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 Post subject: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:02 am 
A Consideration of The Demarcation of the Anglic Language Varieties of Northern Scotland in a Context of Linguistic and Cultural Identity.
In this paper, the term Anglic refers primarily to the language varieties of Scotland which are closely related to English. In this respect, the term may be thought of as standing in the same relation to Germanic as Gaelic does to Celtic - that is, just as Gaelic is that branch of the Celtic languages which comprises Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx, so Anglic comprises those Germanic languages which are either autochthonous to the British Isles or are derived from languages autochthonous to the British Isles (such as various Pidgins and Creoles), and which include standard English and Scots.

In academic and lexicographical publications, all such varieties indigenous to Scotland are referred to as Scots. Yet, while such a description is justified from a linguistic viewpoint, it raises problems in the context of linguistic and cultural identity, with corollary problems accruing to the treatment of these varieties in education.

The low esteem accorded to the Scots language and its varieties has led to a lack of coherence in how it is perceived which might aptly be described as schizoglossia. On the one hand it is regarded as the characteristic language of Lowland Scotland and referred to as 'The Guid Scots Tongue'; on the other hand it is almost universally assumed to be unacceptable in educated company. Its role as the language of some of Scotland's greatest poets contrasts sharply with the stigma attached to it as the language of the uneducated, and with the efforts which the upwardly mobile expend in expunging it from their own speech and that of their children. Schoolmasters have traditionally had the role of teaching the Scots works of Burns while at the same time attempting to eradicate his language from the speech of their pupils. Because of the lack of a standard written form, Scots speakers often attach more importance to localised characteristics of speech - even those which distinguish the speech of adjacent villages - than to the characteristics of Scots as a whole. The literary establishment increasingly scorns the use of any form of Scots which does not represent the phonetic, grammatical and lexicographical peculiarities of a particular locality, and regards the language as valuable precisely because of its non-standard and non-respectable status. In spite of the fact that Scots bears the name of the nation, those who are able to speak only standard English are mostly regarded as by definition more intelligent and better informed than those who are able to speak Scots as well; the ability to forget Scots is regarded as a mark of greater intellect than the ability to remember it; and ignorance of it is assumed to be more meritorious than knowledge of it.

The essential first question which therefore faces any institution - from Government down - which proposes to deal with Scots at any level is whether it is content to support the above-mentioned assumptions and presuppositions (which may be characterised largely as prejudices), which unite to ensure that Scots retains its present Cinderella status in education and society and which ensure its ongoing decline; or whether it is prepared to adopt an approach intended to enhance the status, perception and viability of Scots.

This second option - the only one which can claim to do justice to Scots - involves a proactive approach to Scots within which it is taught and studied using the same presuppositions as would apply to the study and teaching of any other language. Such an approach involves such obvious measures as the teaching of Scots by those who are themselves competent in Scots; the recognition of the traditional (and well documented) grammatical characteristics of Scots as part of a coherent system rather than as arbitrary variations from the (by that criterion equally arbitrary) grammatical characteristics of standard English; the adoption of a working orthography; and the integration of these into a teaching process which will enable both Scots speakers and learners to achieve literacy in the language. It is evidently only when this second approach is adopted that the question of demarcation of the Anglic varieties becomes pertinent, because the practical questions which this approach raises - such as what the grammatical characteristics of Scots are, and how it is to be written and taught - are questions which the traditional academic approach can conveniently ignore, but which cannot be ignored in any attempt to teach Scots, and/or its varieties as other languages are taught.

Within the context of such an educational approach, any consideration of the demarcation of the Anglic varieties which are indigenous to Scotland must therefore begin from the presupposition that Scots must be approached in essentially the same way that Gaelic is approached. This leads to the following conclusions:

1. That the Anglic varieties and Gaelic should be treated according to the same basic principles.

2. Although the basic principles for the treatment of Gaelic and the Anglic varieties should be the same, the different nature and circumstances of these varieties as compared to Gaelic will mean that different approaches will be appropriate for the outworking of these principles in the case of the Anglic varieties as compared to the approach which would be appropriate for Gaelic.

The different nature and circumstances might be summarised as follows:

a) Whereas Gaelic as a language is mutually incomprehensible with English, and an English speaker can normally only learn to understand, let alone speak, Gaelic by studying it on the same basis as one studies a foreign language, the Anglic varieties are sufficiently closely related to English that an English speaker can learn to understand them relatively quickly and without formal training. Learning to speak or write them would, of course, be another matter.

b) Whereas the Gaelic language has a written standard, and now a considerable and increasing degree of formal recognition in education and in official circles, the Anglic varieties have no written standards or standard and only token recognition. Whereas academic study in Gaelic encompasses all the elements which one would expect of language study, academic study of Scots is almost totally passive, concerned with the study of texts as literature, and of oral material from a descriptive linguistic standpoint. There is at present no programme of literacy in Scots, for example, and no courses which enable a student to become proficient in oral or written Scots.

These differences suggest that Gaelic and the Anglic varieties must be approached differently in two different ways.

