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Lowland 'Scots' was the ruin of Scotland

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Old 19th October 2009, 14:21
ANDY-J3 ANDY-J3 is offline
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Now we're going to examine in greater depth the reasons why Gaelic diminished in order that we can establish whether in fact lowland Scots played an active role in the process.


As the Oxford companion to Scottish history points out "From the 17th century the history of the Gaelic world has been one of demographic decline coupled with increasing cultural shrinkage.....it would be incorrect to blame any single event for this and a number of factors have contributed to the catastrophic decline over the past 300 years (Page 252)


So evidently academics don't share your view that lowland Scots were the only people who brought about the decline of Gaelic.

"The opening up of the Gaidhealtachd to the new economic order (after the 1745 Jacobite uprising) was one of the main contributory factors though not the only one..... The rise of the industrial revolution attracted workers to urban life. All work outside the highlands demanded a knowledge of English." (Page 252)


That seems to me to be a far more viable explanation than the one you're providing. It's clear to me that the influence of lowland Scots as regards any deliberate anti-Gaelic conspiracy isn't an issue. What you have primarily are demographic changes brought about by economic change within Scotland and whereas in the past highland migrants had been temporary visitors to the lowlands after the industrial revolution they chose to become resident in the lowlands and adopt Scots-English as their first language. That combined with the clearances and the unwillingness of Gaelic speaking education authorities to have the language taught in schools which I cited in my previous post would seem to be the most significant factors in bringing about such a reduction in the numbers of Gaelic speakers.



Source- The Oxford companion to Scottish history. (Oxford university press).
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Last edited by ANDY-J3; 19th October 2009 at 15:17.
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Old 19th October 2009, 18:24
Calum Mac Neill Calum Mac Neill is offline
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The Anglophone take

Andy-J3, I introduce facts in discussion, not merely 'forms of words'. Now you accuse me of glibness at every turn (on a forum of this nature) despite the length of my missives and the size of some of my paragraphs while you statedly refuse to treat any facts I provide. And you have decided to introduce the phrase "we're now going to examine". I don't just do things because you say I am going to. You cannot assume that I will give any future posts a reading (especially after your constant refusal to acknowledge the facts I present). Furthermore, in this context, the phrase carries possible paternalistic associations as if you may be somehow arrogating to yourself the authority of educational guide. If you do not see me as your equal as an adult human being, please state this unequivocally, so that I can withdraw from any conversation with some Anglophone who would regard me as inferior. Otherwise, kindly refrain from such potentially belittling phraseology if you wish to be treated as an equal yourself.

You can cite the Anglophone view of history away all you like. The old adage is that history is written by the winners, not by the losers, and the values by which Anglophone historians judge Scottish history are not necessarily Gaelic ones. For example, an Anglophone historian may consider himself just as Scottish as a Gael and evaluate Anglophone culture in Scotland accordingly, a stance I take issue with as I regard Gaels as true Scots and Anglophone Scots as a radical qualification of the ethnicity and several steps on the road to being English. A discussion of a historian's 'opinions' is not a discussion of the facts, many of which I have presented to you, some of which are common knowledge and readily accepted as fact by many, though not you as you prefer to ignore facts when I present them.

Historians have access to facts on which to build viewpoints. This does not always lead to them to adopt similar viewpoints. This is not physics or biology. Different historians offer the reader different viewpoints and it is up to the student to develop his own. While I am willing to discuss with you, I am not at all bound to accept any individual historian's viewpoint any more than your viewpoint. Facts can support opposing cases, as in any law court. I hold to my personal viewpoint, not to any single historian's, and in my view, an Anglophone Scot is not a true Scot and you have not convinced me otherwise.

It is not clear from the quote itself what people are being described by Anglophone Tom Devine when he uses the word 'Scottish'. By 'a distinctive Scottish identity', he may actually be referring to Anglophone Scots, not such a straightforward beast as a Gael. If so, we disagree in our terms, as I do not consider Anglophone culture as being equatable with genuinely true Scottish culture. 'Scottishness' is not 'Anglophoneness' and Anglophone Scots need to come to terms with the idea that their ultimate identity and destiny is as an arm of English culture unless they make a big cultural turnaround towards the true Scot, the Gael. The laws and institutions and patriotism of an Anglophone people are not necessarily the laws and institutions of a Scotophone, ie, Gaelic, people.

