Spoken Scots In The Media Essay

7148 WordsJun 5, 201129 Pages
Scottish Affairs, no.21, autumn 1997 SPOKEN SCOTS IN THE MEDIA Mike Cormack Despite the recent upsurge in writing about the Scottish media (e.g. Dick 1990; MacInnes 1992 and 1993; Meech and Kilborn 1992; Smith 1994) little comment has been made on the use of spoken Scots, beyond a few brief mentions. Language is central to the media and also to questions of nationality and collective identity, and is therefore an issue of some importance. Given, however, that there is still debate as to whether or not Scots should be allowed the status of a language, perhaps this neglect is not so surprising. 'Scots' is here taken to mean those forms of language spoken in Scotland which derive ultimately from Anglo-Saxon but more recently from the Middle Scots of the 15th and 16th centuries, and which have traditionally included various dialectical forms, such as Southern, West Central, East Central and Northern variants, but now also include various urban forms such as contemporary Glaswegian. The justification for linking these under one term is that they have shared features which distinguish them from English regional dialects, as well as a different, shared history from the English dialects owing to the political unity of Scotland before 1707. If Scots is seen simply as a dialect (or a collection of dialects) of English, then there may seem to be less reason to treat it as a signifier of nationality or to concern ourselves with its appearances in the media. But even if considered as a dialect it has a richness which A.J.Aitken has noted when writing that 'in quantity, distinction and variety this literature [in Scots] far outshines the "dialect literatures" of any other part of the English-speaking world' (Aitken 1984b, p.528). Elsewhere he describes Scotland as a 'dialect island within the English-speaking world' (Aitken 1984a, p.111). The difference between a dialect and

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