Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Absurd claims for Ulster-Scots tongue

Ian Adamson writes of ‘one camp promoting Ulster-Scots merely for the province of Ulster, and the other camp not accepting any difference with several of the dialects of mainland Scots’.

Like many academic linguists I have observed with exasperation the activities of those who claim an informed and rational belief that Ulster Scots is a language separate from Scots.

I am not aware of the existence of any ‘other camp’. All academic linguists accept that Ulster Scots has certain markers and there is a lively debate as to whether they make it one of five main dialects of Scots or a sub-dialect of Central Scots, the largest variety.

The only view to my knowledge wholly unrepresented among academic linguists is the claim that Ulster Scots is a language separate from Scots in Scotland on structural grounds.

As someone who has made Scots his study, Dr Adamson will know that alleging uniformity with ‘several of the dialects of mainland Scots’ is an absurdity, since in traditional written form all the main dialects are more divergent from each other than is Ulster Scots from Central Scots.

The English verb form ‘might’, for example, is only slightly different in contemporary Southern Scots, while in Aberdeenshire it is ‘mith’; in Central Scots and its Ulster offshoot it is ‘micht’.

Dr Gavin Falconer

Belfast

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