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fenlan

Scots - a dialect or a language?

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fenlan

Although most people in Britain speak a very understandable form of English, about 30% of the Scottish population is said to speak Scots, a form of English that is more divergent than other dialects, and which is descended from Middle Scots, which at one stage was well on the way to becoming a separate language from English. I have a textbook to learn Scots written by an enthusiast who views Scots as a separate language. I have attached an audio of chapter 1.

This is the dialogue (I couldn't crop the file, but I have only transcribed the first part:

Whit's thon? (what's that, with the "wh" often sounding like an "f")

Hello, Isabel.

Whit like? (how are you)

Nae baud at aw, and whit like yersel? (not bad at all, and how are you yourself?)

Whit like's the bairns? (how are the children?)

Jis rair, aw o' us (great, all of us).

Whit a bonny day to be out and about.

Ay, it is that. (Ay - yes)

Are you getting yer messages? (are you getting your shopping?)

I'm sorry, whit did you say?

I'm saying, are you getting yer messages?

Ay, and whit about yersel?

I'm jist on ma way hame (I am just on my way home.)

Och, well, you're ahead o' me the day (well, you're ahead of me today.)

I'll awa now, see you after.

Ay, see you after.

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nipponman
Whit's thon? (what's that, with the "wh" often sounding like an "f")

Hello, Isabel.

Whit like? (how are you)

Nae baud at aw, and whit like yersel? (not bad at all, and how are you yourself?)

Whit like's the bairns? (how are the children?)

Jis rair, aw o' us (great, all of us).

Whit a bonny day to be out and about.

Ay, it is that. (Ay - yes)

Are you getting yer messages? (are you getting your shopping?)

I'm sorry, whit did you say?

I'm saying, are you getting yer messages?

Ay, and whit about yersel?

I'm jist on ma way hame (I am just on my way home.)

Och, well, you're ahead o' me the day (well, you're ahead of me today.)

I'll awa now, see you after.

Sounds like middle english to me.

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gato

Was this what they were speaking in the movie "Trainspotting"? Good thing it was subtitled -- in English. :wink:

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devi9

Is it possible to attach the recording in a wav file? I don't have Windows Media Player and I'd love to listen!

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liuzhou

If you regularise the spelling of that dialogue, the majority of it can be seen to be simple English. Take any regional accent, phoneticise the spelling and it will look equally strange.

(God knows what this has to do with Chinese culture or language, though!)

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chenpv

its much easier than the Middle English and Old English. i can totally understand the man's english in the voice file even though he speaks some Scots occasionally. and according to that man, what the woman speaks seems not so hard to guess. :)

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fenlan

I don't know how to convert WMA to WAV. Maybe someone here does. On the spelling: there is more than one system for spelling Scots, but the system I used is in line with the spelling of Scots in its classical period (Robbie Burns' poetry etc). For example, the standard spelling of good in Scots is "guid".

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fenlan

Gato, I can't remember what they were saying in Trainspotting. But there is a difference between Standard Scottish English, which is spoken with a Scottish accent and may be difficult for Americans to understand, and "Lowland Scots", which is what my audio file is, which is difficult even for English people to understand, particularly some passages more than others.

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gato

fenlan, here is a free software for Windows that let's you convert between many audio formats (mp3, wma, wav, rm, etc).

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/

Is Scots related to Gaelic? I hear a resemblance to "Irish English" in your recording.

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liuzhou
For example, the standard spelling of good in Scots is "guid".

I am Scottish and have never, ever known anyone to spell good as 'guid'. As I said before that dialogue is English.

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fenlan

No, the dialogue is NOT in English. Guid was the spelling used in the 1700s - if you don't know this, you are not a very highly educated person and should refrain from comment! A good introduction to Scots spelling is at http://www.scots-online.org/grammar/spelling.htm

You willl see (eg at http://www.stats.waikato.ac.nz/Staff/curran/haggis.htm) that Robbie Burns - have you heard of him, Liuzhou? - used "guid" in his Address to the Haggis. Ever heard of Burns night? January 25th?

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fenlan

Gato, Scots is derived from Old English, which in England became Middle English and then modern English, but in Scotland became Old Scots, then MIddle Scots then Lowland Scots today. It is not Gaelic derived.

