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  • Language in Scotland

    What are the languages spoken in Scotland and what percentages of the population are using them?

    Char

  • #2
    Scottish 'languages'

    The first language of most Scots is English. The ancient language of Scotland was Gaelic and there are still thousands of people who speak the language. There have been attempts to re-introduce Gaelic into schools but, so far, it has not been too successful.

    I am a great supporter of Auld Scots, which nowadays is called Lallans (lowland) and another variation is called Doric - which is used around Aberdeen.

    I am a member of a number of Lallans speaking sites - because I do not want to see our language disappear altogether. Although there are many who say that Lallans is merely a dialect of English, I strongly dispute that

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    • #3
      Often political leaning is the explanation behind the view on 'Scots', with nationalists claiming it is a seperate language and non-nationalists claiming it is a dialect of English. It is a good example of how language defines a group and thus this promotion of Scots as seperate from English is part of the justification of seperation from England in the U.K.

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      • #4
        Nowadays only a minority of the population speak true Scots.Where I live,in east central Scotland broad Scots is still widely spoken but mostly by older people.Most Scottish people use standard English interspersed with Scots words and phrases.There is no doubt that in the past Scots was a completely seperate and distinct language from English-I have seen a comparison made with Spanish and Portuguese which share a common root but are completely distinct languages.When the infant James I of Scotland was captured by the English in the early 15th century he was educated at the English court and he had tutors to teach him foreign languages-including Scots which shows that at that time it was certainly a distinct language.

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        • #5
          Hirta

          Contrary to your statement - I am not a member of the SNP - nor do I vote for them

          I live in the Central belt too, and was brought up to speak and write English. That does not mean that I don't understand Lallans or that I do not enjoy listening to it and reading/writing it.

          I would dispute that Scots is not a separate language - but agree that in the past couple of hundred years it has become closer to English.

          Whether you wish to call it a dialect or a distinct language... many people still use it and I would not wish to see it disappear into just a memory.

          I am certainly not using it as a justification for Scotland to become fully independent. That is not my political view at all.

          Whether you want to cal it

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          • #6
            Re: Hirta

            Originally posted by Polwarth
            Contrary to your statement - I am not a member of the SNP - nor do I vote for them

            I live in the Central belt too, and was brought up to speak and write English. That does not mean that I don't understand Lallans or that I do not enjoy listening to it and reading/writing it.

            I would dispute that Scots is not a separate language - but agree that in the past couple of hundred years it has become closer to English.

            Whether you wish to call it a dialect or a distinct language... many people still use it and I would not wish to see it disappear into just a memory.

            I am certainly not using it as a justification for Scotland to become fully independent. That is not my political view at all.

            Whether you want to cal it
            I wasn't suggesting that YOU personally have a political bias of your views on Scots, but it almost certainly exists. For example, the only person in the Scottish parliament to demand that Scots become one of the parliament's official languages is Michael Russell. This would mean it would join English and Gaelic on all the parliament's signs and public notices, and that, like English and Gaelic, it should be permissable for MSPs to use it in addresses to the parliament. Unsuprisingly he is a member of the SNP (in fact he is former chief executive). As the reason for the SNP's existance is the desire for independence for Scotland one can see quite clearly that Mr Russell wants to highlight one of the 'differences' between Scots and the rest of the U.K. - and I would say this could have rather large political implications. Language is an obvious cultural difference - any nationalist politician would want to promote that.

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            • #7
              Quite right Mike Russell is to promote it too. But I reject to the name "The Scots" language, as it is not "the" Scots tongue but "a" Scots tongue, the other one being Gaelic. Although I think it would be fair to say that it was at one point a distinct language, I think it could be argued that Scots is pretty much extinct because although remnants of it live on in Scottish peoples' speech, what people speak now is very much watered down and anglicised. For a language to be called a language it should have distinctive grammatical features, not just vocabulary. I would be interested to find out from someone more knowledgable on the technical side of language grammar if the Scots that is spoken by people today contains much, or any, grammar that is different from English.
              In contrast, I've been reliably informed by experts that Scots Gaelic, despite it being spoken by less people, has many different grammatical features from Irish Gaelic - even from Donegal Gaelic which is the closest dialect of Gaelic to Scots Gaelic spoken in Ireland.

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              • #8
                Re: Re: Hirta

                [QUOTE]Originally posted by Hirta
                Originally posted by Polwarth

                For example, the only person in the Scottish parliament to demand that Scots become one of the parliament's official languages is Michael Russell.
                Was he? THis list given here of the Scottish Parliament cross-party working group http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ms...cpg-scots.html

                seems to me to have more than one name on it.

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                • #9
                  Ettle:
                  Tae forder the cause o the Scots leid, lat Memmers ken aboot the cultur an heritage o the leid and shaw the need for action tae uphaud Scots.


                  LOL! Surely this isn't serious?

