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fenlan

Scots - a dialect or a language?

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fenlan

http://www.mithertongue.co.uk/lang01.shtml

Since the 1970s, various groups have fought to regain respect and status for the Scots language. The General Register Office for Scotland, which conducts population surveys, estimated in 1996 that 1.5 million people speak Scots - 30% of the Scottish population. However, the vast majority of people are influenced by it and often borrow Scots words or idioms into their English or Gaelic. In Scotland today, the language is also commonly known by the alternative names Doric and Auld Scotch, is officially recognised by the UK government under Part II of the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and acknowledged by the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Office as one of the indigenous languages of Scotland. Since 1996, Scottish Education Department guidelines have allowed some study of Scots as an option within the age 5-14 school curriculum

The language DOES exist and is spoken by 1.5 million. Liuzhou has obviously managed to grow up in Scotland unaware of it.

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liuzhou

I am not unaware of Scots! Nothing I have said indicates such.

I merely said that the sample given is English and I stand by that. It contains 83 words, all of which are standard English except two, both of which exist in other dialects of English. 97.6% similarity. Of all the grammatical constructions, only one (repeated) is not standard English.

Now will you stop insulting me, please. There is no need to be personal. I'd like to see you insult me to my face. You may learn slightly more Scots than you bargained for.

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fenlan
I am not unaware of Scots! Nothing I have said indicates such.

I merely said that the sample given is English and I stand by that. It contains 83 words, all of which are standard English except two, both of which exist in other dialects of English. 97.6% similarity. Of all the grammatical constructions, only one (repeated) is not standard English.

Yes, you are unaware of Scots. You said no one speaks it (= zero persons in the world) and you have never heard of anyone spelling good as "guid". Well, you are unaware of dialectal writing, in that case. So, don't pretend you knew about Scots all along!! :x

Now you say your whole point was that the passage was "English". Please read the title of this thread. I did not deny necessarily that Scots was a variety of English. It is either a dialect or a language. If a dialect, then it is by definition English. If a language, then are you saying that the passage that I gave was not good Scots, so that, translated into Scots, it would be any different that the book by the Luath Press (www.luath.co.uk) has it? You're confused. Some dialects of northern English have had a lot of the same influences as Scots. This is probably what you're referring to. But the passage *was* good Scots. It was the genuine Scots spoken around Aberdeen.

Your intervention in this thread was intended to be purely destructive. You claimed an expert knowledge of something it later transpired you were not expert in, in order to trash it. :nono

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liuzhou

It is clear that you are unable to discuss anything without using personal insults. It is not necessary to agree with everything, but there is NO excuse for this abuse.

You apologised (indirectly) then continued to insult me. You invalidate every point you make by your rude, arrogant and childish behaviour.

Goodbye.

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nipponman

I think the crux of the matter lies in the fact that we are quibbiling about the definition of "dialect" and "language". I think this is a hotly debated issue even among the most erudite of linguists. I think that an example of a dialectal difference, would be something like ebonics ("what it is yo") which comes from standard English ("How are you"). An example of language difference would be, Japanese (o-genki desu ka) and chinese (ni3 chi1 fan4 le5 ma5)? Is "Scots" a different language? I don't know. But I cannot understand it, I can't even read it! So I would assume that it is a different language.

nipponman

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geraldc

Just a random passage from Trainspotting below:

"She married ma Grandad first likes, a chancin auld cowboy fae County Wexford. The auld dude used tae sit ma Ma oan his lap n sing tae hur: Irish rebel songs, likesay. He hud hair growin oot ay his nostrils n she thought thit he wis ancient, the wey anklebiters do, likes. Anyway this gadge sortay blew it likes, kinday fell fae the top-flair windae ay a tenement. He wis shaggin this other woman at the time, no Na Na likesay. Naebody could really tell whether it wis drunkenness, suicide, or likesay...well baith. Anywey, that yin left her wi three bairns, includin ma Ma."

I don't know whether Irvine Welsh uses standard Scots spelling, or if such a thing exists, but if you gave a standard text to a scotsman no doubt they would pronounce "old" the same as "auld", "to" as "tae" etc.

Most of my friends have read Trainspotting too, and no one had any difficulty understanding it.

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nipponman

Yeah, I read this and I could understand it but it took me a second to get through it. So I think it is a matter of spelling really, which, incidently, wasn't standardized until two centuries (three?) ago. So, if the passage could be written in readable english spelling, maybe we might see that it is just a dialect of English.

nipponman

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fenlan
It is clear that you are unable to discuss anything without using personal insults. It is not necessary to agree with everything, but there is NO excuse for this abuse.

You apologised (indirectly) then continued to insult me. You invalidate every point you make by your rude, arrogant and childish behaviour.

Goodbye.

