Ceci N’est Pas Une Leid
Say we hidnae aw decidit that Scots wis a language. Say it hidnae been estaiblisht – tae the saitisfaction o aw concernt – that Scots hauds doon a patch on the same Wikipedia page as German, French an Esperanto. An say, for whitever reason, the notions o experts on this an ilka ither subject cairit sic sma bit wecht anent the helium-inflectit zeitgeist o the times, that we’d tae wirk oot for oorsels whit the kenmerks o a leid were.
Whaur wad we stairt? Whit, wad we aw agree, maks a leid a leid?
Ah’m no airtin oot hoo mony angels can fit on the heid o a pin, here. Ah’m no speirin whit oor linguists think. It’s no that ah’m myndit tae set aff the philosophers an the academics, like – it’s mair that we’ve awready got thaim onside, faur as ah can tell. An yet still, we’re askin – whit, in oor ilkaday experience, allous the legitimacy o Scots tae remain an open question? Whase are the testimonies we’re bidin on? Whit trials is it we’re needin still tae pass?
Set by, for a meenit, the question-beggin bell-endery that means we cannae hae a language until we’ve an estaiblisht media, polítical recognition, associatit bodies etc, an that we cannae hae thae things until we’ve a language. Let on, for a whiles, that Scots isnae fankelt in some Josef K labyrinth o smirkin bureaucrats an wan-wey corridors that rin roond an roond like Escher stairwells. In ither wirds – pretend that things are fair. An tell us, whit mair dae fowk want fae us? Whit mair dae fowk need?
Mebbes, likesay, a thrivin líterar tradítion – respectful o its past, howpfu o its future? An wi eneuch siller in place tae mak shuir that onybody wi a mind tae mak a lívin scrievin, spikkin, chantin, or braidcastin in the leid widnae be as weel jist cuttin oot the middle man an baffin themsels ower the napper wi a chair-leg.
Mebbes, for ensaumple, a wheen o its ain byleids? Byleids o sic cultural importance that some o thaim hae transcendit even naitional boonds, an cam tae staun shorthaun for the leid an for the kintrae as a hale?
An mebbes – maist important o aw – lairners. Spikkers that wirnae born tae the tongue. Mechanisms tae ease their transition. Raisons hou they should fash theirsels wi it. An aw the hertenin an uphaudin that’s due sic fowk – an a wee bit on tap, for their troubles.
One Scotland’s Dear Haters campaign kivered a wheen o bases this week. Racists, transphobes, homophobes, bigots, ageists, disablists; aw richtly cawed oot for attitudes that are no acceptable in oor modern Scotland. But in a week whaur a public demonstratioun o faith at a party conference stirred up a national stooshie, an the argie-bargie ower the philosophical/polítical status o a belief in Scottish independence wis kinnelt wanst mair intae flame, it’s wirth takkin note that no anely has discriminatioun on the basis o language been alloued tae gang unchecked bi oor politícal heid yins, but forby that it’s thae verra politícians – Alex Cole-Hamilton, Murdo Fraser, Neil Findlay – wha are aft as no the warst offenders.
Hou lang is it gonnae tak tae pit this aw richt? Weel, hou lang hiv ye got? If it’s twa or three meenits, that’s aw it’ll tak tae lug intae oor editors, Ally Heather an Tam Clark, wha got thegither for a wee spraff aboot Scots, spikkers, an Selkirk FC at the Belladrum Festival in August.