If your first quotation reflects the view that a distinctive Scottish identity was not being crushed beneath irresistible forces of Anglicisation after 1700, Tom Devine would be quite wrong in my view. Post-Culloden oppression and the Clearances, together with the vanishing of the Gaelic language from the Highlands and the adoption of English from across the border for the majority of official matters are ample evidence of this, although more is available.

Again, you provide evidence that in fact supports my argument. The Napier Commission was set up as a direct result of the Crofter's War. In other words, it was a response to a demand on the Highlander's part for rights. Its recommendations were considered suspect by Gaels. Why would Gaels resist Gaelic medium education then and not now? Because modern educational values are an improvement on those of late 19th Anglophone Scotland. Gaels supported their own language but not an educational syllabus that they feared might be created for the purposes of cultural brainwashing - just the ticket after a Crofter's War. My argument is hardly 'blown out of the water' - quite the contrary. You are absolutely right to say that 'there are far more complex issues involved'.

And you provide even more evidence that backs my view. We have already discussed the issue of the complexity of history, for example, that elements within a population can become their own worst enemies, and I have made it clear that I consider the evidence of trends to be more telling, so the quote from the 'Oxford Companion to Scottish History' is quite in line with my thinking regarding multiple events throughout history indicating a general trend.

I completely agree with the book's quoted assertions about the effects on Gaelic culture of opening up the Highlands (an Anglophone action) post-Culloden and the (even forced) removal of Highland population to work in urban areas. The opening of the Highlands for political control was anti-Gaelic and part of an attempt to control Gaels. The removal to urban areas (and abroad) was partly down to the Clearances, poverty, famine, etc. However, this migration does not explain the retreat of Gaelic in the Highlands - that was caused by a gradual Anglophone takeover. The Anglophone view of Highlanders in the nineteenth century roughly runs along the lines of regarding the contemporary Gael as lazy, profitless curs who cause their own misfortune in contrast to their noble kilt-wearing ancestors. In fact, they had been thrown off their own land mainly by Highland chiefs Anglicised by Lowland powers.

Bandying around individual facts does not necessarily illustrate the general trends. Anglophone Scots should face up to their past anti-Scottish behaviour, leading to such wholesale destruction of Scottish culture and language, and start making up for it. They have not been true Scots, they have been true Anglophones, and that is quite different. If they want to be true Scots, they should join in the recovery of the true Scottish tongue, which gave birth to the whole concept of a 'Scot-land' in the north of Britain. That would be truly possessing a heritage.
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Old 19th October 2009, 18:40
ANDY-J3 ANDY-J3 is offline
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Originally posted by Calum Mac Neill

You can cite the Anglophone view of history away all you like. The old adage is that history is written by the winners, not by the losers, and the values by which Anglophone historians judge Scottish history are not necessarily Gaelic ones. For example, an Anglophone historian may consider himself just as Scottish as a Gael and evaluate Anglophone culture in Scotland accordingly, a stance I take issue with as I regard Gaels as true Scots and Anglophone Scots as a radical qualification of the ethnicity and several steps on the road to being English. A discussion of a historian's 'opinions' is not a discussion of the facts, many of which I have presented to you, some of which are common knowledge and readily accepted as fact by many, though not you as you prefer to ignore facts when I present them.

Historians have access to facts on which to build viewpoints. This does not always lead to them to adopt similar viewpoints. This is not physics or biology. Different historians offer the reader different viewpoints and it is up to the student to develop his own. While I am willing to discuss with you, I am not at all bound to accept any individual historian's viewpoint any more than your viewpoint. Facts can support opposing cases, as in any law court. I hold to my personal viewpoint, not to any single historian's, and in my view, an Anglophone Scot is not a true Scot and you have not convinced me otherwise.


I'm well aware of that however when a University research Professor and a director of the research institute of Irish and Scottish studies at Aberdeen university expresses an opinion it does give such views a high degree of credibility. I'm not going to convince you of anything- I know by now that's not going to happen. What I do aim to do though is make you aware that given a choice between accepting the views of a qualified history Professor and accepting your views I know which one I would find more credible. I know that you don't hold a history qualification because if you did you would have included textual evidence to support your arguments so if he states one thing and you state another I would tend to attach greater weight to his opinion. I have no reason to believe that he is being anything other than totally objective and I don't buy into the idea that he has any Anglophone bias.
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Old 19th October 2009, 19:22
ANDY-J3 ANDY-J3 is offline
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Originally posted by Calum Mac Neill

It is not clear from the quote itself what people are being described by Anglophone Tom Devine when he uses the word 'Scottish'. By 'a distinctive Scottish identity', he may actually be referring to Anglophone Scots, not such a straightforward beast as a Gael. If so, we disagree in our terms, as I do not consider Anglophone culture as being equatable with genuinely true Scottish culture. 'Scottishness' is not 'Anglophoneness' and Anglophone Scots need to come to terms with the idea that their ultimate identity and destiny is as an arm of English culture unless they make a big cultural turnaround towards the true Scot, the Gael. The laws and institutions and patriotism of an Anglophone people are not necessarily the laws and institutions of a Scotophone, ie, Gaelic, people.


