A Year o Scots

Scotland-map-web2Bella, tak a bow. Roon o applause, peepul. Aabody that wants the Scots language tae stey a pairt o Scottish life and no dee the daith some wid wish it, gie it up for Bella Caledonia.

A year efter Bella spiered for scrievin in Scots, there are noo forty pieces in the leid that werenae thocht o and widnae hae had a hame a towmond syne.

And yit here they are.

Scrievit in aw dialects, registers and forms by folk fae aw the airts, pairts and vennels o life. At the hin-end o this wud heeliegoleerie year, backward cast an ee and read it aw again. Enjoy. Reflect. See whit we as a language community can dae when we pit wir heid and hert tae it.

And wi the New Year forenent us, we wid noo like tae mak the same caw for mair scrievin in the Mither Tongue in 2017.

Subject? Up tae you. Whit’s on yer mind? Whit’s kittlin yer conscience? Whit’s rippin yer knittin? You tell us. Share it wi us. And dae it in Scots.

And whit kin o Scots?

The Scots neuk on Bella is for aabody. Naebody’s language is barred fae oor braid Scots kirk; this, oor watergaw ceilidh. In the aye-singin speerit o Hamish, it’s a freedom come-aa-ye sae come ben as ye are.

2016 saw great, gallus Scots scrievin in aw 31 flavours o the language aboot Yes, Brexit, futba, the Private Rentit Hoose Sector, BBC, education, the Pairlament, the leid itsel, Violet Jacob and William McIlvanney. Prose, poems, films – lyrical, carnaptious; fu o mense, smeddum and polemic virr. And aw thir by folk sharin their ain personal stories and experiences, even a Jamaican Fifer and a Frenchman.

The maist rewardin pairt o it for me, as I’m shair the ither Bella editors wid say and aw, has been publishin new Scots makars, folk scrievin in Scots for the first time. As Karen Campbell signed aff her honest hertfelt first written piece in Scots back in Januar, ‘A’m still runnin they new shoes in.’

Certes, juist aboot ilka Scots piece publisht on Bella brocht oot the trowies that hate the Scots language. If the cringers and hoodies and the Scots language skelpers lowp ontae their keyboards tae batter oot ‘Scots is NOT a language’ aboot a Scots piece ye’ve juist had publisht on Bella, ye ken ye’re daein somethin richt. Tae borry fae Mhairi Black’s stotter fae Hansard, ‘Hell slap it intae them’.

And we want tae extend the caw for new Scots scrievin in 2017 on Bella Caledonia tae the online Scots language activist community and aw.

A diverse menyie o committit Scots supporters, their views o the leid are aye positive and undauntit but whiles skail owre intae flytin fae concern aboot the spellin o publisht scrievers’ Scots.

Sic fashin and attendant snashin aboot spellin fae ahint the bunkers o social media has scunnered and pit aff at least a dizzen folk fae tryin their haun at publishin in Scots on Bella this year.

It is shairly in aabody’s interest tae foster the confidence tae scrieve in the Scots leid, no huckle it as soon’s it’s roadit. Aiblins it’s mair constructive tae encourage new scrievin in Scots, or for activists themsels tae scrieve pieces for Bella in whit micht in time be taen up as a standard.

The Bella editors aa agree that the estaiblishment o a standard Scots has a role tae play in the general acceptance o the Scots language in oor society. And there’s nae doot eneuch dictionars and exemplars exist for a standard Scots tae be recognised and promotit.

But until ane is universally acceptit, we defend the richt o aw scrievers tae spell their Scots in ony wey they want, and wid mak the point it’s no the wyte o Scotland’s makars and scrievers that the Scots leid is the bonnie broukit bairn or the Rashiecoats o Scottish society that is the day. In fact, if it wisnae for makars like MacDiarmid or Morgan or Lochhead and ithers, whaur wid we be?

Makars, activists, aw o us that uphaud Scots as a national language o Scotland should wark thegither tae pressure the pouers that be tae dae mair for Scots. We hae a Scottish Pairlament and a Scottish Nationalist government that barely tholes the Scots leid forby in the maist tokenistic o weys. They hae the nummers fae the 2011 Census at their disposal – 1.6 million oot o 5 million speak Scots – sae why are the Scots speakers aye at the dowp-end o the queue for provision, siller and respect?

