Lost in translation…

THE Ulster-Scots Agency is advertising for a development officer, one of whose duties will be to promote the “language”. Not a moment too soon, from the looks of it – the ad only appeared in English. The controversy and ridicule attracted by previous ads seems to have finally gotten the better of the agency. Or is it just that there’s no-one left at the agency who knows how to write in their “ain leid”..?

  • pat

    I think that is very unfair of Gonzo after all I and many others have been reading this ancient language for years on the back pages of the Sunday Post.

    For many years this ancient language was referred to as The Broons due to lack of funding to promote it to the outside world. Thankfully though the un-Democratic Unionist Party/Northern Ireland Fascist Party (DUP/NIFP) has come to it’s aid and ensured that much needed funds are diverted from the Health and Education budgets to ensure it’s survival.

    People who say this ancient language is only English spoken with a strong Scotch accent ha nay edya whot thar tailkan aboot.

  • iluvni

    my favourite Ulster-Scots job ad in the Belfast Telegraph was the one for an ‘offis heid’….or admin manager.

  • GurnyGub

    Ah, The Broons!! Who could forget “Ra Chookie Embra”?

  • paddyjoe

    i once watched an ulster scots bash at the city hall on tv a couple of years ago. there was this guy getting interviewed as a couple of wee lassies danced over swords. the interviewee asked him could he get anyone to say a few words in ulster scots. his reply was that the person who spoke the language wasnt feeling well on that particular day so he couldnt attend. i nearly fell off my chair

  • Bemused

    Christ! Have these tiresome twats still not done the decent thing and just packed up their tent?!?!?

    Best ‘Ulster Scots’ story I’ve heard concerns some press release for one of their charity evenings which had Mencap as a benefactor. Describing the work that Mencap effected with mentally-handicapped young people the blurb went on to describe such children as “wee dafty wains”.

    Really – these prats should have been placed on a boat with Willie Frazer et al a long, long time ago and sent to bonnie scotland where they so clearly think/wish they live.

  • lineout

    i don’t personally know a single prod who doesn’t take the piss out of the buck eejits involved in this ulster scots rubbish, im glad to say.

    it is the biggest pile of crap based on the little pile of exageration and fantasy. and of course the allaeged champion and most dearly held ulster scots speaker of all time was the great rabbie burns – who never set foot in ulster in his life.

    i wish they’d do themselves a favour and give the rest of us a break and pack it in. dance over swords all you want, run around in kilts and play pipes and weep about loch ness. but DON’T TELL US ULSTER SCOTS IS A BLOODY LANGUAGE – WE’RE NOT STUPID!

  • I found this classic statement on the Scots version of Wikipedia (http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Spellin_an_grammar) – straight up – it’s true!

    “Scots isna juist English written wi orra wirds an spellins. It haes its ain grammar an aw. If aw ye dae is tak an English text an chynge the spellins an swap a puckle wirds it’ll juist be Scotched English an no Scots.”

    I’ll take their word for it. Or should I say: Ah’ll tek thar wird furrit.

  • “Thankfully though the un-Democratic Unionist Party/Northern Ireland Fascist Party (DUP/NIFP) has come to it’s aid and ensured that much needed funds are diverted from the Health and Education budgets to ensure it’s survival.”

    I’m curious if the diversion of even larger amounts of money towards funding gaelic language programmes in Northern Ireland is causing the posters here as much concern.

    Frankly I don’t see any reason for promotion of languages to be funded by govt.

  • Naoise Nunn

    There was a great guy I knew in Belfast in the early 90s called Dad Gaston or Dan Eggs who wrote and published his own absurdist poetry. I remember he had a brilliant Antrim version of version of The House of the Rising Sun called A Midden in Aramoy. Does anyone know it or of the fate of Dan?

  • Naoise Nunn

    I found him here with a great Antrim dialect poem called Sweet Stella of Stranocum

    http://www.belfastpoets.com/daneggs

  • Dave

    Well I am surprised to read such comments about the Ulster-Scots. What has got people so worried that they resort to the weapon of riddicule?

    I always thought the lanuage as (Ballamena speak)but that was due to my ignorance.

    The internet is a wonderful tool, although it seems to me that these posters prefer to use the internet as a weapon.

