6th February 2017
A timely and very productive conference on the Scots language was recently held during the latest Burns anniversary. Called Scots@ed it was held in the University of Edinburgh on 25 January and brought together a number of academics working on the language with web-based resources. The central purposes of the day were, firstly, to showcase the language to other academics and students, and, secondly, to show how the research impacts on our wider community, including the ways Scots can be used by future students of linguistics and Scots language researchers.
Warren Maguire, of the University of Edinburgh, has been working with unpublished material from the 1950’s linguistic atlas of Scotland, and has now produced a fascinating map of the Scottish Borders which shows English and Scots speech not merging, but with a distinct division between them. Warren is producing maps of other regions which will be made available online.
Josef Fruehwald, who has made recordings of speech from in and around Edinburgh, spoke about the challenges of going into communities and getting people to speak. In a similar study, Gary Thomas has spoken with different age groups at 150 locations around Scotland, using a list of questions designed to test grammar, idiom and vocabulary. Designed for the Scots Syntax Atlas Project the results will be made available online as a series of maps.
Touching on other areas, Benjamin Molineaux and Joanna Kopaczyk have produced a very scholarly resource which seeks to match the spellings of Scots from earlier eras with sound files so that we may gain an insight into the sound of the language before recordings and sound files came along. Philip Bennet of the Scots French Society has been producing an updated version of a word book of Scots derived from French which will be made available online. Rachel Hosker also showed the conference the manuscripts in Scots that are available at The Centre for Research and can be accessed via the Angus MacIntosh Centre.
Towards the end of the conference there was a discussion and feedback session with a panel including Katrina MacLeod of the Scots Language Centre, together with Billy Kay, Ishbel McFarlane, Laura Green, and Hamish MacDonald. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity for academics and the public alike to see the important research being produced on the language and how it may be accessed online.