Liuzhou, I may have exposed your ignorance more than it was necessary to. But I was frustrated that I was genuinely trying to offer something likely to be of interest to foreign learners of English, and had someone, claiming expert knowledge, rather ignorantly pooh-poohing what I had written. Look at it from my point of view too. When you can't answer a point, you claim to have been abused. I have posted a few good sites that show your intervention to have been destructive and ignorant. Yes, people in Scotland DO speak Scots. Yes, good is spelt "guid" to this very day in dialect writing, which tries to adhere to historical norms. No, I did not say Scottish was a separate language. If you have a PhD in linguistics, it certainly wasn't in any subjectly even remotely connected to Lowland Scots. I may have been too merciless in proving your ignorance; you also erred by refusing to back down when you were clearly wrong. Yes, go and nurse your wounds!

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geraldc

Fenlan, you are going a bit OTT here. I don't see why you're badgering Liuzhou just because he doesn't agree with you. It's a discussion forum after all.

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fenlan
Yeah, I read this and I could understand it but it took me a second to get through it. So I think it is a matter of spelling really, which, incidently, wasn't standardized until two centuries (three?) ago. So, if the passage could be written in readable english spelling, maybe we might see that it is just a dialect of English.

Yes, Nipponman, that's right. It is a dialect of English. There are lots of individual words that would be hard to understand though, but my hunch is that Scots are not divided strictly into speakers of Standard English and speakers of Scots, but that they form a continuum, with some people using more, some using fewer Scots words/pronunciation/grammar. Also, most, if not all, of the speakers can probably speaker broader or less broad Scots as the occasion demands. This is Robbie Burns' famous Address to the Haggis, which is recited on Burns night January 25th:

Address to a Haggis.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!

Aboon them a' ye tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye wordy of a grace

As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,

Your hurdies like a distant hill,

Your pin wad help to mend a mill

In time o need,

While thro your pores the dews distil

Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,

An cut you up wi ready slight,

Trenching your gushing entrails bright,

Like onie ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sight,

Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:

Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,

Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve

Are bent like drums;

The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,

'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,

Or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad mak her spew

Wi perfect sconner,

Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view

On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,

As feckless as a wither'd rash,

His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,

His nieve a nit:

Thro bloody flood or field to dash,

O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread,

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,

He'll make it whissle;

An legs an arms, an heads will sned,

Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies:

But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,

Gie her a Haggis!

As you can see some of it requires a glossary. Hurdies in the second stanza means "buttocks" for instance. Sonsie = cheerful etc.

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fenlan

Geraldc, Liuzhou hasn't let it drop. He keeps on coming back to say he has been insulted. It is a discussion forum, but whether there is anyone who speaks Scots, or whether Scots dialect writers spell good as "guid" cannot be determined by discussion. They are simply facts. You either know the facts, or you don't.

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geraldc

Sorry for long cut and paste post, but site does require registration.

http://news.scotsman.com/archive.cfm?id=1765172005

Patter merchant

LOUISA PEARSON

IF you're looking for a language to insult someone in, it doesn't come any better than Scots. There's something deeply satisfying about looking your adversary in the eye and announcing: "Yer erse is oot the windae." Looking for a word to get your point across? How about eejit, bampot or numpty? When English won't do, flick through your Scots dictionary and you'll find something perfect.

Most of us use Scots vocabulary without thinking about it. But what one person considers to be good Scots, another looks on as simply bad English. Are these colourful words and phrases just slang? Or are they something to be savoured and preserved for future generations?

Ask this question and you might find yourself embroiled in a stooshie. The Scots language has been back on the political agenda for some time now - if you want proof, check out the Scottish Parliament's website and click on the Scots translation button. Here you'll be informed: "The Scottish Pairlament is here for tae represent aw Scotland's folk." When the site was launched, it was praised and derided in equal measure - some critics complained the translations weren't accurate, while others questioned spending public money on the translation of a dead language.

Don't say such things within earshot of Dr Chris Robinson of the University of Edinburgh. An expert in Scots, she is adamant that the language is alive and kicking. And, on the debate about whether Scots is a language at all, she can clarify: it has been recognised by the European Commission for Minority or Lesser-Used Languages. "It never stopped being used by its native speakers," she says. "The fact that you never actually learn to read Scots makes it seem strange to people. But there are actually more people who are good Scots speakers than would claim to be - and they need to be telt that they're good at it.

"What started to go wrong," she adds, "was that you have a smaller country beside a larger country, and a lot of the typesetters and printers were English, so you'd send your text away in braid Scots and it would come back heavily edited. Then there was the Reformation and a law that said every house had to have a bible. There wasn't a Scots version widely available so the one everybody had was the Geneva Bible in English. The next thing that happened was the Union of the Parliaments, where the power base moved to the south and English became the posh thing to speak."

That sounds like a gloomy analysis for Scots, but there are positives too. Robinson points to a new swell of literature being produced today in Scots by writers such as Anne Donovan, whose novel Buddha Da was nominated for the Orange Prize in 2003, award-winning James Robertson and Matthew Fitt, author of the first Scots science-fiction novel, But n Ben A Go-Go. "It is still very much part of everyday speech and there is a resurgence of good literature," she says. "I think there's also an attitude of increased tolerance - people are more accepting of other languages."

That tolerance of regional accents and vocabularies can be heard on our TV. Television was once regarded as a threat to linguistic diversity, but it appears the opposite has happened.

