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31 MIN READ TIME

Wee Ginger Dug

It’s hard to understand the vehemence and sheer venom of the attacks that you get on social media when you dare to write about Scottish language issues. Language is a topic that for some bizarre reason seems to be immune to reason and logic. You can cite academic texts, you can quote from papers or books written by renowned experts in the field of linguistics, and you’ll still get someone whose knowledge of linguistics begins and ends with a school qualification in English popping up to tell you that you’re wrong. You’ll get people who don’t speak Scots informing you that words which appear in Scots dictionaries and have been recorded and defined by academics are not in fact proper Scots. Because if this person who doesn’t speak Scots has never heard a Scots word or pronunciation or it hasn’t impinged on the consciousness of someone who doesn’t speak Scots and who isn’t interested in Scots, then the word in question can’t possibly be Scots.

It’s not just Scots that comes in for wilful ignorance. You’ll get people who know nothing about the history of Celtic languages telling you that Gaelic was never spoken in a particular area of Scotland where Gaelic placenames lie thick on the ground. And then when you point out these placenames to the person and ask where they came from, they’ll reply with the immense confidence of someone who knows too little to realise how little they know, and tell you they come from ScotRail. And then they’ll howl in outrage at how Gaelic is being imposed on them, because it’s an offence to their eyeballs to have to see a couple of Gaelic words on a railway station sign. And then, having sought out things to feel victimised by, they accuse everyone else of grievance hunting.

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September 2018
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