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Calum Mac Neill 12th October 2009 16:22

Lowland 'Scots' was the ruin of Scotland
The various ancient dialects of English which developed in the north of Britain were the ruin of Scotland. I do not see them as constituting a separate language from English any more than Northumbrian English.

They are ultimately connected with English identity and in a way have got a cheek calling themselves 'Scots'. The people who spoke Lowland 'Scots' considered themselves English and English-speaking right up until the wars of independence, and then they started considering themselves Scots, and a couple of centuries after that, had the cheek to call the real Scots 'Irish' while becoming Anglicised again themselves and ultimately ending up with a leadership who voted for union with - guess who - England.

The whole concept of calling an Anglo-Saxon dialect 'the Scots language' is ultimately a betrayal of Scotland to English culture, language and political agenda. The true Scots language is Gaelic (Scot comes from the latin word for a Gael and Ireland was called Scotia in Latin).

Lowland Scots didn't give the Scottish people a strong identity and it never will. It will just keep us tied to the matron's apron. Our true allegiance as a Scottish nation is not to the English Lothians/Northumbria but to Scottish DÓl Riada. Without the Scots of DÓl Riada, there would be no country called Scotland in the north of Britain and the whole island of Britain may have ended up being called England. In fact, since the decline of the Gaelic language, lots of foreigners naturally do just call the whole island England. That in itself speaks volumes.

Even today it is only the Gaelic speaking community, not the Lowland 'Scots' speakers, who make serious attempts to provide education through their own language. It makes sense that the revival of Gaelic education occurs alongside better education in Scottish history, political devolution and calls for independence. You will never see education through 'Scots' because it is too tied to English culture.

A true Scot (or Irishman) should cotton on to this, change his linguistic allegiances and learn Gaelic. Modern English should ultimately have the same position in Scotland and Ireland that it has in Norway or Sweden - fluently spoken as the 'lingua franca' but not replacing domestic Scottish and Irish culture which is ultimately Gaelic in origin.

If Gaelic had held its ground in Scotland and if Northumbrian had never spread, then today we would have had centuries of building up a strong native market. There would be much more work in publishing houses, theatre companies and the media to feed the demand for native language material, as in other European countries today. We would be watching many more of our own news programmes, documentaries, drama series, comedies, entertainment programmes and so on in our own language, as elsewhere in Europe, less dominated by the English cultural and political agenda. Native sports would actually get more airtime. There would be considerably more work for native writers and performers in theatres and concert halls around the country, as in other European countries. Ask a non-English foreigner.

It's no accident that the first regular Scottish European cultural affairs programme, E˛rpa, was created by Gaels. It's also no surprise that Gaels broadcast all the Scottish football games no other broadcaster will show. The so-called 'Scots' speakers all complain about this of course and wonder why such programmes aren't being broadcast in English. They're making the wrong complaint. Change your language from Lowland 'Scots' to Gaelic, add to the growing numbers of children learning Gaelic, and you'll be surprised how less marginalised you'll feel as a Scot. Phone-in shows would be filled with Scottish people speaking and giving their views. The people of Glasgow would actually hear Aberdonians on TV regularly.

It's time that Scotland stopped hanging on fearfully to the strings of its new mummy, England. It's time Scotland grew up and lived as an adult on the European scene, learning from its own mistakes, earning its own income for sure and learning to live on it.

ANDY-J3 12th October 2009 19:22

Lowland Scots began as the Anglian dialect of Northumbria and developed through time into a unique language. The Spanish ambassador at the court of James IV stated that "Scots was as different from English as Aragonese (Catalan) was from Castilian (Spanish)"

Scots Language Centre - Courtly Conversation

which in his opinion made it a seperate but related language. Whether lowland Scots gives our people a strong identity is neither here nor there - language is for communication not for endowing a people with cultural identity. I only know one Gaelic speaker who is a colleague at work and he certainly doesn't express any of the views that you're expressing. I think you're trying desperately to manufacture an argument that supports your own subjective prejudices and it's founded on pretty spurious logic so I'll have to disagree with your viewpoint.

Calum Mac Neill 12th October 2009 21:15

Language can be a strong marker of ethnicity
Prejudice implies that I have no access to the facts, which you are unable to demonstrate. I do not view the progress of human social development as always being a matter of single inevitable 'logical' explanations, and I find my chosen interpretation of what has happened to Scotland perfectly sensible and justifiable. You have said nothing that seriously challenges my interpretation.

Language is for communication but it is also an important marker of one's ethnicity. Adam of Dryburgh described his area as being in "the land of the English in the Kingdom of the Scots" in the 12th century. The dissimilarities of different English dialects in the 12th century hardly neuters issues of identity. In this case, one ethnicity - English speakers - have taken another's identity - the Scots, the Gaels - and then disclaimed any relationship to it and put it down time and again.

English speakers from Stornoway to Edinburgh STILL have these attitudes and such attitudes do not arise out of a historical vacuum. I suggest that the subjectivity of English-speakers possessing such viewpoints is mostly drawn from their English-speaking ethnicity and that Gaels who adopt such viewpoints are victims of very effective internal colonialism.

With the advent of the modern era has come the demand for human rights, such as education. This has led to a desire amongst (certain) Gaelic speakers to undo the historical damage done to Scotland, whether the political or cultural deficit.

ScotSites 12th October 2009 23:38

Calum, you say you have "access to the facts", maybe you could share them with us! What you say certainly seems to display a very prejudicial viewpoint; you even go on to describe it as your "chosen interpretation", but maybe those "facts" will help your argument... I for one would be interested to see them as I am sure Andy will be too!

