PART 8 in the excellent ten part series from Professor Alf Baird.


‘It is said of one experience that it is one of the most agonising possible . . . that of leaving the soil of your native country forever, of turning your back on your heritage, being torn away by the roots from your familiar land. I have not suffered that experience. But I know of an experience equally agonising, and more irreversible (for you could return to your home) and that is the experience of knowing, not that you are leaving your country, but that your country is leaving you, is ceasing to exist under your very feet, being sucked away from you as it were by a consuming, swallowing wind, into the hands and the possession of another country and civilisation.’

(Welsh philosopher J.R. Jones, as quoted in Billy Kay’s The Mither Tongue)

We hear a lot nowadays about minority groups. Within the overall UK population context, the Scots may be defined as a minority ethnic group. An estimated 1.6 million Scots speakers now represent a linguistic minority group in Scotland, which also means that the majority of the country’s population today are Anglophone; this is an important factor when we consider that a key influence of our national identity and culture is the language we speak. Within the UK, Scotland’s ongoing, rapid and uncontrolled demographic change coupled with a low birth rate (see paper no. 3 on Demographics) further implies that the Scots could potentially become a minority people themselves in Scotland.

Long associated with the study of ethnic minorities, ethnic oppression has shifted from meaning the exercising of tyranny by a ruling group to signifying the injustice people suffer due to the everyday practices and norms of a society. Over time, oppression can become a widespread, systemic injustice that creates and maintains systematic disparities affecting the wellbeing and development of individuals and groups. 

Ethnic oppression is essentially to do with power that is primarily held by the ruling elite group and oppression consists of the unequal distribution of systemic power. In Scotland, an Anglophone institutional elite wields power over Scots, and Scots-speakers in particular, this reflecting what Professor Michael Hechter termed a cultural and ethnic division of labour within the UK Internal Colonialism model.

Ethnic oppression may take different forms but primarily involves prejudice and discrimination directed at a people or group on the basis of their membership of an ethnic group. Ethnic discrimination against the Scots includes stereotyping and denigrating Scottish people (e.g. by the British MSM, and by institutions) primarily because they are considered (by an Anglophone elite) to speak a supposedly ‘invalid’ Scots language. This also relates to the persistent negative stereotyping of Scots speakers typically played out within the dominant British cultural context and meme amidst a supposedly ‘superior’ Anglophone linguistic hierarchy and cultural hegemony.

The essential backdrop to this oppression is that Scots are prevented, by the ruling Anglophone elite, from being taught their own Scots language in school – kep fraelairnin oor ain braw mither tongue – which is itself one of the most typical and obvious forms of ethnic discrimination within the broader aspects of colonialism (which includes cultural assimilation) endured by an oppressed people. 

The Council of Europe Report on implementation of the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages has repeatedly raised the matter of the omission of Scots language teaching provision in schools with the UK Government and its devolved administration in Scotland, yet still the language remains ignored and its speakers left marginalised and reducing in number year on year. This is important in the context of independence because it is indigenous language which provides the foundation for development of a peoples’ national identity and culture, and is what gives them their national consciousness. The Scots language also distinguishes Scots speakers from Anglophones, the latter comprising Scotland’s dominant ‘governing class’.

A monolingual English language requirement as primary condition of employment (in particular for professional and managerial positions) and also for residence in Scotland (as part of the UK ‘area’) whilst rejecting and ignoring any indigenous Scots language requirement, serves to sustain and reinforce ethnic oppression of Scots; this practice ensures continued discrimination (against Scots speakers) leading in turn to social and economic inequalities becoming institutionalised within an ethnically stratified society, the latter inevitably favouring and prioritising the ruling (Anglophone) group and its predominant (English) ethnicity.

Historically, Anglophone elites running Scotland’s social institutions incorrectly regarded Scots’ language speakers to be simply speaking ‘bad English’ and held the view that Scots is not a ‘valid’ language, hence the lack of teaching provision in schools. This is ethnic prejudice and a discriminatory perspective that remains fixed even today within Scotland’s Anglophone dominated institutional hierarchy. Anglophone elites therefore dominate Scotland’s cultural high ground and control the linguistic ‘battleground’ against who they view as their linguistic and cultural inferior,that is the Scots language speaker; this reflects a colonial attitude.

Consequently, ethnic Scots remain marginalised and lacking in opportunity, with many destined to live a life of poverty and inequality, held back from socio-economic progress, intellectual development, or achieving higher office in their own land. As Scotland’s social elite structure is Anglophone dominated this means it is linguistic differences which distinguishes Scots speakers from the dominant Anglophone elite hierarchy; such an outcome is an intended consequence of linguistic imperialism, the latter forming a core element in colonial power structures.