Firstly, the substantial mutual comprehensibility of Anglic varieties with English - itself an Anglic variety - has implications with regard to issues of bilingualism. For example, because Gaelic is sharply differentiated from English and has a recognised written standard, signage and texts in Gaelic are an important aspect of bilingual policy which can, in principle, be tackled immediately, whereas with regard to other varieties the absence of such a written standard means that attention must first be given to investigating prerequisites and establishing norms for such measures. On the other hand, the fact that all Anglic varieties are in principle easily understandable by English speakers means that a comprehensive oral bilingualism - for example, authorising the use of Scots or Shetlandic at any level within an institution (as has been the case for a considerable number of years in schools in Shetland) - is eminently feasible, whereas for Gaelic such a measure would require extensive additional resources.

Secondly, with regard to teaching, the Anglic varieties lack the expertise and experience which exist for the teaching of Gaelic. Thus, whereas advancing the teaching and study of Gaelic is largely a matter of expanding and developing procedures and practices which already exist - in schools, universities and notably at Sabhal Mór Ostaig - the active teaching of any Anglic tongue other than English lacks precedent, and requires the breaking of fallow ground.

In view of this, it can be seen that the development of Anglic varieties cannot begin by assuming that these varieties - however defined or demarcated - should be treated exactly the same as Gaelic. Nevertheless, the same essential principles can be held to apply. These essential principles might be subsumed under general bilingual policy on the one hand and an active educational approach on the other, and it is with regard to the latter that the issue of demarcation is most relevant.

It should be pointed out here that this is not an inevitable conclusion. It would be quite possible to take the view that the Anglic varieties should be treated according to the existing passive presuppositions, and their study subsumed under other areas such as literature, folklore, descriptive linguistics and local history. Alternatively, it could be proposed that the Anglic varieties, however defined, should be accorded similar status to Gaelic, without addressing questions of what this would mean in practice. However, there is no reason to suppose that the first option would be any more efficacious in developing and advancing the indigenous languages than similar measures are where they already exist, and it is not evident that the second option, failing as it would to take account of the practical issues involved, would be anything more in practice than a statement of intent without the necessary prerequisites to bring it to fruition. Accordingly, it is necessary to make recommendations for the Anglic varieties on consideration of the practical issues involved in their potential development, the most important consideration being that of literacy.

It ought to be evident that, in order to enable an active approach to teaching any language, considerations of literacy - with corollary prerequisites of orthography and the other standards which are characteristic of any written language, as opposed to languages or dialects which exist only as vernaculars - are paramount. The plea for status for a language without a parallel project to develop its potential for literacy is largely a contradiction in terms; and in a country, let alone a world, increasingly saturated by standard English, the intention to retain a language or dialect purely as a vernacular without a written form is merely the intention to be present at its demise. It is thus necessary to ask the question: what practical considerations must be taken into account in order to facilitate literacy, and thus to enable the Anglic varieties to be given a place in education comparable to that of any other language? This immediately raises the issue - conveniently unraised in the traditional passive approach - of how the Anglic language varieties should, or must, be demarcated in order to enable them to be taught actively rather than merely passively, and in order to facilitate literacy in them.

It is obviously not the purpose of any educational establishment alone to determine the written form of any of the languages or language varieties which are normally subsumed under 'Scots'. What is possible, however, is to make recommendations based on practical issues encountered in reading and writing these varieties. The following recommendations are based on such considerations, and they lead to the conclusion that, of all the Anglic varieties spoken traditionally in Scotland, only Shetlandic and Orcadian should be differentiated from Scots, whereas other varieties such as the Doric of the North East are, for purposes of active teaching and literacy, able to be easily incorporated within Scots as a whole (in the treatment below, it is assumed that what applies to Shetlandic applies in principle to Orcadian as well).

Considerations which indicate the differentiation of Shetlandic from Scots are as follows:

1. For purposes of literacy, and corollary development as a language in its own right, it is desirable that Scots, like Gaelic, should have a standard written form.

2. That being the case, it would not be practicable to write Shetlandic as standard Scots - to do so would mean, in practice, adopting a great many features alien to traditional Shetlandic and abandoning a great many features intrinsic to traditional Shetlandic.

These features are:

a) Vocabulary. In contrast to other dialects of Scots, including Doric, much of the traditional vocabulary of Shetlandic is not included in Scots dictionaries. The Concise Scots Dictionary explicitly states that it does not contain the Norse vocabulary which is peculiar to Caithness, Orkney and Shetland. This vocabulary comprises not only a large amount of words which would now be regarded as obsolete or literary - Jakobsen's Dictionary of the Norn Language in Shetland (which is actually not a dictionary of the Norn language but of the Norn vocabulary element in Shetlandic) consists of two substantial volumes of such words - but also many everyday words and expressions such as aaber (eager), aalie (orphan), broel (bellow), clatch (besmear), clooky (tricky), clour (claw; scratch - not a blow as in Scots), clump (make a heavy noise), duiless (inactive), filskit (high spirited), forsmo (snub), frush (splutter), glaep (gulp down), glinder (peer), gluid (glow), helly (weekend), hent (gather), leid (diligence), lui (listen), luid (mood), minkie (very small), mird (swarm), oag (crawl), oub (moan), peel (scrap; small mussel), pipper (tremble), plag (garment), smuck (slipper), mooratoug (ant), yasp (energetic), rein (squeal), scrime (observe), sloo (lazy person), smeig (smirk), smoot (slink), soe (bait), spret (burst), sprickle (convulse), stirn (shiver), swee (smart), trivvle (grope), varg (messy work), tully (kitchen knife), tusker (peat cutter), nyaarm (bleat), etc, etc, etc. To a native speaker of Shetlandic, these words are not differentiated in any way from the English and Scots vocabulary which makes up the rest of the lexicon. However, like the Scots words which comprise most of the remainder of the non-English vocabulary of Shetlandic, these words are perceived as quickly dying out in the speech of younger people. The adoption of a standard Scots, which does not contain these words and therefore would not contribute to retaining them, would serve no purpose in the minds of most Shetland speakers.

