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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Kirkcaldy and Buckhaven Visit

17th February 2011

On Thursday 10 February Dauvit Horsbroch and Katrina MacLeod from the Scots Language Centre visited the Linton Lane Centre in Kirkcaldy, Fife. As part of the Centre’s ongoing research into public attitudes towards the language, and also to speak about Scots in the census, several local residents agreed to come and chat about their own experiences of the language and local dialect. Among those present was Hazel Weierter (nee Clark) who has a strong connection with the language through her long standing membership of the Poosie Nansies ladies’ Burn Club. A native of Forres in Moray, Hazel lives in Kirkcaldy and told the Centre that she had been giving recitals of Burns for many years. She had definitely noticed, she said, that people had become less familiar with Scots words and their meanings over the last 30 or 40 years, but people still had much affection for Burns poems. She spoke about her impressions of the local dialect in Fife and gave some examples of her own native Morayshire Scots. The discussion was joined by several other Kirkcaldy residents who spoke at length about their own backgrounds – some from Fife, some from further afield – and how the Scots spoken in Kirkcaldy might differ from the East Neuk or other regions of Scotland. There was general agreement that the Scots spoken in the East Neuk was somewhat ‘broader’ than the Scots spoken in western Fife. Asked whether speaking Scots was confined to friends and family, every one said that Scots was still commonly spoken out and about the streets of the town. Craig Harkness spoke about the differences in accent to be heard around Scotland while Lilian Brzoska contributed some comments about her experiences of drama groups trying to use Scots for plays. Asked whether any one read much in Scots, Paul Mathieson replied that this was something that happened more than we realised because it was common for younger people to send text messages in their local dialects. It was also interesting to hear that the subject he got on best with at school was the one in which his teacher spoke in Scots to the pupils. The group was surprised by the idea of a census question but considered that it opened up all kinds of possibilities. After the visit to Kirkcaldy, the Centre also met with Margot Cook in Buckhaven who was happy to chat about her own experience as a Scots speaker growing up in St Monans. Margot, who has won prizes for her singing in Scots, described various differences in the Scots of the East Neuk, giving many fine examples.

Taking part in the discussions were Hazel Weierter, Kevin Goldie, Craig Harkness, Paul Mathieson, Emma Patton, Lilian Kennedy Brzoska and Margot Cook. The Scots Language Centre would like to thank Mandy Henderson (Linton Lane Centre) and Glenys Anderson who helped to arrange the meetings.