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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Burns Nicht tip of iceberg

24th January 2013

Scots language Centre Director Michael Hance has called on Visit Scotland, and various other public agencies, to support the integrity of the Scots language. In particular, Hance highlighted a growing practice among public bodies who replace Scots with anglicised equivalents. He illustrated this in respect of Burns Nicht which had over the past couple of decades been anglicised to Burns Night. Supermarkets were also cited for replacing Scots names, with potato cakes replacing tattie scones, spring onions banishing syboes, ham ousting gammon and bacon confusing ham, cabbage forcing out kail, and turnips chasing away neeps and tumshies, while some staff looked bemused if they were asked for a poke to put the messages in. Hance also said that the sound ‘ch’- as in loch – was being lost in some regions due in large part to the influence of the media. Hance explained that Burns Nicht/Night illustrated well the general invisibility of Scots which resulted from agencies talking about and around Scots, but rarely, if ever, communicating through the language. He said “Many people can’t reproduce the basic sounds of the language because they’re either not allowed to hear it or rarely ever get to see it used in public spaces.” Responding to Mr Hance’s comments, Kate Turnbull of Visit Scotland said that commentary “ a broad Scots dialect is not always an option...” but she added that Visit Scotland would be happy to meet with the Scots Language Centre in order to discuss ways in which the two might work together to improve on the present situation.