The existence of an Anglophone and mainly unionist elite hegemony running Scotland’s social institutions is therefore no accident; rather, an Anglophone elite is a fundamental pre-requisite of continued British colonial power and control exerted over Scotland and its indigenous native (i.e. ethnic) people. This represents institutionalized ethnic oppression which ensures that Scots speakers are for the most part excluded from taking leading positions within Scotland’s social institutions. This outcome also reflects the dominance of cultural and linguistic imperialism policies as a necessary part of (British/English) trans-national nationalism and the political ideological drive towards a ‘one nation Britain’, its resultant enculturation and hence ethnic discrimination faced by the Scottish minority within a domineering UK polity.

A lack of socio-economic opportunity, persistently high poverty levels and limited educational attainment are consequences of institutionalised Anglophone domination and discrimination against Scots, and Scots language speakers in particular. The longstanding advertising of Scotland’s professional and managerial posts primarily outside Scotland in the London metropolitan press and hence recruitment of a mainly Anglophone elite drawn from within a larger and far more heavily populated neighbouring country amounts to ethnic discrimination in a specifically Scottish context. Ethnic discrimination against Scots is therefore a significant form of institutionalised oppression prevalent in Scotland.

Further, ethnic discrimination and oppression of a people results in ‘InternalizedRacism’, also known as ‘Appropriated Racial Oppression’. From this we see manifest the psychological condition popularly referred to as the ‘Scottish Cultural Cringe’; this is a condition which relates to how some Scots negatively view themselves and their own Scottish culture and Scots language compared to the dominant ‘superior’(Anglophone) culture and language. Here, the Scots language and therefore Scottish culture are considered ‘inferior’ within the British Anglophone elite hegemony context. 

Institutionalised Anglophone linguistic oppression has instilled in Scots speakers a ‘schizoid element into the national psyche’ (Purves 1997); this ensures that many Scots deny and denigrate their own language in preference to developing a false (i.e. Anglophone) persona, in the interests of personal socioeconomic advancement. In postcolonial literature this outcome is referred to as ‘mimicking the coloniser’, and is especially (and inevitably) prevalent among the bourgeoisie class.

Related adverse health aspects of Appropriated Racial Oppression are considerable. Ethnic oppression seriously impacts the mental health of oppressed ethnic minorities and leads to the internalization of negative ethnic stereotypes about themselves and others like them (e.g. those who hold the same culture and speak the same ‘invalid’ language. Such impacts include a lack of self-worth, inhibition of socio-economic development, and the fact that racism and ethnic discrimination are stressful long-term events suffered by an oppressed group. The condition also manifests itself in shame, embarrassment, depressive symptoms and low collective self-esteem.

There is a lengthy history relating to Anglophone promoted negative ethnic stereotypes and discrimination of Scots language speakers, not least within Scottish educational institutions at all levels, the British MSM, industry, government, and within the justice system. This results in an oppressed people developing a ‘colonial mentality’ which involves denial and/or downplaying of the reality of discrimination or any past history of racism; for instance, wars, clearances and mass displacement, ongoing cultural and linguistic discrimination, and institutionalised oppression may be accepted as somehow ‘deserved’.

Appropriated Racial Oppression therefore represents the internalization of negative stereotypes of one’s own racial/ethnic group. Internalized oppression is reflected in members of ‘subordinate’ groups experiencing greater social and material deprivation, the latter clearly widespread within the ethnic Scots speaking community, far less so the Anglophone community in Scotland. 

In what is effectively a colonially manufactured environment, Scots speakers’ acceptance of negative stereotypes means they do not consider themselves to be ethnically oppressed; this is despite the reality of their lack of opportunity, exclusion from key areas of Anglophone dominated institutional management and limited access to resources within their own land due to colonialism. Moreover, Appropriated Racial Oppression may be so deep and internal in those who are oppressed as to be rigid and unchanging; here we may consider this aspect in relation to the often rather rigid nature of the Scottish ‘No’ voter, according to opinion polls, more especially post 2014.

The Scots-speaking Scot is therefore forced to adapt his or her language to become more Anglophone (i.e. ‘conformity’) in order to progress socially and economically within the dominant Anglophone cultural and linguistic hierarchy. Those Scots who are unable to ‘conform’ (i.e. unwilling to cast aside their own culture and language in favour of the imposed ‘superior’ culture and language) suffer accordingly. In this sense conformity may be likened to a change in one’s national identity, which is closely connected with the process of ‘assimilation’ in colonialism.

The prevalence of high levels of Appropriated Racial Oppression among an ethnic group therefore helps explain why significant numbers of Scots remain firm in the rejection of their own Scottish identity in any meaningful sense, for instance by voting against Scottish independence and hence blocking the creation of their own Scottish citizenship, nationality and self-governance. A hypothesis here might therefore be that Scots suffering from higher levels of Appropriated Racial Oppression will be more likely to vote against independence.

