16224346396A Guid New Year tae ye! And a new year challenge tae ye and aw.

We here at the Scots bittie o Bella Caledonia cordially invite ye tae render the Scots language that’s in yer heid, hert and mooth intae prose and tae reflect in the Mither Tongue in ony wey ye wish on this bonnie birkie eemis stane o a planet.

Mibbe ye awready write in Scots. If ye dae, gie’s yer thochts on the kittlie fashious issues o the day. Tell us whit’s gettin on yer wick and up yer neb in guid braid scrievit Scots.

But mibbe ye’ve no written in Scots afore. Mibbe it’s never crossed yer mind. But if Scots is a pairt o ye, yin wey tae care for it and gie it meanin is tae write in it.

But it’s nae blame if ye havenae. There micht be reasons for that. There’s yer education for a stert.

Likely ye didnae learn how tae write in Scots at the schuil. Mibbe ye learned a poem by Rabbie, mibbe there wis a teacher that telt ye a bit aboot Scots and its history. Mibbe ye got thumped for speakin it. William McIvanney kent aw aboot it.

‘”What’s wrong with your face, Docherty?”
“Skint ma nose, sur.”
“How?”
“Ah fell an bumped ma nose in the sheuch, sur.”
“I beg your pardon?”

In the pause, Conn understands the nature of the choice, tremblingly, compulsively, makes it.

“Ah fell an bumped ma heid in the sheuch, sur.”

The blow is instant. His ear seems to enlarge, is muffled in numbness. But it is only the dread of tears that hurts. Mr Pirrie distends on a lozenge of light which mustn’t be allowed to break.

It doesn’t. Conn hasn’t cried.

“That, Docherty, is impertinence. You will translate, please, into the mother-tongue…”
“I’m waiting, Docherty. What happened?”
“I bumped my head, sir.”
“Where? Where did you bump it, Docherty?”
“In the gutter, sir.”
“Not an inappropriate setting for you, if I may say so.”‘

If it’s been a sair enough fecht juist speakin Scots in Scotland, writin it is even sairer. I went through the same as a lot o ma generation at the schule – the confusion, the beltin, the anxiety. It led me at first tae hate masel for speakin Scots and then tae reject that sel-loathin by stertin tae write in it. I suppose I wis tryin tae find a wey tae mak ma language real tae me. Folk telt me at ivry step whit I wis daein wis wrang, a waste o time. It didnae seem tae maitter tae them when I said it wis richt for me. But it wis.

Naebody has tae write in Scots as doesnae want tae. But accordin tae the 2011 Census, a third o us claim tae speak it.

Schules is different noo tae. Giein credit whaur credit’s due, the Scottish Government hae pit in place a wheen positive initiatives that are helpin tae raise the leid’s profile. But when pushed, even they admit they could be daein a lot mair.

As a Scots author veesitin schules and communities, I’ve come across hunners o bairns and adults wi stories tae tell o bullyin and abuse for speakin their mither tongue. A lass reduced tae tears by her heid teacher  shoutin at her that she’ll ‘never amount to anything in life’. A lad refused by his English teachers his request for classes aboot Scots because it is ‘not a language, it is common slang’. Ootside schule, kids telt by adults tae speak ‘posh’ and tae no speak like ‘junkies’.  Interviewers privately admittin tae rejectin viable job applicants because they were Scots speakers. Ma venerable Bella colleague, Billy Kay, bein telt in the comments section o this wabsite that the Scots language is ‘pish’.

Explorin oor Scots sels by writin in this bonnie broukit leid micht juist hae a personal therapeutic value and a national ane as weel.

Sae how dae ye write in Scots? Weel, ye juist write in it. There is nae set wey o spellin or standard Scots. The language has been dunted that mony times it has never been alloued tae develop ane/yin/een/wan. There’s a nummer o dialects. Chose the ane that’s closest tae yer hert or yer experience and wark wi that. Look for examples o Scots writin. They’re no hard tae find. See whit’s awready here on Bella. And juist write. Juist scrieve. Say whit’s in yer heid and hert and say it in Scots.

The mair we write in Scots, the harder it’ll be for ithers tae say it’s pish. The mair Scots is written doon, the mair articles and comment folk see in Scots, the mair shilpit the cringe will be. And that fundamental pairt o us will be less unco and alien in the country whaur it’s ane o oor mither tongues.

Submissions tae: bellasletters@yahoo.co.uk

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