Wednesday, 27 June 2012


The BBC reports on the language commitments in Highland Council's new "programme of priorities". Michael Hance of the Scots Language Centre makes the very reasonable point that, notwithstanding what that says, the dialect of Caithness is taxonomically Scots. The argument here is similar to that against terming Ulster Scots a "language": doing so sets marginally different Scots dialects against each other rather than against English, which is the real villain, politically and sociolinguistically.

In response, the Depute Leader of Highland Council, the Lib-Dem David Alston, still insists on referring to getting "bogged down in sterile debates" about the nature of languages and dialects.

Such posturing plainly goes against the framework of laws and declarations built up by successive UK and Scottish Governments and, in so doing, injects an unwelcome note of contemporary partisanship into the issue.

It is also sad that the speech of Caithness, already abused as a weapon against Scottish Gaelic, should now be similarly employed against Lowland Scots.

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