As in many other ethnic and socially stratified societies there are aspects of apartheid (institutionalised racial segregation) evident in Scotland. This is characterised by a longstanding, sustained and now increasing Anglophone elite settler occupation, the latter with an emphasis on specific sectors of employment in the economy and a focus also on specific areas of residence, and in the demand for private schools and ‘elite’ universities in Scotland that tend to ‘serve’ primarily the Anglophone elite community. Such developments may be contrasted with the mass historic displacement and British state incentivised removal, via emigration, of much of the indigenous working-class Scots (and Gaelic) speaking population over the last two centuries and more.

Clearly, an imposed monolingual English language requirement coupled with promotion in rest-UK of higher status employment opportunities in Scotland has made settlement (in Scotland) an attractive proposition, mainly for people from England, according to the census. Here, the significant colonial imperative associated with imposing a dominant culture and language and the organised movement of peoples becomes evident. 

The presence of a dominant Anglophone meritocratic elite hegemony in Scotland running the nation’s institutions therefore serves to foster and strengthen Appropriated Racial Oppression of Scots, and Scots speakers in particular; such a development also obscures the ways in which institutionalised discrimination and bias in favour of a particular meritocratic elite becomes normalised and contributes to inequality among ethnic groups.

The predominant racism or ethnic issue in the context of Scottish independence and indeed affecting Scotland more generally, is not therefore colour race, the latter more prevalent in England due to its quite different population mix, nor is it anti-English sentiment; rather, racism in Scotland primarily and extensively occurs as a consequence of colonialism and the resulting ethnic oppression of Scots is due to the imposition and institutionalisation of a dominant Anglophone meritocratic elite in what is a socially and ethnically stratified society; an added feature of this (colonial) racism is the development of Appropriated Racial Oppression (or internalized racism), a psychological condition with multiple adverse health impacts which is suffered by oppressed peoples. 

Both aspects of ethnic discrimination and hence oppression therefore reflect and depend primarily on a colonial environment which by its very nature and purpose is opposed to (Scottish) independence. A common feature here is therefore the institutionally imposed cultural and linguistic differences between a dominant Anglophone elite hegemony and Scots language speakers. This reality also reflects the fact that peoples in self-determination conflict tend to be linguistically divided.

This means that the key ethnic and racism factors influencing, and in turn,determining prospects for Scottish independence are:1. Colonialism, which always involves prejudice and racism levelled against the oppressed subordinate indigenous native (i.e. Scottish) people and in particular their language and culture, and which may also develop into fascism, as reflecting a cultural and ethnic division of labour due to the imposition, prioritisation and domination of Anglophone elite institutionalised control, and;2. Appropriated Racial Oppression, in which colonialism inspired racism is internalized by the oppressed (Scottish) people who, due to their colonial domination and development of a ‘colonial mindset’, view their subordination, oppression, exploitation and lack of opportunity as deserved, which it is not.

Here we are reminded of what colonialism is and that it should be viewed as what Cesaire, Memmi, Fanon and many other postcolonial writers established: as a ‘disease of the mind’ brought about due to the forceful domination by, and a belief and ideology in, ‘a superior order’, resulting in severe psychological and physical health impacts as well as numerous and widespread negative practical outcomes for an entire oppressed indigenous native people, their culture, society and their country.

The Scottish Cultural Cringe, is the inevitable outcome of Appropriated Racial Oppressionthis results in large numbers of Scots who question and doubt even their own national independence and liberation and exhibit a lack of confidence inrunning their own nation’s affairs, and who believe their lack of opportunity is due to their own inadequacies, including their supposed ‘invalid’ language which many seek to cast aside and replace.

The reality, however, is that ethnic oppression of the Scottish people, and the lack of opportunity and inhibited access to resources in their ain laund is brought about through cultural and linguistic imperialism and colonial exploitation. It is the exercising of this imperial and colonial ‘power’, through an imposed (Anglophone)linguistic power base and dominant cultural hegemony, which gives an oppressed people a colonial mentality and which serves to divide the Scottish people into two main groups; one for and the other opposed to independence. 

These findings regarding ethnic oppression and racism affecting the Scottish people reflect the longstanding colonial nature of Scotland’s oppressive political reality which, even today, is still obscured and misunderstood under the pretence of a UK‘union of equals’, which is a political charade. It is in this context that the removal ofethnic oppression constitutes the underlying rationale for the motivation and human right of a people seeking decolonisation and hence independence in their quest to overcome their ethnic oppression and exploitation in their own land. 


