The great irony around the deniers of the Scottish language and Auld Lang Syne

THIS year has seen what has been dubbed the Renaissance in Scottish literature, but it has also brought a renewed amount of classist and nationalist abuse against supporters of the language – myself included.

I published my first novel this year, and the only one-star reviews it received were from people who hadn’t even read the book. They were die-hard British nationalists and Scottish language deniers who accused me of trying “desperately” to take advantage of the language’s current popularity.

I was amused. It took me six years to write and publish the book, and in 2015 Scottish was nowhere near as popular as it is today.

But one aspect of the Scottish language that has enjoyed lasting popularity is Auld Lang Syne. Translated into English, it means “Old Long Since” which, as I’m sure we can all agree, doesn’t quite sound the same.

As this year draws to a close, I wonder how many people who have thrown me vitriol on myself and other Scottish speakers will enjoy a ‘richt guid willie waught’ and sing that traditional Scottish tune instantly. from midnight.

Scottish singer Iona Fyfe said of the issue: “It usually scares me when people are too happy to sing Auld Lang Syne (sometimes pronounced Zyne) but then dismiss Scottish as a fake language invented for the rest of the world. year.”

It also makes me wonder, if there was any truth in arguments like Scottish is ‘glorified slang’ or ‘broken English’, why was Auld Lang Syne never translated. in English or has it just fallen out of favor? The fact that Scots – and people of all nationalities – sing this song must say something positive about the language.

Auld Lang Syne was not even entirely written by Robert Burns, to whom it is attributed. It was originally an old Scottish folk tune. He chose to keep the Scottish lyrics after the Union of 1707 for the same reason people like me write in Scottish today.

Because Scottish is a language, and it deserves to flourish like any other, even if it is mainly oral.

This year Auld Lang Syne will be tinged with sadness for myself as I reflect on how Scottish speakers are treated today and especially creators today. The song is treated with respect, but the average Scottish speaker, especially online, is likely to troll the rest of the year, no matter how much authority he or she may have over the language. Rian O’Diomasaigh, who has a Twitter account where he shares a Word of the Day in Ulster Scottish, teaches the language.

He recently tweeted that although Scottish derives from the same common source as the Germanic languages ​​(including English), the argument that it is a dialect is tantamount to saying that Italian and L ‘Spanish are the same because they have a Latin source.

He was subsequently described as “blissfully ignorant” by one Twitter user, with another insisting he was “researching the history of Scotland”. Rian responded with a photo of his masters degree, obtained in the subject – explaining that his thesis was about how Scotland became a predominantly English-speaking country.

But diplomas aside, Auld Lang Syne is a perfect testament to the fact that Scottish and English are distinct languages ​​due to its representation in popular culture.

Rian told me: “There is a phenomenon where people who are opposed to the Scottish language in general take into account the writings of such figures as Allan Ramsay or Robert Burns.

“I think it’s because they occupy such prominent positions in the Scottish literary canon that denying their influence would seem just plain silly – even if when you look at 18th century Scottish literature and compare it to handwriting Modern Scottish, there really isn’t much of a difference.

In When Harry Met Sally, Harry, an American English speaker, says he never understood what the song meant. Sally tells him it’s a song about old friends.

This shows that Scottish is universal and that it is, like many languages, accessible to English speakers, but not entirely. Take Afrikaans, for example – this is to some extent also understandable for Dutch speakers.

Scottish deniers should therefore think twice about how they view modern uses of the language in the coming year if they will sing the song at midnight or, if they are so determined to stick with it. to their existing narrative, translate Auld Lang Syne into Old Long Since and at least keep their opinion consistent throughout the year. Emma Guinness also writes as Emma Grae and is the author of Be Guid tae Yer Mammy

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