    For those interested there are many websites which will give the readers a better insight and a true account of the ulster-Scots. Good luck to those who are Ulster-Scots it sure beats being Irish any day of the week. (No offence)

  • lineout

    oh, not only is ulster scots a language (guffaws) but now a nationality too (titters). and a ‘better’ one than the irish to boot! (cracks up) how nationalities are compared and categorised in this way, i’m not sure. how ulster scots came to be one, i’m baffled.

    dave, the internet is whatever people want to use it for. if you or whoever wants to use it to spread the word that a dialect is a language and now a nationality, then you can expect to be ridiculed by others who freely use it too.

    similarily, if i use it to spread the word that elvis lives in carryduff, then i can expect to be ridiculed. why? because that belief, like this ulster scots language crap, is obviously nonsense.

    as someone from what some might call the orange side of the fence i, feel it is my right and perhaps my duty to define this ulster scots language revelation as best i can… it’s utter bollocks. if that to you, dave, is me using a weapon, then i would advise you to look up weapon in your dictionary. and while you’re there, look up english, accent, ridiculous, nationality and excrement.

    now i’ll go back to watching my, and perhaps even your, team playing good rugby.

    and i don’t mean to play the man or the ball. i’m playing the balls.

  • lineout

    ps: that is, if you can work out which team is yours (it’s ireland v scotland, you see)

    *lineout*

  • Comrade Stalin

    My favourite Ulster Scots story is where some Ulster Scots signs were put up in a loyalist estate somewhere in Co Antrim, and promptly torn down by the locals who believed they were written in Irish.

  • Dave

    Hey Pat!

    Nice rant….I am not defending the Ulster-Scots as they don’t need defended. I was merely pointing out the fact that some bloggers were being unkind when there was no need to be so. (The story of the Frog and the Scorpion come to mind)

    Parity of esteem is a saying deployed by many bloggers on this site, unfortunately some don’t seem to grasp what that means and most certainly do not display or support the concept of respecting another culture their heritage or language, this is evident by their posts. Not only could I read their comments I could hear them and scariest of all feel them.

    The Ulster-Scots do a great job of defending themselves by ignoring simplistic and I’ll informed opinions and all the credit goes to those Ulster-Scots for doing so.

    I don’t define, class or categorise myself as an Ulster-Scot (I am an Ulster-Scot) not by culture or heritage nor by religion or language I am an Ulster-Scot by BLOOD. I am both Irish and Scottish (lucky old me eh)! Re: the rugby match played today I just couldn’t lose?

  • Ciaran

    Was Scotus (after whom Scotland is named) not an Ulster man?

    Ulster Scots is a sort of a homecoming (to paraphrase U2)

  • sean

    ‘I don’t define, class or categorise myself as an Ulster-Scot (I am an Ulster-Scot) not by culture or heritage nor by religion or language I am an Ulster-Scot by BLOOD. I am both Irish and Scottish (lucky old me eh)! Re: the rugby match played today I just couldn’t lose?’

    So where does the British fit into this? Are you Irish/Scottish, Northern Irish/British, Northern Irish/Scottish, Irish/Northern Irish/ Scottish/ British…….. confusion!
    Ulster-Scots is a dialect, not a language. Those of you who might wish to read some of the DIALECT, read Marshall’s poetry, which is ok, I think.

  • lineout

    i am also what one might call an ulster scot, except i personally find it a largely redundant and increasingly, and purposefully, divisive term.

    essentially today it defines a geographical concentration of politically like-minded people who are revisiting a revised history in what one could argue is a slighty desperate political act.

    in itself it is primarily a political construction. it is, in clear fact, neither a language nor a nationality and arguing so does a reasonable cultural proposition a great, and almost fatal, disservice.

    the key problem with the ulster scots movement is that it is built on a lie. this lie, you pre-agree, is best defended by people who ignore those who argue against it. this is not a sensible thing.

    people will understandly consider whatever follows this language lie argument as suspect. the ulster scots movement is its own worst enemy, and the ridicule it attracts is entirely of its own making.

    i naturally have regard for the ulster scots culture. i have no regard for lies. ditch the lies, admit those lies, don the kilts, strike up the band and we’ll say no more about it.

    just stop treating politically wise, cute and cunning people – like those of this province in which we live – like dickheads. that strategy will never work.

    as for parity of esteem, that’s a non starter. few in this land have the credentials which allow them to convincingly stick the knife into unreasonable arguments. the problem is that the fiercest criticism of the ulster scots movement comes from within the protestant (perhaps the ulster scots) community.

    and as to the rugby, ireland won and scotland lost. i am glad. i am from ireland.

