Language Request: Scots

17 posts / 0 nuovo
Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.01.2016
Pending moderation

I would like to suggest adding the Scots language as an option. There is a distinction between Scottish English, which is what the category "English (Scots)" should be used for, and the Scots language, which is a distinct language from English (and Scottish Gaelic).

The UK government recognizes Scots as a regional language under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. Scots is also one of the three languages, along with Scottish Gaelic and English, recognized by the Scottish Parliament. We also just had Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone translated into Scots last year! Regular smile

Just in the last couple days, I've translated seven songs into Scots and two songs from Scots to English. Furthermore, from what I've seen, the majority of songs in the current "English (Scots)" category are actually in Scots language: not English. They would therefore be more properly placed in a new, separate "Scots" category.

To reiterate, the new language category, if made, would simply read: "Scots."

Thanks for the consideration.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Iscritto dal: 16.02.2011

Thanks for the suggestion.
You therefore recommend renaming the category "English (Scots)" to "Scots"?
Since Scots is a dialect/variety/idiom of the English language, we treated it in its naming like we normally do with dialect categories, therefore this compound name. The borders between what is a dialect and what is a language of its own are very fuzzy in any case, and linguists use the terms interchangeably. To me as a non-native speaker of English, Scots seems to be about as close to standard English as the dialects of my native language German are to standard German.

Your words seem to imply that there is English (not Scots) content in the category English (Scots). If that is the case, please list it here so it can be re-categorized.

Editor (and) усталый старик
Iscritto dal: 11.10.2014

Actually Sciera, Scots is not a dialect of English. Scots English is a set of dialects of English spoken in Scotland and to some extent in the North of England, but Scots is a different language (spoken in parts of Scotland and of Northern Ireland) - this is the view taken by the British Government, and by the Scottish Government, and the language is recognised under European Union's Carter for Regional and Minority languages.It is generally recognised by linguists as a separate language on account of its literature (including King James VI and I's"The Reulis and Cautelis to be observit and eschewit in Scottis Prose" in which he stated that English was the foreign language closest to Scottis) and on account of the very clear linguistic boundary between England and Scotland (where Scots - as opposed to Scottish English - is not understood by people on the English side if the border, even if they live a very short distance from that border). This is all well documented, you should be able to find plenty of material on the web. Of course since the union of the parliaments a lot of Scots words have been used in English, and English words used in Scots, particularly in connection with law, an area where the two languages in the early 18th century had just about totally different vocabularies.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Iscritto dal: 16.02.2011

I went by the songs I saw in the category of Scots, and they seem to me to be about as "easily" understandable as Bavarian German or Low German. I admit that in the Scots texts the difficulty is more the different choice of words whereas in the German dialectal text it's more the different pronunciation. The grammatical differences between Scots and standard English that Wikipedia lists seem to be equal or less than the grammatical differences between German dialects and standard German that I know of. But there is no scientific definition of when something is a dialect or a language. Politics tend to have more influence on that than linguistic details.

I wouldn't mind if we were to name dialect categories like we do with languages, i.e. giving them only their own name instead of a compound one. Then we wouldn't have to deal with that question. But it would have the disadvantage of making the categories less easy to notice.

Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.01.2016

I am suggesting keeping "English (Scots)" category for material in Scottish English which is a dialect of English, and a new "Scots" category for material in the Scots language.

Sciera wrote:

Your words seem to imply that there is English (not Scots) content in the category English (Scots). If that is the case, please list it here so it can be re-categorized.

To the contrary, I am saying that there is Scots (non-English) content in the English (Scots) category. There is a degree of intelligibility between Scots and English given their close proximity and history, but there is between Swedish and Norwegian too. While the difference may only suggest to some they're dialects, as @michaelt and I have pointed out, Scots is a different language than English. Again, the governmental bodies concerned with the matter have determined that Scots is a distinct language from English.

Editor (and) усталый старик
Iscritto dal: 11.10.2014

So, Sciera, you would presumably advocate having a "Danish(Norwegian)" language instead of "Norwegian"? The amount of difference between the Danish and Norwegian variants of North Germanic are a little less that those between the English and Scots variants of West Germanic, or so I have been told by reliable (I hope - some of them held chairs at repectable Universities) experts on Germanic languages.

You didn't see any songs in the category Scots - we dont have such a category in lyricstranslate. we have English(Scots) as a category, but that's not the same language.