In a Shetlandic story printed in Lallans magazine the writer commented that at the top of his list of revolting jobs was "rooin munts-owld oagin crangs" (plucking the wool from months-old carcasses crawling with maggots). This single phrase contains three words - 'roo', 'oag' and 'crang' - none of which are in the Concise Scots Dictionary, and which would be familiar to any Shetland crofter but incomprehensible to a reader of general Scots.

The practical difficulties created by attempting to regard Shetlandic as Scots should not be underestimated. A Shetlandic short story of around 2000 words was given to a Scots speaker and writer to identify words which he considered would need to be glossed for Scots readers, and he identified over fifty. Not all of these were Norn words - some were words of Scots origin now largely confined to Shetland, or to Shetland and Orkney (there is a considerable number of such words listed in Scots dictionaries) or other Scots words which the reader simply did not happen to know, or of which the Shetlandic meanings are significantly different from the Scots ones. Nevertheless, the practical difficulties of attempting to distinguish between the Scots and the non-Scots elements in the vocabulary would be impractical for a Shetlander, and it is not easy to see how else it would be possible to proceed except by (a) learning Scots as a standard language and eliminating the Shetlandic vocabulary, or (b) simply writing Shetlandic as a dialect, as at present. Neither of these options is compatible with the general principles of an active approach, as explained earlier.

b) Phonology.

In contrast to Mainland Scots, in which vowel length is determined by conditions such as the following consonant or morpheme boundary (a feature known as the Scottish Vowel Length Rule), Shetlandic has unpredictable vowel length. This means that, whereas in Scots it is quite feasible to spell 'hail' (whole) the same way as 'hail' (frozen rain) - as the Scots School Dictionary does - and 'gate' (road) the same as 'gate' (meaning as English), in Shetlandic this would be unsuitable because these pairs of words are not pronounced the same - practical spellings would be 'hael' and 'gaet' in contrast to 'hail' and 'gate'. In fact, there are six vowel sounds which have this short/long distinction (ae/ai, oo/ou, ee/ei, a/aa and ui/oe, in addition to o/oa which is not differentiated in most Scots dialects) and this has obvious implications for Shetlandic orthography which it would not be practical to extend to Scots as a whole.

c) Tradition.

Traditionally, Shetlanders do not regard their speech as Scots, to the extent that they will refer to fishermen from the North East of Scotland as speaking "Scottie". Thus the concept of adopting Scots in Shetland - whether it was held to include Shetlandic or not - would be, literally, foreign. It would, perhaps, be rather similar in concept to referring to Scottish Gaelic as Erse or Irish.

None of these criteria apply to Doric.

a) Vocabulary. In contrast to the vocabulary of Shetlandic, the Doric vocabulary is included in Scots dictionaries - any omissions are simply oversights which ought in principle to be remedied. Most of the characteristic North East vocabulary - such as 'quine' , 'loun', 'tyauve' - is acceptable and widely understood in general Scots writing.

This can be illustrated from a survey done on Central Scots, Doric and Shetlandic translations of the German comic book Max und Moritz. Readers unfamiliar with any sort of Scots found rather more words which they didn't understand in the Doric version than in the Shetlandic one, but Scots readers found relatively many more incomprehensible words in the Shetlandic version. This illustrates that Shetlandic vocabulary remains outside a general Scots education whereas Doric vocabulary contributes to it.

b) In contrast to Shetlandic, the differences between North East pronunciation and a general Scots orthography are predominantly phonetic rather than phonological. The principle ones can be described as follows:

i. Pronunciation of WH as 'f ' - e.g. whit, whan as 'fit', 'fan'.
ii. Pronunciation of UI as 'ee' - e.g. ruif, tuim as 'reef', 'teem'.
iii. Pronunciation of ANE as 'een' - e.g. bane, stane as 'been', 'steen'.
iv. Pronunciation of AU and AW as a long 'a' sound, e.g. fauld, braw as 'faal', 'braa'.
v. Omission of D after L, e.g. auld as 'aal'.
vi. Frequent omission of initial TH - e.g. this, that as 'is', 'at'.