    *lineout*

  • Dave

    Pat.. Take the time to read my post (I am an Ulster-Scot) there is no confusion on my part.

    My Bloodline defines who I am. Should people define themselves as Ulster-Scots by any other line (culture etc.)that is great and are most welcome to participate in the Ulster-Scots rich Culture and Heritage, those of another Culture are equally welcome.

    The history of the Ulster-Scots is out there for all to read.

  • Woofy McDog

    Dave wrote: My Bloodline defines who I am.

    Ok, my surname is found in both Ireland and Scotland. How is that, well because gaels went from Ireland to Scotland way back and then later some came back. Some even came back still speaking Gaelic.

    Before this whole parcel arrived in Ireland they were in the north of Iberia apparently, and before that god knows where.

    So I guess my bloodline defines me as…….confused. A bit like the Ulster Scots crowd!.

    I live on an island called Ireland. I care about my kin on this island, whatever they are, even the brand new arrivals.

    Saying you are an Ulster Scot is a bit like saying you are a Celt… convenient national myth holding little water.DNA studies show that the inhabitants of these islands have roughly been the SAME for the last 6000 years.

    Isnt it funny that the Ulster Scots ” language” is known as Galloway Irish in Scotland?.

  • Dave

    Dear Pat..The only thing I am confused aboutis you? This is your reply:

    “Ilive on an island called Ireland. I care about my kin on this island, whatever they are, even the brand new arrivals.”

    ++I believe that to be false, your other posts clearly show that you don’t care at all.++

    “Saying you are an Ulster Scot is a bit like saying you are a Celt… convenient national myth holding little water.DNA studies show that the inhabitants of these islands have roughly been the SAME for the last 6000 years.”

    ++ I don’t claim to be a Celt! but I don’t have a problem with those who do. I don’t have a problem with how a person defines who and what they are. You are the one with the problem not me. I am an Ulster-Scot I am Both Irish and Scottish. You don’t seem to have a problem with others who state they are Irish/American or is the also a myth?++

    “Isnt it funny that the Ulster Scots “ language” is known as Galloway Irish in Scotland?.”

    ++By your own addmission, it is a language called Galloway Irish? So what is it to be Pat? Is it or isn’t a language?

    The only one confused here seems to be you++

    I am an Ulster-Scot all you have to do is repect that fact.

    As for the Rugby it’s only a game Pat, it is only a game played by two of the greatest nations on the little planet and I am very proud to be associatied with both.

  • lineout

    dave, you are truly confused. i am not pat, and the other pat is not me. it’s this crap slugger o’toole software issue thing going on again. but you’ve been getting us both mixed up (among all the other things you seem to get confused).

    anyway, whatever to it all. my case is there and i’ll now rest it. good luck to you, your unknown nationality and non-existant language. you’ll need it.

    keep on dreaming.

    *lineout*

  • Dave

    You don’t have a “Case”? you have an opinion founded on ignorance and pettiness.

    You say “carry on dreaming” that is very magnanimous of you. Where would we be without our dreams?

    The language Project

    At the end of 2003 Andrea Gilbert and Jim Millar of the Ulster Scots Curriculum Development Unit began the development of an adult language course. In September 2005 we had completed an Adult Language Course for Beginners but Jim our Language Project Officer, left the Language Project to take up a post with the Ulster-Scots Agency. There was a gap in the Project while a new Language Officer was recruited, but as of January 2006, we have a new member of staff in place who is taking up the responsibilities and making plans to deliver the new course as soon as possible.

    A course for adult learners will be offered through the QUB Open Learning Spring Programme.

    Our new Language Officer is Mrs Jackie Reid who has been seconded to us from her post as Head of a Modern Languages Department where she has been teaching French and Spanish.

