Current Affairs

North Star

An excellent examination of the disastrous intervention into Scotland’s independence dabate by the leadership of Greater England. Never has so much self-inflicted damage been wrought by so few people!

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12 comments on “North Star

  1. Do you think that the Scottish will revive their language after independence?
    Or will it become another Ireland?

    • “Do you think that the Scottish will revive their language after independence?” Which language are you talking about? I hope that BOTH of Scotland’s indigenous languages, Gaelic and Scots, see a revival after we achieve our independence. Slainte!

      • I agree that both should be given equal status as national languages of Scotland. Both are unique, both have their beauty and both contribute to the diversity of human culture and society. Unfortunately I suspect both will also be subject to the “Irish version” of language protection and revival in the decades to come should independence be achieved 😦

        Let us hope that the Scots learn from the disastrous actions of the Irish.

  2. It has often been observed that had Ireland not achieved its independence, its people would have had a reason to speak Irish.

    • Michael, it was Pádraig Mac Piarais who expressed himself of the opinion in his early career as an educationalist and journalist that he would rather have an Irish-speaking Ireland under British rule than an English-speaking Ireland under self-rule. It may shock some but I tend to agree.

  3. In response to Janis, I confidently predict that, whether there is a yes or no vote, the vast majority of Scots will continue to speak the languages they currently speak, i.e., locally accented English, or the broad dialect descended from Early English/Anglian, which is usually called “Scots”. When Seamas refers to the Scottish language he means Gaelic, which, I understand, now has only between 30-40,000 native speakers. Unfortunately when the number of native speakers declines to that level, as in Ireland, there is very little chance of a significant revival. Most sources I have read also assert that, based on place-name evidence, the Pictish and Cumbric (the ancestor of Welsh) languages were spoken in Scotland before Gaelic.

    • Ginger, I agree that language use will continue as now though independence might give a push to both Scottish (Scottish Gaelic) and Scots (Scots English). I would certainly hope so. I’m not sure that the baseline measure precludes language revival. We have seen other situations where parlous numbers have been successfully revived upwards. In the 1960s Canadian historians and anthropologists were confidently predicting the death of Québec French. Under the USSR the Baltic tongues and Eurasian languages were presumed to be soon extinct. Yet all these now thrive.

      Where there is a political way…

      As for historical nomenclature in Scotland, yes in southern and eastern Scotland there is perhaps greater weight for the Brythonic or Pictish tongues. However in western Scotland the evidence reverses. I for one would love to see a revival of Cumbrian (there is a movement) though I suspect it might take on Tolkienesque tones of artificiality (as with “Úllans” versus Irish-Scots).

      • Munsterman

        “..under the USSR, the Baltic tongues were presumed to be soon extinct. Yet these all thrive.”
        ===> Thanks to independence.

        I would have to say that I would take independence any day over having all of the countryIrish-speaking ruled by Britain – British rule over Ireland was a total disaster for Ireland. Looks like we would disagree over that Séamas – but as you have wisely said, let’s agree to disagree and continue the jobs of liberating the fourth Green Field and in elevating Irish to its rightful place.

        It’s all good.

        • Munsterman, yes, you are right, it was independence that ultimately saved the Baltic languages (that and the determination of their own political and intellectual leaderships to undo decades of linguistic persecution, often in the face of quite divided domestic opinion).

          An Piarsach of course ultimately came to believe that the restoration of Irish could only come about through full self-rule rather than some form of limited autonomy within the so-called UK. It took him some time to reach that point though and the failure to implement home rule was a major factor. Like many in 1916 he was a cultural and socio-economic revolutionary at first and a political revolutionary later.

          My own view echoes Ó Conghaile. What point changing the flag on the flagpost if all else stays the same? We made a political revolution – but we failed to make a mental one. Nothing has changed in reality. We could just as well be a “devolved nation” within the UK. Slapping “Garda” instead of “Police” on the side of law enforcement vehicles seems to be the upper limit of our national achievements.

          Or I could just be tired and cranky the last few days 😉

          • Munsterman

            I hear what you are saying…and fully appreciate the point. Of course, gaining independence has been a crucial step in our history – and what we do with it is of course critically important.

            While I am very well aware of the many shortcomings of our independent state, I certainly believe we are far better off having the freedom to plough our own path, as much as any small, non-aligned EU member state can. Corruption is at the heart of the human and political condition – no country has a monopoly on that one – at least we’re not blowing innocent civilians to bits all over the world in the name of Ireland or “democracy”, thank goodness for that.

            National reconciliation with our unionist fellow-countrymen leading to the inevitable
            Re-Unification of our country is the next most important step begun in 1998 with the GFA.

            Keep up the superb work Séamas.

  4. The dangers are clearly there, but so far at least Gàidhlig seems to carry far less political ‘bagage’ than Irish. Cumbric, Norn, Pictish could not be revived because there are no connected texts (or only a few scraps of verse in Norn).

    The case of Scots (or Lallans or whatever you want to call it) is far more interesting. Everyone pretty well speaks it to some degree but it is rarely written and then usually only in fun. If they tried to develop a standardised written language I could easily see a Norwegian situation arising. Do you start with current Scots legalise and cautiously admit everyday Scottishisms like ‘kirk’ and ‘brig’, ‘wha’ and ‘canna’ and so on into the written standard, or do you go to the opposite extreme and have the poets and literatury types dredge up every obscure local term they can find in the dictionaries and historic sources. The Norwegians started at both ends but never managed to meet in the middle, so they’ve got two official standards and several unofficial varients. So interesting linguistic times ahead 🙂

    • I was under the impression that Scots English had escaped the worse effects of the “Tolkienism” that had effected the form of Scots found in Ireland (the so-called Ullans)? The Blether Region is a truly excellent and well-informed blog that examines all these matters in a very fair and even-handed way. I tend to follow its opinions.

      Yes, the various forms of Norwegian are a fascinating phenomenon. I’m reminded of Irish scribes in the Early Modern Irish period transcribing texts in Old Irish many of which they would have found mysterious. There is evidence that the Béarla na Féine, professional legal/poetical language in the Medieval period, may have been similar in terms of deliberate archaisms/Primitive Irish forms that would have been partly unintelligible to the contemporary “general public” of the period.

      I’d strongly recommend a read of this for anyone with an interest. The ignorance of Anglophones in relation to the linguistic situations in other nations is always astonishing. A point I repeatedly make.

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