Inconvenient truths about Scots
Timed to coincide with the annual celebration of Robert Burns, pictured right, the TESS article reporting that few teachers, schools and students were taking up Scots language studies was disappointing to many ("The best-laid plans of Scots speakers", 23 January). Much effort was given to gaining legal recognition for Scots in 2001. Surely it deserves more support? After all, as Education Scotland's website reports, "Scots was the official state language of Scotland for around 400 years."
Or maybe most Scots are just a good deal cannier than Scots-language enthusiasts give them credit for. The idea that Scottish dialects are the remnants of a once independent language was popularised by John Jamieson in his celebrated 1808 work Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language. From the 1920s the Scots language was "weaponised" by early nationalists such as Hugh MacDiarmid. Most material available today stems from works written by enthusiasts in the 1980s.
Sadly, many assertions relating to the Scots language are historical bunkum - the narrative made convincing only by carefully excising from history an overwhelming multitude of inconvenient facts. As long ago as 1873 James Murray's definitive study The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland blew apart the mythology. The unwelcome historical truth is that the indigenous language of lowland Scots has always been English. Those who doubt it need only check the archives of the Scottish Parliament.
Parents, teachers and students are right to be wary of Scots language studies. The notorious "Ossian" deception of the 18th century marked a low point in Scotland's academic reputation. Happily, boycotting Scots language studies in schools serves to prevent a similar scandal from sullying Scotland's reputation in the 21st century.
Freelance writer and researcher
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At Glasgow Climbing Centre with my boys. Every day is a chance to learn something new! Our holiday theme: you'll never know if you don't try.
Thank you to everyone who came to the hospitality session today at Easter school. #stars @drumchapelhigh
#ohsnewyork. Nearly there! Remember your passports and dollars and be at Oban High School for 5am.
Big well done to all who attended Higher study support today. Energy slightly depleted this afternoon but still worthwhile.
Original Minder with Terry and Arthur and a cup of coffee - you can't beat a week off.
Getting quite excited about the general election - the fact that the result is unknown makes teaching about it so much fun.
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