As these correspondences are predictable - e.g. words which have UI in a properly etymological Scots orthography are always pronounced 'ee' in the North East - there is no reason why Doric should not be written using a standard Scots orthography, and certainly no reason why a standard Scots orthography - providing, of course, that it is constructed on diaphonemic principles in the first place - should not be read using a Doric pronunciation. (Indeed, the Doric pronunciation is a valuable guide to determining the spellings in a standard Scots orthography - for example, deciding which words should be spelt with UI.) Even where it is desired to emphasise the characteristic Doric pronunciation, this can be best done by consistent and regular alterations to a standard Scots spelling (e.g.: by writing F instead of WH, EE instead of UI, etc).

c) Unlike Shetlandic, Doric is traditionally perceived as Scots, and many Doric speakers refer to it as such. Colloquially, a Doric speaker was heard to apologise to a new neighbour that he could only speak 'broad Scots', and another to comment that his wife criticised him for being 'affa doun-toun' when he used 'the Scots language'. A young girl in a Chinese take-away (cairie-oot) in the North East, asked whether she spoke Cantonese as well as English, replied indignantly, "I dinna spik English - I spik Scots!". There are many Doric speakers in the Scots language movement, some of whom write their native tongue using a standard Scots orthography and some who do not, but all of whom agree that it is Scots - indeed David Murison, the doyen of Scots studies and principal compiler of the Scottish National Dictionary, came from Fraserburgh; and Alexander Fenton, at one time senior assistant editor of the SND, from Auchterless. A new Teach Yourself Scots has recently been written by a Doric speaker from the Deeside area. In short, Doric is traditionally perceived as Scots - a distinctive form of Scots, but Scots nevertheless.

When all the regular correspondences between a Doric pronunciation and a consistent Scots spelling have been identified and understood, the only real practical difficulties which remain for writing Doric as a standard Scots are (1) the use of 'no' rather than 'nae' for the negative, and (2) the use of the plural demonstrative forms 'thae' and 'thir', which do not exist in Doric. However, the equivalent Doric usages are often used by Doric speakers in general Scots writing, so there is no real problem.

In fact, because Doric preserves words and usages which are now less common in many other kinds of Scots, the Doric speaker has a built-in advantage when it comes to writing authentic Scots. A Doric speaker would perhaps be unlikely, for example, to perpetrate the grammatical atrocities which are sometimes committed on words like 'gar' and 'speir' (neither of which, incidentally, are used in modern Shetlandic) by writers who either are not themselves Scots speakers or who speak dialects where these words are not current. Douglas Kynoch's book of Doric proverbs preserves many of the characteristic and classical Scots constructions - such as the demonstrative use of the objective pronoun and the use of the singular verb after plural nouns and the relative '(th)at' (e.g. "Them that lives langest sees maist ferlies") - which are usually Anglicised in other collections of Scots proverbs (e.g. "They wha live langest see maist ferlies") in spite of their attestation in practically every scholarly treatment of Scots since Sir James Murray.

Many of the apparent problems with Doric vis-a-vis Scots are owing to the lack of status of the language, which has encouraged both Doric and Central Scots to be written as they are pronounced - as that is perceived in relation to English spelling conventions - rather than using an orthography which would serve both equally well. Doric speakers are understandably put off by the reproduction of Central phonetics in spellings like 'yaise" (use) and 'flair' (floor), exacerbated by the fact that much written Scots is either urban demotic or of an apparently inaccessible literary variety (sometimes written by people who are not themselves Scots speakers). Recognition of underlying linguistic features such as the diaphonemic UI spelling, which is regularly pronounced as 'i' or 'ae' in Central Scots and as 'ee' in the North East, means that these words are properly spelt 'uise' and 'fluir', and could be read equally well with a Doric ('eeze', 'fleer') as with a Central ('yaize', 'flair') accent.

It is remarkable, when one considers the huge variety of pronunciations which are covered by the orthographies of English and Gaelic, that such obvious and practical measures for the written use of Scots should not be generally recognised or implemented; and remarkable that some who accept without demur the amount of silent endings which must be learned in French, not to mention the illogicalities of English spelling, should dismiss simple and regular correspondences between orthography and pronunciation, such as the Doric realisation of UI as 'ee', as impractical. In general, an elementary purpose of linguistic education is to reinforce such correspondences between orthography and pronunciation in order to achieve competence in the use of the written as well as the spoken language. There is no convincing reason why the purpose of education in Scots should differ essentially from this approach, which is assumed in the case of any other language including Gaelic; nor how any worthwhile result can be achieved in Scots education by attempting to circumvent a primary stage which is, in the case of any other language, recognised as fundamental. The fact that present day Doric speakers do not recognise that the word which is conventionally written 'spuin' should in their accent be pronounced 'speen', but instead are apt to pronounce it 'spewin', is not an indication that Scots dialects are irreconcilable, but an example of illiteracy in ones native tongue which would be appalling were it to be transferred to English; and any Scots - or, indeed, Scottish - education which does not seek to remedy such elementary shortcomings is scarcely worthy of the name.