Once again Alf explains crucial factors like the Scottish Cringe but most important he provides an explanation how it is developed and maintained over many centuries. How it is used to divide the Scots nation, to the eventual detriment of all but in the favour of the colonial power. The more so in that it is a disguised oppression, not obvious until it is revealed in an article like this when the reader can identify the key points from their own life experiences of living and working in Scotland.

Like so much in this excellent series it forces the reader to think about all this in a much deeper and interesting related manner which can only promote a much better understanding of the not obvious barriers than hinder us in our fight to achieve Independence.

What worries me about all this, as I have stated before, is that these problems are not widely known or appreciated. We therefore have a very big job to educate our people about these factors, not easy when so much of our media is controlled and operated by the neighbouring country who are also the colonial power in the first place.

So where to start, because start we must? I would suggest we do so by encouraging, no insisting, that our elected representatives read Professor Alf Baird’s book Doun Hauden. To encourage them to do so we should persistently raise the issues raised in the book in writing and request their views in response. When they get enough letters they will have no option but to read the book in order to fulfill their role as a MP or MSP.

For sure they will learn much in the process, as I have, and hopefully it will make them better and more knowledgeable warriors in our fight to secure Scotland’s place as a free, independent nation.

This has been an excellent series and in the next couple of weeks with the final chapters we will get to the “pointy end”. Speaking for myself I can’t wait!

I am, as always



Unfortunately a number of pro Indy sites have turned out to be merely pro SNP sites and have blocked a number of bloggers, including myself. We have managed to frustrate these efforts to close us down through our readers sharing our articles and building our audience. In addition many have taken out free direct subscriptions. I very much appreciate this support.

Free Subscriptions

Are available on the Home and Blog pages of this website. By taking out a subscription you will receive notification of all future posts. You will be most welcome. 



  1. “incorrectly regarded Scots’ language speakers to be simply speaking ‘bad English’ and held the view that Scots is not a ‘valid’ language,”

    Yes Scots simultaneously bad English and yet completely incomprehensible!

    “Scottish Cultural Cringe’; this is a condition which relates to how some Scots negatively view themselves and their own Scottish culture and Scots language compared to the dominant ‘superior’(Anglophone) culture and language.”

    I know some people who have all lived in England for many years but came back to Scotland. All voted No. All believe us to be uncouth and less cultured than the English. But yet they came “home”. They didn’t stay in England when they neared retirement. So the demographic issue is two fold, the return of the “cannae dae its” and the influx of English people coming for the freebies like personal care and the better living standards that selling a poky place in the SE England but buying a “mansion” in Scotland allows them.

    Someone (!!!) wrote a book called “the Dream will never die”. Unfortunately since we have to battle colonial rule, internal Scottish Cringers and now the new SNP itself, the dream seems to me to be on life support.

    I’ve enjoyed reading Alf’s pieces, but I really hope the last two bits give us some ideas how to breathe new life into the independence movement!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. It never ceases to amaze me how many English people speak bad English. ‘We were sat there’ being one example. ‘She was feeing poorly’ is another. They can hardly claim linguistic superiority when so many of their fellow citizens speak a form of pidgin English themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “The condition also manifests itself in shame, embarrassment, depressive symptoms and low collective self-esteem.”

    And in turn leads to, among other things, Scotland’s rather unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Which in turn helps to perpetuate the image of the drunk, incoherent, incomprehensible accented, Jock stereotype so beloved of our Southern neighbours.

    Which in turn … and so on.

    Liked by 9 people

  3. You could of course send a copy of Professor Alf Baird’s book Doun Hauden to a like-minded MSP at Holyrood and tell them to pass it on once read. or at least, recommend that their colleagues purchase the book for themselves. Just a thought.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t think any of them read much anyway, Iain, despite Nicola’s wee book club. Deep thought is not encouraged in the cult.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. Iain says:

    “So where to start, because start we must? I would suggest we do so by encouraging, no insisting, that our elected representatives read Professor Alf Baird’s book Doun Hauden. To encourage them to do so we should persistently raise the issues raised in the book in writing and request their views in response. When they get enough letters they will have no option but to read the book in order to fulfill their role as a MP or MSP.”

    And I agree, it’s a great idea.

    How about also getting the ‘newspaper of Independence’ – The National – to prove its credentials by petitioning it to re-print this series?

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Good idea, Duncanio. I stopped buying it some time ago as it had fallen down in the Independence stakes but I’d certainly buy copies which reprinted this series.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. All Scots should buy Alf’s incredibly revealing book “`DOUN-HAUDEN”. Some (aged) Highland people will remember, as children, being advised to read a passage from the Bible before sleep each night. I suggest we all read a few paragraphs of Doun-Hauden daily and act upon the knowledge gained before it’s too late. The obvious truth is that Nicola Sturgeon has taken it upon herself to continue “the longstanding colonial nature of Scotland’s oppressive political reality.”