Anyway, maybe you can understand these verses (in Early Modern Scots, from Blind Harry's "The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace" which you can find at https://archive.org/stream/wallaceorlifeact00henrrich#page/n0/mode/2up) mean:-

Quhat he dyd agayne that natyown,
Thai made hym prowocatyown :
Na to thame oblyst nevyr wes he
In fayth, falowschype, na lawte :
For in hys tyme, I hard well say,
That fykkil thai ware all tyme of fay.

or these (from the same source):

As he was walkand be him allayne
Apon Ern side, makand a pytuoss mayne,
Schyr Jhone Butler, to wache the furdis rycht
Out fra his men of Wallace had a sicht.
Till him he rais; quharat he maid his mayve
On loude he sperde; "Quhat art thow walkis that gait?"
'A trew man Schys, thocht my wiagis be layt;
Erandis I pass fra Doun to my lord,
Schir Jhon Sewart; the recht till record,
In Doune us now, new cummyn fra the king.'

If you can't, perhaps you'll accept that there's a language here that you were unaware of?

Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.01.2016

Sometimes the sister languages are so strikingly similar when they're looked at side by side in a translation. Demonstrating where Scots is closer to other Germanic languages than English might be helpful in this case.

Scots -> German -> English
A ken -> Ich kenne -> I know
A screich -> Ich schreie -> I scream
A scrieve -> Ich schreibe -> I write
A keek -> Ich gucke -> I gaze, glance

Scots -> Swedish -> English
A flittin -> Jag flyttar -> I move, I relocate
A greet -> Jag gråter -> I cry
A gar -> Jag gör -> I make
A big -> Jag bygger -> I build
A forstaw -> Jag förstår -> I understand
A reek -> Jag röker -> I smoke (English has "reek" too, but not in the sense of smoking AFAIK)
bairn -> barn -> child
braw -> bra -> good/fine

Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.01.2016

I should have been sure to add that I don't speak German and only know a very little Swedish. I apologize for any errors. Regular smile

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Iscritto dal: 16.02.2011

Sorry, was in a bit of a hurry yesterday.
Okay, if the majority of the songs in the Scots category are in the Scottish dialect of English and not in Scots, then my impression of the idiom Scots was wrong.
To come back to my example of German dialects, there are Bavarian and Low German varieties that differ that much from standard German as proper Scots differs from English (and thereby are as much or even less comprehensible to me than proper Scots is). But there is a continuum between those, and varieties closer to the standard. Music lyrics tend to be closer to the standard in order to be more widely understandable.
I guess we need the opinion of a native speaker of Scots, or an English-native familiar with Scots, to decide whether the categories Scots and Scottish English could really be cleanly separated or whether there is too much of a continuum for that.
Since you two do seem familiar with these idioms, what do you say?

michealt wrote:

So, Sciera, you would presumably advocate having a "Danish(Norwegian)" language instead of "Norwegian"?

No, because people wouldn't search for it there.
Also no because that naming wouldn't make clear which of the several Norwegian varieties is meant Wink smile
And thirdly no because I don't consider the distinction between dialect and language to be a valid dichotomy. If anything we would then also need to put e.g. the four Serbo-Croatian languages in dialect categories.

Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.01.2016

Hi Sciera, no need to apologize; we all get busy. Regular smile

Sciera wrote:

or an English-native familiar with Scots.

I believe I qualify for this part, at least. Regular smile My grandfather spoke Scots and Canadian English. Unlike Scottish English, which at times can sound very similar to Scots, Canadian English and Scots sound quite different from one another. His parents only spoke Scots when they emigrated from Scotland to Canada, and as a consequence, my mother grew up hearing Scots spoken in the family as well. In turn, this has fallen to me. Regular smile

One thing I’d like to reiterate in the discussion is Scots’ governmental status. The European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages explicitly only protects discreet languages and not dialects of an official language. By the Charter’s own language, Scots would be excluded if it were only a dialect of English.

This link from the Scottish Government might be of interest as well. The first half of the page is in English and the bottom half is in Scots. It explains the Scottish Government’s position and goals concerning the Scots language.

If you’re willing to open a PDF, this is a 2007 report submitted by the British Government to the European Union. On page 66 of the PDF (65 of the document), you’ll note that it states that “the Scottish Executive recognises and respects Scots (in all its forms) as a distinct language.” And speaking of dialects, the Scots language has its own, such as Doric and Lallans. Regular smile

I am totally prepared to admit that the dialect known as Scottish English and the language known as Scots often share quite a bit in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary. To those not familiar with one or the other, or either, it may seem to simply be one big dialectal continuum. However, as we’ve discussed, this is not the case.

Another thing I’d point out is Wikipedia. There are no dialectal translations of Wikipedia in English: there is only English Wikipedia, Simple English Wikipedia, and Anglo-Saxon Wikipedia. I understand that Wikipedia’s policy is not to translate into regional or national variations, at least for English. However, there is a Scots Wikipedia.