There is, furthermore, a problem with the definition of Doric. The word has the connotation of 'rustic dialect' - thus tending to emphasise the present status of the language as an unwritten vernacular - and was once used to describe the local dialects of Scots in various areas of Scotland. It is also difficult to define Doric geographically - for example, as you go South from Aberdeen the characteristic 'f ' turns to 'wh' in increasing categories of words until it disappears. If there were a specific differentiation of Doric from Scots, and this were to percolate into school level education, it would be difficult to decide where to draw a line. In this respect, the differentiation of Doric depends largely on the presupposition that Scots is likely always to be regarded as the sum of its dialects and never likely to be given a secure place in the educational policies of the nation as a whole - a view which is both contrary to the principle that Scots should be treated according to the same basic principles as Gaelic, and manifestly a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Again, neither of these problems is true of Shetlandic and Orcadian. Firstly there is no problem of geographical definition for either of these tongues. Secondly, the designations of 'Shetlandic' and 'Orcadian' do not contain any intrinsic connotations of rustic or vernacular status of the kind which are arguably associated with the term 'Doric'. The only dialect of Mainland Scotland which could possibly be differentiated from Scots on a similar basis to that of Shetlandic and Orcadian is not the Doric of the North East, but the dialects of Caithness and Avoch.

In some respects, the fact that Shetlandic and Orcadian cannot be treated as Scots is a disadvantage. It would have been convenient if the dialects of the Northern Isles could have been subsumed under Scots, as those of the Western Isles can be subsumed under Gaelic; but, for the reasons given above, this would not be practicable. And this being the case, although it might be possible in theory to include Shetlandic and Orcadian under a single definition of 'Insular Scots', the lack of relevant contact between these two communities means that this would have no obvious practical benefits. But, in view of the undoubted traditional Scots nature of the North East, the obvious benefits to the Scots language of incorporating the distinctive elements of Doric under a universally applicable definition of Scots, and the obvious benefits to Doric speakers of literacy under a common Scots orthography, any explicit differentiation of Doric from Scots (as opposed to recognition of Doric as a distinctive form of Scots) must be regarded as undesirable.


Practical Examples.

According to the principle that demarcation of Anglic varieties should be undertaken on the basis of their practical utility in a context of literacy, the following examples illustrate the problems associated with writing both Shetlandic and Doric as standard Scots.

A. Doric.

1.

a)

Gweed kens fa pit it in - ah weel, no, gweed kens an I ken, an it wisna me, but gin I tellt ye, some een mith get tae hear o't, an syne ere'd be ower mony maisters, as e taid said till e harra. Weel, there wis nae dogs an nae cats aboot e hoose, an nae ither kind o beas tae ait it, an ye couldna mak porrich or brose wi't - nae unless ye wis ready tae pick caff oot o yer chowdlers for e rest o e day. I niver speert far it cam fae, bit intill e glory hole it geed, a plastic baggie o bran that mith ay a come in handy for something.

From: Glory Hole, by Sandy Fenton (original spelling.)

b)

Guid kens wha pat it in - ah weel, no, guid kens an I ken, an it wisna me, but gin I telt ye, some ane micht get ti hear o't, an syne thare'd be ower monie maisters, as the taid sayed til the harrae. Weel, thare wis nae dugs an nae cats aboot the hoose, an nae ither kynd o beas ti aet it, an ye cuidna mak parritch or brose wi't - no unless ye wis ready ti pick caff oot o yer chowdlers for the rest o the day. I niver speirt whaur it cam frae, but intil the glory hole it gaed, a plastic baggie o bran at micht aye hae come in haundy for something.

Same thing in a more standard Scots spelling.

The extract from Sandy Fenton illustrates the main characteristics of the Doric pronunciation - 'f ' for 'wh' (fa - wha; far - whaur); 'een' for 'ane'; omission of initial 'th-' (e - the; ere - thare); 'ee' for the UI phoneme (gweed - guid). In addition there are a few characteristic Doric pronunciations ('mith' for 'micht', owing to phonetic assimilation of the 't' and 'ch' sounds; 'dog' for 'dug' ) and grammar ('nae unless' for 'no unless'). It's notable, however, that Fenton uses the English spelling 'could' rather than emphasising the Doric pronunciation 'cwid'. Other differences from the more standard Scots version are due not so much to a Doric/Scots dichotomy as to a general levelling of orthography and grammar in the second version. The traditional past tense 'pat' has become 'pit' in most Scots dialects, not just Doric, and is therefore a general characteristic of vernacular as opposed to traditional braid Scots; and other differences - such as 'speirt' v. 'speert'; 'telt' rather than 'tellt', 'ti' rather than 'tae' - are merely matters of spelling convention.

The type of spelling in the second version is often criticised by linguistic and literary commentators for disguising the sound of local dialects (though in fact, if correspondences such as that of UI to Doric 'ee' are understood, it does not). But we do not usually hear the corollary argument that the spelling of standard English should not exist because it disguises the respective pronunciations of a Yorkshire, Somerset, Edinburgh or London accent. In fact, this criticism depends upon the presupposition that all the Anglic varieties are ultimately dialects of English, and that therefore only standard English should have a standard spelling. This presupposition, which effectively denies Scots a separate existence from English, is not only questionable from a linguistic, cultural and historical standpoint, but also decisively detrimental from the point of view of language viability, because it denies Scots the enormous benefits which accrue from literacy and a recognisable identity, effectively conspiring to allocate these decisive advantages exclusively to the already predominant and rapidly encroaching standard English.

