Saturday, 3 October 2009

Time to “efficiency save” Ulster Scots

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Guest Blogger Cllr. Ian Parsley

Time to “efficiency save” Ulster Scots
29th September, 2009

A recent submission by the Ulster-Scots Language Society to the European Committee of Experts concerning regional and minority languages claimed there is a “lack of action to facilitate Ulster Scots in education” and “lack of opportunities for non-speakers to learn Ulster Scots”. Ein as ane at bes aa for takkan tent o the braid tongue, could I suggest that may be because there is a “lack of interest among the (taxpaying) population”?

If there were ever a time to put an end to this nonsense, it is now. The Government did not include “Ulster Scots” in its three-year report to the Committee because it knows fine rightly no such language exists – the main reason no one is interested in it!

What does exist is the Scots language – not used in every aspect of daily life, but still widespread, including in Ulster. It has a rich literary heritage (Burns et al), a rich cultural influence (as the language of pipe bands, golf and Scots law), and a rich academic following (as a useful comparator in Germanic linguistics). All of this incorporates the variants spoken (and written auld lang syne) in Northern Ireland and Donegal. Its promotion is best left to the grass roots, on the baith sides o the Sheuch, linking speakers, enthusiasts and academics.

However, little of this requires significant government (taxpayer) subvention, and none at all is required for the blatant attempt to separate “Ulster Scots” from Scots on purely funding grounds. The “Ulster-Scots movement” had its chance – and the fact its submission was in English shows you how spectacularly it blew it.

I don’t need government money to support my genuine interest in the Scots tongue. In times where a DUP Minister faces a £400 million black hole of his own predecessor’s making, it is time the DUP called time on this wee cultural experiment funded to excess by the taxpayer. To do otherwise would be both weird and daft.

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