In sum, I believe that Scottish English and the Scots language can be successfully separated by those familiar with the differences between the two. Personally, although I make mistakes just as anyone else, I feel that I can successfully tell if something is in Scots or Scottish English. I would also be happy to alert the mods when content needs to be re-categorized, if that’s an arrangement the mods and LT are interested in.

I just really want to see a Scots language category, separate from English (Scots). I have quite a bit of material I would gladly add to it, including new translations. Regular smile

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Iscritto dal: 16.02.2011

Thanks for your reply!

tdwarms wrote:

One thing I’d like to reiterate in the discussion is Scots’ governmental status. The European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages explicitly only protects discreet languages and not dialects of an official language. By the Charter’s own language, Scots would be excluded if it were only a dialect of English.

As I said, politics.
This charter also considers 4 German/Dutch dialect groups (Low German/Saxon in its German and Dutch varieties, and two specific sub-groups of Frankonian, namely Low Rhenish and Limburgish) as languages of their own. I admit that those are among the dialect groups that differ most from standard German, but it still seems pretty arbitrary on purely linguistic grounds. But then, I'm not an expert on modern dialects and I also don't speak Dutch.

Quote:

Another thing I’d point out is Wikipedia. There are no dialectal translations of Wikipedia in English: there is only English Wikipedia, Simple English Wikipedia, and Anglo-Saxon Wikipedia. I understand that Wikipedia’s policy is not to translate into regional or national variations, at least for English. However, there is a Scots Wikipedia.

I don't know whether there is an English Wikipedia policy on that, but there are Wikipedia versions of at least 7 German/Dutch dialects (5 of which are spoken in Germany, 2-3 in the Netherlands, 1 in the US, and only 3 of which are listed as languages by the Charter you mentioned).

Quote:

In sum, I believe that Scottish English and the Scots language can be successfully separated by those familiar with the differences between the two. Personally, although I make mistakes just as anyone else, I feel that I can successfully tell if something is in Scots or Scottish English. I would also be happy to alert the mods when content needs to be re-categorized, if that’s an arrangement the mods and LT are interested in.

I just really want to see a Scots language category, separate from English (Scots). I have quite a bit of material I would gladly add to it, including new translations. Regular smile

Those would be good arguments for a separation - I just assume that the admins would want more than one person's opinion.

Editor (and) усталый старик
Iscritto dal: 11.10.2014

I think that the apparent braw - bra connection is probably just coincidence, and that braw is a borrowing from Celtic (either CY braf or GA breá rather than GD bréagha). But that is not at all certain, with about half the linguists looking at Scots saying "braw" had a Germanic origin and the same proportion saying it came from Celtic (the linguists work hard at working out the etymology, and normally people with my limited knowledge just accept what they say - but when the linguists don't agree I just guess). After all there were both Q-Celtic and P-Celtic languages in Scotland before any Germanic ones, the Votadini in Bryneich, Gutodin and Deifr (modern SE Scotland and NE England) spoke the language from which modern Welsh is descended (Y Gododdin is perhaps the most famous surviving example early Welsh literature, and is the story of the Votadini's catastrophic early 7th century attempt to take Catraeth - a town (probably in North Yorkshire or in County Durham) which the Angles had taken from them in the 6th century - riding out with just 300 men to fight 125 miles away without any decent logistics to try to drive off the well establshed Anglic invaders was perhaps not the brightest of ideas, particulary since the Angles had occupied southern Bryneich and could easily wreck any attempts at resupply by attacking from there, but it made a good story which has lasted more than 1350 years) and another P-Celtic ancestor of modern Welsh was spoken further West (in Cumbria and in the Clyde Valley). Celtic languages were also spoken North of Central Scotland, particularly Pictish in the east and several forms of Gaelic (or of old Irish) in the West.

Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.01.2016

Teeth smile I hadn't even thought of brèagha when I wrote braw, but it seems much more likely! Well spotted!

Super Member
Iscritto dal: 26.11.2014

Amazing! Would you give more examples of scots words being similar to swedish or scandinavian languages.

