British linguists and educators responsible for developing language policy (e.g.Bernstein; Bunting) stressed the ‘verbal-deficit perspectiveclaiming that anyone who does not use standard English is verbally deficient, has less prospect of academic advancement, and does not even have a ‘valid’ language. Educationalists clearly still believe that Scots is not a ‘valid’language, for if they thought otherwise then they would surely teach the language.

The inevitable (and intentional) outcome of prevailing language ‘policy’ in Scotland is that an Anglophone elite hierarchy dominates Scotland’s social structures, including education at all levels. Social structures and institutions are language created hence an Anglophone narrative defines and determines Scotland’s society and purpose, which by implication is also anti-independence. In this environment thestereotypical way Anglophone elites, broadcasters and educators depict the Scots language as the language of the gutter and of the lower classes amounts to ethnic discrimination.

The Scottish working and rural class are basically all that is left of Auld Scotia in respect of the Scots language and are therefore the final guardians of Scottish culture and identity. We might consider how a Scots language narrative, flowing naturally and unhindered, would help re-shape and strengthen the identity and culture of the Scottish people. One could surmise the ‘Yes’ vote in support of Scottish independence would be expected to rise somewhat if more Scots appreciated that they had their ain braw langage.

The socio-political importance of language is well-established. Madeiros (2017) asserts that: “it is linguistic perceptions that directly determine national attachment”. Scots speakers therefore tend to hold to a Scottish identity, Anglophones less so, as seems apparent in the Scottish independence debate and in voting outcomes where the Yes/No divide is to a large extent linguistic and hence cultural. This is nothing new: minority and ‘national’ or ethnic groups in conflict are invariably separated along linguistic lines and Scotland seems no different in a British context. 

Quebec and Canada represent a divide between a Francophone Quebec and an Anglophone Rest of Canada (RoC). Francophones tend to have identification with Quebec and show a positive and significant relationship with support for secession whilst Anglophones mostly oppose independence. Identification primarily with Scotland is the same for Scots speakers who comprise by far the dominant group supporting independence, reflecting the fact that national identity and culture are linguistically determined, whereas the anti-independence ‘No’ vote includes a significant and perhaps now a majority Anglophone element, the latter reflecting Scotland’s changing demographics.

In Quebec the elite is predominantly Francophone, whilst Scotland’s elite class is mainly Anglophone. This is largely because the Scots language is not made a linguistic requirement in Scotland, whereas the French language is compulsory in Quebec, as is English. If the Scots language were given authority and made a linguistic requirement in Scotland (as well as English) it might therefore be anticipated that the elite in Scotland would consist more, or perhaps predominantly of Scots speakers. Inequality and under-development of the Scottish people (and nation) due to socio-linguistic prejudice thus favours an Anglophone elite so long as the Scots language has no authority and is not taught.

A consequence of Linguistic Imperialism is that the Scots-speaking community are largely excluded from taking elite posts within Scotland’s social institutions and are therefore ‘doun-hauden’ (oppressed) through institutionalised language discrimination and Anglophone elite domination. Scotland’s high-level jobs are advertised primarily in the London Metropolitan press and are therefore aimed at an elite Anglophone labour market in rest-UK which is ten times larger, and with no Scots language requirement for any post in Scotland. This has resulted in ‘an ethnic division of labour within the UK’s internal colonialism model’, according to Professor Michael Hechter.

A direct consequence of linguistic-based marginalization and discrimination is the ‘Scottish Cultural Cringe’, which is a psychological impediment suffered by Scots resulting in a lowering of confidence and self-esteem. Yet English is not the natural language of Scots, it is a foreign language reflecting another culture and identity. With solely an English language (and culture) imposed on Scots who are intentionally deprived of properly learning their ain mither tongue, the aim is to diminish notions of Scottish national identity and to encourage assimilation to a ‘superior’ British national identity, and to impose an Anglophone cultural hegemony; this is the purpose and consequence of Cultural and LinguisticImperialism and colonialism. 

Loss of language inevitably follows the loss of sovereignty and is a common theme in colonialism. As Professor Robert Phillipson noted, English Linguistic Imperialism is: ‘..the dominance asserted and retained by the establishment and continuous reconstitution of structural and cultural inequalities between English and other languages’. Linguistic Imperialism is a sub-type of Cultural Imperialism which permeates all other types of imperialism, including colonialism, primarily because language is the means used to mediate and express them. In colonial societies ‘linguistic underdevelopment parallels economic and political underdevelopment’, which implies that it is not only the Scottish people who are ‘doun-hauden’ (oppressed) through Anglophone domination, it is also the social, economic and political development of the Scottish nation that is hindered.

Hierarchisation of languages also brings with it a rejection of authentic local values and their substitution of ‘different’values which reflect the dominant language group. This serves to strengthen the elite language group’s social stratification resulting in a segregated society reflecting class, status and power, all of which are distinguishable by language and culture. This in turn further limits potential for social mobility and serves to worsen inequality for indigenous Scots speakers. 

In summary, Scots are ‘doun-hauden’, their marginalization and inequality perpetuated and reinforced through an imposed Anglophone elite structured society and related socio-linguistic prejudice and cultural domination. This is the inevitable outcome of Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism and colonialism which involve prejudice, ethnic discrimination, exploitation and worse, and which rightfully gives rise to demands of ‘a people’ for independence, to restore their national sovereignty and to enable them to recover and build upon what Albert Memmi described as ‘a moribund culture and a rusted tongue’.

The Scots language is therefore a key determinant of Scottish independence.

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  1. Extremely thought provoking. I remember at primary school in the late fifties to mid sixties, some teachers would rap the knuckles of any pupil who used ‘ah dinnae ken’ etc. There are Gaelic learning opportunities, are there any for Scots? I’m off to google. . .