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liuzhou

Thank you for your ill tempered reply to my post, Fenlan.

I see you have gone from

the standard spelling of good in Scots is "guid"
to
Guid was the spelling used in the 1700s

So, Burns used 'guid'. Big deal. If you look at any writer from anywhere in the English speaking world from the same time, you will find a lot of spellings considered non-standard today. In fact, at that time there was no standard as such.

I will ignore your childish and rude comments about my education other than to say that I have a PhD in Linguistics and have spent my entire life studying and teaching language. I recognise English when I see it.

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fenlan

Liuzhou, if you have spent your "entire life" in linguistics without ever reading a poem by Robbie Burns, or even becoming aware of Scots, then you are a testament to declining educational standards. The book published by the Lulath educational trust makes clear that there are rival spelling systems for lowland Scots today - 1) a system designed to minimise differences withEnglish; 2) a system based on classical Scots, eg of the Burns period; and 3) more phonetic systems with no historical roots. However, the Scottish National Dictionary Association, or some such body (the book is at home at the moment) recommends spellings of variety no. 2. This is the most frequent way of writing Scots today, when it is written, that is. Guid is the correct way of writing good in Scots today under spelling system no. 2. My comments to you were justified.

My title was "a dialect or a language". To point out that you think Scots is a dialect is therefore not a valid criticism of my post. Enthusiasts do believe it to be a language, along the same lines that Danish and NOrwegian are separate languages. Do a google search on "lowland Scots".

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liuzhou

If you are unable to carry on a discusion without resource to personal insults, then I'd rather leave you to yersel.

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fenlan

Liuzhou, a dictionary of the scots language is hosted on the University of Dundee website at http://www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/. Don't tell me the University of Dundee doesn't know what it is talking about :roll:

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wushijiao

Interesting stuff. :D Personally, I don't think whether good is "guid" or good is that important in asking whether Scottish is a dialect or a language. It all depends on the definition of those last two words.

I would say, and I'm no expert so feel free to critisize, that if a person from place X goes to place Y, how long will it take person from place X to understand Y's speech? If it is a fairly short amount of time, say, a Heilongjiangren going to Beijing or Shandong, then it is a dialect. If it is a person from Heilongjiang going to Guangdong, or more extreme, Brazil, then you have two different languages. There is no way a person from Heilongjiang could understand a Guangdonger or Brazilian in, say, three months or so.

From this point of view, I would guess that Scottish, as spoken now, is a dialect.

I think it's worth noting that some "languages" are so thought of for political reasons, not linguistic ones. The Scandanavian languages and languages like Serian/Croat/Bosnia come to mind.

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liuzhou
This sounds funny, does roddy speak like this?

Nobody speaks like this!

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fenlan

British government surveys show that 30% of the Scottish population speaks Scots. It is particularly prevalent around Aberdeen.

The situation is that Scottish schools teach Standard English, and writing in Scots dialect is just a hobby or for enthusiasts. Given that Scots has not benefited from official support, there is some debate on how to spell Scots, with the traditional spellings being one option. The following article on Scots spelling is by the Scots Language Society (see http://www.lallans.co.uk/airticles_1a.html).

Maugre a repute I hae for bein obsessed wi spellin, I maun disavou it here. Houiver, I wis the cheil that wis maistly responsible for caain thegither the Comatee that wrocht the 1998 report, unner the auspices first o the Scots Language Resource Centre, syne o the public meetin that set up the Comatee itsel as a sel-staunin body, chairged ti discuss an report. Til this day a wheen o ma ain editorial an spellin pratticks ar foondit on thon Report, an gin oniebodie peinges aboot that, I juist tell them that I am the ae Scots writer in Scotland that iver peyed the laest heed til onie ither bodie's advice.

But this is ti lowp intil the story at the wrang end aathegither, for the pynt o this innin is ti gie context til whit haes been a succession o initiatives on the spellin o Scots owre mair nor fifty year. Owre the neist wee whyle, as wab page development time micht come ti haun, I will eik mair an mair o the story, hauden back a bittie bi the fact that a wheen o the electronic texts I haed ti haun at ae time wis etten bi an ootbrek o the Klez virus.

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