Editor (and) усталый старик
Iscritto dal: 11.10.2014

I think that there are some cases where it's very hard to tell whether something is English or Scots. Some of Burns' poetry could be either, for example. I can't always tell what is Scots and what is Scottish English - generally if I can't understand it, it's probably Scots and if I can it's probably Scottish English, unless it either uses obviously Gaelic grammar, which indicates Scottish English or uses obviously Scots accidence, which indicates Scots. For example "A' m after speirin' o'er problems here" instead of "A hae ast about some problems here" - clearly the former is Scottish English, while the latter could be either Scots or Scottish English, but both mean the same and either would be understood by an average Scot - and if the latter had "askit" instead of "ast" it would probably be Scots but would still be understood by the average Scot). But then I can't always tell the difference between Galician and Spanish (sometimes I resort to a simple test: if I can understand it, I assume it is Spanish; if I can't, I assume it's either Galician or very difficult Spanish - however as soon as I see pronouns like "eu" and "teu" I know it's Galician) and that doesn't make me want to claim that Galician is a dialect of Spanish, and often I can't tell Gaeilge from Gàidhlig (other than by the rule "if I can't understand it but it sounds gaelic it's probably Irish, and an extreme Kerry acent is obviously Irish even if I can understand the Irish it's speaking).

So perhaps it's not necessary to split the two things. After all, currently we have just one language (Gaelic) with three dialects to cover the three languages Gàidhlig, Gaeilge, and Gaelk, and haven't even bothered to separate the 4 main dialects of Gaeilge from each other, no more the 4 main dialects of Gàidhlig as far as I know, there aren't enough Gaelk speakers to form dialects - even so, our one "Gaelic" language is 3 distinct languages with between them 9 main dialects and maybe between 30 and 60 minor dialects, and no-one is asking to split these things into separate languages (in fact I think one of my earlier comments brought the three together). So do we really need separate classification for Scotiish English and Scots?

As an amateur linguist, I'm mostly on the side of separating Scottish English and Scots. As someone intersted in song and poetry in both languages and aware of the overlap, I'm still on that same side. There are three quite separate things that might motivate a decision:
1. Linguistic accuracy. well, we shouldn't want that, it just creates problems unless we have a lot of people who can do the classification - that's why we have "Chinese" not "Mandarin Chinese" etcetera).
2. National pride: well, to me we have four main languages: gàidhlig, albais, beurla gallda, and beurla sasunnach (Gaelic, Scots, Lowland babblings, and Saxon babblings) plus a few more languages (various Rom dialects, some form of Norse, some non-Rom tinker dialects, and so on). Having those languages, accepting them all, and not discriminating on the basis of them is what we should be proud of - having separate categories for each is maybe useful, maybe not.. Yes it's useful to distinguish between gàidhlig and beurla, but that's because the languages are enormously far apart and very few people can understand one in both groups'. When we decide we want songs in the non-celtic and non-germanic languages of Scotland we will presumably acquire a couple of new classifications - or maybe some of these other languages are already covered under other language names.
3. To acquire a category which will not be bedevilled by people who believe that English(Scots) is a fancy name for Scottish English and either fill it with lyrics which certainly are not Scots or complain about the "obviously incorrect" English of some of the songs presented there. The latter of course won't be a problem until there are decent number of Scots songs submitted to the English(Scots) category, but when there are it will be apermantent problem. I suspect that the very small number of Scots (as opposed to Scottish English)songs we have currently is because people with Scots songs don't want to submit them and see some idiotic comments about them being appallingly bad English that only ignorant Scots peasants could hve written. So perhaps we aren't getting many Scots songs, because there's nowhere to put them where they won'be slammed by anglophone idiots as bad English.

The first two potential motiveations above are of course pure rubbish, if those were our motivation it would be irresponsible to consider a separate category.

But I think the third one could be considered as critical - do we want to discourage songs in that language just because we dont want to count it as one of our languages (despite having active members whose native language it is)?

Editor (and) усталый старик
Iscritto dal: 11.10.2014

Also, a lot of linguists reckon that Scots "braw" is an early modern (late 16th century) formation from English "brave", an adjective which came into English in the late 15th century from the French adjective "brave" (which in turn came from the Italian "bravo" which originally meant "wild" but had come to mean "bold" by the time it got into French). So that would give "braw" a romance origin. That's possible if the English great vowel shift hadn't yet changed /a:/ into something that Scots wouldn't change to /ɔː/.

Novice
Iscritto dal: 25.01.2018

I feel there's definitely a difference between Scottish English and Scots, though it can be a bit of a continuum from what I can tell. I'd say I understand Scottish English almost completely since I'm familiar with its dialectal terms and quirks but perhaps 80% of the following videos.

In these videos for example there are many places where I can understand easily (so it's not just the accent throwing me) and many places where I'm completely lost. A lot of the times I do note places where words are closer to the other Germanic languages that I have to draw upon my understanding of Norwegian or Dutch to understand. The second one speaks a bit more on linguistics and has subtitles in Scots as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cENbkHS3mnY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYwcjJ7Eaps

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