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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Video about a sandwich

3rd August 2020

Occasionally someone comes along who is very perceptive. Someone with something simple but profound to say. Artist Róisín Gallagher who hails from Falkirk is just such a person. In her project - Bad English, 2020 – entered for the John Byrne Award – Gallagher presents a video of her talking about language, how we use language, and how others may not want us to use language. The theme – about the Scots word for sandwich – is simple, but very effective. She explains that “My aim is to get people more comfortable and acquainted with Scots and through my art practice I address the taught self-hatred we have towards the way we talk. My work explores and supports the recognition of Scots as a language and hopes to address damage done by school systems that brought up the generations before mine…When phrases and words used in daily life are reduced to “slang” and speakers encouraged to “talk properly”, these rich and emotive words are excluded from the vernacular, the speaker loses a part of their cultural identity and the words lost to history.”

The video, which reproduces her words visually as she speaks, is spelled to represent the accent, intonation, and vocabulary as Gallagher feels and sees it. She comments “Through writing the text phonetically using the Falkirk dialect the audience is invited to sound out these words even if they do not understand them. Part of the process of writing these works is dealing with the struggle of never being allowed to fully embrace Scots in my education.” But what matters most of all is the profound message carried through her words. To watch the video please follow the link below.