    The Unit’s main aim has been to develop a conversational language course that will allow interested adults the opportunity to develop their confidence in the language by creating opportunities for them to speak Ulster-Scots. This course is taught as a foreign language course. It is structured, dealing with both grammar and vocabulary in a systematic way. It focuses on a series of topics and realistic situations and teaching is based on encouraging conversational exchanges. These develop in complexity as the course progresses.

    We are grateful to the Ulster Scots Language Society for their continued support during the development of this programme. There has been collaboration with Dr Philip Robinson of the Ulster-Scots Language Society who has selected materials from Language Society archives and enabled them to be included in the course for beginners.

    In addition to developing the language course, both Andrea and Jim, and now Jackie, have been actively involved in spreading the Ulster Scots message and have addressed audiences at education and language conferences at home and abroad.

    Jim Millar, Director of Language and Education has noted

    ‘This is a vital part of creating a niche for Ulster Scots in the European context. With so much support coming from the European Union we need to inform as many as possible about what is happening in Northern Ireland to deliver the requirements of European legislation in regard to minority languages.’

    It is planned that the language course will also include some aspects of Ulster Scots literature and culture and should provide further evidence of the growing recognition of Ulster Scots within the European wide movement to revive lesser used languages. It is hoped that in the longer term this project may be extended to develop an Introductory Course on Ulster-Scots Literature.

  • lineout

    dave, it’s not a language. it’s bollocks. and i do have a case, a water-tight case. please lift your eyes and read above. it’s all too easy to argue against nonsense.

    and by the way, this isn’t the 19th century. just because they teach something at university, doesn’t make it in any way reasonable or noble or just. i’ve heard they teach underwater basket weaving for extra credits at some universities. and doctors of whatever talk a lot of crap too. basing your argument on these unfounded and unimpressive factors, rather than proving the thing itself, indicates just how threadbare your case is. you cannot prove it is a language other than english because it is not a language other than english. conversely, i can prove an actual language is a language. there is no room for debate. it either is or it isn’t.

    deluding yourself over and over again that it is a language won’t make it a language. i’m now actually not sure you know what a language is. do you know about verbs and cases and nouns and tenses and semantic structures? do you understand what vocabulary, regional dialects and grammatical variations are?

    if you do, then there is no other possible interpretation of ulster scots as being a variation of english. like geordie, like brummie, like the sing song of cork or the slang of cockney. or are these all languages? if they are, then i’ve suddenly learned i can certainly understand and largely speak all of them. wow. that was quick to learn a whole new communication code.

    your argument is not even being argued. you are endorsing a politically bankrupt and see-through idea to dress a dialect up as a language. this is where ulster scots is at fault, and everyone and his dog knows it. beyond that, good luck to the ulster scots movement. but i say again and again and again, you are peddling an increasingly ridiculous myth which makes you and all those who cling to its central, nonsensical premise, look like eejits.

    work away, my friend. do your thing. but you have been thoroughly advised.

    *lineout*

  • woof mcdog

    Dave I am the chap whos comments you wrongly took to be from Pat.

    I used the word language in reference to Ulster Scots out of sarcasm, I know I shouldnt sneer but hell, im an ” Ulster Scot” too. Well at least by your definition – that of blood. Or am I. You see I was brought up catholic and my politics are republican. And alas that seems to be a bit of a no no with the Ulster Scots fraternity who seem to be more interested in a made up language and culture so as to bolster their not wishing to have much to do with the majority of people on this island. Sorry but thats just the way it comes across.

    You say that Ulster Scots identity is about blood. Well on both my maternal and paternal side within two generations my ancestors were ” Ulster Scots”, presbyterians, with Scottish names. So I guess I have some right to express my opinion that the whole Ulster Scots thing is………mad dog shite.

    Mind you I also have some other blood in me veins so its probably polluted me.

    If I as an English speaker can listen to a man and understand more or less all that he says – then im inclined to think he is speaking English or a variant. When I listen to someone speaking Irish / Gaelige, or Zulu or Magyar I dont understand anything and I conclude that they are speaking a language different from mine.

    Its just a simple observation, but it seems one shared by the vast majority of people in NI. So keep flogging the dead horse, call yourself whatever you like, I dont really mind.

    You do have to laugh at the phrase ” wee dafty bairns” though.

    love

    Woofy Mc Dog (Irish, European, Mongrel)

  • Dave

    What can I say? maybe this once more

    Well I am surprised to read such comments about the Ulster-Scots. What has got people so worried that they resort to the weapon of riddicule?

