Scottish language

Scottish language
   Scots is the Lowland Scottish dialect of English, with a tradition going back to at least the fifteenth century. It is derived from the Northumbrian dialect of Old English, and is usually readily comprehensible with English. Famous examples are the terms ‘kirk’ for ‘church’ and ‘bairn’ for ‘baby’. The royal union of Scotland and England in 1603 and the Act of Union in 1707 have probably kept the two languages close and prevented Scots from developing a markedly separate vocabulary, keeping standard English as the common mode of written communication.
   Lallans is Scottish for ‘Lowlands’, and was a term used by Robert Burns for Scots (in the central Lowlands and up the northeast coast to Aberdeen). There was an attempt to revive it as a literary language by Hugh MacDiarmid’s renaissance of the 1920s; this movement has had many inheritors who use both Scots and English, including the poetry of George Mackay Brown, Sorley Maclean, Iain Crichton Smith, Robert Garioch, Norman MacCaig, Gael Turnbull and Edwin Morgan, who has influenced Robert Crawford and W.N.Herbert. More recently, alongside Jackie Kay, Frank Kuppner and Kathleen Jamie, there is the demotic Scots of Tom Leonard and Liz Lochhead. The use of Scots is often associated with a sense of political independence. For example, with no Conservative candidates elected to represent Scottish seats at Westminster, Lochhead’s apposite ‘Bagpipe Muzak, Glasgow, 1990’ superbly parodies Glasgow’s marketing as European City of Culture and also echoes MacNeice’s earlier similarly-named poem in its rhythm and in the refrain, ‘It’s all go’. The poem concludes by denouncing a Tory government that Scotland did not elect: ‘So—watch out Margaret Thatcher, and tak’ tent Neil Kinnock/Or we’ll tak’ the United Kingdom and brekk it like a bannock.’ This threat seemed partially to come true when Scotland enthusiastically voted for parliamentary devolution in September 1997.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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