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Ulster-scots definition a redundant question

 

While a somnolent government demurs over the future of Erse, the Ulster-Scots language/dialect has come under some criticism from areas of the media that should know better than to come up with the same old question, is Ulster Scots a language or a dialect?

As those equally somnolent custodians of the language/dialect, the Ulster-Scots Agency, appear not to be equipped (or cannot be bothered), I will endeavour to enlighten the mischief-makers.

When asked the question, my answer is, there are no objective criteria to distinguish a language from a dialect.

Linguist Mario A Pei said a language is a dialect that has met with literary or political favour, while a dialect is a language that, politically or culturally, has not met with the same.

Norway provides an excellent example. In the 1840s, Norwegian was regarded as a collection of peasant dialects. In 1905, Norway secured its independence from Sweden. What 60 years previously was a collection of peasant dialects was transformed into a national language.

The question, is Ulster-Scots a language or a dialect, is redundant.

WILSON BURGESS

Londonderry

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