    I always thought the lanuage as (Ballamena speak)but that was due to my ignorance.

    The internet is a wonderful tool, although it seems to me that these posters prefer to use the internet as a weapon.

    For those interested there are many websites which will give the readers a better insight and a true account of the ulster-Scots. Good luck to those who are Ulster-Scots.

    Maybe this will help:

    http://www.answers.com/topic/ulster-scots-language

  • sean

    ‘in itself it is primarily a political construction. it is, in clear fact, neither a language nor a nationality and arguing so does a reasonable cultural proposition a great, and almost fatal, disservice.

    the key problem with the ulster scots movement is that it is built on a lie. this lie, you pre-agree, is best defended by people who ignore those who argue against it. this is not a sensible thing.

    people will understandly consider whatever follows this language lie argument as suspect. the ulster scots movement is its own worst enemy, and the ridicule it attracts is entirely of its own making.’

    Well said. Ulster-Scots as a language is a political construction brought on by sectarianism,bigotry, fear, a sense of not belonging, lack of confidence in one’s identity, and most cynically- they (Nationalism)are getting money to promote their Irish culture which we ( Unionism) have failed to completely squash despite years of efforts.
    Ulster-Scots is a dialect, one that I discovered not only through just using a culchie( yes!) dialect in West Tyrone, but more formally, through the poetry of Marshall,(who the Ulster Scots agency claims is one of the only Ulster Scots poets)which we learned in Primary school. His first works were written about Sixmilecross, Bergah, Carrickmore, and the townlands of the those parishes). The dialect is different from standard English, but it is easily understood.
    Here is the poem in its entirety, now who among us does not understand what Marshall is saying?

    I’m livin’ in Drumlister,
    An’ I’m gettin very oul’,
    I have to wear an Indian bag
    To save me from the coul’.
    The de’il a man in this townlan’
    Wos claner raired nor me,
    But I’m livin’ in Drumlister
    In clabber to the knee.

    Me da lived up in Carmin,
    An’ kep’ a sarvint boy;
    His second wife wos very sharp,
    He birried her with joy:
    Now she wos thin, her name was Flynn,
    She come from Cullentra,
    An’ if me shirt’s a clatty shirt
    The man to blame’s me da.

    Consarnin’ weemin, sure it wos
    A constant word of his,
    `Keep far away from them that’s thin,
    Their temper’s aisy riz.’
    Well, I knowed two I thought wud do,
    But still I had me fears,
    So I kiffled back an’ forrit
    Between the two, for years.

    Wee Margit had no fortune
    But two rosy cheeks wud plaze;
    The farm of lan’ wos Bridget’s,
    But she tuk the pock disayse:
    An’ Margit she wos very wee,
    An’ Bridget she wos stout
    But her face wos like a gaol dure
    With the boults pulled out.

    I’ll tell no lie on Margit,
    She thought the worl’ of me;
    I’ll tell the truth, me heart wud lep
    The sight of her to see
    But I wos slow, ye surely know,
    The raison of it now,
    If I left her home from Carmin
    Me da wud rise a row.

    So I swithered back an’ forrit
    Till Margit got a man;
    A fella come from Mullaslin
    An’ left me jist the wan.
    I mind the day she went away,
    I hid wan strucken hour,
    An’ cursed the wasp from Cullentra
    That made me da so sour.

    But cryin’ cures no trouble,
    To Bridget I went back,
    An’ faced her for it that night week
    Beside her own turf-stack.
    I axed her there, an’ spoke her fair,
    The handy wife she’d make me,
    I talked about the lan’ that joined
    – Begob, she wudn’t take me!

    So I’m livin’ in Drumlister
    An’ I’m get’tin’ very oul’
    I creep to Carmin wanst a month
    To try an’ make me sowl:
    The de’il a man in this townlan’
    Wos claner raired nor me,
    An’ I’m dyin’ in Drumlister
    In clabber to the knee.

    By “The Bard of Tyrone”, The Reverend William Marshall

  • sean

    Dave, from your own site as posted it says:

    ‘Ulster Scots, also known as Ullans, Hiberno-Scots, or Scotch-Irish, refers to a dialect of the Scots language spoken in parts of the province of Ulster, which spans the six counties of Northern Ireland and three of the Republic of Ireland.’

