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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Feegurs we soudnae forget

17th March 2014

The follaein airticle first appeared in the Scots Independent an is reproduced here wi the kind permission o Ken Fraser.

As this is bein wrutten at the saison o guidwull, it gies me a chance ti pit pairty poalitics aside for aince, an turn ti a cultural matter. Thaim wi parteeclarly guid eesicht wul hae seen, three months syne, ane or twa wee articles i the papers aboot the first ivver census ootcum for Scots. It shawed there war ane an a hauf million fowk that spak the leid (30% o the haill population) comparit wi 58,000 for Gaelic.

Scots, than, ocht ti be seen as ane o the foonds o Scottish culture an the Scottish eedentity. Sae whit daes the Scottish Government dae ti mak its poseetion siccar? Thir feegurs gang the ither wey roun. The Scottish Budget for 2013/14 tells us £25 million is spent on forderin Gaelic, whuther throu televeesion programmes, subsidies for publishin buiks, Gaelic lairnin schames, festivals, bilingual signs, an muckle mair. It’s no clair whuther or no this soum taks accoont o the cost o Gaelic schuils.

An whit aboot Scots? The Budget haes a line aboot forderin Scots unner “Eddication”, but daesnae gie a feegur, likely acause it is that smaa. A weel-qualifeed juidge haes telt me the feegur (efter gaun up a wee bit unner the SNP) micht nou be aboot £500,000. That gies a haud ti Scots buiks an performan airts, forbye twa-three Scots Leid advisors for schuils.

Nou lat us turn ti Norlan Airlan. The census there shaws that ainly 35,000 fowk spak Ulster Scots, tho there micht be quaistions aboot hou they gat this affcum (e.g., 2200 threipit that they spak the leid, but didnae unnerstaun it!) The Government’s heize ti Ulster Scots costs £2.8 million a year. Sae we’ll can calculate that for ilka speaker o Gaelic, £431 (or mair?) o Government siller is spent; for ilka speaker o Ulster Scots, £80; an for ilka speaker o Scots in Scotland, 34 pence  a year.

Shairly thir feegurs speak for theirsels. We’ll can aa gree that Gaelic deserves the siller spent on it; soudnae Scots, tho, hae juist as heich a place in oor herts if no in oor budget?

It wul be pyntit oot that in thir derk days the Scottish Government haes nae rowth o siller. But mair coud be duin wioot aipenin their pooches that muckle. A year syne, the Meenisterial Warkan Curn’s report pyntit the wey furrit. The Government soud nou blaw the stour aff it!

Kenneth Fraser