                  It might not be a very convincing 'language' but it certainly has entertainment value. Thanks for posting the link Celyn - best laugh I've had for a while.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Re: Re: Hirta

                    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Celyn
                    Originally posted by Hirta
                    Originally posted by Polwarth

                    For example, the only person in the Scottish parliament to demand that Scots become one of the parliament's official languages is Michael Russell.
                    Was he? THis list given here of the Scottish Parliament cross-party working group http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ms...cpg-scots.html

                    seems to me to have more than one name on it.

                    You seem to have missed the point I was making; that many people who support the idea of Scots as a distinct language, separate from English, do so for political reasons. I'd bet most of the people who'll attend that meeting will be nationalists; indeed, the majority of MSPs present are members of the SNP. It doesn't take a great piece of deduction to see that supporting an idea of distinctness and separateness (through probably the most obvious difference between ethnic groups i.e. language) would help harbour nationalist sentiment within the population. And any nationalist politician with his or her salt would want to do that. Think of it another way; would any Scottish nationalist want to deny that Scots was a distinct and separate language?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      many people who support the idea of Scots as a distinct language, separate from English, do so for political reasons.
                      Like...
                      The Rt Hon Lord James Douglas-Hamilton QC MSP (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
                      Alex Fergusson MSP (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
                      Mary Scanlon (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
                      Ian Jenkins MSP (Liberal Democrat)
                      Nora Radcliffe (Liberal Democrat)
                      Cathy Peattie (Labour)

                      All members of the Cross-Paitrie Group i the Scottish Pairliament on the Scots Leid.
                      And all fervently mad Nationalists no-doubt.
                      100% Air a dhanamh ann an Alba.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The_Lowlander
                        many people who support the idea of Scots as a distinct language, separate from English, do so for political reasons.
                        Like...
                        The Rt Hon Lord James Douglas-Hamilton QC MSP (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
                        Alex Fergusson MSP (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
                        Mary Scanlon (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)
                        Ian Jenkins MSP (Liberal Democrat)
                        Nora Radcliffe (Liberal Democrat)
                        Cathy Peattie (Labour)

                        All members of the Cross-Paitrie Group i the Scottish Pairliament on the Scots Leid.
                        And all fervently mad Nationalists no-doubt.
                        Erm, I used the word "many" - by default this would not mean "all". You have named the non-SNP members in the group - the rest (the majority in fact)are SNP. Therefore what exactly are you contesting in my statement?
                        Incidentally I notice your nationalist signature - do you support the idea of a separate Scots language? If so, is there a link between the two?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hirta

                          You have named the non-SNP members in the group - the rest (the majority in fact)are SNP. Therefore what exactly are you contesting in my statement?
                          Incidentally I notice your nationalist signature - do you support the idea of a separate Scots language? If so, is there a link between the two?
                          Of course I named the non-SNP members of the group. If I had named only the Nationalists it wouldn't be much of an argument against Language is an obvious cultural difference - any nationalist politician would want to promote that. As you can see not only Nationalist politicians want to promote Scots. As for my "Nationalist signature"...are you implying only Nationalists celebrate St.Andrew's day or fly the Saltire flag?
                          The bottom line is, yes many Nationalists promote Scots as a language (they wouldn't be very good Nationalists if the didn't would they?). But so do Scots of all political persuasions.
                          100% Air a dhanamh ann an Alba.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Lowlander,

                            "Of course I named the non-SNP members of the group. If I had named only the Nationalists it wouldn't be much of an argument against 'Language is an obvious cultural difference - any nationalist politician would want to promote that.'"

                            So you mean to say you are leaving out objective fact in order not to undermine your own argument...? Even so by naming non-nationalist MSPs I can't see how this would mean that nationalists politicians would not want to promote Scots - where is the link between these two obviously independent variables? If you look at my previous posts you will see the use of the word 'many' as opposed to 'all' - the fact that many SNP members support Scots (as you have noticed by omitting them!) would concur with the use of this word.

                            "As for my "Nationalist signature"...are you implying only Nationalists celebrate St.Andrew's day or fly the Saltire flag?"

                            No, but as with the support of Scots the majority (i.e. MANY) of people who did fly saltaires and celebrate St. Andrew's day would have nationalist leanings - one does not see many saltaires being flown at Rangers games...! Are you suggesting that "Alba gu brth" is not a nationalist statement?

                            "The bottom line is, yes many Nationalists promote Scots as a language (they wouldn't be very good Nationalists if the didn't would they?). "

                            Which is what I've been saying all along!

                            "But so do Scots of all political persuasions".

                            Yes (again not something I recall denying), but would they form an equal or greater number compared to nationalists?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's a quote from an old discussion about language. It has the same thing written in Scots and English.