    DIALECT!!!!!!!!

    Sean

  • ID Lottery

    Ultonian Scottis American writes,

    Yes, Ulster-Scots is a dialect – of Scots.
    Is Scots merely a dialect of English, or a separate language?
    Mutual intelligibilty is not the clue, as Portugese and Spanish, and Urdu and Hindi, clearly show.

    Has Scots been corrupted by Standard English? Undoubtably. It also has Gaelic, Norse, and other influences not found in Standard English.

    Perhaps the people living between Hadrian’s and Antoinine’s Walls are more linguistically flexible, having changed from Cymric, to Gaelic, to Scots, and even English, in a matter of a few hundred years.

    Will Scots survive in an Anglophone world? Perhaps not. Irish is having troubles of it own, even when symbolically and financially nurtured in the RoI in a way that far outstrips that given to Scots, whether in Scotland, or NI.

  • TAFKABO

    It’s an owercome suith for age an youth,
    An it brooks wi nae denial,
    That the dearest freends is the auldest freends,
    An the young are juist on trial.

    There’s a rival bauld wi young an auld,
    An it’s him that haes bereft me;
    For the sürest freends is the auldest freends,
    An the maist o mines haes left me.

    There’s kind herts still, for freends to fill
    An fuils to tak an brek them,
    But the nearest freends is the auldest freends,
    An the grave’s the place to seek them.

    The lines above were written by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

    I’ll finish by quoting another writer, this time an Irish one.

    Fuck the begrudgers.

  • páid

    just one irish speaker’s view on this………… I have seen an awful lot of tosh written on this site about irish, so I will be wary about disparaging ulster scots. One should welcome diversity in an increasingly homogenous world, I feel. I believe that the professional sociolinguists will tell you that ulster scots IS in fact a language. A form of swabian german persisted into the 19th century in co. limerick and ‘yola’ an old form of english was spoken in south Co. Wexford until the same time, I read. These things enrich us……….ádh mór do ullans

  • woofy mcdog

    Pid wrote “professional sociolinguists”

    wuld that be the parcel a hallions translated the word quay inta key on an ulster scots sign in Inniskilling.

    Quare boys thon.

    woofy mcdog

  • Biffo

    Ultonian Scottis American

    “Is Scots merely a dialect of English, or a separate language?”

    The answer is they are both dialects of the same language.

    The “merely” in your description arises out of the fact that the southern English have been politically, economically, militarily culturally and linguistically dominant in these islands for the past lot of centuries to the expense of indigenous culture in the rest of the British Isles.

    Ulster Scots is a type of language that people actually speak. But the “Ulster-Scots movement” contains a lot that is phony. I’m particularly thinking of the notion of “Ullans”.

    I think it’s great that people are making an attempt to encourage the kind of linguistic diversity that makes the world a more interesting place.

    Dave said “This course is taught as a foreign language course. It is structured, dealing with both grammar and vocabulary in a systematic way.”

    The time and effort required to become fluent in a foreign langauge will not be the same as that required for someone from NI to become fluent in Ulster Scots.

    Unfortunately there are people currently “developing” Ulster Scots with aim of making it a foreign language, namely the Ulster Scots Agency.

    Pretending the language is foreign invites ridicule and it’s dangerous because genuine Ulster Scots language gets ridiculed into the bargain.

  • Biffo

    pid

    “just one irish speaker’s view on this………………….ádh mór do ullans”

    You’ve hit the nail on the head.

    “Ullans” isn’t a real word. It was invented by eccentric unionist politician Ian Adamson in the 1970’s (along with other bizarre concepts like the “Great Return”)

    He ran the words “Ulster” and “Lallans” together (ie “lowlands” – also the name of the west central dialect of Scots).

    He could have come up “Lallster” or “Sculsters” by the same daft process.

  • TAFKABO

    Hmmm.

    Adding a couple of words together in order to create your own version of reality?
    Sounds like another securocrat conspiracy to me.

    Am awa, afore ahm tellt tae haud ma wheest.