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Me an awe Annie, and ye better no say AYE or Naw, that could bring the wrath of god doon oan yer heid.

      Well said Alf Baird, that’s like a breath of fresh air and long needed saying. Thank you.

      Liked by 7 people

  2. Anither braw screed frae oor Alf.

    I have to admit to a feeling of sadness whilst reading this article, and no small measure of alarm. The causes of both will be obvious to all. It would be great to have a proper and robust source for education on the Scots language, easily available to all. I’ve just done a quick google search and the resources available appear to be a bit thin, almost jokey.

    Although I speak English spiced through with a lot of Scots words and phrases, I would be very happy to be able to speak exclusively in Scots when I desire to do so. The fact that I cannot is one source of my sadness and alarm. If I can’t do it, how can I encourage others who may wish to do so too?

    Many thanks for another brammer of an article Alf, and thanks to Iain for supporting it.

    Lang may yer lums reek!

    Liked by 10 people

  3. Couldn’t agree more with the comment that Scots is now almost spoken only in rural and working class areas.

    Use it or lose it and we are certainly in danger of that.

    Since every little helps we should all resolve to try and use more Scots words as a part of our daily discourse.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Dear Alf Baird
    Why are you writing this in English instead of in the Scots language? Perhaps you would produce a version of this article in the Scots language which might better reinforce your argument. Or maybe it widnae…maybe it would restrict it to a different sort of elite…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yer richt, it mebbe widnae wark, acause Scots bairns an fowk arena taucht tae read an screed in thair ain mither Scots gab, sae thay micht nae unnerstaund whit A’m wallachin on aboot!

      Scots is aye in oor heids (an oor verra saul itsel), juist in nae mair tho – accause anely Englis wirds is aye garred doon oor thrapples in schuils, an nae braw Scots wirds at aw.

      The real point here of course is the importance of what remains (i.e. the ‘dregs’ according to Fanon) of oor ain Scottis cultur an langage which is fundamental in creating and maintaining our national identity and therefore in giving us our national consciousness, without which there would be no motivation for independence in the first place.

      With colonialism there are only two choices for an oppressed people – independence or assimilation – and the latter is facilitated by casting aside their own culture and language in favour of the coloniser’s culture and language.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. Scotland is a colony and fine we ken it but Scotland has the twa native leids no jist the one and it does our cause nae guid to exclude Gaidhlig from this discourse..

        Liked by 8 people

      2. I think that there are false equivalents in your argument. It is undeniable that there have been deliberate historical attempts to suppress language and culture. It is understandable that this is a matter of some grievance. And it is right that the remnants are valued.. But the Scots language, however defined, is not a homogenous unified entity.

        The consciousness of children in Scottish schools is a product of languages they are exposed to but also the different languages and cultures of their own family immigration history. A knowledge of what you regard as YOUR aim scottis cultur and langage is not fundamental in providing a motivation for independence.

        Many people take the view that independence would be a better state of affairs to allow the specific needs of the diverse groups of people living in Scotland to be addressed and managed, whether or not such people are steeped in what you consider a Scots linguistic tradition. For most people, English is an obvious and useful transactional language, much more linguistically suitable than Scots to the kind of article you yourself have written. Left uninterrupted and unsuppressed, Scots may have developed similarly, but history (and colonisation) has prevented this.

        I am not an indigenous Scot, whatever that is. I have lived in Scotland for over 50 years and have become familiar with Scots language an vocabulary and its regional variations. 50 years of living here has also made me aware of the particular issues important to many people living here, stemming from its geography, industrial economy etc which separate it from the rest of the UK, and it is the latter that leads me to the conclusion that we would be better off running our own affairs and addressing our own needs. Scots language and culture as you define it has not been an essential part of that conviction for me.

        I was brought up in the North of England, my family having emigrated from Ireland. My children are Scottish and my grand children are being taught in Gaelic. Through my parents, Irish culture is an important part of my consciousness and also my language (I started school with an Irish accent and speech mannerisms). My playground language was ‘geordie’ and I love to lapse into it as it is part of who I am. You don’t have to go back very far in song to find it virtually indistinguishable from lowland Scots. And like Scots, it was discouraged in school as uneducated slang.

        I think the point I am making is that conflating Scots language and culture with a desire for independence is a false equivalence – more.particularly, the reverse is. I support an independent Scotland because I think it is the best solution for all of us living here. I do not need to be immersed in Indigenous (historical.?) culture to reach this conclusion. I believe I, along with many other people living in Scotland, are part of the formation of present day Scotland. Neither language nor culture stands still. That does not and should not preclude valuing languages and cultures attached to the country you are living in – as well as those inherited from your predecessors, wherever they come from.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Jomry

        There is no false reasoning between the extensive literature on Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism and Colonialism and Scotland’s ongoing reality, status, or likely future given the status quo.

        As Frantz Fanon noted, ‘culture is the expression of national consciousness’, and without this national consciousness which derives from our distinct culture and language there is unlikely to be a desire for national independence in the first place.

        Lets remember that independence (and hence decolonization) is about the liberation of a people from oppression, which comes in numerous forms, seen and unseen. Independence is never merely about what you term ‘the best solution for all of us living here’, as if this were just about changing one political regime for another. Here we are talking about re-establishing an independent nation of people based on their national consciousness and where ‘to re-establish the sovereignty of that nation constitutes the most complete and obvious cultural manifestation that exists’.

        Liked by 7 people

  5. Obviously there is a clear and present danger with Scotland being a convenient escape route from an overcrowded England, particularly so since the route to the south has now been closed. In addition the importation and fixation on American political issues is making the situation deteriorate dramatically as there is a strong desire to solve other peoples’ problems for them.

