Friday, 5 June 2015

Mean Scribes

The BBC reports that Creative Scotland has launched a new role for a "Scots scriever", a writer in residence expected to produce original work over a two-year period. The use of "scriever" as a direct equivalent of English "writer" of course typifies a tendency in contemporary Scots writing to go for difference over accuracy.  For all the term's similarity to more or less neutral words in other Germanic languages, the DSL confirms that not to be the case in Scots.
I. v. 1. To write, esp. to write easily and copiously (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 193; Ayr. 1880 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 341; Sh., Abd., Kcd., Ags., Per., Edb. 1969). Vbl.n. scri(e)ving. Agent n. scriever, skriever, a writer, used somewhat contemptuously, a scribbler, “a mean scribe” (Lth. 1825 Jam.). 
This is of course but the beginning of what one hopes will turn out to be an overarching and carefully planned Government policy on the language, showing parity of esteem, though not equality of action, with Scottish Gaelic.

In that regard, it is disappointing to read the following:
"The Scots Scriever will be expected to produce work in all the variants and dialects of Scots [...]"
It would of course be perfectly possible for a speaker of Doric to produce work in Central Scots, which after all is the language of most literature, and if one can produce work in Central Scots, Southern and in particular Ulster Scots surely don't present an insuperable challenge. But would that same writer be capable of producing work in Insular varieties? If so, he or she would be a great linguist.

However, these points are minor. The day is one of celebration and hope.

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