He was referring to the general population of Scotland. I don't believe he was making any distinction between Gaels and lowland Scots because during the period he is referring to the boundaries between the two became less distinct as Highland immigrants integrated themselves within lowland society. He doesn't seem to be aware that only some Scots were "true Scots" and as I've stated if I'm provided with his opinion and yours which is unsupported by textual evidence then I will accept his explanation more readily.


If your first quotation reflects the view that a distinctive Scottish identity was not being crushed beneath irresistible forces of Anglicisation after 1700, Tom Devine would be quite wrong in my view. Post-Culloden oppression and the Clearances, together with the vanishing of the Gaelic language from the Highlands and the adoption of English from across the border for the majority of official matters are ample evidence of this, although more is available.

But the examples he cites challenge your assertion. During that period the poems of Barbour and Blind Harry were more popular than ever before so Scots wanted to read about national icons, heroes of the wars of independence like Wallace and Bruce. David Hume used the phrase "the rage against the Scots" which shows the extent of bitterness the English felt against all Scots whether highlanders or lowlanders so it is difficult to imagine that Scots would feel any kindred spirit with the English when there was so much mutual distrust between the two countries.




You are absolutely right to say that 'there are far more complex issues involved'......And you provide even more evidence that backs my view. We have already discussed the issue of the complexity of history, for example, that elements wAnd ithin a population can become their own worst enemies, and I have made it clear that I consider the evidence of trends to be more telling, so the quote from the 'Oxford Companion to Scottish History' is quite in line with my thinking regarding multiple events throughout history indicating a general trend.

So you concede that history is a complex matter? You accept that there are no simple answers as so many diverse factors are involved in shaping historical events? That being the case how credible is it to make such a simplistic statement as you did in the opening post "Lowland Scots was the ruin of Scotland". You can see the inconsistency there - if you admit that there are more complex issues involved in shaping historical events then you have to admit also that such an assertion is untenable.




I completely agree with the book's quoted assertions about the effects on Gaelic culture of opening up the Highlands (an Anglophone action)post-Culloden

Evidence? I've cited the statement by Professor Devine which alludes to economic circumstances bringing about demographic change. If you want to challenge that and show that is was an "Anglophone action" you need to provide valid evidence. The period he was referring to was the time of the industrial revolution long after Culloden



The opening of the Highlands for political control was anti-Gaelic and part of an attempt to control Gaels. The removal to urban areas (and abroad) was partly down to the Clearances, poverty, famine, etc. However, this migration does not explain the retreat of Gaelic in the Highlands - that was caused by a gradual Anglophone takeover.

No the opening of the Highlands occurred as part of a natural process of economic and demographic change that resulted in a mass migration of the highland population to lowland urban areas. That is the assertion of Professor Devine and as I say that is the opinion that I regard as being more credible.



Bandying around individual facts does not necessarily illustrate the general trends.

But citing the views of qualified academics ensures that at least we tend to be dealing in valid factual evidence - at least you can no longer accuse me of any cultural bias because it's their opinions I'm putting forward not mine.


Anglophone Scots should face up to their past anti-Scottish behaviour, leading to such wholesale destruction of Scottish culture and language, and start making up for it. They have not been true Scots, they have been true Anglophones, and that is quite different. If they want to be true Scots, they should join in the recovery of the true Scottish tongue, which gave birth to the whole concept of a 'Scot-land' in the north of Britain. That would be truly possessing a heritage.

So when we celebrate the exploits of Wallace and Bruce during the wars of independence we're only deluding ourselves. You're saying that William Wallace and Robert the Bruce weren't true Scots. Walter Scott and Robert Burns weren't true Scots and neither in your view was David Hume. You can see how difficult it is for you to try and convince people that your argument holds water. I think you realise yourself that most Scots whether Gaelic speaker or Anglophone would just regard such arguments as you're putting forward as complete fantasy. I did actually have a look at a Gaelic language book today and in the preface it stated that it was the authors intention to make Gaelic accessible to lowland Scots because it was an integral part of Scotland's history. No Scot would argue with that- they would however take issue with the idea that only Gaelic culture can be termed true Scotish culture.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009, 00:47
Calum Mac Neill Calum Mac Neill is offline
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Anglophone version of history

You can make no valid comment about my education as you are almost totally ignorant of it. As for the view that historians being 'totally objective' and free of bias, I refer you for a start to the opinions of E H Carr and Will and Ariel Durant on the issue.

