Document 122

Thochts o Speakin Scots

Author(s): Robert Fairnie

Copyright holder(s): Robert Fairnie


Is it onie wunner at aw that mature professional Scots daesna feel aw that cantie tryin tae speak Scots in formal or e’en in informal forgaitherins o thair peers? Efter bein telt for years at the schuil tae stop uisin thon common street slang an lairn tae speak proper, they war fleetched tae redd thae common words an habits oot thair speech. As they gaed thair wey throu eddication on the gate tae professionalism, they got better an better at no uisin thae words, that thair forebeirs kent as freends. “Pittin thair fit in it” wis somethin that kythed less an less as time gaed by. The mair they lairned tae think in English, the easier it wis tae keep thae scunnersome Scottiscisms oot the wey. Some, nae doot, creenged an leukit doon thair nebs at the orra misfortunate sowel they whiles heard uisin thae auld maukit words frae the sheuch an shawin tae the yird the puir cheil’s want o a guid eddication. Aiblins fowks the likes o thaim wisna heidie eneuch tae lairn hou tae speak proper oniewey.

Haed the Scottish estaiblishment no been sae nairrae-nebbit in the bygane, an seen insteid the guid o twa-leiditness or e’en monie-leiditness, Scotland wad hae been a sicht better place the day. Wi nae “inarticulate Scot” an nae tongue-tackit bairns wi inferiority complexes in the schuils, juist think whit a croose an wycelike society we cuid hiv haen. Ay, we’v aye been able tae haud wir ain wi the bettermaist at tred an in the mercat but think hou muckle better we micht hae been. Ye canna be ower guid whan it comes tae biggin up the prosperity o a nation an naethin beirs the gree better nor a side that is croose an cantie wi itsel. But the Scots language wis sic an ugsome thing tae thae cheils, that haed the best intrests o North Britain at hert. It haed tae be redd oot richt tae the hinnermaist vowel. Tae thaim the wis juist eneuch room in fowks’ heids for juist the ae language an that language wis tae be English. Wi thaim, lairnin tae speak it meant unlairnin tae speak Scots an Gaelic tae. Ethnic Linguistic Cleansing (1872 - ?).

Howanever, life lowps alang the gate o time an fowk, alang wi thair consaits, gits aulder an whiles oot o fashion. Leirit fowk noo pynt oot the psychological skaith that’s bein duin tae the bairns an hauflins bi doonhaudin an makin a bauchle o the language that thae young fowk brings wi thaim frae the hame an the community. On the ootside awbodie grees wi the siccar pedigree an wirth o the Scots language an maks oot they’re scunnert that oniebodie cuid think o’t as slang but for aw this ootby swall o uphaud for the mither tongue, pairts o the estaiblishment hinna chynged muckle deep doon inside.

Tae mature professional Scots, that maks up the feck o Scots language upsteerers the day, the skaith haes been duin areddies an tho thair herts an thair heids kens noo that aw thae lees they war telt, wisna true, it’s a diffrent maitter wi thair mooths. Thair mooths, it wad seem, haes a mind o thair ain an is gey sweir tae gie up thair hard won English. Forbye, the’r aye the shaddae o thon puir cheil’s want o a guid eddication lirkin at the back o thair heids an awbodie’s sweir tae be the first tae tak the lowp. If they cuid juist gaun intae a chemist shop an coff some conter-creenge patches tae steek on thair airms, things wadna be sae fykie. We hear tell that whan Catalonia got its ain devolution an the TV braidcasters stertit readin oot the news in Catalan, the fowk wis smitten wi the creenge an thocht it “common” an ugsome. They didna hae airm patches thare aither but the creenge juist gaed awa bi itsel efter aboot sax weeks an noo they wadna hae it onie ither wey.

Aince thae professionals ken athin thirsels the’r nocht in speakin Scots as shuid gie thaim a rid face, it’s juist a maitter o thaim gittin tae be croose in the speakin o’t. They juist hiv tae git uised tae it. Tae dae thon, they wad be weel wyced tae pit thair minds back tae thair bairnheids an mind whit fasht thaim then whan they war first lairnin tae speak English. Whit wis it that gart thaim pit thair fit in it sae aften then in compear wi the noo? As bairns they stertit tryin tae speak English at a time in thair lives whan maist o thaim war still thinkin in Scots. Noo they’re no croose an cantie wi speakin Scots cause, in maist cases, they’re still thinkin in English. We’r speakin here aboot fowk that soond guid Scots speakers tae ither fowk but dinna think thirsels they’re aw that guid cause the’r aye a breck in the rin o thochts gaun throu thair heids wi the words haein tae be owerset aw the time frae English intae Scots. The wey o gittin ower this is tae lairn tae think in Scots or raither tae lairn tae be able tae think in aither Scots or English at will.

Lairnin tae think in Scots soonds easier said than duin but it’s dumfoonerin tae fund oot whit a skoosh it can be. Practisin thinkin in Scots is a thing that awbodie can dae gey near onie-whaur an onie time. Ye cuid be hurlin alang in yer motor wi hunners o thochts gaun throu yer heid. Juist git intae the habit o owersettin aw thae English thochts intae Scots anes. The same thing can be duin juist as easy whan ye’r gaun ower the carpets an brats wi the stoor-sooker, cuikin the denner, hingin oot the claes, daein the airnin, cuttin the gress, diggin the gairden an hunners o ither seetiations whan thochts is gaun throu yer heid. They dinna aye hae tae be in English. The sairest thing that haes tae be owercome is gittin uised tae lattin ither fowk hear ye speakin Scots an pittin oot yer heid, thochts o whit thae ithers thinks aboot yer want o eddication. Ye ken yersel the’r nae want. The mair fowk in the company that jynes in, the easier it’s gaun tae be for awbodie. Sax weeks it taen the Catalonians. Lat’s see hou lang wir mature professional Scots can dae it in.

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


Cite this Document

APA Style:

Thochts o Speakin Scots. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 25 June 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Thochts o Speakin Scots." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 25 June 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Thochts o Speakin Scots," accessed 25 June 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 122

Thochts o Speakin Scots


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2001
Word count 1103

Text medium

Other Newsletter

Text publication details

Publisher Scots Tung
Publication year 2001
Place of publication S.T. Wittins
Edition NR 88
Part of larger text
Contained in Scots Tung Wittins
Editor R Fairnie
Page numbers 2

Text setting


Text type

Prose: nonfiction


Author details

Author id 95
Forenames Robert
Surname Fairnie
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment College
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Consultant Marine Structural Engineer (Retired)
Place of birth Musselburgh
Region of birth Midlothian
Birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Musselburgh
Region of residence Midlothian
Residence CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Fisherman
Father's place of birth Musselburgh
Father's region of birth Midlothian
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Fishwife
Mother's place of birth Musselburgh
Mother's region of birth Midlothian
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
German Yes Yes Yes Yes In Germany to communicate with two grandsons
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Wherever Scots is understood