    I’d have thought that the internet would be a liberating force but if anything it’s proving to be the opposite. Instead, taking control of broadcasting rights would appear to be a necessary first step. How can that possibly be achieved when obviously it won’t be granted and there’s the also the possibility that the people who could make it happen aren’t minded to do so.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Aye Stuart, yir first sentence chimes loud. Thair is a wheen o them whaur I bide and haes been this lang time. Thair aw whaur!

      Liked by 5 people

  6. “A consequence of Linguistic Imperialism is that the Scots-speaking community are largely excluded from taking elite posts within Scotland’s social institutions and are therefore ‘doun-hauden’ (oppressed) through institutionalised language discrimination and Anglophone elite domination.”

    I’ve been saying for years that Scots language immersion needs to be established in Lowland and Borders Scottish schools, which would lead to all classes being taught in Scots, except for English language and literature classes. In the Gàidhealtachd, Gàidhlig immersion classes need to be established, with Scots and English taught as important second languages.

    In anglophone Canada, French Immersion education is offered for the children of parents who choose it for them.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I have three grandchildren in Canada, who all went through French immersion education, though it was patchy with some subjects like the sciences, history and geography being short of Francophone teachers.
      If you want a government funded job in Canada you need to have gone through French immersion, though I’m unsure whether the reverse is necessary in Quebec,
      When my son moved to Canada his job was sponsored by the Canadian government so he had to demonstrate a certain proficiency in French. As he had spent a year in a French secondary school and was vouched for by a French friend, he qualified, though he uses it only rarely while llving first in Newfoundland and now Nova Scotia, However, as he learnt French in France and the UK, he is better able to be understood by firms in Europe as they find Canadian French quite hard to understand, for example on the telephone,
      I agree with Alf that the first essential is to have a Scots language Act in Scotland and for Scots to have at least the level of support which Gaelic gets, It should be taught in schools, including Scots medium education, though this may take time as there will not be enough Scots speaking teachers at first. It should be expected that anyone applying for jobs in cultural areas from other countries, whether within the current UK or not, should have at least some knowledge of Scots language and culture.
      A start, to give Scots pupils a sense of the significance of their own language and pride in it, would be to explain that they are already bilingual and that is a good thing.

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Scots leid hae bin doon hauden fir lang’s syne.

    We are told the Scots is a dialect and slang English but I challenge any non Scots speaker to understand Alf’s first two paragraphs in reply to Jomry. In fact Scots has many similarities to the Nordic languages. I remember an interview with Borgen actress Sidse Babette Knudson after attending an event at the Edinburgh Festival. She stated at times she thought some were speaking Danish so similar were the cadences and some of the words.

    There is some protection for Gaelic, we need it for Scots too. Of course over in NI, there was been such a stooshie over the Irish language protection that has been promised but not delivered for years as the DUP oppose it. I’m not sure if Ulster-Scots is already protected or is part of the same bill.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. As a non-scot, I readily accept your challenge.

      However, I have been in Scotland for more than 50 years, and I was brought up on Tyneside . If you are familiar with traditional Northumbrian song and poetry, you will know that you don’t have to go back very far to find the language almost indistinguishable from Lowland Scots and of course this is reflected in modern ‘Geordie’ – or was when I spoke it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Aye well Jomry after 50 years you very much count as an adopted Scot. Mind there are lots of folk born and bred here that haven’t had 50 years on the Earth yet! There is indeed a link with Northumbria because language doesn’t need a passport and neighbouring areas will bleed their language and vocabulary and dialects into one another.

        Point still stands. I’ve seen umpteen times on the bird app, folk living in England say that Scots is slang English. How many would understand Alf’s reply? Okay some in Northumbria but daan saarff???

        I do agree with you that it is possible to want Scots independence without caring heehaw about the Scots language. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important for the reasons Alf states nor that control of the language isn’t assumed by colonials. The DUP aren’t being bolshie because they don’t want to learn Irish. They are being bolshie because they don’t want OTHERS to learn it and perhaps reawaken their Irish identity.

        Liked by 6 people

    2. I think it is, and receives support that Scots speakers in Scotland do not get, as it was a condition of the Good Friday Agreement.
      I remember, in the early days of the Scottish Parliament, there was a Cross Party Group on the Scots Language which I attended from time to time. There was a University lecturer from Northern Ireland who came on many occasions and pointed this out to us.
      The group lasted through the first two sessions and the second convenor was Rob Gibson. I am not sure what happened to it, but we could certainly do with such a body now, though it had no political power. Perhaps it could be reinstated, or better still, set up a Committee with the power to have its recommendations taken seriously.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. Accepted, and understood, The only two words I did not know, or immediately grasp were “garred” and “thrapples”, however I derived those from context.

      I don’t speak Scots, but understand quite a lot – probably because I was raised in SE Northumberland; I take the view that Geordie/Mackam/Northumbrian and the various forms of Scots are all dialects of the same language, as opposed to the first three being dialects of English. For that matter, I don’t really speak Geordie either.


  8. Micheal Gove, though Aiberdeen born ‘n’ bred, is a horrendous example of what you get at the end of the colonialist indoctrination process.

    Thank you Alf, for another crystal-clear steen in the dyke.

    Liked by 8 people

  9. Many years ago I was in a bar inFrance sitting at a very large round table, half the table was occupied by folk from Glasgow the other half occupied by folk from Germany. To our surprise, having listened to us speaking, the Germans asked us what part of Germany we came from.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Really perceptive article. It’s what happened to the North American Indian children, Maori children and Aboriginal children to their great and grievous loss. The Welsh and Irish have fought back though, and though I am only 1/3 Scot and speak English, I would be so glad to hear Scottish language in use again although it would mean me walking around in a cloud of even more incomprehension than my brain usually encounters currently.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Great article Alf, sadly the academic gatekeepers, that the late great Alisdair Gray pointed out almost a decade ago will not let the Scots language flourish. Something has to be done from the top down to keep the Scots language alive, it must be taught in schools.

