Document 1756

Scots Tung Wittins 105

Author(s): Robert Fairnie

Copyright holder(s): Name withheld


Nummer 105
Aug. 2002

Keep a guid Scots Tung in yer heid an in yer hert! But mind an uise it tae!

Scots Tung WITTINS

Eydentlie uphaudin the Scots Leid Campaine
e-screive: [CENSORED: emailaddress] Ph. [CENSORED: phonenumber] Stravaiger Ph. [CENSORED: phonenumber]

Copiericht for awthin screivit in this wittins blat bides wi R. Fairnie. The Scots Tung Wittins can be fotie-copied in hail or in pairt athoot leemit o nummers an this hauds guid an aw for onie pairt o the wittins blat that's furth-set in onie ither publication.

Whit a Muckle Waste o Trees
"He wad tak first prize for
owersettin spin
intae hyper-birl."
ALLAN Brown's airticle in the Ecosse section o the Sunday Times (9 Juin), cried "Raising the volume on Scots", wis that faur awa frae the truith o whit wis said bi the fowk he wis speirin ower the phone, that it wisna worth the trees uised tae prent it on. He wad tak first prize for owersettin spin intae hyper-birl an for chyngin, whit micht hiv been an honest report, intae a muckle daud o glaikit meaninless fiction.

He uises "old Scots" in the sub-heidin an aw the wey throu his airticle. Sae ye'v got a body, that daesna ken "old Scots" wis spoken frae aroond 1100 tae aboot 1700 an modren Scots haes juist been aroond frae efter 1700, threapin his ain consaits o whit's richt an whit's wrang wi the (modren) Scots language. Gin that in itsel isna eneuch tae gar fowk mislippen the honesty an accuracy o his reportin, the first twa paragraphs maun shuirlie be the shooglie nail his veracity faws doon frae.

Efter descrivin in the first paragraph, the 71 year auld Secretar o Scots Tung as "Rob Fairnie, the genial 55 year old chairman of Scots Tung", in the saicont paragraph he forgets wha he wis speakin tae an, frae then on, keeps referrin tae somebody cried Haining.

Broon maks muckle anent "old Scots" no bein a language at aw but aiblins juist a dialeck wi thochts abuin its staunin. He shuid try tellin thon tae John Barbour but, gin it's really modren Scots he's speakin o, he shaws a muckle want o kennin o the history o the Scots language an he shuid at the verra least gie his een a keek at the Scots Government's "Scots Language Factsheet" that threaps in its first sentence, "Scots is a language which is widely spoken in Scotland". He shuid hae a keek an aw at the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages that wis signed an ratified bi the British Government in relation tae the Scots language. The differences atween modren Scots an Standart English is mair nor the differences atween Dutch an German or Danish an Norwegian an e'en Broon wadna daur threap Dutch an Norwegian wis juist dialecks.

Broon haes a hinnermaist clout at Hugh MacDairmid an his, "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle" an maks a bauchle o his possible uiss o a Scots dictionar tae find some o his Scots words. Coorse, awbody kens the'r nae English poet worth his saut wad daur hae a keek intae an English dictionar tae help wi screivin a poem. That's no whit they're thare for, is it?

Twa o the fowk he spake wi ower the phone wis that fasht wi the words he pit intae thair mooths, that they screivit letters intae the editor but baith letters wis gien a deefie an no prentit. It's the consait o Scots Tung Wittins that its subscreivers, readers frae the libraries o Lothian an internet readers frae ower the yird, shuid be alloued tae see thae twa letters the Sunday Times wis feart tae prent.

Dear Sir
"Raising the volume on Scots"
"Facts are cheils that winna ding"

Allan Brown's article in Ecosse (9th June) managed to produce an impressive number of inaccuracies about the Scots language.
After correctly identifying Rob Fairnie in his opening sentence, he then refers to him as "Haining" for the remainder of the article. Whilst insulting to Mr Fairnie, and an example of "sloppy" journalism, of more consequence is his assertion that "one of the first acts of the Parliament's Cross Party Group on the Scots Language was to acknowledge the contribution made by Oor Wullie in the preservation of the tongue." Minimal research would have established that not only is it not permissible for cross party groups to lodge motions, this particular one was lodged by Brian Montieth MSP who is not and never has been a member of this group. Nor does the Statement of Principles being prepared by the CPG include the provisions your journalist attributes to it. Translations and signage are important and merit discussion and action, but are not specific components of this document, which is to be formally launched in September.

Allan Brown's questioning of whether Scots is a language, conveniently did not include my repeated references to the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages, which effortlessly includes Scots in its terms. If the case has been made and accepted in Europe, then surely there is no case to answer in Scotland. It should also be noted that the Scottish Executive acknowledges in a number of official documents that Scots is a language, which is why such outdated lines of argument such as those put forward by Allan Brown inhibit genuine and meaningful discussion of the difficulties being experienced by the language and its users.

