Document 1760

Scots Tung Wittins 109

Author(s): Robert Fairnie

Copyright holder(s): Name withheld


Nummer 109
Dec. 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]

Hinneren o a Freendlie Flyte
THE Scottish Airts Cooncil haes set up a Leid Forum tae explore the norrie o 'Synergy' amang diverse bodies they gie siller tae, tae heize up the tung. As pairt o this Forum, the SAC gart thae bodies tae send roond a statement o their function an priorities. Bob Fairnie taen exception tae a screed screivit bi John Corbett o the ASLS Language Comatee, that threapit it wisna the job o the ASLS Language Comatee tae revive Scots as a national tung, an sae Bob emailt roond his cronies girnin aboot academics that dinna uise spoken Scots in public. John got wind o this, an emailt a response tae Bob, makin the pynt that his screed shuid be seen in the licht o the Synergy blathers. This correspondence endit up as a freendlie flytin that's hinneren is prentit here, wi the permeession o baith pairties.

A'M no fasht at aw wi yer Synergy paper tae the SAC, but juist wi ane or twa things in it ye're threapin ithers shuid dae. Ay, an A did tak thaim oot o context, but dileeberate like, for A thocht the wis an important pynt tae flyte ower that haed naethin tae dae wi Synergy. A cuidna gree mair wi ye that the tradeetional uisers (the feck o the 1.5m - 2.5m Scots speakers) is the anes that we shuid be ettlin tae fetch on-buird.

Tho A've been a Scots speaker aw ma life, A hinna aye been awaur o this masel till aboot 15 year syne. The bouk o thae tradeetional Scots speakers is the same. They're no awaur the leid they uise in thair ilkaday lives is cried Scots but raither some kinna local slang. Aboot five year syne, ma sister wis speirt whit she thocht o thon Scots language campaine an she juist got her puggie up an said, "Thon's juist a piece o nonsense. A've nae time for aw thon broad Scots rubbish. A've spoken Fisherraw aw ma days an A'm no gaun tae chynge noo!"

Howanever, gin oor doctor or banker or teacher haed spoken tae us in oor ain tung, we'd a kent it wisna nae slang, for leirit fowk the likes o thon wadna be seen deid uisin slang. But insteid o this we hae leirit fowk on the tellie singin the praises o Scots in English an the tradeetional uisers thinkin aither this "Scots" maun be some kinna fantoosh leid frae the middle ages that they ken nocht aboot or else it canna be muckle o a leid if it's no guid eneuch tae be uised bi eddicatit fowk tae sing its ain praises.

The Scots language the day micht cuid be seen as sindert intae three pairts:-
(1) The fowk that uises it in thair ilkaday lives for spoken communication but are maistlins illeeterate in the language an forbye that, the feck o thaim dinna ken the language they speak is cried Scots. (This wis uised as ane o the excuises for no haein a Scots question in the 2001 Census.)

(2) The fowk that's leeterate in the language but, tho they hae the eddicational abeelitie tae be articulate in it, maist o thaim chuise no tae lat thirsels be heard uisin it in public an parteeclar no on the tellie or wireless.

(3) The smaest pairt o aw is thaim that's baith leeterate an articulate in Scots an no feart tae be heard uisin it in conversation aither in public or in private.

[NOTE: a signboard "Sorry, nae dugs' here in original]
As the rules o Rugby threap, "Use it or loose it!", sae a language that isna uised for baith verbal an written communication canna tak onie ither gate but the ane traivelt in the bygane bi baith Latin an classical Greek. Gin the fowk in (1) deein oot isna replaced bi a seemilar nummer o Scots speakin bairns growin up tae tak thair place, then Scots haes nae howp. It's the consait o Scots Tung an masel that it's the responsibeelitie o (2) an (3) tae convince (1) that thair tung is Scots, a thing tae be valued an raxed on tae thair ain bairns, an that it's nae threit tae thair bairns' chances o sclimmin the heichts o academia or onie ither worth while career. It's thair responsibeelitie an aw tae rax on tae the teachers an dominies in the schuils, bi exemplar, a relaxed confidence in speakin Scots in the clessroom. Leirit fowk haes tae be heard bi (1) uphaudin Scots on the media in Scots.
The heidmaist ettle o haein Scots signage in public is tae expose the een o (1) tae a written form o thair ain language. This micht gie some a wee inlat intae leeteracy in Scots.

The creenge agin uisin spoken or whiles, screivit Scots, in public wad seem tae be leemitit maistlins tae fowk eddicatit in Scotland but is maistlins wantin in Scots speakers eddicatit furth o Scotland. This wad kinna pynt tae the kynch bein mair like tae be a condition pit intae the heids o fowk bi the eddication seestem raither nor onie kinna logical chyce.