This is illustrated in the approach variously expressed by James Robertson in the introduction to A Tongue in yer Heid, a book of short stories in Scots from which many of the examples in this paper are taken, in which he expresses the opinion that one of the strengths of Scots lies in its less than respectable status; quotes approvingly the view of William McIlvanney that Scots is like English in its underwear; and considers that the reason for developing Scots is not that it should articulate everything, but that it should articulate things which, for whatever reason, English cannot. The implication - that Scots should be regarded as the Cinderella language of Scotland, deliberately maintained in rags and tatters in order to perform tasks which would be demeaning to standard English - is the opposite of the view taken by this paper.

It is obvious that the differences between the two versions above are similar to the variations in pronunciation which occur in any language which has a standard orthography - such as, for example, the difference between Received Pronunciation and Scottish Standard English - and that therefore Doric can be written in a standard Scots orthography, using variations from it to indicate specific Doric characteristics (e.g.: 'dog', 'fan') where desired.

2.

a)

A bourich o preens
That's quick tae fleg;
Twa bitticks o' een
An a wee, wee neb;
Come scooshlin oot, wi the starry mune
Fin whins are dark an the walks are teem.

From: Hedgehogs, by Sheena Blackhall.

b)

A bourach o preins
At's quick ti fleg;
Twa bittocks o een
An a wee, wee neb;
Come scoushlin oot, wi the starry muin
Whan whins ar dark an the walks ar tuim.

Same, differently spelt.

This poem shows the half-way house between quasi-phonetic dialect and general Scots spelling which often appears in the work of Doric writers. Particularly notable in this case are the spellings of 'mune' but 'teem', even though these words both have the same vowel sound ('ee' in Doric, 'i' in Central Scots, usual spelling UI); the use of OU in the classic spelling 'bourach' but of the more obviously phonetic OO in 'scooshlin'; and the use of F in 'fin' (general Scots 'whan') but WH in 'whins', even though the Doric pronunciation is 'funs'. Also, in a curious reversal of the usual Doric practice of omitting initial 'th', the form 'that' is used for the relative pronoun, which many non-Doric Scots writers standardise as 'at'. Like that of many Doric writers, the spelling of Sheena Blackhall (who regards Scots as an oral language and professes a total disinterest in spelling) contains many spellings which are classic Scots rather than quasi-phonetic dialect spellings, such as 'toun', 'mou', 'heid', 'frae', and even 'bluid'. Elsewhere, she writes 'abune' (Doric 'abeen').

Similarly, on pages 134-135 of Poetry of Northeast Scotland, the same word is spelt 'grupe' and 'greep' on facing pages, and glossed separately. It is often the case that words which are more often seen in standard Scots spellings - such as 'guid' and 'bluid' - are spelt that way by Doric writers, while other, rather less common words are spelt quasi-phonetically - a state of affairs which would not be appreciated were it to spill over into our spelling of English. It would appear from this that only lack of familiarity with a written standard Scots prevents Doric writers from spelling most words using standard spellings. The Scots of many writers who hail from Doric-speaking areas, such as Alexander Scott and Alistair Mackie, is closer still to a standard-type orthography, and they obviously consider their language to be Scots. By contrast, William J. Tait, a Shetland poet who lived in Edinburgh and was involved with the Scots literary movement, found it necessary to write Scots and Shetlandic poems separately, and described Scots from the Shetlandic point of view as "An alien though allied tradition." The experience of such practitioners should not be regarded lightly.

Finally, Doric is not alone in the tendency for its pronunciation to be spelt phonetically, or in exhibiting differences from a more standard form, as the following example shows:

3.

a)

He goat the idea offy the telly. Heard oan the news this Chinese boy hud ritten 2000 characters oan a singul grainy rice. Well o coarse, he kidny write Chinese an he dooted if thur wiz any rice in the hoose (unless mebby in the Chinky cartons fi last nite).

From: A Wee Tatty, by Alison Kermack.

b)

He gat the idea aff o the telly. Haurd on the news this Chinese boy haed written 2000 characters on a single grain o rice. Weel o coorse, he coudna write Chinese an he doutit if thare wis onie rice in the hoose (unless mibbie in the Chinky cartons frae last nicht.)

Same thing in a more standard Scots spelling.

In this case, in order to turn the prose of Alison Kermack, who hails from Edinburgh, into a more standard Scots it has been necessary to borrow several features which are characteristic of Doric, but are not apparently characteristic of the more Anglicised Edinburgh dialect.


B. Shetlandic

1.

a)

Hit wis a dead branch, nae doot aboot dat. Not a laef kind. Ruinin da laekly o me guid sycamore. I lowsed til him wi da saa.

Heth, it wisna an aesy job. I vargit on for da swaet wis hailin aff o me, an still da branch hoeld. Maybe he wisna as dead as I towt.

Maybe I wis just vyndless wi a saa. Joannie wid a smiled if he could a seen me. Mair laekly, da saa wis blunt. Whan wid he a been sharpened last?