His comparison of Scots with Shakespearian blank verse is puerile and irrelevant. Whilst Scots undoubtedly has a comparable literary tradition, the Shakespearian form of English - unlike Scots - is never used as a contemporary means of everyday communication.

I could go on - but I think the point has been made - Allan Brown knows little and cares less about the language, which is his loss. Yours sincerely
Irene McGugan MSP, Shadow Depute Minister for Children and Education.

Guid Sir,
Allan Brown maun hae written thon "Raising the volume of Scots" (Ecosse 9 Juin) juist for a lauch or else he wis pittin the words thegither juist tae fill up the space aroond the fotie. The'r nae need for me tae pynt oot whaur he got the wrang en o the stick anent the "old Scots" he wis haverin on aboot (1100 - 1700) an the modren Scots awbody else wis speakin aboot (1700 onward). He wadna want tae unnerstaun oniewey an for-bye thon, the honesty an accuracy o the bouk o his airticle wis blawn oot the windae in the first twa paragraphs.

Efter giein me an innin in the first paragraph as a "genial 55 year old chairman of Scots Tung", when in fack A canna awn tae be oniethin ither nor a 71 year auld Secretar, he uises some kinna journalistic glamour, juist like oot o Harry Potter, tae chynge me intae some puir craitur cried "Haining" in the saicont paragraph. A've nae kennin wha this Haining is an A can anelie jalouse that, like maist o the airticle itsel, he kythed oot the mince atween AB's lugs.

Gin aw the enemies o the Scots language wis tae mak sic a guddle o thair ondings as Allan Brown, then A doot the leid daesna hae that muckle tae be feart o.
R. Fairnie. (Secretar o Scots Tung)

Neist Forgaitherin
Monday 9t. September
7.30pm tae 9.00pm
Comatee Rm. C.
Brunton Ha, Musselburgh.

Sheena Wellington Thinkin Oot Lood
It wis braw tae see Old Blind Dogs and Dannsa dae rare turns that hid abdy in thrall it Tuesday's Holyrood Gairden Perty!Yi micht be fir the Croon or no, bit it metters thit Scotland's ain airts an lieds git thir place it antrin ploys. Richt eneuch, thir's aye a piper or twa aroon, bit tae hae gran newbiggit shows, threap ruited wi a braith o caller air wis juist rare.

Eh wis weel plaised wi the nummer o fowk thit speired wha thi baund, thi sangsters an thi dancers micht be - an wantit tae ken whar thi cud git mair!

Wi hid bonnie Gaelic fae Anna Murray an guid Scots fae Jim Malcolm. Meh day wis made whin Jim sang oot "A Man's a Man" jist as Prince William wis wahkin back intae the Palace.


The English Language
THE follaein dialogue is taen frae the Book o Scottish Anecdote o 1874:-

"Weel John, tell us what ye think o the English now, after ye hae been sae lang amang them?"
"Why, deed, to tell the truth, they're no that ill folks ava, thae Englishers. They're guid fallows at their meat an drink, an awfu guid-natured. But O man, they are badly off for a language! I never saw ought like it, man; for it is wi the greatest defeeckwulty ane can ken a word they say.

An for as plain as I speak — an it is weel kent there's no a man in aw Annandale speaks plainer nor me — deil be on them gin they could ken what I said!

It is really waesome to be amang them; for, O man, they are badly off for a language!"

A canny unnerstaun it masel!'
THE abuin is the title o a licht-hertit exhibition leukin at the Scots language. Uisin weel kent eemages o Oor Wullie, local an naitional poetry written in Scots, the day's uisage o wir naitional language is explored - free!

Tho this exhibition stertit on 15 Julie, it gauns on tae 18 Aug in Linlithgow Library: Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm & Set 9.30am-1pm.
Mair particularities can be gotten frae:- West Lothian Cooncil Museums Service,
Phone:- [CENSORED: phonenumber]

Scots Tung WITTINS
On the wab.
The Scots Tung Wittins can be vizzied or doon-haundelt an prentit (noo in HTML format forbye) frae the wabsteid o:-
The Scots Speikers Curn, Glesca.
Wabsteid backin:-
A hard copie o STW is sent free o chairge tae aw maimbers o Scots Tung ilka month.
Maimbership subscreivins is £5 (Scotland/UK)
Peyed ilka September.
£6 (Ireland/EU) $14 (Americae)

Nae Mair Nor Twa?
[NOTE: a photograph here of the S.P.Corporate Body in original]
EFTER the Scottish Pairlament Corporate Body wis speirt bi the pairlament's Cross Pairty Group on Scots Language tae hae Scots language signage pitten up in the new pairlament biggin alangside o the existin English an Gaelic anes, the follaein repone wis gien bi the SPCB's convener, Sir David Steel.

"signage in the public areas in the new buildings will be in English, Gaelic and Braille, and will also include symbols where appropriate."