An Asian faimlie that rins a post office in Cannonmills, Auld Reekie, an haes haed ane o wir NAE SMOKIN signs in thair shop for a whilie, speirt for anither ane last week sayin, SORRY, NAE DUGS!

As ma grannie uised tae say, "(1) canna dae wantin (2) an (3), (2) canna dae wantin (1) an (3) an (3) canna dae wantin (1) an (2)." Anither o thaim wis, "Guid freends dinna faw oot ower a guid flyte."

Wi guid will,
Bob (Fairnie).

Scots Tung WITTINS
On the wab.
The Scots Tung Wittins can be vizzied or doon-haunnelt an prentit (noo in PDF 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)

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.

MONY thanks for yer repone til ma email. A hear whit ye say, an A gree that we're baith ettlin towards the selsame ends, mibbes fae different stertin pynts. Ane thing A widnae be sae gleg tae think is that 'institutions' nou dounhaud Scots as aince they did - at Glesca Uni we dae discreeminate atween Scots an slang, an A ken that at Embro, scholarly boadies lik Prof Jim Millar actively research an descreive spoken Scots as a linguistic seistem in its own richt, no a corrupt version o Inglis. The thing A fin wi students (mony o thaim students o Scottish Literature asweel) is that they're quite happy tae be bilingual in thair ain form o Scots (be it Fisherraw or daurkest Pollock) and in English asweel. This isnae a new wey o thocht: Allan Ramsay was takin the same gate in the introduction tae his 'Poems' in the 1720s, an Billy Kay is oan record sayin the same thing the day.

It's a sair fecht tae 'engineer' a shift in the wey fowk yaise a leid. At the hinner end, as ye say, if a tung is tae survive as a full-blawn national staundart then it haes tae hae a uniform form for screivin as well as a hantle spoken dialects wi a braid core vocabulary an a prescriptive grammar (mair David Purves nor Jim Millar, wha ettles mair tae descrive whit fowk dae, no tell them whit shuid be duin). Wark duin on leids lik Catalan, Nynorsk, Modren Hebrew an their ilk div pynt tae the seemin fack that resources maun be directed at the yaisers first. Gin siller is pit intae schemes lik the Boord o Ulster-Scotch's 'Heich Ploy' - a glossy PR screed then fowk cry it doun an it can be coonter-productive. The wey forrit shuid thairfore be maistlie frae gress ruits. That's the pynt A wantit tae mak tae the SAC. (No that A'm agin research, mind - the dictionars are a necessary investment, an A'd fair luve tae see mair siller for the unis...tho A culd weel be accused o special pleadin there!)

The proablem wi juist sayin tae doctors an judges (an academics forbye) that they shuid speak braid Scots is that for 300 year middle cless Scots huv developed a Scottish variety o English (that differs fae the suddroun in a puckle respecks, but differs nochttheless) precisely wi the aim of signallin their ain social status. (The first chapter o Charlie Jones' 'A Language Suppressed?' gies the lowdoun oan this period afore the rest o the buik wafts ye aff tae sleep...) Askin middle cless Scots tae chynge nou is a bit lik ettlin tae assuage warld puirtith by askin the rich tae gie awa aw their gear. The'r nae logical reason for thaim no tae dae it, but it's no likely tae happen. Houanever, society nou is no the same as it wis in the 18th C. Gin some (no aw) airts o middle cless is mair likely nou tae sympatheese wi linguistic variety (even if they dinna yaise aw the leids thairsels), than the proablem shifts tae them that dis yaise it. Are they bein supportit whan they yaise it in situations lik sport, song, leeterature, fowkweys, tradeetional occupations an the like? Gin the wey o speakin there becomes mair an mair Scots, than Scots will feenish contractin an stert tae expaund again, intil ither areas o life: if the community that yaises Scots tae blether anent sport yaises mair Scots, than that uiss will likely become better kent in the media, first throu reportin o sport, than in the transfer o words til ither toapics. In the same wey the speak o younglins gets yaised mair widely because their words gets disseminated (1) throu the music press, than (2) in the broader media. The ideal seetuation is tae be yaisin Scots no for the sake o yaisin Scots, but tae be yaisin Scots because that's the wey awbody talks about a particular toapic, say, fitba. At this pynt the middle cless wid come on board, cause they talks aboot fitba anaw. This is the wey language shift warks...A mention fitba because A unnerstaun that the first inroads that Catalan made intil the media wis throu sports reportin. The moral is that ye stert whaur the leid is strangest and etttle tae mak it grow fae there.