Bella Caledonia is whaur extremes meet. Folk dinna haud back on here and shouldna. It is ane o the forums for debate and intellectual rammies whaur the mettle o the Scots language can be pouked and testit. In 2017 and ayont, Bella will weelcome and share in guid faith aw views aboot the leid and the bleezin political and social issues o the day.

Settin yer thochts and comments doon in five hunner tae a thoosan words in flegless Scots prose minds oor maisters that we’re aye here, that the Scots voice o the Scottish nation will no be wheeshtit. And that, gin Scotland is tae be Scotland again, her Scots speakers and scrievers belang at the hert and no the ootlan o her present and her future.

Send yer scrievin tae: bellasletters@yahoo.co.uk

Bella Caledonia weelcomes Scots scrievers Tammas Clark and Ashley Douglas tae the Scots editorial team.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Alf Baird says:

    Aye, ower thertie tid mair Scots speakers nor Gaelic, an still nae Scots Language Act yit tae gie Scots fowk equalitie wi thon Gaelic Language Act (Scotland) 2005 an its £50m+ a year. Michtie, MSP’s shuid aw be black affrontit. C’mon Langage Meenister, muive yersel. Its whit yer thair fir an peyed fir tae dae efter aw.

    1. Matthew Fitt says:

      Alf, in haill agreement wi ye. Readin the Scottish governament’s current draft budget – hoo muckle intil it for Gaelic and hoo muckle for Scots? Aa Scots speakers should support Gaelic. Wioot it, we’re a puirer nation. But can we caw the SG’s language policy democratic when Scots aye comes oot o it as the gangrel relative?

      Onybody for scrievin a piece for Bella aboot the institutional lack o parity atween oor twa national languages?

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Aye Matthew, gin thare’s nae siller fir it, thare’s nae policy fir it aither.

  2. Graeme Purves says:

    Forrit ti a standard Scots orthography!

    1. Matthew Fitt says:

      Forrit’s the ainly airt. Fingir oot, and let’s dae this in 2017. Wha’ll be first tae set oot a plan and share it on Bella?

  3. John Page says:

    Thank you for this, Matthew. A year ago I would not have attempted this article. Thanks to the Thursday page in the National and Bella’s continuing efforts (and a wee black book for noting unknown words to look up) I am making progress. You guys are doing a great job.
    John Page

    1. Alf Baird says:

      John, your description of the brutal reality is a sad indictment of inaction and intransigence on the part of successive Scottish Governments and educational institutions, who say fine words (e.g. “we will respect the Scots language”) but deliver nothing. Until we see a Scots Language Act giving the language back to the people ‘wha spik it an wha shuid hiv dint tae lairn it richt’ there can be no respect, only cultural discrimination.

      1. Matthew Fitt says:

        And a Scots Language Bill – whit should be in it? Whit priorities? Which provisions should it mak? Which MSP(s) wid sponsor it? Hoo dae we mak this happen?

        Whit wid a Scots Leid Act need tae be for tae mak a docken o a difference tae the lives o 1.6 million Scots speakers?

        1. Alf Baird says:

          Scots Language Act (Scotland) provisions (rather similar to Gaelic):

          – Scots language teachers in schools and Scots language on the curriculum
          – Scots Language degree courses in universities
          – Scots Language Broadcaster
          – Scots Language Board (to ensure the above is implemented)
          – Scots Language Budget

  4. Lisa Simmons says:

    Weel said Matthew!!!…

    1. Mitch says:

      i know some handlers treat their chickens better than their own children. they do train them. that’s one of the things i want to further explore when we return next year. can’t wait. i’ll have more series’ from the Philppiines in further From the Vault posts.

  5. Jim says:

    It is certainly noble to defend the right of all “scrievers” to spell their Scots in any way they want. But who is actually in a position to stop “scrievers” spelling their Scots in any way they want?

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