This starts with a boast but as I’m not boasting about myself but about my kids its allowed as a proud mum. My children both came first in their respective classes for their rendition of Scottish poems. I am proud for many reasons but two stand out. Firstly I admire the fact they are both able to stand up and not just speak their poem but also act it out with dramatic effect something I could not do. Just standing up and saying a poem would freak me out! A marketing presentation yes but a dramatic poem no. So I admire this greatly. Secondly their ability to speak broad Scots I admire too. This I can do but at their age I don’t think I knew the language existed. At Park School for young ladies you were expected to speak the Queen’s English! And English lessons through to history had an English bias! In fact even today my knowledge of English history and even literature is far better than my knowledge of Scot’s.
This all got me thinking was I alone? I suspect the very English bias was restricted to schools such as mine. But my husband agreed when asked that no he hadn’t had an annual Scottish Poem Recital competition or been taugh lowland Scots.
So this lead me to think about regional accents and also our historic legacy of our language. This is something that I think is now being preserved so much more than it was when I was growing up and this is to be encouraged as it offers such variety of words and also it is what makes the different parts of the country so varied and interesting.
So I applaud the focus in Schools of teaching Lowland Scots even if it’s just once a year for a poetry competition. My kids have learnt such a rich variety of words through doing this as well as the knowledge that they are part of an ancient country with its own heritage. Just as I applaud the increase focus in Gaelic up North. Though confess I can’t understand why the Scottish Government have it plastered on signs down here including Border crossings when Gaelic has never been spoken in this area. Why not use Lowland Scots? Far more relevant.
From thinking about national language this led me to think about the rich variety of regional language. I would love to be able to speak a foreign language particularly to be fluent in French or Spanish but so far it’s not a skill I have manged to acquire. And sad to say though I can pick up the rich cultural varieties in aspects such as food and drink in France and Spain I don’t pick up the regional language variations which I would love to do. So I have to focus this on the UK which has such a rich variety of regional language.
Along time ago too many years to mention my then fiancée (now husband) and I traveled by bus from Edinburgh to Carlisle through the Scottish Borders. Little did we know how well we were to know this area. We could not get over the change in accent from Langholm to Longtown which are not very far apart but it was really noticable in such a small geographical area. Equally if you travel from the Scottish Borders to Northumbria and Newcastle and cross the border it is a different accent and variety of words altogether. It is the same for all the main cities in the UK and in Scotland the Dundonian accent is vastly different from that spoken in Aberdeen up the road just as an example.
I have travelled from speaking “posh wegie” (Glaswegian) to speaking with an Edinburgh accent much to my relatives disgust when I started work in Edinburgh. Today not sure what my accent is and depends where I am as I do revert to posh wegie again when I am in my home city or meet a fellow wegie. The Borders has a rich language with great words and I must admit when I first moved here I often was clueless when faced with a broad Borders accent and am pleased to say that today I understand it even if my accent does not reflect this. I love to be able to use the rich variety of words that I have picked up over the years not just here but from Edinburgh and Glasgow and using them in narrative or when speaking.
As a tourism expert there are many things that make up a destination but central to them is a region or country’s language. And it has struck me this week how important that is and how we all can play our part to ensure that the rich variety of what ever region we come from continues! So a cheer to regional language and a well done to my two kids. I am very very proud of you and stand in awe of your ability to deliver this with such flair!
Have a great weekend and hope its storm free cause its guy dreich here!