    Liked by 8 people

  6. Another excellent if depressing read Alf.

    In James D. Young’s book, The Very Bastards of Creation he points out that Scottish universities were the very breeding grounds that tried to phase out our Scots languages, such as Old scots and Gaelic. In my opinion if we’re ever to recover from the ongoing decline of our languages and culture, it is here that we must begin to remove the educational anglocentric gatekeepers, and the only way I see that happening is if Scotland becomes an independent nation.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Aye, RoS, and we can expect little change whilst our elite academic institutions are run by the Oxbridge set. Colonialism implies that the nation’s social institutions will all be colonial in nature.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Oxbridge runs everything – not just by having so many Oxbridge-trained graduates in the media, politics, civil service, national institutions etc,, – but its influence is all-embracing and pervasive and forms what comes to be accepted cultural and intellectual norms. It permeates the national consciousness not just in matters academic but in every level of what might be regarded as ‘national’ discourse. It is inescapable and informs attitudes, again at every level of society even among those who would seem to have little connection to those institutions but seem unaware of how all-encompassing is that influence on thinking in civil and ‘civilized’ society. ( The Magisterium of Philip Pullman’s imagination perhaps!)

        The Scottish Enlightenment happened that way because Oxbridge had not become quite so dominant in intellectual life in Scotland in the 18th century as it later achieved over the whole of intellectual life in the UK, an effect of the increasing dominance of Union institutions no doubt. Intellectual life in Scotland was still confidently international then, engaging with the world of the intellect without deferring to English institutions to mediate between them and the rest of the world of ideas. All of that self-assurance has been sapped in succeeding centuries in just the way Alf Baird has described. Scottishness has been made to seem backward and atavistic – not fertile ground for a vigorous flowering of intellectual life, interacting with the rest of the world on its own merits.

        Liked by 8 people

    2. There certainly is a decline in language in general in the Scottish Education system, where the English language plays second fiddle to poetry and novels (not that they are unimportant).


    1. Doun-Hauden is written as an academic textbook so should fit nicely as recommended or core reading in relevant subject areas – with the caveat that literature deemed to be anti-colonial has historically been banned in the colonies concerned.

      Liked by 8 people

  7. I must get a copy of Alf’s book. As you mentioned Ian, we don’t really recognise what has been happening until it is well articulated like this, then it’s like the scales being lifted from your eyes. It was the norm to be ‘corrected’ by the teacher for using words like ‘ken’ for example. “We don’t use slang in this classroom”! I was brought up to view scots words as slang. The words and phrases used by our grandparents and great grandparents have died with them and we need to re-introduce these as a matter of urgency.

    Sending a copy of this book to our MPs/MSPs is a good idea and along with it a policy suggestion that scots speakers and the scots language are part of equal opportunities in the scots workplace – perhaps one for the Alba conference.
    It’s is very easy to see language and customs as trivialities and it is only upon reading this series of papers that I now realise their importance. Thankyou.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Yes, one of the most interesting aspects of an oppressed people going through decolonisation is their desperate need tae gresp thair ain langage, the mither tongue which they have been deprived of for so long. E’en tho thay micht no ken hit sae weel ony mair, thay gresp hit ticht. And it soon comes back to them; it has to, for oor ain braw langage is arguably a peoples’ most distinctive feature, the very basis of national consciousness. In decolonisation, the language of the oppressor also becomes rather more evident.

      Liked by 7 people

    2. Regarding the Alba conference: I’d go further, Scott by suggesting that copies of Doun Hauden are available to buy at the conference venue, and that workshops are organised to discuss all of the issues raised within the book, so that the true-nature of the struggle for Scottish independence (i.e. that it is first-and-foremost an anti-colonialist struggle), is presented to as many of the delegates and officials as possible.

      Liked by 6 people

  8. ‘Tell me how much a nation knows about its own language, and I will tell you how much that nation knows about its own identity.’

    – John Ciardi, American poet

    Alf’s dissection above and its components: imposed Colonialism by England and its craven caledonian adherents resulting in its internalised ‘Appropriated Racial Oppression’ outcomes, are reflected in the psychological phenomenon known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. This leads to the self loathing of oor ain Scottish voices and indeed even that of our very identity and worthiness as Scots as equals to the world.

    Working class Scots who hate themselves and Scotland, often exemplified by ‘Orange’ identifying people and even worse, a certain Glasgow football team, whose supporters will wear England tops, like unconscious slaves to their Saxon masters. More importantly, their self harming behaviour of voting ‘NO’ against their own best interests.