    English is indeed seen as the universal language but other countries teach their own languages first and foremost, then English, the same should apply in Scotland if we want to see our culture and history survive and flourish.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Scots bairns and weans hud thur leid belted oot o’thaim by the dominies lang syne. Why?, simply because as Alf explains Imperialism, English Imperialism. It’s why the highland schools were programmed to teach the children R.P.
    Doric has been watered down in the N.E. to an unrecognisable homogenised ‘accent’. Long gone the ‘fits’,’fu’s’ and farra boots’ of my Grunnie’s speech.

    In recent years, I have met young people from diverse parts of Scotland such as Orkney, Highlands and remote islands who have grown up in those places and have English accents. One middle class lad from Deeside told me he never used or understood Scots words. Sadly, I have also encountered Scottish adults in the Central belt who pronounce ‘Loch’ as ‘Lock’ and ‘What’ as ‘wit’. Indeed two folk actually laughed at me rolling my ‘r’s and pronouncing ‘Loch’ properly. I challenged them and they were only slightly chastened. Glaswegians can actually be the guilty of this. They will champion specific words such as ‘cludgie’, ‘hudgie; unique to the city and then disparage ‘teuchters’ usage of ‘Ken’ or ‘dinna’.

    As I have commented before, the SNP are the biggest collaborators at suppressing our language. The leadership are predominantly central belt metropolitan snob wannabes who see their Scottishness as an accessory but embarassing when connected to what they perceive as a ‘slang’ working class patois.They have done virtually nothing to encourage either Scots language or Scottish history. Their encouragement of Gaelic ,however noble ,is again based on cultural snobbery , ignorance and virtue signalling for which Sturgeon’s crowd are past masters.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Aye Lochside, thon daeless SNP elite haes duin naethin fer oor Scots langage an cultur. Fiona Hyslop as long time Culture Minister and Alasdair Allan as Language Minister most especially. A Scots Language Minister that canae e’en be bathered tae gie Scots fowk a Scots Langage Act nor tae lairn ony Scots bairn thair ain mither tongue.

      It is 16 years since Holyrood passed the Gaelic Language Act which as you imply seems not much more than an attempt to further raise the social status of the bourgeoisie Scot in polite after dinner discourse at fashionable town houses, whilst the language a great many more Scots still speak and which gives us our national consciousness continues to be ignored and left tae wuther.

      Liked by 7 people

  13. I attended Highland schools. I was shouted at and hit for using Scots words. For some reason those in charge, all Scots I think, seemed to see that as insulting, insubordination, rudeness or illiteracy.

    Perhaps we should encourage Duolingo to bring Scots into the light as well as Gaelic.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Great to see Alf using Scots so naturally in his comments after being critcised for not writing in Scots, though readers of Doun-Hauden will know he often uses Scots to emphasise a point in his book,
    As to the point that some have made that there is no standardised from of Scots, I think most Scots will already know more than their own local vesion of Scots and can cope in written form with most of them.
    I read recently A Modren Scots Grammar by Chris Robinson. It’s all in Scots, including the expanations of how and why we say things, but is not hard to read, At times it gives the various forms of a word or concept such as ane/yin or wean/bairn but these are unlikely to cause difficulty to most Scots as they recognise both. Available in print and as a free ebook form Edinburgh (and possibly other) Libraries.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. @arayner1936
      Thanks for this post.
      It inspired me to begin a search for ‘Chris Robinson’ and ‘ A Modren Scots Grammar’

      That little linguistic journey was so interesting, that I shall post some links here, for any else who care to follow.

      “Modren Scots Grammar: Wirkin wi Wirds”
      by Christine Robinson

      Last native speaker of Scots dialect dies
      By Jamie Hamilton, for CNN
      October 6, 2012

      “Why is Menzies pronounced Mingis?”


      Liked by 5 people

  15. When I was a child my mother would say to me “Stop speaking slang. If you don’t speak properly you won’t get a job when your older!” What she meant was “speak BBC English” I think. When my daughters were growing up and my mum was in our company I would see her about to “correct” them if she heard Scots/local dialect and I would stop her in her tracks by telling her that they were speaking their native/local tongue which is right and proper and as their father I was more than happy for them to do so. This would then lead to a rant as to why we “Scots” were watching the TV and listening to the radio of another nation in their language. Alf’s work is invaluable so much so I bought the book. That said our government should hang their heads in shame. Never have I seen a more anti-Scottish and anti-independent toothless government in power and it was Covid that really brought that impotence to the fore.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Hello Iain,

    Good article by Alf again.

    Perhaps I have missed this in Alf’s piece (or earlier replies), but what is “standard” Scots? There are many dialects of Scots, e.g. Lallans, Doric, Broad Scotch, Ayrshire (of Burns), Borders, Orcadian etc. I recall as a child from a working-class area of Edinburgh (with a good bit of Lallans understanding I would think) going to the the Fife coast in the early 1950s on holiday and barely understanding other children and, of course, adults, speaking in their form of Scots.

    In any promotion of the Scots language, there would would have to be a standardisation of vocabulary and usage and then the same problem would start again, e.g. based on the presumed dominance of Lallans!

    IMO, it is NOT necessary to have a re-emerged Scots language as a necessary ingredient for the Cause of Scottish Independence. There are too many dialects of Scots for that to be practical. However, I am very much in favour of regional/local language being preserved culturally, as in song, poetry and other writings.

    However, in general across Scotland, we need a standard English (withvarious Scots accents!) as our “lingua franca” for business and other communications, both pan-Scotland and internationally. After all, the Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and others are no less wedded to their own countries because they speak (a form of) English!