"I know that TV certainly influences the way people speak," says Michael Munro, author of The Complete Patter, an acclaimed guide to the Glasgow dialect. "A lot of kids nowadays use expressions from American sitcoms, like 'I am so not going to that party', and that kind of thing. But they still use more local expressions - talking about things being mingin' or boggin', for example."

Munro points out that the language keeps evolving. "One expression that I hear a lot, which certainly wasn't around 20 years ago, is when somebody wants to avoid something, they say, 'We'll give it a dinghy'," he says. "Which is encouraging because it makes me think that there's still life in the vernacular."

We've even reached the stage where some popular Scots words have been incorporated into standard English dictionaries - this year it was "ned", "chib" and "a square-go" that had the honour. "You have phrases such as 'pure dead brilliant' in City Lights, and 'gonnae no dae that' in Chewin' the Fat, which give colour and a sense of place in terms of where the comedy's coming from," says Colin Gilbert, managing director of the Comedy Unit, the production company behind Still Game, Only an Excuse and Rab C Nesbitt.

"When people start quoting from comedy programmes, it tends to bring certain words to the fore," he says. "They end up in the dictionary, because they've become common parlance. The word 'mingin'' has certainly crossed the border."

However vibrant it seems, though, Scots can't quite shake off its negative connotations. Professor Christian Kay of the University of Glasgow, who contributes to an electronic archive dedicated to the languages of Scotland, says, "I was talking to somebody the other day and I asked her if she ever read anything in Scots. 'No,' she replied, 'I don't like reading that slang, I prefer proper English.'"

But despite the challenge, Kay thinks Scots is in a livelier state than a couple of decades ago. "I think the Parliament's had something to do with that - the greater sense of Scottish identity. Also, the education system does not discourage it to the extent it used to. It may not positively encourage it enough, but there isn't quite so much stress on everybody using Standard English." As for the impact of popular culture, Kay says that the evidence isn't so much that TV levels out language, but that strong regional accents from all over Britain seem to be thriving.

One man who would agree is Ford Kiernan. The writer and actor, who makes up one half of the Chewin' the Fat and Still Game team, is in no small part responsible for making the Scots voice heard. "We don't consciously try to colloquialise what we're writing, we just write what we know about," he says. "So if that comes out in the writing and people laugh at that, it's a happy coincidence. I'm of the opinion that it's important to hang on to your roots and speak in your regional accent, but not to be silly about it - if you're not getting your message across, that would be a mistake."

Kiernan says he and co-writer Greg Hemphill were initially surprised by the way in which some of their catchphrases have been adopted. In the case of "gonnae no dae that", he says he has a collection of newspaper cuttings to show the phrase's evolution. "There was a story about Sean Connery and it was 'Connery no dae that', then some story about somebody took a heart attack laughing, it was 'Coronary no dae that'. I've got a pile of corruptions of that catchphrase."

So whether it's on the TV, in the playground or the pub, evidence suggests Scots refuses to keel over and die. Why not flex your Scots vocabulary? If anyone tells you to haud yer wheesht, simply tell them to staun aside and then gie it laldie.

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geraldc

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/scots/index.htm

I shall have to write to complain that they don't have an option to display the Chinese text in simplified :mrgreen:

This report is great, it's readable, but at the same time totally mad, especially for someone who's never really considered the concept of Scots before today (and to be honest is still pretty sceptical about it)

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/historic/education/reports-03/edr03-02-vol02-02.htm

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roddy
Fenlan, you are going a bit OTT here. I don't see why you're badgering Liuzhou just because he doesn't agree with you.
Geraldc, Liuzhou hasn't let it drop. He keeps on coming back to say he has been insulted

Well, someone is going to have to be big enough to let it drop, because if a topic as obscure and irrelevant as this one ends up in this kind of nonsense, what hope is there for the rest of the board :help

Frankly I don't care about who is right and who is wrong, and I can't be bothered to read the thread in enough detail to find out, but I know that Fenlan calling people uneducated and ignorant is hardly polite or constructive, and it shouldn't happen. Even if someone is misinformed, there are better ways of handling it than that - and if they don't work, then drop it.

Honestly, it's like a kindergarten full of highly-skilled linguists in here sometimes :mrgreen:

As an aside, could everyone (notably you, Fenlan) refrain from making two posts in a row - if you want to add something, edit it into your original post.

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fenlan

geraldc's Scottish parliament link is wonderful::

We want tae mak siccar that as mony folk as can is able tae find oot aboot whit the Scottish Pairlament dis and whit wey it warks. We hae producit information anent the Pairlament in a reenge o different leids tae help ye tae find oot mair.

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devi9
fenlan, here is a free software for Windows that let's you convert between many audio formats (mp3, wma, wav, rm, etc).

Sorry to reply so late. gato, is this something I could use to convert it myself? I tried to do use it from a Mac and it didn't work. Maybe I did something wrong? :help

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gato

devi9, the software only runs on Windows. There are similar software for the Mac, but I don't think any is free exactly. You might have to pay $20-30.

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Dennis

Don't turn this forum into a chatroom.

This forum is intended to asked questions about the Chinese language or to post comments that help people who got stuck in the language to continueing their study.

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