I wis just steppin back ta get me braeth, when I wis awaar o a car haalin in at da fit o wir rodd. Well, tinks I, isn' dat a seeknin? You sit your loef alane night ower night wi da ill wadder, but da meenit da sun shines an you want ta be furt, der sure ta be veesitors.

Oh weel, hit laekly widna be dry lang onywye. Dey wir black cloods hingin ida ert. I pat da saa back ida shed.

Da faces in da car wis aa lookin up at da hoose. Dey solisted a meenit, dan a blue-cled wife got oot, an da car set aff for da nordert.

From: Dead Branches, by Laureen Johnson.

b)

Hit wis a *deid branch, nae dout aboot that. No a *leaf kynd. Ruinin the *likely o my guid sycamore. I lowsed til *him wi the saw.

Haith, it wisna an aesy job. I *vargit on *for the *sweit wis hailin aff o me, an still the branch *huild. Maybe *he wisna as *deid as I thocht.

Maybe I wis juist *vyndless wi a saw. Joannie wad hae smiled if he cuid hae seen me. Mair *likely, the saw wis blunt. Whan wad *he hae been sharpened last?

I wis juist steppin back ti get my braeth, whan I wis awaur o a car haulin in at the fit o wir *road. Weel, thinks I, isn' that a *seiknin? You sit your *luif alane nicht ower nicht wi the ill wather, but the meinit the sun shines an you want ti be furth, the'r shuir ti be veisitors.

Oh weel, hit *likely wadna be dry lang oniewey. The war black cloods hingin i the airt. I pat the saw back i the shed.

The faces in the car wis aa leukin up at the hoose. Thay *salistit a meinit, than a blue-cled wife gat oot, an the car set aff for the northart.

Same thing, in a standard Scots spelling.

Here the asterisks show areas of difficulty, whether owing to meanings, words or usages different from Scots as represented in the Concise Scots Dictionary, or words where a standard Scots spelling misrepresents the underlying Shetlandic phonology (in Shetlandic, *heid, *leaf, *sweit, *likely and 'braeth' all have the same phoneme [e], distinct from sounds in other words spelt EE, EI and AI (e.g. 'screed' [i], 'meid' [i:], 'baith' [e:]) and would logically all be spelt with AE. Note that these anomalies do not include (a) words or usages (such as 'northart') which are listed in CSD as being now peculiar to the Northern Isles or the North and North East, or (b) differences such as the correspondence of Shetlandic D to general Scots TH, which are phonetic and (almost) regular, and similar in principle to the correspondence of Doric F to general Scots WH. All such instances - which can be compared to similar differences between Doric and general Scots - are passed over without an asterisk.

This example of Shetlandic is written in the dialect tradition, with inconsistent spellings and several examples of Anglicism which would be avoided in a more deliberate Shetlandic. Nevertheless, it contains three everyday non-Scots words ('varg', 'vynd' and 'salist'), and several forms and usages (e.g. 'laekly', in the general sense of 'appearance'; 'for' in the sense of 'until'; 'lowse til'; 'seeknin'; 'huild'; 'luif (rather than lief ) alane'; use of gender pronouns for inanimate objects) which are either not Scots, or are not typical of Scots as a whole. Indeed, part of the problem with writing Shetlandic as standard Scots is that it is not at all clear to a Shetlandic speaker which words and usages are Scots and which are not.

2.

Da Lammas spates, laek flyooget aets
Abön a flakki laavin,
Fell frae da lift wi a heavy drift
Da sam as an hit'd been kaavin.

Da burns aa rase abön da braes
Fir stanks an stripes wir tömed in,
Till every lyoag whaar an eel could oag
A neesik micht a swömed in.

From: Eels, by James Stout Angus.

(Note: the above is from an anthology, which may not represent the original spelling.)
These two verses contain the following words which are (apparently, because part of the problem is finding out) not attested in Scots:

flyoog - to winnow
flakki - a winnowing cloth
laav - to hover
kaav - to snow
lyoag - hollow
oag - crawl
neesik - porpoise

The rhymes of 'kaavin'/'laavin' and 'lyoag'/'oag' show that these words were not chosen in order to put in as many non-English (or non-Scots) words as possible, but for literary effect - both for their sound, and in order to paint a graphic picture of the scene. This demonstrates the literary resource which the unique Shetlandic vocabulary offers to creative writers, a resource which - unlike the characteristic vocabulary of Doric - cannot be accommodated within the scope of Scots.

The question of Shetlandic phonology, and of the inappropriateness of any standard Scots spelling for adequately representing the Shetlandic pronunciation, would require a more detailed treatment than it is possible to give here. It must be emphasised, however, that where the differences between Doric and a properly constituted spelling of Scots are mostly (a) regular and (b) phonetic, the differences between Shetlandic and any reasonable system for spelling Scots are often (a) irregular and (b) phonological. This means that, whereas correspondences between the Doric pronunciation and a properly constituted Scots spelling are largely predictable, and can therefore be easily learned for purposes of reading and spelling, the correspondences between Shetlandic and Scots are often unpredictable, and therefore the relationship between a standard Scots spelling and the Shetlandic pronunciation would often be arbitrary and misleading.