    I have various Scots language dictionaries covering regional variations across Scotland. Fascinating stuff. Although it may not be popular with this particular audience, I would suggest we put this subject to bed and work on the other nine determinants of Independence listed by Alf..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You ignore the fact that without the Scots language, which forms the basis of our national culture and identity, the people would have no national consciousness, and hence no motivation for national independence. You also ignore the fact that all languages have regional dialects, even English.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. This is pure assertion, Alf Baird. You would find it difficult to establish a consensus of what our national culture and identity of Scotland actually is, without resorting to the stereotypes through which those furth of Scotland tend to view us. If it were the case that there was a commonly accepted ‘Scots language’ linguistically and structurally distinct from English, in widespread use, then what you argue might Have more weight. However, that is not the case.

        There are many in Scotland who hold on to their regional dialects,vocabulary, accents and ways of speaking but few who carry this over into their writing. There is still academic dispute about whether this collection of regional differences amounts to a ‘Scots language’ per se. Many many people in Scotland have very little ‘scots’ In their tongue apart from regional accents, pronunciation and a smattering of regional vocabulary. Some speak only English. Others have neither Scots or English. Yet you would seem to discount them from any part in the ‘national consciousness’.

        I would argue that the political choices the people in a country make, when given the opportunity, are the clearest indication of ‘national consciousness’. To say that there would be no national cosciousness without the Scots language is a non sequitur. The ‘national consciousness is informed by many things – how fairly people think the resources are divided in society, how just they feel the laws and their execution are, whether they feel free or oppressed, what degree of confidence there is in running their own affairs – and so on – and the desire for independence is predicated on these considerations, irrespective of what language they are thought in or expressed in.

        None of this is to underestimate the cultural importance of language and the value of preserving and maintaining the language differences which do exist. They are our heritage. They carry our thought patterns. But they are diverse and different for all of us. I simply believe that the case you posit – that there would be no national consciousness or motivation without the Scots language – is very much overstated. And when it is overstated, it can exclude and smack of ‘wha’s like us’ – and can be every bit as insensitive as English sports commentators on the BBC.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jomry

        Aye, ye hiv a muckle bumbee in yer bunnet richt eneuch.

        I have sought to analyse and explain the well-established and highly important role and impacts of Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism and colonialism on the Scottish people as specifically related to the matter of independence. There is an extensive literature on these subjects which might help you better understand the issues, probably necessary given your narrow perspective simply appears to support continued assimilation (i.e. oppression).

        I have found Fanon’s postcolonial perspectives rather informative, and he wrote that: ‘In the colonial situation, culture, which is doubly deprived of the support of the nation and of the state, falls away and dies. The condition for its existence is therefore national liberation and the renaissance of the state.’ In short, ‘the struggle for liberation is a cultural phenomenon’ and we have to remember here that the basis of a peoples culture (and hence their identity and drive for independence) is their own distinct unique language.

        And, as Albert Memmi tells us about the liberated native’s focus on his/her own language as independence draws near: ‘In recovering his autonomy and separate destiny, he immediately goes back to his own tongue (irrespective) that it is pointed out to him that its vocabulary is limited, its syntax bastardized. He is still regaining possession of himself, still examining himself with astonishment, passionately demanding the return of his language’.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Alf – it is along time since those you mention crossed my radar, but if my memory serves me right, Fanon’s work – mainly concerning racism – in particular anti-blackness- was in the context of French colonialism in North Africa (Algeria?) in the 1960s where native cultures were intrinsically different from those of the colonisers and native languages developed from entirely different roots. Memmi’s main concern, as an Algerian Jew, was to oppose the ‘scientific’ arguments that were being mustered to support racist supremacy.

        While some of the principles underlying the processes of colonisation undoubtedly help us recognise some of the hidden forces at work in Scottish-English relations, the contexts from which you have taken these quotations are entirely different and simply cannot be applied to a modern Scotland, where the the situation is vastly different and the colonisation has been much more nuanced.

        Fanon, for example, took a fundamentalist view that those ‘natives’ who learned and became skilled in the language of the colonisers were part of the problem because they cemented the colonialisation ( continued assimilation – in your terms.). This is something many have fiercely contested, arguing that a narrow retreat into traditional cultural and linguistic traditions creates powerless ghettos, incapable of engaging with and countering colonialist oppression.

        My view is that, irrespective of past cultural colonial injustices, a modern Scotland is a mongrel state (in a good way). It is virtually impossible to arrive at a definition of an indigenous Scot (native) without reducing such a population to very few. How many Gaelic speakers are there (despite its resurgence). How many Scots language speakers are there? How many indigenous Scots have sloughed off all vestiges of their linguistic heritage and accents in order to ‘get on’ in a modern Scotland? How many people living in Scotland have little connection with Scots?

        The reality is, that however much it is to be regretted, Scotland has been linguistically colonised over hundreds of years – the languages were not that different in the first place.. Of course it is important to preserve linguistic heritages, to recognise and value differences in language and expression – as I have repeatedly said. But if you predicate the achievement of and independent Scotland on a meaningful and wide scale resurgence of the Scots language, then I believe we will be waiting for a much longer than even the delays Mr and Mrs Murrell can manage. And you may very well alienate many of the non-scots-speakers – (who are also part of modern Scotland) in the process.

        I think arguments in this area would require much more than comments on a blog can achieve, so it is probably better if we draw matters to a conclusion here by accepting that while we would both like to see an independent Scotland, we agree to disagree on the current subject of discussion.

        (By the way, I greatly admire your work on transport hubs and connections which are essential issues needing to be grasped in an independent Scotland.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jomry

        Appreciate your comments, even though we disagree on certain points.

