The Scots government needs a Scots policy
We’re tellt that the census office will release data aboot language yiss in Scotland in September. This is a chynge fae the June date that wis advertised afore but I doot the’r naethin gaan on that we shuid get fasht aboot – it’s jist taen langer as they expected tae analyse the data. Ee noo we’v nae rael idea whit the feegirs will shaw. The auld GROS cairriet oot a ‘cognitive survey’ in tae language yiss in Scotland back in the 90s an at the time they estimated that aboot 1.5 million fowk in Scotland kent Scots an cuid speak it. The census relies on fowk tae self-assess their language abilities an tae report them honestly. It’s aye the case that some fowk willna unnnerstaun the quaistion an ithers michtna come fae a region o the kintrae whaur ‘Scots’ is aye cried ‘Scots’. Whitivver smaa issues there micht be in terms o hou reliable the data is we will hae information that we’v nivver had afore aboot whaur Scots speakers bides, whit age they are an whit kin o communities they belang.
Whit will maitter efter the feegirs is oot is hou the government an its agencies responds tae the data. This year we’v seen Bruce Eunson – the Shetland dialect officer – loss his job due tae lack o siller. Bruce wis the ae bodie in Scotland ither as the Scots Language Centre an Scottish Language Dictionaries staff that wis employed tae promote the language. That Bruce’s job cuid be daen awa wi tells us aboot the wey Scots is funded an hou little regaird there is for it; dowie-like in Bruce’s case this lack o support wis local as weel as national. Naither Shetland Islands Cooncil nor the Scots government cuid be persuaded tae gie ony new siller tae keep the post gaan. We’ll need tae hope that whan the data comes oot the government will hae proposals ready tae support Scots an that the sindrie agencies an campaigners that’s aye asking for support will hae workit-oot proposals tae gie the government aboot weys tae encourage the language nationally an locally.
We ken that the Scots co-ordinators posts will be advertised in September an that we’ll hae progress wi the Scots toun awards by then but we’ll need tae be realistic aboot whit’s possible wi the wee bittie siller that Scots haes been allocated. We maun aye ask, for example, whit wey millions shuid be spent on lookin efter historic biggins but sae little gien tae uphaud a living language wi a centuries auld culture.
As far as we ken there’s a wee bittie guid news on the siller front comin oot fae Creative Scotland but we need mair support fae central government if we’re tae hae ony chance o keeping Scots hale an hertie in the years tae come. But mair important nor jist siller is a clear statement o whit the government’s policy is for Scots. The’r nae sign the noo o ony kin o policy statement fae them. I hope that the release o he census data will see the government pittin a new focus on Scots wi a fully ootlined policy on the subject comin oot or lang.