    In addition, we are plagued by ‘native’ middle class and aspiring w/class politicians who are, paradoxically, thirled to inclusion as long as it isn’t native to Scotland. Our languages, beaten out of us by colonial collaborators in schools; sneered and disdained out of us in the Universities by invaders masquerading as educators; and rejected for employment in our own country by the mass settling of our biggest oppressors as a direct outcome of colonial asymetrical economic distribution.The results are clear: emigration of our brightest; demoralisation of our poorest and unskilled with the consequences of highest rates of addiction, poverty and suicide in Europe. The new ‘clearances ‘ of our population from the countryside and displacement by anglophone colonists, who when given the chance to support or abstain in 2014 decided overwhelmingly to vote 72% against us.

    The solution is not to try to persuade stupid and bigoted self serving ‘cringers’ in the colonial talking shop. It is to select and elect Scots and Gaelic speaking patriots who first and foremost believe in what Alf is proselytising in his book: the attempted existential absorption of Scotland by England. No more mealy mouthed traitors and gender obsessed fanatics calling the shots. We need to get Alf’s message and book out to as many ordinary folk with the potential to lead us out of this dire and dark episode in our history.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. An excellent point; ‘ native middle class and aspiring w/class politicians….paradoxically thirled to inclusion as long as it isn’t native to Scotland.’

      Ordinary people in communities which have settled here from other parts of the world don’t seem to have any trouble embracing Scottish culture as part of their culture too (often exuberantly!) – like those from the Indian sub continent. As you say, it’s those Scots you mention, who are extremely uncomfortable with Scottish culture, who imagine that it will be similarly alienating to immigrant communities and don’t notice the tartan-wearing at Hindu weddings, the bagpipe-playing by kilted, turban wearing Sikhs.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. I used to play bagpipe at Sikh weddings. After a stroke I discovered that the son of a Sikh academic colleague had learned to play bagpipe so I was happy to pass the weddings to him. He became part of a band called ” The tartan dholis ” – the dhol is a Sikh drum and a player is a dholi [play on word dholi or dolly = tartan dollies]. This seemed to me a humorous use of Scots identity which would not be approved by the governing elite !

        Liked by 9 people

  9. Not to be irksome, but for historic linguistic balance here is a link to a couple of placename maps of Scotland. The upper one shows the distribution of the Gaelic element “baile” (ie “steading”, “village”, “township”). The lower one shows the distribution of the Gaelic element “achadh” (ie “field”).

    Liked by 4 people

  10. comments. I like the idea of contacting our MPs and MSPs to raise some of the points Alf makes, perhaps in Scots or Gaelic, with English translation. I’ll be doing that.
    Meanwhile Mike Russell, today’s National, is holding a National Conversation Roadshow on Wednesday evening so that could be a chance to raise some of these issues. If a lot of us do so, that cannot be easily ignored.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I was going to suggest that people would need to establish their own system outside the formal schools (c.f. Sunday Schools) to cover certain subjects (history maybe) in Scots, so as to then have a sufficient base of people proficient in the language for tertiary education.

    However, this article about primary/secondary education in Ireland, with only 5% attending all Irish primary & secondary schools, does not bode well. That is a drop from 5.4% 5 yeas ago. The article points to better comparative results in the Basque country.

    Or do you have an argument for why Scots would have an easier time? I’m not sure if its close relationship to English would give it an easier or harder time.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, the fact that the Scots language has a closer connection with English is and would be an advantage. My grandchildren can readily comprehend a great many Scots words such as hoose, heid, dug, elbae, taes, bunnet, breeks and so on and it would be relatively straightforward from primary school to teach both Scots AND English – as is the case already in many other countries where the indigenous language and English is taught.

      Gaelic (in Scotland and Ireland) seems a different and more difficult challenge not least because most Scots have little awareness of that language especially if it is not naturally spoken in the home or wider family network. It is critical that Scots is put into the school curriculum primarily because we are now down to the last few generations of adults wha ken hou tae spik oor langage ee’n juist a wee bittie, and that is despite the fact we ourselves were deprived of learning Scots in school.

      As I and others have noted, language is much more than merely a means of communication, and linguistic imperialism lies at the very root of our colonial oppression.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I was actually pondering the extent to which the close similarity, and fluid word use between the two languages could be a hindrance, vs other languages where one switches ones thinking while ‘code switching’. Whereas for English vs Scots (or Geordie) I simply switch vocabulary as I speak, I don’t change the language I’m thinking in. There are a few grammatical differences available, and while I understand them, I’m not sure if I actually use them myself.

        In listening I’m also not switching modes of thinking, hence how I (and I expect also others) carry on conversations where one party is speaking Scots, and the other English. Which I know has confused some others I’ve been with at the time who don’t understand Scots.