        Just to add, Aime Cesaire extended the postcolonial literature to include ‘white on white’ oppression, not least in reference to the European powers’ tendency to occupy neighbouring countries, also concluding that colonialism was at the very root of fascism. Here Cesaire reminds us Europeans that ‘before they were its victims, they were its accomplices’. Colonialism is of course also racism and prejudice (irrespective of skin colour) loaded onto an unfortunate receiving people, and racial oppression may also be ‘internalized’, as seems evident in the Scots’ predicament. Something you may also wish to consider in Memmi’s portrait of the two main protagonists is that ‘the colonial situation manufactures colonialists, just as it manufactures the colonized’ – not that all protagonists will readily see which particular reflection is theirs.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I very much welcome Alf Baird drawing our attention to the invariable linguistic factor in colonialism: “When a people become incorporated into a more dominant imposed language and culture that has subsumed them, they have then lost their heritage and identity, and hence lost their way.”

    This is patently true of Gaelic, of course, which is predicted to finally lose any territorial foothold whatsoever in about a decade.

    Lucien Bouchard, former Canadian ambassador to France, echoed Alf’s colonial point when he wrote: “Pour nous, Canadiens, la Francophonie n’est pas seulement une façon de vivre – c’est une façon de survivre” (For us, Canadiens, French is not just a way of life [vivre] – but a means of survival [SURvivre]). (L’Express)

    As did François Mitterand, who once commented: “Un peuple qui perd ses mots n’est plus entendu de personne”. [‘A people which loses its words is no longer understood by anybody”).

    The writer Philipe de Saint Robert insightfully and poignantly added: “Et par malheur ne s’entend plus lui-même”. (“And unfortunately no longer understands itself”).

    It will no doubt be a great surprise to many that “Inverey was the home of Jean Bain, the last known speaker of Aberdeenshire Gaelic, who died at Ardoch, near Crathie in 1984.” (‘Gaelic verse from Aberdeenshire’ – research by Alison Mary Grant Diack.

    It may also surprise some to learn that the Midlothian place-name Balerno is from the Gaelic ‘Baile Àirneach’ (‘Sloe Steading’).

    In the book ‘Gaelic and Scotland / Alba agus a’ Ghàidhlig’ (Edited by William Gillies, Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1989), the late great scholar John MacInnes, in his essay ‘The Gaelic perception of the Lowlands’, wrote:

    “Some years ago I heard Gaelic speakers in Arran describe the entire stretch of coastland from Galloway to Ayrshire as part of the Gàidhealtachd. They knew some of the place-names of that region in their Gaelic form; it was traditional knowledge among them that the Gaelic language had been spoken there in the past; and they assumed that, just as in Arran, it had survived to the present day.” (p90)

    Regarding the Lowlands more generally, MacInnes remarks:

    “To sum up, the Gaelic perception of the Lowlands is in essential agreement with that of the medieval Scots writers who regard the Gaels of their time as ‘contemporary ancestors’, people who preserve the language and culture which were once shared by all. But from the Gaelic point of view, we the Gaels are the disinherited, the dispossessed.” (p99)

    That “disinheritance”/“dispossession” of course includes reassignment of the linguistic designation “Scots” itself. The Latin phrase “lingua scottorum” had long signified Gaelic (of any provenance – Iohannes Scottus Eriugena c800-c877 was Irish, for example. In the ninth century Ireland was referred to as “Scotia Maior” and its inhabitants as “Scotti”).

    The usage of Gawin Douglas (c 1475-1522) from the Prologue to his translation of The Aeneid is often taken as a marker for when ‘Inglis’, having displaced Gaelic as the Scottish State’s “awin langage”, is henceforth called “Scottis” to distinguish it from Sudroun (Southern English, or English English). Cf a few lines from Douglas [by the way, “Dubh ghlas” = Blackwater] –

    “As that I culd, to make it braid and plain.
    Kepand nae sudroun, but our awin langage,
    and speakis as I learit when I was page…
    Nor yet sae clean all sudroun I refuse,
    but sum word I pronunce as nichtbour does;
    Like as in Latin been Greek termes sum,
    So me behuvit whilom, or than be dum,
    Sum bastard Latin, French, or Inglis oiss, (oiss=use)
    Whar scant were Scottis I had nae uther choiss”

    Just to be a bit provocative, one can’t help but think that “lingua scottorum” was more like independence and “Scottis” more like devolution.

    As Gaelic (whose related antecedents were once spoken across Europe from Portugal to Turkey and from Orkney to Lake Garda and south of the Alps) now stares (under malign and maladroit “Scottish” stewardship) into the Abyss, Alf’s recurrent disparagement of nouveaux Gaels as “bourgeois” irks — whatever mileage the insult merits.

    Here, then, is an interview 2011) with writer and historian Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh which has relevance to our entire discussion, specifically including useful analysis of the Left’s frequently ambivalent attitude to the issue of “national languages”. It happens to be in the Irish form of our “lingua scottorum”, but there are English subtitles. Ó Cathasaigh also talks about his work on James Connolly, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Karl Marx:

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for that Fearghas.

      The most important question still remains, of course, and that is why Gaelic language was prioritised and granted its own act of parliament in 2005 with significant annual resources, a statutory authority, a TV channel, school Highers and university Degrees and much more besides, whilst the Scots language was and remains excluded and ignored, cast aside, discarded as if it were indeed an ‘invalid’ tongue, an nae mair nor the langage o ‘the gutter’ spoken by a ‘subordinate’ people?

      Billy Kay probably put it much better than I could in reference to the role of what he called the ‘highly effective Gaelic lobby’ when he wrote as follows in his book ‘Scots: The Mither Tongue’:

      ‘Aince upon a time, we were aw suppressed minorities thegither and supported ane anither, but since you climbed a bittie higher, I fear yer leaders hae kicked the ladder awa. When they speak of Scotland as a bilingual country, they mean Gaelic and English, an deil tak the hindmaist – Scots bein by far the hindmaist in the linguistic pecking order. Jeyn the process of liberation, o Gaels! All the estimated 1.5 million Scots speakers seek is parity with you 60,000 Gaelic speakers. Jeyn us, all you have to do is lose your monopoly on ethnic Scottishness in our media, and a few suits!’