Lack of textual evidence does not invalidate evidence. Harold Wilson was a Prime Minister of Great Britain. I don't have to support such statements with textual evidence. Neither do I have to support the previous existence of the Statutes of Iona or Clearances with textual evidence. They are a rather key moments in Scottish history. You do not have to acknowledgement as fact. A third party can judge your issue with textual references.

You choose your facts to demonstrate your Anglophone behaviour trend, I'll choose mine. During the period 1700-2000, The Anglophone Scot hegemony, despite Blind Harry et al, voted for Union with England. The religious Anglophone Scot hegemony printed the Bible in the English language in preference to Lowland 'Scots'. The fact that Anglophones can have a civil war does not stop them holding essentially the same culture.

I do not have to 'concede' that history is complex as I have never believed or stated otherwise. Nor would I regard any statement such as 'Lowland Scots was the ruin of Scotland' as being any more simplistic than stating that the Beatles were a phenomenon: these are statements full of meaning to be unpacked.

Human beings are complex entities and so is human society. This does not mean that I can't see when a crowd are planning to hang someone. The fact that a minority of people in the crowd discourage others from their aim does not confuse the overall direction of movement nor, importantly, disguise the end result. The competing forces within the crowd is not 'inconsistency' in my view of the event, it is part of the complexity of the event. Identifying trends in history is similarly possible.

The words 'after the 1745 Jacobite uprising' is roughly equatable in meaning with 'post-Culloden' as Culloden is 1746. Cite who you like, a statement by a modern historian does not equate in meaning with 'historical evidence'. Another fact for you to ignore - the immediate wave of government retribution after Culloden was only carried out in the Highlands and Anglophone Jacobite communities in the Lowlands went unpunished.

Yes, the construction of roads and forts into the Highlands in the 18th century was carried out at Anglophone instigation with military aims - to subdue Highlanders and obstruct the Jacobite cause by enforcing the laws against Gaels carrying arms.

Historians' viewpoints are not fact. If you equate or conflate the two, that is not something I feel inclined to contend with. I am perfectly able to continue accusing the Anglophone community of cultural bias, including their historians if they display this in their historical narratives. Just because something is written in a book by an academic does not by itself mean that what is written is true.

You are mistaken if you believe it impossible that William Wallace and Robert the Bruce spoke Scottish. Wallace was certainly a polyglot and lived at time when Gaelic and English co-existed in the areas of Scotland where he was born and educated. He was taunted as being 'king of Kyle', a strongly Gaelic-speaking area of the Lowlands in Wallace's day. As for the Bruce, it is generally accepted that he had a dual ancestry both Norman and Gaelic. Gaelic tradition supports this and the slogan at Bannockburn was apparently a Gaelic one.

My argument is not a fantasy, it is a viewpoint, and has been arrived at through the acquisition of knowledge. Just because you ignore my facts does not turn them into fantasy nor undo my case. I am giving my opinion of Lowland 'Scots' language and all that goes with it, an opinion created through learning history. You are completely failing to present a serious challenge to it. I have successfully demonstrated how numerous facts support my viewpoint, time and again. Even if some don't, they do not constitute a strong enough counter-trend. For all you have said, it remains quite clear to me which trend is strongest in Anglophone culture in Scotland. Like Queen's English, it is not a good language for a Scot to have as a mother tongue, quite the opposite, it is a cultural compromise facilitating Anglicisation and ultimately anti-Scottish. Scots have been internally colonised. To be a Scot is not to be Welsh, not Pict and definitely not Anglic. Time for Anglophone Scots to quit their less-than-fully-Scottish linguistic condition and embrace the Gaelic culture that their linguistic forebears, the 'Inglis' and their linguistic progeny, took such pains to wipe off the face of the earth.

Last edited by Calum Mac Neill; 20th October 2009 at 01:04.
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Old 23rd April 2010, 20:19
SNPAlbaGuBrath SNPAlbaGuBrath is offline
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Both of you have wasted alot of time here. Typing all of that just because someone else is wrong on the internet.
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Old 24th April 2010, 13:42
Saorsa1 Saorsa1 is offline
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It's a history mystery...
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