                              "SCOTS

                              Fir ane hing thirs hunners ae fowk thit dinnae twig oanyhin aboot leids or keepin thum gaun, bit fir oanyb'dy serious a wid recommend the book bi Joshua Fishman "Handbook of Language and Ethninc Identity" thit wis publisht last year. Thirs hunners ae comparisons fae leid experts an hunners aboot ithir leids an countries bar wir ane.
                              First, 95% ae leids deein isnae oanyhin natural, in the case ae Gaelic an Scots it wis the state's decision an policy tae git rid ae thae leids. Leids deein happens cause ae ignorance, racism an discrimination fae cultures mair muckle. Ah hink the thochts ae fowk here ir faur too general. Gaelic, Scots an English yit play a muckle pert in terms ae the history, culture an heritage ae the country. An its nae easy at aw tae turn i situation roon an reverse leid shift, specially whin hauf the anes it prattle it irnae much fasht wi the situation thumsels. Leids ir affy important tae the mix an diversity ae the warld an insteed ae ignorant rammlins wi shid bi pittin furrit erguments fir preservin the warlds minority leids. Whae wi ir (self-identity) is pit tae sense thro wir leids an its giye important if wir tae preserve wir ain identity.
                              Naeb'dy wants tae turn the clock back, but leid revival an keepin leids gaun is a guid hing. Anithir hing fowk 'hink is thit leid division's responsible fir strife an war, but maist fowk the warld ower ir bi-lingual. Keepin yer leid an a sense ae wha' ye ir is nae bad hing in the face ae globalisation. Loads ae knowledge is loast fir e'er mair whin a leid dees.
                              It's thro ignorance, deceit an mair aften thin no, violence thit a state ae monolinguistic glaikitness comes aboot. Fowk here dinnae e'en ken how glaikit thae ir hauf the time,runnin doon thir ain culture lik' at. Thir'll bi danger an poverty afore us if wi gie up ir loose this diversity.
                              Keep wir leids alee !

                              ENGLISH

                              Firstly, there is plenty of misunderstanding about langauge death an revival but for anyone seriously interested I would recommend the book published last year by Joshua Fishman (leading world language expert)"The Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity. There are lots of comparisons between languages and countries made by many distinguished professors and experts in the field of linguistics an language revival.
                              Firstly, in all but around 5% of cases, language death is not a natural thing at all! In Scotlands case (Gaelic and Scots) it was the governments policy and decision to eradicate both of these languages (in favour of the southern dialect of English). Most language death comes about as a result of ignorance, racism and discrimination usually from a larger culture that considers itself superior.
                              I am of the opinion that the thoughts expressed here about language are far too general. Gaelic, Scots and English continue to play a huge part in the history, culture and heritage of this country. Also, language revival is no easy thing especially when, very often, the users of the language are not very interested in its survival. It is a thankless task and there are plenty of ignorant people ready to shout it down. Languages are a very important part of the diversity of the world and rather than beleive the ignorant comments about letting them die we should be coming up with arguements for preserving this diversity.
                              All self-identity (people,places) is expressed through language and it is therefore extremely important if one wants to preserve their own ethnic identity. No one wants (or expects) the clock to be turned back but the language revival efforts of some are indeed a good thing. Another mis-understanding is that language divide is the cause of strife and war, however most of the world's population are bi-lingual. Keeping your own language and identity is no bad thing in the face of globalisation. Respect for diversity is the only way forward. When a language dies, the knowledge and experience that goes with it is lost forever.
                              It is through ignorance, deceit and more often than not, violence, that a state of mono-linguistic stupidity comes about. It is just through ignorance that many Scots don't even recognise these important parts of their culture. (Given the current state of education in the country it can be argued that it is not entirely their fault, however this kind of ignorance is only accepable to a degree).
                              There will be poverty and danger before us if we loose this diversity.
                              Keep Gaelic and Scots alive !
                              Scott Domhnallach"

                              Now, being from California, where there is a debate about whether Ebonics is a language or not, I would definetely call Scots a distinct and seperate language from English. And the EU seems to agree with me. I remember reading that the EU recognizes Scots as a minority language.

                              There are some definite deifferences between the two languages. Mostly it's in vocabulary. Scots uses many Germanic words where English uses Romance Language words. Take ken (know), for example. It comes from a Germanic root, whereas the English word comes from Latin.

                              Also, in many English words we have replaced the hard, Germanic, ch sound with the silent gh, whereas Scots still uses the hard ch. (thochts, thoughts)

                              The differences in grammar structure are more subtle, but they are there. Scots uses the defenite article (the) in places where English wouldn't. I recall a member of this site recently being "tanked up oan the Bucky." In English this would be "tanked up on Bucky." The way Scots uses the definite article is closer to the Spanish way than to the English way.

                              Also, notice the way Scots does the genetive case (where 2 words are combined in a possesive context). Take for example the term "language death." In Scots, this is "Leids deein" (literally: languages dying). English uses a verbal noun, and Scots uses a progressive.

                              Finnaly, to get back to the original question, there are about 86,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland or about 1.7% of the population.
                              "Pure religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)

                              www.personal.psu.edu/bmd175

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