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:25 am 
I ken it's affa lang, but the airticle argees th case weel fir yaisin NE Doric as a staunart fir aw Scots yaisage.

Ah'll jist need tae mind and tak oot 'ai' fin it shid be 'ee'.


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:29 pm 
Wha scrievit this yin ma trusty fere? Gey intrestin fur shair....


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:21 pm 
LeJockSportif wrote:
I ken it's affa lang, but the airticle argees th case weel fir yaisin NE Doric as a staunart fir aw Scots yaisage.


If a leid becomes staunart does it no end up a bastart leid like modren Soothren?


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:26 pm 
MacMadd wrote:
LeJockSportif wrote:
I ken it's affa lang, but the airticle argees th case weel fir yaisin NE Doric as a staunart fir aw Scots yaisage.


If a leid becomes staunart does it no end up a bastart leid like modren Soothren?


No, it simplifies it to the extent that one Scot can understand another without hindrance. I don't want English to be our common leid - don't get me wrong, in my heart I'd prefer Gaidhlig as the working language of the nation but unadulterated, un anglified Scots is a close second.


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:54 pm 
John M. Tait Shaeltan Scots and Mainlan Scots scholar says:

"...we read bi sicht as weel as soond. Speir at maist Scots-speakin fowk an thay'll tell ye at thay finnd Scots - e'en thair ain dialect o't - haurd ti read an write. The idea at Scots disna need spellin guidelines micht seem ti be leiberal, but in fact it's elitist, cause it twines Scots-speakin fowk o leiteracy i thair ain langage. It micht be aaricht for thaim at uises English for maist aathing an likes ti play thairsels wi Scots whiles, but it dis naething for the lounie at haedna the pictur."


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:20 pm 
LeJockSportif wrote:
No, it simplifies it to the extent that one Scot can understand another without hindrance. I don't want English to be our common leid - don't get me wrong, in my heart I'd prefer Gaidhlig as the working language of the nation but unadulterated, un anglified Scots is a close second.



Ma pynt wasnae the fact o makin English oor comon leid but the fact that English has been staunerised fir years and staunerisin tak the colour o local dialects oot o a leid. Haein abody speakin the Doric wid be the same as abody in England speakin Sooth Eastrin eventually leadin tae a Scottish version o Estuary or RP. Helped alang wi meddlin frae academia.

Sayin that A've nae problems personally if a haed tae lear the Doric

The reason Scots dinnae ken thair leid scrieved is cause the niver see it scrieved


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:07 am 
MacMadd wrote:


Ma pynt wasnae the fact o makin English oor comon leid but the fact that English has been staunerised fir years and staunerisin tak the colour o local dialects oot o a leid.


English has only managed standardisation in the written form though, despite measures taken by the Empire behind it. Look at Yorkshire, look at Cork. I think it's a non-argument to be honest.

Quote:
Haein abody speakin the Doric wid be the same as abody in England speakin Sooth Eastrin eventually leadin tae a Scottish version o Estuary or RP. Helped alang wi meddlin frae academia.
But only in written form would this apply. Sicilians still speak Sicilian even though they can all read and write Std Italian. The speech there is as colourful as it ever was and it's spoken with pride.

Quote:
Sayin that A've nae problems personally if a haed tae lear the Doric
Well, that's because you are a patriot and you appreciate the value of it. I agree and I think It would reintroduce a lot of what was lost in parts of the central belt.

Quote:
The reason Scots dinnae ken thair leid scrieved is cause the niver see it scrieved


Come up wi that on yer ain did ye? Or was it when I put it in my previous post here and in another thread? :spank:


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:10 am 
LeJockSportif wrote:
English has only managed standardisation in the written form though, despite measures taken by the Empire behind it. Look at Yorkshire, look at Cork. I think it's a non-argument to be honest.


That's no as fowk frae Yorkshire (or Northumbria) wid tell it. Thay fear thair spoken dialects are deein oot

LeJockSportif wrote:
Quote:
The reason Scots dinnae ken thair leid scrieved is cause the niver see it scrieved


Come up wi that on yer ain did ye? Or was it when I put it in my previous post here and in another thread? :spank:


Ye dinnae think a read that lang post at the tap did ye? :gullible-smiley:


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:35 pm 
MacMadd wrote:
That's no as fowk frae Yorkshire (or Northumbria) wid tell it. Thay fear thair spoken dialects are deein oot


Well, they're holding up well considering the length of time they've supposed to have been speaking Betty's Leid. The decline of English dialects has been down to broadcasting, not a standardisation.

LeJockSportif wrote:
Ye dinnae think a read that lang post at the tap did ye? :gullible-smiley:


Aye, i did sortay aye. I quoted words to that effect in the wee paragraph in the middle too. :Worried that I'm wasting my feckin time posting anything more than 2 sentences long smiley:


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:31 am 
LeJockSportif wrote:
I think It would reintroduce a lot of what was lost in parts of the central belt



Ah've jist haed a lovely weekend listenin tae the 'Rebel Heilaners', Bruce 'n wee Rab 'n his Guid Mrs spikkin wur Eastern Lallans. Lik music it wis....


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 Post subject: Re: Shaeltan
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:32 am 
Amangst mony ithers o course!


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