General Guide to Scots Language

4. Modern renaissance

In spite of all the pressures towards Anglicisation, Scots has remained very much alive as the daily spoken language for most of Southern and Eastern Scotland, often as a kind of diluted Scots-Anglo hybrid but frequently in authentic dialects of Scots, particularly in the North-East, Fife, the Lothians and Borders. And of course there is a huge repertoire of songs and poetry in Scots.

Since the middle of the last century, there has been something of a small renaissance in both Gaelic and Scots languages, especially in literature, and we have been gradually losing the "cringe" factor regarding speaking Scots.

At one time many Scots speakers would greet attempts by non-Scots to speak our language with embarrassed laughter, which made it extremely difficult for anyone to learn Scots. Gradually that is being overcome as we regain some of the lost confidence in ourselves and our languages.

As well as the recent renaissance in Gaelic literature through the likes of Sorley MacLean, Murdo MacFarlane and Angus McNicol, and bands like RunRig and Capercaillie singing in Gaelic, we have had since the 1950s the resurgence of Scots folksong and there are now a large number of poets and songwriters writing in the various dialects of Scots. Tom Leonard and Liz Lochhead writing in Glaswegian, Michael Marra writing in Dundonian, the late Davy Steel writing in Lothian, and a host of others - I give those merely as examples.

(To be continued when time permits)

Part 3


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