      But naw, the Gaels didna jeyn wi us Scots speakers, thay went thair ain wey. Auld Perfidious Albion up tae its usual ‘divide an rule’ jinks nae doot. Noo the Scots speakers hiv the chyce o twa furrin leids – which seems to aptly reflect the proposition that a devolved Holyrood is merely imposing a second layer of colonialism on Scots.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Alf. I don’t know how to respond to this really. I have no idea what the answer to your first paragraph is. A “highly effective Gaelic lobby”, apparently. So why do these four words now sound so sinister? Neither you nor I trust Holyrood’s agenda on anything anyway. Nor do we trust the BBC, given immediate control of the Gaelic TV channel. The first director was a friend of Brian Wilson’s. Pro-Gaelic both, but nail-spittingly unionist.

        Billy Kay’s frustration is entirely understandable, but his ill-judged rhetoric in your quote here ends by effectively imputing to Gaelic-speakers some kind of hive-brained corporate guilt. That should well get them up aff their craven “gluntows”!

        Not being a TV watcher myself, but more given to literature, I envy you the Scottish National Dictionary:

        “The Scottish National Dictionary (SND) covers the Scots language from the year 1700 onwards. It was published in ten volumes between 1931 and 1976, with a further supplement in 2005. SND has over 25,000 separate entries with over 172,000 illustrative quotations, and the 10 large printed volumes contain a total of 4,120 pages. All of its content is now available as part of DSL Online.”

        The Gaelic equivalent (‘Faclair na Gàidhlig’) is only at an early stage. I surely won’t see it:

        “The Dictionary of the Scottish Gaelic Language is an inter-university initiative by the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI. The aim is to produce an historical dictionary of Scottish Gaelic comparable to the multi-volume resources already available for Scots and English, namely the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, the Scottish National Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. These resources are now available on-line. The Dictionary of the Scottish Gaelic Language will be published initially in electronic format.

        “The dictionary will document fully the history of the Gaelic language and culture from the earliest manuscript material onwards, placing Gaelic in context with Irish and Scots. By allowing identification of the Gaelic/Scots interface throughout Scottish history, it will increase our understanding of our linguistic national heritage and will reveal the fundamental role of Gaelic in the linguistic identity of Scotland. Of equal importance, it will show the relationship between Scottish Gaelic and Irish.

        “Historical dictionaries require meticulous editing and research and take many years to produce. The first challenge is how to maintain continuous major funding for such a huge task. This has been tackled by breaking the project up into discrete elements, each a vital part of the whole but also with its own free-standing output. The first phase is currently underway and will provide the editorial and textual foundation for the dictionary project.”


      2. Fearghas, we know that Scotland’s elite, which of course includes Gaels, is predominantly unionist and remains prejudiced against the Scots language in terms of refusing to give it authority or in sanctioning its teaching in schools or university degrees etc etc. Scots language is perhaps considered too much of a political hot potato for the unionist elites (who still run our institutions) to promote given the numbers of Scots speakers that still exist and many others who retain some consciousness of the language and can link it to their national identity and thus to the goal of independence.

        Promoting Gaelic, a language unknown to most Scots, was never likely to do much for Scottish independence, and is more likely to mystify most Scots speakers, such as myself, as we watch Scottish football on BBC Alba and wish the commentator spoke Scots rather than Gaelic, or Alex Salmond in his uncomfortable (i.e. unnatural) expression of the very word ‘Alba’.

        Mystification of the natives is of course a common theme in colonialism. To some extent the Gaelic Language Act and related initiatives has simply left many Scots speakers confused and hence also the independence movement and essentially the language policy bias and continued institutional prejudice against the Scots language is there for anyone who cares to look. It also seems no surprise that the more bourgeois Scots have taken to the Gaelic language opportunity as presented via the devolved arrangement as giving them some form of higher status of ‘authentic’ Scottishness, as a sort of fashion accessory, nice to have rather than need to have as it were, and hardly as a mither tongue coming from thair verra saul.

        As Fanon noted of colonial domination: ‘the future remains a closed book so long as the consciousness of the people remains imperfect, elementary and cloudy’.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I took great joy in the performance by Scotland the What, at the time I had been down in Glasgow for about a decade and going to the King’s Theatre to hear the doric was a homesick moment but also very funny , particularly as I had to try to explain it to the bemused Glaswegian pals.

    It only just occurred to me that Covid has become the wiz of \Oz curtain behind which all is hidden. What exactly were the rest of the SNP MSPs doing while we were all being regimented? Were there teams of them working on independence , sorting out currency , transport , connections to the continent , banking ,infra structure – any of these?
    And if so where is the evidence of time well spent?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Oor daeless heid bummers mebbe aw daein wirk on a ‘Scots Langage Act’, tae gie Scots fowk thair ain braw langage bak an no afore time – tho A wadna haud ma breith!

      Liked by 4 people

  19. Mair like they were probably briefing ‘editor’ and ‘Jomry’,while explaining the SNP’s innovative policy of dynamic inaction. We can’t have Professor Baird suggesting that those with the power and opportunity to do something, actually get aff their erses and dae something. What would the First Minister say?

    In the meantime with so little to do they could maybe investigate why genuine independence supporters are disappearing like snaw aff a dyke. Ken fit am et?

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Hello Iain,

    I have been really impressed by all the learned submissions, following Alf Baird’s original paper (and interview) on the requirement for a Scottish national language. I make three final points:

    1. I do not see one Scots language as an essential determinant of Scottish Independence. We have many historical dialects of Scots plus, of course, Gaelic, and each has a role to play in the maintenance of Scottish local culture.

    2. The difference among all the Sots dialects is made for me by diabloandco at 9:03am this morning when he describes how he had to explain the Doric of “Scotland the What” to his Glaswegian pals. Who would decide on what the true, pan-Scotland Scots language should be? Impossible, I would say.

