Difference between Scots and Gibberish

Oh dear.


Let us leave aside the sentiment. Linguistically, this is nonsense.

Scots is not just makey-uppy English; it is a linguistic system in its own right and, despite the lack of an absolute standard, that system has rules – including with regard to spelling.

This should in fact read something like: we soudna be takkin the fit aff the undependence accelerator, we soud be pressin it tae the fluir! Like Wallace, nou isna the time for faint herts – it’s the time for bauld new braveherts!

The most obvious confusion concerns the digraph ‘ui‘, as in guid ‘good’. This has a very specific pronunciation (although it varies from dialect to dialect, it is always higher than in English), which is distinct from the ‘ou‘ in soud/shoud ‘should’ (pronounced more or less as in English) and the ‘i‘ in fit ‘foot’. In fact, the only word in which it actually appears is spelled in the original to suggest a different pronunciation – in fact the vowel in fluir ‘floor’ is pronounced in Scots as in guid (the original ‘flair’ is just nonsense). There is more to writing Scots than just guessing based on English pronunciation.

Even in this small section, there are other obvious errors and inconsistencies, notably ‘bold’ (actually if it is auld ‘old’ it must, etymologically and phonologically, be bauld ‘bold’).

The problem with the promotion of Scots in Scotland has for some time been the reverse of the problem for Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland and Donegal. In Scotland, the tendency is to go too close to English; in Northern Ireland, the tendency is to go too far away. In both cases, however, the result too often is a completely inconsistent mess with no basis on good linguistic practice.

Underlying this particular piece (and, it must be said, others like it in the same paper) seems to be the rather ludicrous notion that because someone is Scottish they can automatically speak and write Scots. Actually the vast majority of Scots speak and write English, albeit with notable Scots influence. Scots itself, however, is a different linguistic system with its own etymological, literary and orthographical heritage – something you would think independence supporters would recognise! Like anything else, it must be learned properly before it is used – otherwise the result just looks like scunnersom haivers.




2 thoughts on “Difference between Scots and Gibberish

  1. good anaysis -how do you know all this info?

  2. […] response to this piece last week, one Scot responded arguing that Scots could not survive unless people were allowed to […]

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