Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Thank you

Thanks, all of you, for your kind wishes on the loss of our cat. As all pet owners know, she may only have been a cat but she was part of the family nonetheless. We now have to decide whether to get another one, in the fullness of time. I suspect we will: Husband and I have always had at least one cat since 1988 and can't really imagine going for very long without a small furry person getting under our feet.

On a lighter note, Husband was mooching around on the internet recently and noticed that the website for the Scottish Parliament (or "Numptorium" as it is often called around here) has versions in different languages. No surprises there - you can read the site in inter alia English, Gaelic, Polish, French, German, Italian and, rather impressively, BSL. The interesting bit is that the website has also been translated into Scots.

Now, I know that there is a small but vocal community trying to preserve Scots, and I kind of like the fact that there are some brilliant Scots words which definitely deserve to be kept alive. But really, is there anyone nowadays for whom Scots is a first......language?.......dialect? I always thought the point of making translations of official documents was to ensure that critical information was made available to you in a language you understood fully, in your first language. In fact, the website itself makes that point: "We want tae mak siccar that as mony folk as possible can finn oot aboot the Scottish Pairlament. Information anent whit we can dae tae help ye engaige wi the Pairlament gin ye arenae fluent in English can be haen at Langage assistance providit by the Scottish Pairlament (28.5KB pdf)."

Now, I am as patriotic as the next person (unless the next person happens to be Robbie the Pict, but are they seriously suggesting that there is anyone in Scotland today for whom Scots is their first language? To the extent that communication in English or, at a pinch, Gaelic, would be ineffectual? Really? Or is it, as I suspect, that they are making a quasi-political point and some poor soul has had to sit and translate the Parliament's "wabsite" (I mean "WABSITE" for Pete's sake! The World Wide Wab!) into Scots just so they can say they have done it. In other words they have created a fun curiosity rather than an essential service.

That said, it is a laugh and I thoroughly recommend a wee wander round it. (Did you know that the UK Parliament is based in Lunnon, for example?)


  1. The translators into Scots would feel right at home where I live in the Ottawa valley; this area was settled by Scots, and a few Irish and French and there are a lot of Scots words, expressions and intonations to be heard in spite of TV, universal education and it being the 21st century. Stubborn folk who cling to their identity, I suspect they work at the 'Valley' accent. Most of them are bilingual into Canadian English and many are well educated, that being a traditional value, but get them together and wow! it gets thick.
    That having been said, I once got my hair done in Glasgow and could not understand one word out of ten as the women talked among themselves. Maybe a translation is not so funny after all.

  2. I wondered that myself when I came across a leaflet for the folk history project Kist o Riches which had a data protection statement in Gaelic, Scots and English. (More gratuitous Scots at that link.)

    I suppose that since this is a project to record vernacular music and storytelling, it's a bit more justifiable, but in the main, I agree with you. J, of course, being a pesky Sassanach, finds it highly amusing...

  3. Hubby said he heard more Gaelic on buses when he was there. But I'm curious is Scots an actual language or a dialect? And is it taught in school or the home?

  4. Sadly, I find that fewer and fewer of the students I teach (in Edinburgh) know any actual dialect Scots words at all - as opposed to simply Scottish versions of English words, like "hame" for "home".