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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

No mincing words

18th April 2016

A North East MP has recently been highlighting the Scots language among Scottish politicians. Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman, who was elected to the seat in May 2015, recently left Westminster clerks puzzled by her use of the word ‘mince’ and was contacted by the writers of Hansard – who keep the record of proceedings – to clarify. Blackman, in the course of criticising standing orders had used the term ‘mince’. In spoken Scots today the word mince has come to describe anything that is below standard or rubbish. It is a good example of a number of words shared in common between English and Scots, but which often also have a separate meaning in Scots, such as doot (English doubt) which can have the exact opposite sense to English usage – ‘A doot he’ll gae the morn’ (‘I’m sure he’ll go tomorrow’) being an example. Another good example is the line- ‘Is that you?’ which is equivalent to English ‘Are you ready?’ And what would Hansard make of – ‘A canna get daein it for him’ which becomes ‘I’m not able to do it because of him’ in English. Blackman indicated that Scottish MPs did not often use words from Scots, and commented “I’ve been trying to use Scottish words in the House where I can. Scots is such a great spoken language.”