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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Hoots mon! Whaur's ma leid?


In 1986 an episode of the English TV comedy series Blackadder II featured actor Hugh Laurie playing a master spy and impersonator, one of whose characters was Mary, Queen of Scots. Getting into character for a moment, with head tucked under arm gesture, he declared (in a dubbed over female voice) “Hoots mon! Whar’s ma heid?” As we shall see, this brief sentence, in Scots, comes as near to the real languages of Mary as any have ever done, and provides us with the basis for the title of our feature – Hoots mon! Whaur’s ma leid? or, in English, for goodness sake, where’s my language?

In this feature we explore the real Queen Mary, the French and Scots speaker, who has long been misrepresented by the broadcast media, and some writers, as English-accented and English-speaking. We will also explore the ethnic, social and political tensions that have largely contributed to this false image of our queen, and why the idea became rooted that a Scots-speaking monarch should be inconceivable.

In the menu on the left you will see a number of articles describing the Scotland of Queen Mary, her languages, and examples of writing.