Sunday, 4 July 2010

Language in Scotland

Holidaying in Scotland the other week, the Blether Region couldn't help but notice the greater — and different — visibility of both Scots and Gaelic in the country. True, East Belfast has the Gae Lairn centre and the visual punning of Reid, Black and Co., and West Belfast has a whole lot more when it comes to Irish. But none of it enters neutral territory — and, with the exception of those translations (with or without inverted commas), both speech varieties are still largely excluded from anything official. There are no Irish signs at the Northern Ireland Assembly, for example, though there is plenty of Gaelic to be seen in the Scottish Parliament.

In Scotland, instead of "Come Back Soon" there are signs saying "Haste Ye Back", and the sweet shops sell "soor plooms" — as well as the rather imposing-looking "Irn Bru frying-pans", which turn out to be bat-sized lollies in aluminium ramekins. The photo above shows a fishmonger called "Fantoosh Fish". The CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne) ferries have Gaelic signage alongside the English — granted, in a smaller typeface, but still a sight better than nothing. ScotRail has "Bun a'Chnuic" underneath "Hillfoot", while pragmatically leaving the more Scots-sounding "Hyndland" as the sole form.

And none of it is in any way controversial or artificial.

Food for thought — and not just the lollies.

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