His letter threapit an aw the fack that, bi wey o international practice, the maist languages that sign-buirds can cairie is juist the twa. Syne it haes been proponed tae speir oot pairlaments, ither institutions an biggins in ither kintras whaur mair nor twa languages is cairiet on signs. Gin oniebody kens o onie pairlament, institution or ither public biggin that cairies mair nor twa languages on its signages, please let the CPG on Scots language ken bi e-mail tae [CENSORED: emailaddress] or write direck tae Irene McGugan MSP at the Scots Pairlament.

It wad seem that the Scots language, the biggest spoken language in Britain efter English, haes a nummer o disadvantages tae conter it gittin some o the richts that's been gien areddies tae Gaelic an they hiv naethin at aw tae dae wi the excuises gien abuin. Tae stert wi, for aw the mealie-moothit uphaud gien tae the leid bi the Scottish Executive in its Scots Language Factsheet, it daesna dae muckle tae pit its siller whaur its mooth is, an a body cuid be forgien for wunnerin gin the'r no a wee bittie o the Calton Hill nationalist shibboleth syndrom here.Scots bein sae sib tae English gies it a disadvantage in mair weys nor ane in compear wi Gaelic. Tho Gaelic is sib tae Irish, it daesna hae the same bother as Scots estaiblishin itsel as a language in its ain richt an tho Scots as a language haes been acceppit bi the British Government, the Scottish Executive an EBLUL, the'r aye fowk in the estaiblishment that keeps on howkin up thon same auld tattie.

The estaiblishment, nae doot, daesna see onie threat tae the dominance o Scottish English as a spoken language in Scotland frae a strenthened Gaelic tongue. Scots on the ither haund, bein on a continuum wi Scottish English an wi maist Scots speakers the day liggin somewhaur alang this continuum, cuid be a different maitter aw thegither in the een o some fowk. They micht be feart that gin ower muckle uphaud is gien tae Scots in public an the creenge is gien its jotters ower time, the centre o gravity o Scots speakers micht creep nearer an nearer tae the Scots end o the continuum an the micht be some lowsin o the restraints agin the uisin o Scots in public. This, in thair een, micht weel be seen as a threat tae the dominance o Scottish English as a spoken language in Scotland an anither threat tae thon shooglie nail that hauds the union thegither.

Anither conter tae the uiss o Scots bi the estaiblishment, aither in signages or as a spoken language for ilka-day communication, is thon common mislearit concep that Scots the day is the inferior communication graith o the warkin clesses an the uneddicatit. E'en maist o thae academics frae the estaiblishment that mak a muckle maucht tae uphaud an hain the Scots language, warsle lang an hard tae be excuised frae uisin it in conversation in public. Weel leirit fowk that thinks nocht aboot staunin up in public tae speak in French, German or ither ootlan leids, creenges back frae lettin fowk hear thaim conversin in Scots in public. The'r shuirlie a muckle na-say here that's daein nae want o skaith tae the campaine for the Scots language. Gin thae academics cuid juist owercome this creenge in public an lat fowk hear thaim uisin the language they sing the praises o in English, it wad nae doot gaun a lang gate tae reconcilin the warkin cless uisers o the Scots language wi the estaiblishment in general an vice-versa.

For whit it's worth an juist as a maitter o interest, the Eddication Act (Scotland) 1872 laid doon that English wad be the ae language alloued tae be spoken in aw Scottish schuils frae then on. The poleetical mak up o Scottish MP's thon year wis, Liberals (52) an Conservative (8). The mak up o the SPCB, includin the convener, Sir David Steel, is Lib-Dems (2), Lab (1), Con (1) an SNP (1). Coorse, naebodie's pittin onie mair intae this nor a muckle coincidence but the SPCB shuidna be sae cantie in thinkin it's bein fair when the biggest minority language in Britain an the ane uised bi maist o the Scottish voters, is the ae leid left oot o the signage in thae voters' ain £300m Scots Pairlament.

Makar's Neuk
Nae man wha loves the lawland tongue
But warstles wi the thocht -
There are mair sangs that bide unsung
Nor aa that hae been wrocht.

Ablow the wastery o the years
The thorter o himsel,
Deep buried in his bluid he hears
A music that is leal.

And wi this lealness gangs his ain;
And there's nae ither gait
Though aa his feres were fremmit men
Wha cry: Owre late, owre late.

William Soutar 1898 - 1943

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

Scots Tung Wittins 105. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 December 2023, from

MLA Style:

"Scots Tung Wittins 105." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. 7 December 2023.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Scots Tung Wittins 105," accessed 7 December 2023,

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2023. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1756

Scots Tung Wittins 105


Text audience

Audience size N/A

Text details

Method of composition N/A
Word count 2608
General description monthly newsletter

Text medium

Leaflet/brochure (prospectus)

Text publication details

Publisher Scots Tung
Publication year 2002
Part of a longer series of texts
Name of series Scots Tung Wittins

Text type

Prose: nonfiction
Other mixed text type


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