Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Buikscots and Newscots

I just got an idea (well, actually, I’m sure I had the idea before, but I never did anything about it) how one might explain the Norwegian language situation to a speaker of English, using Alternate History.

Let’s imagine Scotland had regained her independence in the 19th century. And let’s ignore Gaelic for the moment. Because of the strong nationalist feelings unleashed back then, it’s very likely there would have been a strong urge to replace English with a national language, Scots.

This could be done in two ways.

One would be to recreate the Scots language by investigating the living dialects and picking the most conservative elements from each (using also the historical Scots language for comparison). This language would be very different from English, and it would probably be fairly close to the dialects of rural Aberdeenshire, I imagine.

The other way would be to adjust the written language to make it more similar to English as spoken by educated people in the cities, adjusting the orthography to make it look more Scottish and adding frequently used Scots words (such as wee and aye).

Most people would realise after a while that having two national languages (in addition to Gaelic, I suppose) would be somewhat overwhelming, so there would be attempts at unifying them. However, both groups would resent changing their own language, and the result would be a lot of variant forms in both language variants, without any unification happening.

Pupils would have to learn both variants in school, which they would hate, and Newscots would be seen as a dialect from rural Aberdeenshire, ridiculed by many people in the cities.

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