This email's become ower lang, but it's helpt me mak plainer, een tae masel, a wheen o maitters that A've been wrastlin wi masel o late, an fir that A'm gratefu tae ye Bob. A'm fair taen wi your phrase, 'a relaxed confidence' in yaisin Scots in the classroom. A'm aw for that. A'd also like tae see a relaxed confidence in yaisin English an ither leids in Scotland, as in Joseph Lo Bianco's veesion o a multiliterate nation - but that's mibbes a puckle idealistic. Still the gemm's worth the caunle.

Aye, ye're richt - a guid flytin shuldna come atween freends - tho which ane's the cherry an which the slae? Ane guid thing anent this SAC blather is rattlin wur harns about hou best tae sair the leid an its yaisers - an wi ony luck the SAC will pit siller intae ony new initiatives.
Wi aw guid will,
John (Corbett).

But n Ben A-Go-Go maks
it tae the Lang Leet
MATTHEW Fitt's But n Ben A-Go-Go haes been pitten on tae the lang leet o 25 Scottish entries for World Book Day 2003. Ilka kintra wis tae hae a public poll tae wale oot a cuttie leet wi votin feinishin on the 8t November 2002. The votin cairds wis gien oot bi buik-shops an libraries an forbye that fowk wis able tae vote ower the wab at The slogan for the Scottish section is "We are whit we read: whit buik says maist tae you aboot Scotland an the Scots o the day?" (Coorse, it's written in English).

Luath Press threaps that, oot o the 25 buiks that wis walit oot for the lang leet, But n Ben A-Go-Go is the anelie ane in Scots an aiblins the first full lenth modren novel furthset aw in Scots.

The hinnermaist ootcome o the polls will be threapit on World Book Day - Thursday 6t. Mairch 2003.
Matthew's buik is in braw guid company in this lang leet as ye can see ablow:-

Adoption Papers - Jackie Kay
Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead - Kathleen Jamie
New Selected Poems - Edwin Morgan
But n Ben A-Go-Go - Matthew Fitt
The Smiling School for Calvinists - Bill Duncan
Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh
Morvern Callar - Alan Warmer
The Good Times - James Kelman
Swing Hammer Swing! Jeff Torrington
The Fanatic - James Robertson
Women Talking Dirty - Isla Dewar
Me and Ma Gal - Des Dillon
Lanark - Alasdair Gray
A Stranger Here Myself - Ian Pattison
The Crow Road - Iain Banks
One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night - Christopher Brookmyre
Set in Darkness - Ian Rankin
Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off - Liz Lochhead
The Scottish Nation - Tom Devine
Mountain Days and Bothy Nights - Dave Bowen and Ian Mitchell
Sea Room - Adam Nicholson
Why Scots Should Rule Scotland - Alasdair Gray
Who Owns Scotland - Andy Wightman
The Moon is Our Nearest Neighbour - Ghillie Basan
The Broons Annual - DC Thomson

JUIST anither wee mindin that maimbership subscreivins for Scots Tung shuid a been peyed bi the hinneren o September. Maimbers is entitilt tae a free copy o the Scots Tung Wittins ilka month an tae hae a wee bit say on it as lang's the'r space.

Cheques shuid be makit oot tae Scots Tung an sent tae [CENSORED: postaladdress].

As ane o wir maimbers raicently quotit in the Frisian leid, "Better let as net!"

Makar's Neuk
Now mirk December's dowie face
Glours our the rigs wi sour grimace,
While, thro his minimum of space,
The blear-ey'd sun,
Wi blinkin light and stealing pace
His race doth run.

Auld Reikie! thou'rt the canty hole,
A beild for mony caldrife soul,
Wha snugly at thine ingle loll,
Baith warm and couth;
While round they gar the bicker roll
To weet their mouth.

Robert Fergusson 1750 - 1774

Burns Nicht
SCOTS TUNG'S neist forgaitherin on Monday 27t Januar will tak the form o an informal Burns Nicht, mair lik a Burnsian git thegither wi nae formal speeches or tradeetional addresses, tae be hauden in Comatee Room C frae 7.30pm tae 9.00pm.

Awbodie's walcome tae come alang sae lang's they fetch thair ain tinnie, a wee bite for the table an thair ain pairty piece (sang or poem). Keyboard music will be tae haund.

A hertie Yule an
a Guid New Year
tae aw oor readers

Neist Forgaitherin
Monday 27t Januar 2003
7.30pm tae 9.00pm
Comatee Room C.
Brunton Ha, Musselburgh

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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:

Scots Tung Wittins 109. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 17 June 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Scots Tung Wittins 109." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 17 June 2024.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Scots Tung Wittins 109," accessed 17 June 2024,

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


Information about Document 1760

Scots Tung Wittins 109


Text audience

Audience size N/A

Text details

Method of composition N/A
Word count 2619
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