Thursday 16th April 2015: Have you encountered people who say Scots is “slang?” How would you answer it?

Have you encountered people who say Scots is "slang?" How would you answer it?

First question answer: yup.

Second question answer: in the words of Johann Wolfgang Unger I, ‘mitigate, hesitate and negatively predicate Scots even while saying who important it is to [me]’.

When I was rehearsing Hoolet, I took my watch in to the shoe/watch repair place near my flat. The guy in there asked me whether I was off work that day. This a perennial question for freelancers who can do things like go to the bank in office hours. I sometimes just say that it’s my day off rather than explaining my complex work situation. But sometimes I get defensive about not being busy enough, because my self-esteem is pinned on whether someone I see every five months or so to pay in a cheque from my granny thinks I have a valid job. Oi.

Anyway, I explained to the guy in the shop that I was rehearsing a show. Here’s how it went from there:

MAN: Oh yeah? What’s the show aboot?

ISHBEL: It’s about Scots language? [the rising inflection of question is important here]

MAN: Oh right, like Gaelic.

ISHBEL: N-no. Like, like if you use the word hoose instead of house, you could call that Scots.

MAN: Right, like a sortae slang.

ISHBEL: Well, you could call it a slang, but it has a long history [mumbles] and so I would call it a language.

MAN: [He’s got it now] Yeah, sortae old-timey language.

ISHBEL: Well, people still speak it now. I suppose that’s what the show’s… [trails off]

MAN: That’s me done. I tightened up that second hand, it was a bit shoogly. That’s £4.80.

ISHBEL: Thanks so much. That’s great. Can I pay by card?

MAN: Aye. [Gets out chip and pin machine] Ye know, A get charged aboot 15p for usin this, an 40p or somehin fir usin it under a fiver.

ISHBEL: Oh, right, I’m [she means ‘awkward’, but can’t say it] – do you want to add that? [This last section is too quiet to really hear]

MAN: Nae worries. Yer nearly at a fiver. Ither fowk though…

[the conversation continues until Ishbel awkwardly leaves, smiling and apologising with her whole body]

To me, that man is a Scots speaker. Does he see his language as a slang? Does he see himself as just speaking English? What difference would it make to his life just now if I was to have taken the time to try and explain to him the history and validity of his idiolect? Would that have been more or less annoying than me paying by card?



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