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Thread: Scottish Gaelic As a Mythical Rather Than Historical Language of Scotland

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    Post Scottish Gaelic as a mythical rather than historic language of Scotland


    The proposal that the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act should cover the whole of Scotland (not just those areas where Scottish Gaelic remains a central part of local heritage and culture) is based on the assumption that Scottish Gaelic was once spoken across the whole of Scotland. So that even in regions where there is no recent Scottish Gaelic language tradition or culture, Scottish Gaelic remains as a forgotten strand of culture and history.

    However, by emphasising Scottish Gaelic as the underlying historic language of Scotland, there is a danger that a broader and deeper
    understanding of Scottish history will be ‘officially’ lost. This is especially true for southern Scotland.

    The earliest recoverable language layer in southern Scotland is not Gaelic but a language related to modern Welsh. And variously described as Brittonic, Cumbric or Old Welsh. This language was spoken from at least 500 BC into the 12th and 13th centuries. It can be traced through place name evidence and gave rise to its own literature in the 6th century - of which the epic poem y Gododdin is the earliest example.

    From the 7th century onwards, Old English speakers from the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia (later Northumbria) extended their influence north along the east coast to the Firth of Forth and west along the Solway Firth, reaching Whithorn in Wigtownshire by AD 700 and gaining territory in Ayrshire around AD 750 and the lower Firth of Clyde. An Old English poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’, carved in runes on the Ruthwell cross in Dumfriesshire has been claimed as the earliest example of Scots literature and may be as
    early as AD 600.

    A! Fredome is a noble thing
    Fredome mays man to haiff liking.
    Fredome all solace to man giffis,
    He levys at es that frely levys.
    A noble hart may haiff nane es
    Na ellys nocht that may him ples
    Gyff fredome failyhe, for fre liking
    Is yharnyt our all other thing.
    Na he that ay has levyt fre
    May nocht knaw weill the propyrte
    The angyr na the wrechyt dome
    That is couplyt to foule thyrldome,
    Bot gyff he had assayit it.
    Than all perquer he suld it wyt,
    And suld think fredome mar to prys
    Than all the gold in warld that is.
    Thus contrar thingis evermar
    Discoveryngis off the tother ar,

    Scots is our mither tung; an gin we dinna hain it,
    thare naebody gaun tae hain it for us.

    Scots is our mother tongue; and if we do not preserve it,
    nobody will preserve it for us.

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    Though its true that the MacAlpins founded Scotland, the urban centres of the country are Scots, that is, they are Germanic speakers whose native tongue is on a dialect continuum with those of the English. If you listen the local dialect from northeastern England it sounds more like Scots than it does southern English, but people treat Scots as a separate language for political reasons.

    Actually people used to talk of the Gaelic Highlanders as 'Irish Scots' reflecting their origins whilst those in the Lowlands were 'Inglis' speakers.

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