  • DK

    I know a chap in Scotland who is very keen on Lallans and insists that it is a seperate language from English, although from the same source (like Portugese-Spanish that someone earlier mentioned). I think that Ulster Scots is a dialect of Lallans, which predates the settling of Ulster. So it is both a dialect and a separate language. Just like Irish Gaelic is a dialect of some earlier Gaelic that all the Celts spoke (I have heard that Scottish and Irish Gaelic are mutually understandable, but Welsh is not – anyone confirm/deny this?)

    DK

  • Dutch

    Interesting discussion here. The issue of whether Ulster Scots is a dialect or a language is not particularly important. I think it was Max Weinreich that said that ‘a language is a dialect with an army and a navy’.

    The fact is that Scotland joined the Union. If Scotland had have remained politically separate from England then there is a very strong chance that Scots would have become a separate language.
    That did not happen so Scots has gradually become more like English and is certainly a dialect and not a language. For Ulster Scots you can draw the same conclusions.

    The Ulster Scots movement seems to want to create a language just like the Irish state tried to create a new ‘standard’ Irish which was not actually spoken by an Irish speakers. This idea is not unheard of, Hebrew was reinvented successfully for modern Israel.

    The main flaw here is that you tend to need a mass of people who either speak the dialect or want to speak the dialect for your ‘language’ to be a success. Esperanto has got far more speakers than Ulster Scots ever will but I would not call that a successful language.

    The logic behind wanting your ‘own’ language is clear. However, it is a bit unfair to expect other taxpayers to fund it.

    There was a big argument in County Clare a while back because the county plan had to be translated in to Gaelic at a cost of E30,000. Not one copy in Gaelic was sold.

    Simple economics says that we should not waste our scarce resources on futile exercises like this. People who want to speak Esperanto, Ulster Scots or even Gaelic in areas that have not had a native speaker in hundreds of years should pay for the privilege themselves.

  • DK

    “The fact is that Scotland joined the Union. If Scotland had have remained politically separate from England then there is a very strong chance that Scots would have become a separate language.”

    Not necessarily: the USA has been politically seperate – and on a different continent – from England and they still speak a very similar version (badly spelled, but still similar).

    Another note. Welsh is a different Celtic language group from Irish (& not mutually understandable). Basically there were 2 waves of Celts invading Britain in pre-Roman times. One lot got all the way to Ireland and the other lot didn’t. The ones that got to Ireland subsequently invaded Scotland (replacing the Picts who were from the later wave), so Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are similar.

  • Animus

    The US had a greater need to keep a common language – politically and as a burgeoning nation. Scotland had no such need and had a longer, richer linguistic history than those who conquered America’s native population, largely decimating their culture in favour of an English one.

    As I’m sure you know, Bostonian English is actually more similar to Elizabethan English than English as currently spoken in the southeast of England. (The notion that American English is somehow inferior is laughable – such a quaint colonial throwback.)

    It’s not the waves of Celts who are important – it’s p celts versus q celts and it’s a linguistic distinction, not a travel one. Where they travelled is irrevelant actually, as I believe the Breton form is closer to Welsh, although I wouldn’t swear to it.

  • gg

    The problem with Ulster Scots is not its validity as a language, it is the sheer embarassment of the people who probably speak something not dissimilar to it everyday, but because it’s not the “English” they think is acceptable in (their version of) high society, it must be suppressed at all costs.

    It’s all linguistic snobbery: Oh, those dreadful country folks and their awful speech! How dare they try and have a culture!

  • páid

    a couple of points: I know that ullans comes from a squeezing of ulster and lallans, and I guess there is a “we’re of lowland scots origin not gaelic irish” feeling behind it. OK. People made up a word to describe their language. Is it authentic? I’m prepared to give it a chance.
    The daves are accurate. Welsh has similar structures and words to Irish but Welsh and Irish are a bit like English and German. You get an occasional ‘das ist mein haus’ moment but that’s it. As for Irish and Scots gaelic, well, I’d know what they were talking about, but I couldn’t add much to the conversation! Manx and Ulster dialect speakers of Irish would be better understood than Connacht, standard Irish or Munster, possibly in that order imho.

  • Dave

    Many thanks to all you have contributed to this debate. Would be appreciated if you would take the time to read comments made by Billy Mitchell as this conveys my sentiments on the matter.

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