        In one of my early conversations after going to Uni in the south of England, I used the world ‘spelk’ in a conversation. Despite knowing ‘splinter’, I was unable to reach for it when I was asked what a spelk was, and had to resort to defining the word, as which point the other person said ‘oh – you mean a splinter’.

        So it could be that the one way mapping from concepts to words may stick to either an English or Scots word, hence limiting or hindering the use – simply because the two are so compatible.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. JB

        Teaching an indigenous people their own language is not insurmountable; many nations do it – and many also manage to teach English too.

        Having worked in several European countries I found a close if not closer and easier linguistic relationship between Scots and Norwegian or German, as much as with English, certainly with regard to verbal forms, prepositions, adverbs and more.

        Clearly, however, as I have demonstrated, language is a pivotal factor in colonialism and if we do not deal with this then colonial oppression in aw its mankit naitur will inevitably remain and, moreover, the present dregs of Scottish culture and diminished national identity will soon go the way of that of many other oppressed peoples.

        The psychology of this is far more important than we think. As Fanon states, in situations of colonial conflict, for the native: ‘the language of the ruling power is felt to burn your lips’.

        Albert Memmi notes that: ‘the most urgent claim of a group about to revive is certainly the liberation and restoration of its language.’

        Liked by 2 people

    2. One of the reasons that Irish isn’t universally embraced in the Republic of Ireland at this point, is down to the fact that many of the parents and grand-parents of today’s students had any love they may have had for the language brutally beaten out of them by their exposure to the “teaching” methods of the Christian Brothers, the very people who were tasked with the teaching of Irish.That said, the every day usage of Irish words and phrases can be heard throughout the Republic, amongst all classes. That the much more successful up-take of Irish in the North carries within it an element of culturally engendered, anti Anglo-Saxon defiance, must also be be taken into account. Irish in the North today, has its adherents in both of the main communities, something that must be welcomed as a positive development, looking to the future.

      Liked by 4 people

  12. Understanding the word “ethnicity” in a cultural-linguistic sense brings philosophical heritage into the mix. I hope Iain Lawson and Professor Baird will indulge a longish comment in this important regard.

    My comment pivots mainly around the work of Professor Alexander Broadie (sic) and his key research regarding John Duns Scotus (1266-1308). I do, however, still look forward to coming across any research comparing the thought of the latter Scot with his great Irish antecedent Johannes Scottus Eriugena (c. 800 – c. 877).

    I would also mention in passing the huge contribution to Scottish and international political thought by others who were not necessarily “high” philosophers in the sense of John Duns Scotus. For example, George Buchanan (1506-1582), a former pupil of John Mair (1467-1550). Buchanan’s treatise ‘Art and Science of Government among the Scots’ had a major influence on political thought in Britain and America. John Milton in his ‘Defence of the People of England’ wrote concerning just government: “For Scotland I refer you to Buchanan”.

    Another example was Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), whose ‘Lex, Rex’ influenced John Locke, and the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

    Professor Alexander Broadie compellingly argues that John Duns Scotus was the (posthumous) brains behind the Declaration of Arbroath (1320). Note the following text by Professor Broadie –

    “My conclusion is that while Wallace was fighting for Scottish independence, Scotus was developing precisely the intellectual framework that the Scots within a few years would deploy in the chief documents that defined that independence. I also believe it possible that the documents in question were compiled with Scotus in mind. There remains an intriguing thought, which I have not pursued, that Scotus was actively engaged in the development of Scottish thinking on the matter of Scottish independence through discussions that he might have had with Scots whom he met at the great centres where he worked. If such discussions did indeed take place, then my suggestion, made some years ago, that the relation of Scotus to the Wars of Independence was one of theory to practice, is false. Scotus may, after all, have been on the side of practice as well as theory by working to the same end as the Scottish military leaders even although by utterly different means.”

    The full above article (book chapter) is online here —


    For the rest, here follows extracts from a 2011 review by James R. Otteson (Joint Prof of Philosophy and Economics, New York) of a book by Alexander Broadie called ‘A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH PHILOSOPHY’ (Edinburgh University Press, 2009/2010 edition). Broadie has written a number of excellent books since 2009, but James R. Otteson neatly summarises matters in a manner relevant to our current considerations. In his review, Otteson writes:

    “Given how fertile and productive philosophical investigation has been in Scotland over the centuries, it is somewhat surprising that there have not been more books like this one. Yet perhaps it is not so surprising, given that for many academics the list of noteworthy Scottish philosophers probably begins and ends with David Hume. Some academics will think also of Adam Smith, and others may think of Thomas Reid or Duns Scotus. But Scotland has boasted a considerably longer list of excellent philosophers who have made substantial contributions to almost all areas of philosophical inquiry.

