Monday, 26 March 2012

Black Swan?

The DUP's Robin Swann has tabled some interesting Assembly questions on matters Ulster-Scots in recent days. Last Thursday, for example, he asked the Minister "whether she has received or sought any advice from the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Ulster Scots Academy in relation to how the decade of centenaries should be commemorated or celebrated."

In the past the Blether Region has been mildly critical of the ministerial advisory group for spending part of its funds on "history, heritage and culture" projects, which have included Plantation archaeology, its argument being that such non-linguistic funding has the effect of needlessly alienating the third of speakers who are Catholic and thus bringing forward the dialect's foreseeable demise. That is not to say that Plantation archaeology is not of vital historical interest, but it is surely not beyond the capability of Government to fund it through another channel — nor beyond the nous of the ministerial advisory group to think of something linguistic to spend its siller on.

The "decade of centenaries" is of course a calendar of political anniversaries and as such has more to do with Unionism vs. Nationalism than with Lowland Scots vis-à-vis Standard English. Thus far the ministerial advisory group has shown only slight signs of emulating the Ulster-Scots Agency's wilful and in many cases laughably anachronistic conflation of linguistic, political and religious traditions.

It would be a great shame altogether if its members paid any attention to Robin Swann.

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