The First Minister, the blogosphere, and a 2000 year history of Scotland’s languages

First things first.  We’d like to congratulate our friends at Newsnet Scotland for what is quite a scoop. Namely, persuading Scotland’s First Minister to pen a thoughtful article for their publication.  (You can read it in full here).  It’s an indication of how far the Newsnet Scotland team have come in a short period of time.

In Alex Salmond’s article is the explicit admission he has read, and enjoyed, the recent ten part series on the History of the Languages of Scotland featured on Newsnet.  This is worthy of further comment for two reasons:

Firstly, could anyone seriously imagine Iain Gray, Tavish Scott or Annabel Goldie sat in front of a screen reading a ten part series on the history of Scotland’s languages? Chewing over the evolution of our spoken tongues through the last two thousand years?  For the life of me I can’t imagine them even remotely interested in the subject.  Which is one small reason why I don’t want any of them to get their hands on the levers of Scottish government.

Secondly, I hear that Alex Salmond isn’t the only member of the Scottish government who reads, or receives updates, on what is being said on the Scottish blogosphere.  This is encouraging as it opens up lines of indirect communication between citizen journalists and government.  Despite frequent sour grapes and badmouthing in the mainstream media the standard of writing and thinking on the blogosphere has come a long way since the knockabout fun on blogs such as The Scottish Patient. Nowadays the blogosphere is every bit as useful as the mainstream media when it comes to both developing ideas as well as tracking current thinking and opinions.  In many ways, even more so.

(NB: I wouldn’t consider Newsnet Scotland as a mere blog anymore. Over the last 12 months the remit of NS has widened.  It has impressive rostrum of informed writers , the volume of daily news features has become substantial, and its development as an important online media news source has progressed much further than the blogosphere.  My own online perusal of the Scottish media often begins in the morning with the BBC, The Scotsman, The Herald and Newsnet.  NS has justifiably earned its place as one of Scotland’s four key daily news sources.)

Alex Salmond’s article was published on Newsnet Scotland the day after a column appeared in the Scotsman by Gerry Hassan  Whatever happened to Scotland’s salon society‘  bemoaning the dearth of public debating space in Scotland, at least for facilitating informed joined-up political discourse. As Gerry notes the blogosphere hasn’t yet plugged that gap.  How that gap can be addressed, in imaginative, constructive ways, is a challenge still to be met.  At Bella we intend to play our part.

THE HISTORY OF THE LANGUAGES OF SCOTLAND

Since this series was so good here’s a full set of handy links to all ten of the articles – all written by Paul Kavanagh.  Feel free to pass them around.

Part 1. An Introduction To The Series.

Part 2. 00 AD – The Birth of the Picts

Part 3. 600 AD – The Spread of Old Irish and Old English

Part 4. 800 AD – The Picts and the Gaels Merge

Part 5 1000 AD – The Arrival of the Norse

Part 6 1200 – The Emergence of Scots

Part 7 1400 – The Spread of the Kingis Scottis

Part 8 1600 – The End of the Golden Age of Scots

Part 9 1800 – The Minoritisation of Gaelic and Scots

Part 10 2000 – Retreat and Loss, and Fresh Shoots of Hope

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  1. Background reader says:

    Hi Kevin

    I too think Newsnet has grown into something good and positive and it certainly fills a yawning gap in political news coverage in Scotland, they deserve a lot of credit and I look forward to it growing even more over the coming months.

    It’s not so long ago that people were decrying the blogosphere in Scotland but I’ve always found it relatively healthy. I was extremely concerned when I heard that Bella could be ending as it brings a richness of articles and writings that you just don’t get elsewhere.

    Whereas Newsnet is excellent at reporting news I think Bella gets us thinking about events before they sometimes happens. It also forces you to question and explore more deeply some of the topics that are raised and for that I’m extremely grateful.

    Throw in the excellent Go Lassie Go, Ideas of Civilisation, Lallands Peat Warrior, Better Nation, A Burdz Eye View, etc, and it shows the wealth and diversity that’s out there.

    Yes there are indeed some big gaps yet to be filled in ‘public’ forums but I think the blogosphere is currently quite healthy.

    Long may Bella and the rest of the sites flourish as they help us to think and contribute to what’s best for Scotland.

  2. Tocasaid says:

    Tavish effin Scott? Dinny get ees started… did see a pic of him taking part in Up Helly A though.

    Good to see Newsnet go from strength to strength though.

    http://tocasaid.blogspot.com/2011/02/egypt-and-evil-that-is-tavish-scott.html

  3. European says:

    The links to the articles on Scotland’s languages have changed (some kind of admin problem) but they’ve been updated in my comment under Part 10 – if you want to pick them up and replace the dead links above.

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