    3. Better to stick with standard English (spoken in various Scottish accents) as our lingua franca, both nationally and abroad and, of course, on your blog. There are many examples of that internationally and, IMO, we should concentrate on Alf’s other nine determinants of Independence!


    1. Why on earth should the Scots discard what is arguably the most important determinant of independence – oor ain braw langage – which is the basis of our culture, and our identity, and helps form our national consciousness which feeds and sustains our desire and quest for national liberation, and which is also one of the most important factors which differentiates us from all other peoples?

      Liked by 2 people

  21. ‘Editor’..interesting it an unsubtle attempt to make other contributors believe that you have some kind of authority on this site?

    Anyway, nobody needs to tell me or anybody else to ‘concentrate on Alf’s other nine determinants of Independence’. I will do that anyway,
    Your facile point about a ‘pan-Scotland’ language is bullshit. England’s R.P. developed over centuries uninterrupted, unlike Scotland, from colonial interference. Yet despite that, many English southerners still can’t understand English Northerners’ dialects.
    To try to denigrate our language further, despite being clearly reminded that Scots language has been suppressed, derided and belted out of many Scots folk’s lives is to me the hallmark of yet another ‘cringer’ or a troll.

    How on earth can you understand our literature, our folk music and our written and oral history without understanding our language that defines who we are.
    Language and culture are intertwined. A particular language usually points out to a specific group of people. When you interact with another language, it means that you are also interacting with the culture that speaks the language. You cannot understand one’s culture without accessing its language directly.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Regarding Alf Baird’s “oor ain braw langage”, what’s it to be? As far as I understand it, there was no form of Scots spoken widely and understood across Scotland, only local dialects such as Lallans and Doric – incomprehensible to each other. Someone is going to decide what the new, dominant version of Scots is going to be? Sounds like a recipe for linguistic civil war to me.

    As Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh implies above, Gaelic has a far better claim for being the national language of Scotland, being spoken across Scotland by settling Celts after the last Ice Age, and it was well in place before the invasion and southern influence of the Angles! Sadly, I believe that the very existence of Gaelic in Scotland as a living, working language is in doubt.

    However, these tongues should be preserved (Gaelic and Scots l regional dialects) for the understanding of song, poetry and other cultural heritage, but not as some sort of coast-to-coast uniform, linguistic indoctrination.

    In many things I am a traditionalist, but language evolves and we should accept the existence of English, a worldwide language, as a medium through which to make Scotland’s way in the world. As has been said before, English with a Scottish accent and additions from our own native experiences. Let’s not leave it all to the Americans and Australians!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many former colonies teach and use English (or French) as an ‘administrative’ language, however they also make sure they teach and use their own indigenous languages – making their people bi-lingual. This helps these peoples and nations remember who they are, and it also reminds them who their oppressor was.

      What you are advocating is assimilation – i.e. cultural/linguistic imperialism and colonialism.

      Liked by 3 people

  23. I very much agree with Alf that neglect of Scottish languages is a catastrophic impoverishment of Scottish consciousness. Moreover, it is a reprehensible failure of linguistic stewardship which withers the reach of all human awareness and deliverance. “I am become mulch”.

    A poem (English below Gaelic) —

    “If you had seen this toast before it was made,
    You’d lift up your hands and bless marmalade!” (Adapted)


    Ubhal an dearbh-aithne, bruanach air teanga,
    mar spruan cho fuadain ri tartan an tiona,
    no aran-coirce ro thana fo sgithinn làn ìme.
    Ar fiaclan-brèig’ a’ cur drèin gun chlì oirnn.

    Liùg cnuimh gun chagar a-steach air ar cluais.
    Chagainn i gu slìogach ar n-eanchainn na ruideal.
    Tro mhogall nan toll sgiolc smaogail ar smuain.
    Am moll sgaoilt gu mall ann am meall air a’ ghreideil.

    Beul bochd air a’ phoca ga bhòcadh le càth.
    Cridhe crìon na chriathar a nì liath gach silean.
    Gun gin a’ ginideachadh air cloich-ghràin an làir.
    Teanga tofai-bò a’ suathadh ar bilean.

    An reasabaidh dùthchasach air a chur suarach,
    cuidhteas fàileadh ceò-mòna, blas cànan ar sinnseir.
    Làn-Bhracaist Shasannach, stòbh Bhreatainn a Tuath:
    bheir Isbean Chumbarlainn bàrr fòs air ar truinnsear!


    The apple of identity crumbles on the tongue
    as shortbread from a tartan tin
    or oatcake too thin to bear the buttered blade.
    (Our dentures fix their nerveless grin).

    Some worm by ear insinuated
    hath drilled our brain into a riddle.
    Each kernel of thought drops through a slot.
    A glut of glume bestrews our griddle.

    From ransacked mouth the husks still spill.
    From cankered core pour hollow pips.
    All fail to germinate on half-baked floor.
    A tongue of Highland Toffee licks our lips.

    Native recipes we scorn to approve –
    no peat-smoke reek nor teuchter’s Babel!
    Full English Breakfast on North British Stove:
    Cumberland sausage still commands our table!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An apt poem. Aye Fearghas, if a’ fowk aspire tae be is guid Englis speakers thon’s a’ thay’d be, naethin mair, an wi naethin mair nor the dregs o thair ain cultur.

      As Frantz Fanon put it: “The withering away of the reality of the nation and the death-pangs of the national culture are linked to each other in mutual dependence.”

      Which brings us back to Fanon’s postcolonial realisation that independence is a fight for a national culture in which native language is pivotal.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Sadly, I do not agree with Alf Baird’s assertion that I am promoting cultural assimilation. I am not.

    Further to Alf’s latest responses and that of Fearghas, I rest my case on my previous language submission of yesterday, 6th July.




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