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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Cameron and Salmond Beasties

26th January 2012

The 25th January is the day we celebrate Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns (1759-1796), who wrote in the Scots language. This was the same day that the Scottish Government chose to launch its consultation document for holding a referendum on Scottish independence, and, appropriately enough, the debates and interviews throughout the day were accompanied by quotes from the works of Burns. The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, visited the Scottish Storytelling Centre, in Edinburgh, where children were learning about Robert Burns, his life, and the language, and later, during debate in the parliament, the First Minister quoted from  ‘Is There For Honest Poverty’: “See yon birkie ca’d ‘a lord’, Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that? In London, during Prime Minister’s Question Time, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, quoted a well known extract from Burns’s ‘To A Mouse’: “Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie, O, What a panic’s in thy breastie!” However, as Channel 4 News commented, the Prime Minister’s pronunciation of Scots was not as it should have been and they later asked Mr Salmond to give his own rendition to the camera.