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Take Pride in our Languages


Well, this is it, Grumpa is just checking out the audio on his awarding-winning story. Only a little bit more to do before it gets uploaded to the website.

It has been the longest journey with many challenges. Most importantly and the first hurdle I stumbled over was finding a Gaelic voice for Grumpa that was unique and yet clear. Up stepped Alasdair MacMhaorin, who I can’t thank enough, with his Canadian Sutherland Gaelic accent.

The Sutherland Gaelic accent is fast declining. It is even more important that we can still hear it and have recordings to fall back on if necessary. Ironically, one of the first meetings I ever had with Alasdair was when he was recording our older Gaelic locals in Sutherland. I had no idea all these years later I would be asking him to record himself.

Just because we don’t now hear so many speakers using the language found within Sutherland doesn’t mean the Gaelic there is somehow of any less value than say if it was from one of the islands.

Our young Gaels need to hear all this amazing variety of Gaelic to further their own language journey. Accents need to be accepted never mind how many or few speakers there are. The different ways you can express yourself in any tongue can only increase the value, diversity, and richness of that language.

That goes for Scots too. A discussion developed this week on how acceptable or not it is within the world of publishing tae wraite in Scots. It’s a sair fecht, right enough. Apart from a few Scottish publishers is it almost impossible to have written Scots published. It shouldnae be specialised it should be the norm.

It was after all our main spoken language at one point. So why is it so far behind in the amount of written work? Our National Bard is accepted and celebrated the world over and he certainly didn’t write in English. People all around the world read Scots. So there are readers out there.

Scots, in its many forms, have become diluted to such an extent it is fast declining. Even our accents when speaking English are beginning to all sound the same. Not so long ago you could tell where someone came from within a few miles. Now it is more like an area as we all ‘tidy-up’ our speech and dialect.

I listened the other day to someone on the radio from Dundee. They could have been from almost anywhere in Scotland. What happened to that strong accent? I used to love hearing the sing-song voice of my young child’s Highland accent and my cousin’s children's strong Dundonian accents together. There were so different but such a delight to hear on wee bairns.

It wasn’t that long ago that it was almost commonplace to hear people put down the Dundonian accent. “Aye, they are nice until they open their mooth.” Thankfully, phrases like these would be rightly frowned upon today. But what a setdown. It is understandable given such ideology that many lost their birth accents. Dundonian is so rich and unmistakable. It should be valued more and we should revel in its distinctness.

Why do we Scots do that? Put down ourselves and our culture? Why do we think other countries' cultures are so much more than our own? Yet so many peoples of the world value what we have and are desperate to claim to be of Scottish heritage.

I have seen a sort of pride restored in our various traditions and languages recently. I just have to believe we are not too late to save what we still have left.

Like Grumpa’s audio, I hope much has been recorded over the years of the different accents and languages of Scotland. We are so lucky to have all these rich traditions of words in one form or another. We Scots are diverse, our languages right now though are affy no weel. As they say in Gaelic, cleachd e, no caill e/use it or lose it.


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