ANDY-J3 13th October 2009 12:30

I don't doubt for a minute that anything I could say would change your viewpoint - your obvious conceit will always prove to be an impenetrable barrier to reasoned factual argument. Your problem is that rather than having a desire to pro actively promote and preserve Gaelic which is something all Scots would want, you for reasons best known to yourself chose to focus on denigrating lowland Scots culture and language. The fact that your cloaking your argument in sophisticated sounding language doesn't make it any more compelling.

Calum Mac Neill 13th October 2009 15:46

Core identity and attitudes
Your apparent unwillingness to acknowledge any facts as having been presented, and having any implications for my viewpoint, is not a matter I feel obliged to contend with.

Anglophones were incorporated into a Scottish kingdom of (Gaelic-speaking) Scots and Anglophone rulers got the Scottish kingdom incorporated into a union with England. If neither of you can see such things as fact, if neither of you think that I have mentioned such fact, I don't feel the need or obligation to get involved with dealing with that phenomenon. If you accept that such things are factual and that I have mentioned them, then we can certainly discuss their implications.

Scotsites, I've already presented an argument with reference to facts, an argument which I consider sufficient in itself to inspire the open-minded Scot to rethink attitudes to English dialects in Scotland versus attitudes to Gaelic. In connection with reasons above, I'm not sure I need go to the trouble to provide further evidence of the 'great ill-will' of the English speakers when the history books are full of them, it would just be an interminable list in which the statutes of Iona and suchlike would feature prominently. Quotations like those of the poet Dunbar at the turn of the 16th century match comments in the letter pages of the Scotsman newspaper denigrating Gaels and espousing the greater glories of the 'Anglic race' during the 19th century.

It is to be regretted that anyone with a genuine interest in the good of Scotland is ignorant of the evidence for anti-Gaelic (and thus anti-Scottish) attitudes in Scotland, both contemporary and historical. The Scotsman newspaper still regularly publishes such pro-active diatribe on its letters page.

ANDY-J3, your comment cloaks the fact that I present facts. I am criticising an ethnic group for its behaviour in a country's history towards another ethnic group (the one which provide the country's national identity and was its core identity) and noticing which is the less Scottish one in terms of language and cultural affinities, which made it less patriotic in my view. That appears to obscure to your eyes any factual references I make.

I certainly didn't grow up with these attitudes - I acquired them accessing facts in history books generally. Your accusations of 'conceit', of being 'prejudiced' and being 'illogical' are rather general, emotional responses than a reasoned rebuffal of my view.

It is time for any Scot who speaks any descendant of Anglo-Saxon to question the state of Scottish culture and politics today, the undesirable degree of influence English culture has over it, and ask itself whether such an influence would have been possible had Gaelic continued as the official language of Scotland instead of descendants of Anglo-Saxon.

I would repeat that many of those who speak a descendant of Anglo-Saxon in Scotland will never accept education of children through the medium of Lowland 'Scots' because they themselves could never see it as worthy enough to replace English in schools. That in itself shows how patriotic this ethnic group is in cultural terms and how much a part they are of general English culture. It is therefore no surprise that we only get English soap operas on television in Scotland and no Irish ones, despite the large numbers of Scots of Irish descent.

Naturally, I don't expect many Anglophone Scots to like what I say. By criticising an Anglophone's linguistic identity in such a way, one questions the completeness of their Scottishness. One implies that Anglophones, against their instinct, should weaken their instinctual affinity and bond with Englishness in order to change their relationship to Gaelicness, the original pure Scottish identity.

Nevertheless, people should get pro-active about criticising Anglophones about this - as payback for the constant pro-active drip of centuries-old anti-Gaelic (and thus anti-Scottish) diatribe going in the English-language media in Scotland. It's time that Anglophones in Scotland got told as a group just how much of an anti-Scottish backbone they have always displayed, instead of getting away with this innocent, self-justifying veneer of being real Scots whose 'Scottish' identity is being compromised by Gaels finally getting their own schools, media and acknowledgement in national life. Anglophones should be ashamed of continuing in numbers to exhibit such continuing anti-Scottish attitudes.

ANDY-J3 13th October 2009 16:14

I'm well aware that you're criticising an ethnic group- one which amounts to several million people and adds up to to over 90% of the country's population. That being the case I think even you would need to concede that it is an exceptionally bold statement to make and such a statement can't be supported by rhetoric alone which is all you are providing. You are providing subjective viewpoints unsupported by any hard evidence. You aren't even providing opinions from other sources perhaps from linguists and historians who might support such a viewpoint. You're trying hard to cobble together some kind of coherent sounding argument but whether anybody needs to be convinced by it given the lack of any viable evidence is another matter. I suspect even the vast majority of Gaelic speakers would conclude that you were talking out of your backside. Gaelic and Scots need to be preserved because regardless of the origins of Scots it was the language spoken by the people of Scotland for over 500 years. I think you might need to consider the historical examples of Gaels trying hard to subdue their fellow Gaels and thus hasten the demise of their own language and culture - plenty of Gaelic speaking highlanders fought on the government side in the various Jacobite uprisings and by the same token plenty of lowland Scots speakers fought on the Jacobite side. For example Bonnie Dundee was a lowlander who led a Highland army - Hugh McKay who opposed him was a highlander who led a lowland army so Scottish history can't be conveniently divided down ethnic and cultural lines as you're trying to do. The sad fact is that Gaelic culture and language diminished in large part due to the actions of Gaels themselves.

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