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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Speakin o S'Minnins

17th February 2011

In addition to visits made to Kirkcaldy and Buckhaven, Dauvit Horsbroch and Katrina MacLeod from the Scots Language Centre also visited St Monans in the East Neuk of Fife, on Thursday 10 February. St Monans – known in the Scots of the region as S’Minnins, and its inhabitants as S’Minniners – lies in the western half of the East Neuk and was formerly a busy fishing town. The Centre met with a large group of local residents in the Mayview Hotel to hear their own views on the Scots language at both a local and national level. Much of the conversation took place in Scots, and what wonderful Scots it was too, spoken by individuals who have a strong sense of identity and tradition. Early on there was some discussion of the upcoming Scots question on the census and whether this was something that people in St Monans thought was useful. There was a strong consensus that having the census question would improve awareness of issues connected with the language and, in particular, Vicki Salvage stated that it could be very useful for improving school resources in Scots. Indeed, there was a clear concern among those present that the children of St Monans should be able to access the language within school time and residents had been looking at ways in which this might be achieved in an already busy curriculum. Some discussion followed describing the ways in which the language had changed between generations. Two particular areas stood out as examples. Harry Montador and Alec Ireland led discussion on by-names or nicknames used for various family members and characters around the town, down through the years. Also, it was most interesting to hear that during their own lifetimes some of the Scots names in the town had been changed from, say, gait or wynd, to street, though more recently the council had erected signs stating that such and such a street was formerly called gait or wynd, or whatever the Scots form had been. In connection with this the S’Minniners also listed various names they had in Scots for people and places in the East Neuk. The contribution that the fishing industry had made to the East Neuk dialect was touched on, including boat building and the lives of fishing crews. Local poet, John Brewster, told the Centre a little about how he got into writing Scots and what it meant to the identity of the region. The residents were keen to incorporate the Scots language into the town gala and were also looking at ways in which this might be achieved.

Taking part in the discussion were Brian Craib, Ruth Craib, Vicki Salvage, Philip Hughes, Nancy Latto, Harry Montador, Alec Ireland, Jessie Tarvet, John Brewster and Ena Hughes (nee Montador). The Scots Language Centre would like to thank Vicki Salvage and Ena Hughes for making our visit possible.