    “[…] Alexander Broadie’s survey is therefore a welcome corrective. Broadie’s thesis: ‘In the course of this book I hope to demonstrate that Scotland has a rich philosophical tradition, created by many people, and testifying to a deep interest in abstract speculation that has characterized Scottish culture for centuries.’

    “An intriguing aspect of Broadie’s argument is that final claim, namely, that, unlike in other places, philosophical investigations in Scotland actually informed the wider Scottish culture in deep and observable ways, including in its politics, its literature, and its art. Scotus’s political philosophy, for example, ‘almost certainly had an impact’ on the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath’; and the great Scottish poet Robert Burns, who owned a copy of Adam Smith’s ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’, may have incorporated Smithian insights into some of his poetry.

    “Broadie further argues that, contrary to the way it is often portrayed and understood, the Scottish Enlightenment ‘did not come from nowhere, appearing in Scotland as if by miracle, but on the contrary was a continuation of a long tradition’.

    “These two claims combine to support a larger argument that the Scots have been, for many centuries now, an uncommonly philosophical people, and that to understand them one must attend to their philosophical traditions. […] Of particular interest is the perhaps surprising effect the major figures in Scottish philosophy other than Hume and Smith had on political philosophy and thus on politics in Scotland.

    “Consider again John Mair, who argued that ‘A free people confers authority upon its first king, and his power is dependent on the whole people,’ and that ‘A people may deprive their king and his posterity of all authority’; indeed, he went so far as to claim, ‘For a king has not the same unconditional possession of his kingdom that you have of your coat’.

    “Broadie argues that such views had an influence we now underappreciate on the actual course of Scottish history, resulting in part from the fact that in Mair, as in other Scottish philosophers, these political positions were part of a clearly articulated and comprehensible chain of reasoning that connected them up to moral philosophy and then up to theology.

    “[…] A further observation that Broadie’s discussions seem to suggest, but that Broadie himself does not make, is that much of this philosophical influence pointed in similar political directions, namely, in the direction of skepticism toward centralized human authority. The Scots have long been known for their cantankerous and even obstinate opposition to imposed authority; Broadie’s discussion suggests that this behavior was not mere attitudinal inclination, but perhaps also the result of philosophical conviction.

    “[…] Broadie’s claim that ‘philosophy’s impact on Scotland’s poets, novelists, lawyers, economists, mathematicians and physicists’ demonstrates ‘that Scottish philosophy is inextricably bound up with the wider culture of Scotland’ is intriguing, provocative, and rendered plausible by Broadie’s wide-ranging and careful investigation.

    “Broadie tells us at the end of his book that in his own education in philosophy at Edinburgh University in the 1960s he ‘was taught almost nothing of the Scottish philosophical tradition’. This is truly remarkable. […] Scottish philosophy, by contrast, has been rich and sophisticated for some seven centuries – arguably one of the longest periods of relatively sustained investigations of any peoples in the world.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ““Broadie tells us at the end of his book that in his own education in philosophy at Edinburgh University in the 1960s he ‘was taught almost nothing of the Scottish philosophical tradition’. This is truly remarkable.”

      Nothing remarkable about it, Fearghas. Colonialism and its aggressive ideology tends to dehumanize and deceive the colonized, it traduces the natives traditions and diminishes his works and history, making him feel inadequate, and hence ‘dependent’ on the colonizer for everything, including his ‘superior’ language. As Memmi noted: “The most serious blow suffered by the colonized is being removed from history…”

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Screeds of Oxbridge verbal masterbation about which Scots language? There are plenty of them. Someone from Edinburgh isn’t going to understand someone from Buckie. For that matter, someone from Buckie isn’t going to understand someone from Sunderland. And very few people are going to understand Alfred Baird. Being able to understand someone isn’t colonisation – it’s a basic need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mouse (nor mebbe Moose?)

      A’m frae Edinburgh an A unnerstaund fineweel thay Scots fowk frae Buckie, an frae Buckhaven, an frae Birsay forby. But that is only because I have not as yet totally disarded ma ain mither tung, nor ma twa lugs!

      Being colonized I can also communicate with someone from Sunderland, or Southend, thanks to what is, according to Albert Memmi: “having the good fortune to suffer the tortures of colonial bilingualism.”

      Language is rather more than ‘a basic need’, however, especially as Memmi further notes within the oppressive colonial context: “Possession of two languages is not merely a matter of having two tools, but actually means participation in two psychical and cultural realms. Here, the two worlds symbolized and conveyed by the two tongues are in conflict; they are those of the colonizer and the colonized.”

      Liked by 3 people

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: