Cultural diversity ootthrou time an place

Thare is ither places the warld ower an ither times ootthrou history wi differs: whiles it’s ither places we’v niver been tae (A’ve niver been tae Oceania for ensaumple) an whiles it’s e’en places we’v niver haurd o (maist fowk haesnae haurd o the island whaur A’m steyin, Réunion). As for ither times, thay can shaw differs an aw, whither it’s times we can mind wirsels, times we can project wirsels intae (sae the naur futur) or times remote fae wir ain experience.

Sae, aw in aw, we arenae alane in wir ain cultur nor in wir ain pynt in time.

Tae some stent, we’re mindit on ither times an places ilka day, but we’re aften mindit o the same times an the same places, whan thare a fair braider spectrum o existence available. The focus is mainly on recent epochs an dominant kintras, yer superpouers o the day: wir attention is a fair feck mair aften focussed on modren-day Americae as on New Guinea or the Mbuti; though, sae we’ll see later in this airticle, it isnae acause thir ither fowks dinnae hae things tae shaw us.

An the existin diversity is aften mair extraordinar nor whit we realise: maist fowk wadnae say thare wis sae mony as seiven thoosand leids in the warld, but that’s aboot hou mony thare are. The differs aqueish different leids isnae wee aither: thare is twa-three different methods tae encode evidentiality in the verb, whither it’s throu the uiss o affixes or pairticles or jyned in wi the tense seistem. “Evidentiality? Whit’s that?” A hear ye say. Aye, that concept markin the soorce o information that is common in the Native American languages an Scots an Inglis disnae encode ava.1 An thare’s the antipassive, the equivalent o the passive in ergative leids. Ergative leids? That’s the leids that, like Bescayan or mony Aborigine leids, uises the (pro)noun o intransitive verbs like the object o transitive verbs.2 An the diversity in claes, cuisine, religion, artisanry is comparable.

It is richt braw that thare is thir differs aqueish different kintras an times; we can rejyce in this diversity. It is richt braw that we are aw different, wi wir ain thochts, wir ain ideals, wir ain habits. We can aye learn fae ilk anither an we, quite simply, aw hae the richt tae exist an aw.

An this diversity is threitent. It is projectit that mony o thir thoosands leids coud be deid gif current trends an affcomes continue, in partícular the quarter o the current leids that is anerly spoken by less nor a thoosand fowk. An the threit tae diversity in claes, cuisine, religion, artisanry an mony ither domains o life is comparable.

An whit can be dangers o the utmaist loss o cultural diversity? In addítion tae the loss itsel, it can hae affcome on wir abílity tae hae alternatives and wir knawledge o sic alternatives. An thare can be negative lang-term eftercomes due tae the viability o the society.

We can see the societies in Jared Diamond’s ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive’. In this 2005 beuk, he descrives hou certain societies haes foondert ower time. Whither that is acause thay war laith tae chynge tae fit thair environs or due tae thair eftercome on the climate, mony societies haes aither disappeart — like the Greenland Norse that refused tae uise fish like thair Inuit neibours — or been reduced tae a remnant o itsel — like the Rapa Nui that fellt treen an biggit statues, lea’in room for a environmental doun-drappin.

We’ll need tae see gif a siclike fate waits on certain modren societies, wi the potential for a environs-connectit doun-drappin like some o thaim descrived by Diamond in Collapse. An a waur case scenario, in terms o societal doun-drappin, wad be a general doun-drappin o humanity. We can think on hou, gif sic a society wis ower the hale globe, naebody, or awmaist naebody, wad survive. Tharefore a global society wad coud bring humanity itsel, the species tae whilk we aw belang, tae failure an destitution.

On the conter side o this, we can see the Malagasy at Tromelin, forhouied by the crew o a wrackit sclave ship, that geniously inventit a new cultur, evendoun at odds wi the existin ane that thay awready kent, wi new biggin, fishin an burial techniques.

Throu this an ither ensaumples ootthrou history, we can ken whit’s possible, whit’s awready been duin, hou lang it’s lastit an whit upshot it can hae on the society.

Thare is the ootlat that first comes fae L. P. Hartley’s The Go-between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” It means that, gif we gang back or forrit in time, a place winnae necessarily be kenspeckle. It entails that the Scotland wir forebears kent afore us can be fair different as the Scotland we ken thir days. Gif we war sent back twa hunneryear tae Jacobite rebellion times, we wad be ootlanders wirsels in the sense that the habits wadnae correspond. It is important tae mind that we wirsels will be history some day, sae we sud tak tent that whit we lea’ for wir bairns an wir granbairns is something wirthwhile, creative, interestin, productive.

Thare is forby a beuk cried The Past is a Foreign Country by David Lowenthal that deals wi the wey fowk view the past, in partícular in leeteratur, an hou fowk can learn anent the past.3

In it, Lowenthal, sae faur back as 1985, emphasised (p396) that the chyngin landscape meant that maist fowk is in wankent environs. Sae, the past isnae juist a ootland place, but a ootland place fae whilk we wirsels come.

Throu leukin at ither societies thir days whaur we are yet ootlanders, we can ken whit habit or act is possible, whit is awready aroond, hou wide it is awready spread an whit consequences it can hae on the society.

For ensaumple, on the quaisten o gender roles: the association o men wi huntin an weimen wi gaitherin, or men wi war an weimen wi steyin at hame an siclike associations. We can figure oot whither thir associations is biological or cultural by leukin at ither culturs. Juist ’ithin the ae island o twal million (New Guinea), we hae three different fowks wi three different gender role scenarios: thare is the Mudungumor, whaur baith sexes haes “masculine” roles; the Arapesh, whaur baith haes “feminine” roles; an thare e’en the Tchambuli, whaur fowk follaes the conter fae whit certain Wasterners wad expect.4 5 Sae we can see that the reality o human behaviour is a fair feck mair varit than whit a body wad coud think. Tharefore the idea that specífic gender roles is inherent tae humanity is due tae a incomplete knawledge o human behaviour.

Mair ensaumples can be foond in Jared Diamond’s latest beuk, The World Until Yesterday, on hou the habits o some hunter-gaitherer societies an hou thay can hae better ideas on certain topics than whit we dae.

A ensaumple o this is parentin, a domain whaur the Kung an the Aka haes better results, wi depression bein evendoun fremmit for thaim. Thir African hunter-gaitherer fowks haes a fair feck o physical contact as bairnies, an varied contact ’ithin the community, bein cared for by aw the ither fowk in the community an no juist the nuclear faimily whan thay hae time aff fae wark.

Leukin efter bairns is a verra human act, as is leukin at the past. An leukin at the past is a wey for us tae better unnerstaund the futur, itsel a capacity specífic tae humans. It’s a capacity that haes helpit humanity prevent itsel fae stervin an deein oot thoosands o years syne in East Africae.

As Joan Boades, a Catalan archivist an best-sellin author, haes said:

“I’m an archivist because I’m interested in the future rather than the past. Some scientists had established that human beings use the same part of the brain either to remember things or to imagine the future so if we translate this to a social context, we can say that a society that can’t remember its past also cannot imagine its future . . .” 6

This fact can be confirmed whan we leuk at the science: we can see that the thochts anent the past an the futur flaucht in multiple weys: for ensaumple, whan fowk haes Alzheimers, thay cannae mind the past an thay cannae imagine the forrit an ayont ony mair aither.

An this leukin tae the futur hings in wi planification. Ae thing A wad tak fae that is that we can uise wir uniquely human capacity o planification for tae pertect wir uniquely human cultural diversity.

In conclusion, it is braw that thare is aw the variety an diversity in the warld an we sud forder it. No only that, but this diversity can be a wey for us tae better unnerstaund humanity an the warld. An leukin at different times an places that we dinnae ken sae weel is a specífically human capacity that we sud uise wittinly.

James McDonaldJames McDonald is a Scots polyglot steyin in Réunion. He is keen on different leids, inspecially local leids, an thair forderin, whether it’s Scots, Gaelic, Réunion Creole or ither leids. He wirks in schuils, helpin bairns wi thair hamewirk an giein chess lessons. Ye can contact him on jmcd89 [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.


(Ye can translate ony wird atween Scots an English at the Online Scots Dictionar.)

Scots English
ae one
affcome effect
aqueish between
Bescayan Basque
conter contrary
differ difference
doun-drappin a state of collapse
eftercomes effects
environs the environment
evendoun absolutely, completely
flaucht intertwine
foondert collapsed, foundered
forder promote, advance
forhouied deserted, abandoned
forrit an ayont the way ahead; the future
fowks peoples
fremmit foreign, alien
geniously ingeniously
kenspeckle recognisable
laith loath
ootland, ootlander an outsider, stranger, alien
sclave slave
stent extent
sud shoud
treen trees
wankent unknown, unfamiliar
wir our
wittinly knowledgeably

The Body Snatchers

Nae ower lang syne there wis a scientific revolution in Europe. Doun sooth ye haed Newton gettin skelpit on the heid aff an aipple, an extrapolatin oot fae that aa the laws o motion on earth. Up here in bonnie Scotland we haed a wheen inventors in mony fields makkin muckle steps forrit, biggin up a comprehensive kennin o baith naitur an the universe.

But ae field o science coudnae mak ony advancement at aa: the science o medicine. Young doctors coudnae get ony cadavers tae hack open an keek intae. It wis thocht tae be unco un-christian tae gie yer body tae science efter ye’d dee’d. Fowk thocht that God wad be ragin wi them. Maist fowk in Scotland at the time still creditit aa thae havers anent God an Auld Nick an aa that. Ae pairt o this auld-farrant belief seistem wis that the body wis a haly ’hing, biggit by God, an tae tamper wi it wad be a desecration o His wark. Whiles, mebbe ance a year, the cooncil wad gie the local university the corp o some puir craitur that’d been hangit in the mercat square for ae crime or anither, an wha’s faimily didnae claim them. But ae corp ilka twal month wisnae gaun’ae gang faur at the medical colleges. Naw, students coudnae get a shottie o a real deid cheil for aa the siller they haed.

An gin ye dinnae ken whit’s inside a body, whit wey are ye meant tae cure him? The hale study o medicine wis doun-hauden by this lack o bodies. Whiles students wad gang oot tae the streets o Aiberdeen or Embra an kill a dug. This dug wad than be chappit intae wee bitties sae’s aabody coud get a shot at dissectin a liver or keekin at the wey stomach acids champit awa at fuids in the guts. It wisnae sic a glamorous profession, an wis aye ettlin tae brak oot o the Derk Age.

Weel, aa the sciences war merchin on, wi kenspeckle discoveries bein made in ilka field. But the doctors war still stuck awa wi their medieval learnins, aa based on superstítion insteid o haurd evidence. Until ae day some o the baulder students haed an unco idea. Gin naebody wad gie them a corp, they’d hae tae gang oot an get ane for theirsels. An this they did.

Students fae aa the ancient universties — St Andras, Aiberdeen, Glesga, Embra, Dundee — sterted gangin aboot diggin up bodies fae the local kirkyairds. They’d howk them oot, dicht them aff, than cut them up for tae ken better hou the body wirked.

Thir body-snatchers war operatin in ilka airt. St Machar’s kirkyaird juist by Aiberdeen University haed tae big new waas tae keep them oot, an Aiberdeen students wad gang aa the wey oot tae Huntly an Elgin tae pauchle bodies fae their graves. The same is true o Embra’s kirkyairds, an ither airts besides.

The students war braw, bauld laddies, an nae feart o a nicht’s darg. They wad dig doun a nairae hole tae the tap o the kist, smash in the wid an bung a noose aboot the heid an pou the puir craitur up by its thrapple. Nae dignity in thon, like. They’d strip aa the claes an jewellery aff the body an dump it back in the grave. They wad cut aff ony fingers that haed rings on them, an pit them back intae the dirt. They did aa this for they coud be duin at coort for pauchlin jewels, claes an that, but no for haein taen a body fae a grave: we didne hae a law anent thon till later!

Whan locals fund oot that student doctors war diggin up their kinfowk, they war obviously an understandably bealin. Wha amang us can thole the thocht o some wee students nickin aff wi wir grannie’s body, leavin their tombs tuim? Faimilies stertit biggin muckle kists wrocht o iron ower the fresh graves. Watch tours sprang up an war staffed by local men wi guns. Faimilies o the recently deid stertin hingin aboot kirkyairds wi muskets an dirks, ready tae kill ony student that cam near the place. Sae students, wha war maistly rich chiels in thae days, sterted peyin criminals or desperados tae dae the dirty wark in their place.

The kirkyairds o Scotland’s cíties becam battle zones. The local fowk ettlin tae keep watch ower the bodies o their deid, the mercenaries lowpin ower the waas wi sacks an shovels tae gang awa wi the bodies. Gin a body-snatcher wis catcht he wad be for a clatterin; mair nor likely he’d hae his heid staved in for him. Gey dangerous as this gemm wis, the siller wis guid eneuch that there wis aye fowk willin tae dae it. It gat tae sic extremes that in Dundee ae chiel, wha wirkit as a gunsmith, that tyned twa dochters tae illness buirit them wi explosives, so’s ony body snatchers wad be blawn tae kíngdom come gin they dug at his lassies’ grave.

Twa lads in Embra realised they didnae hae tae bather wi aa the trauchle o gangin tae the kirkyaird an fechtin wi faimilies an greivin fríends. William Burke an William Hare cam tae the realisation that they coud juist kill fowk, an get the body selt tae the local surgeons juist as easy.

Ower the course o a year in the early 1800s, they cut aff saxteen fowk. They’d dae in hameless, fowk wha war a bittie saft in the heid, an hures. They’d hae the bodies selt as suin as they war deid, a surgeon cried Knox supplyin the siller.

Knox wad acquire the bodies for his students in Embra tae dissect in the Anatomy Rooms nae faur fae the Meadows. The hail scheme wis exposed whan the twa killers murdert a weel-kent hure. A puckle o the students that cam tae dissect her haed kent her ‘professionally’, an began tae spier at Knox whaur he wis findin thir bodies. An investigation wis lencht, an the guilty twa wir suin catcht an pit tae trail.

Burke wis fund guilty an pit tae deith. His skin wis flayed fae his corpse. Gin ye’re in Embra ye can see a sporran made fae the leathered flesh o this hideous killer in the toun museum on the Royal Mile. The twa chiels’ crimes, an the involvement o Knox, is commemoratit in this auld rhyme:

Up the close an doun the stair,
      But an ben wi Burke an Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
      Knox the boy that buys the beef.

Alistair HeatherAlistair Heather is the Scots Editor at Bella Caledonia. He studies History an French at Aiberdeen University, an wirks wi the Elphinstone Institute promotin the cultur o the North-East. Gie him yer chat @historic_ally on Twitter.

Widney’s Fuil

Fa’s fuil are you?

Oot o an aafu wee village, cam an aafu big chairacter. At first glance, Langside is juist a kintra village aside Peterheid, wi nae much gaun on. Wi a population o less than a thoosand, fowk can even sometimes forget that the placie exists. But, ‘at disna mean that great things, an fowk, hinna cam fae there, an nae lang ago ah wis lat in on the story o a great Langsider — the story o Widney’s fuil.

Sae, come on than, “fa wis he?”, ye ask. Weel, some puir bugger wis wunnerin the same thing fan he says tae Jamie Fleeman, “Are you the Laird of Udny’s Fule?”, tae whilk the Doric spikkin loun shairply replied, wi his best kent wirds: “Aye, an fa’s feel are you?”

Born in Langside in 1713, Fleeman went on tae be ane o the very last o the faimily jesters in Scotland, whilk in itsel maks him staund oot. Fit really made Widney’s fuil special, tho, wis the fact that he wisna really a fuil at aa. Aye, he wis a chiel wi a sense o humour, fa enjoyed naething better than kickin aboot the kintra. He even conformed tae the stereotypical glaiket-leukin appearance o fuils. Houiver, aa o the anecdotes o his life suggest that he wis faur fae stupit. In fact, Fleeman wis sic a signíficant chairacter in Scots history that he’s haen a book — The Life and Death of Jamie Fleeman — written aboot his life, an wis even mentiont in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories.

Ane o the maist important roles Jamie Fleeman played wisna the Joker, but raither something mair crucial tae the history o Scotland. Fan the Countess o Erroll raised an airmy in support o Bonnie Prince Chairlie an the Jacobite Uprising o 1745, Fleeman assistit her by rinnin errands an deliverin saicret messages. He also saved the lifes o his Laird, an aabody in Knockha’ Castle (aside Neebra), fan he alertit them o a fire whilk burnt the castle tae the grund, by throwin the Laird’s kirst oot the windae.

There’s hunners o anecdotes aboot Widney’s fuil, that tell o his cliver banter. Ae time Fleeman really shaad fou socially awaur he wis, fan a weel-tae-dae loun askit him, “Hullo Jamie, where are you going today?”, tae whilk he juist said “Ah’m gaun tae hell.” A wee fyle later he met the same fowk again, an this time they askit, “Well Jamie, and what were they doing in hell?”. The witty loun kent fit he wis daein fan he said back tae them, “Ye ken, juist the same’s they’re daein here: lettin in the rich an keepin oot the puir.”

Sae nou that ah’v telt ye fa he wis, ye’re probably wunnerin, ither than historical interest, “Fit wye shoud ah care?” The thing is, ah’v bade within fower mile o Langside for aamaist the hale twinty-ane year ah’v been on this earth, an the existence o sic a local legend still wisna brocht tae ma attention until a conversation ah haed aboot a month ago. Nae ance durin ma seiven year o eddication at Langside Primary Schuil, whilk fan ah attendit the ‘aal sculie’ wis less than twa hunner yaird fae the very spot Fleeman is buirit, wis the chiel’s name even mentiont. Nou, ‘at means that there’s a hale generation o bairns, an young adults, fa hiv nae clue aboot a sae-caad ‘weel kent’ historical fígure, fae the very village far they themsels war brocht up.

Nouadays, young fowk in partícular are relyin mair an mair on stars fae across the watter tae provide them wi role models. Ah’m nae sayin that bairns are iver gaun tae gie up worshippin the Kardashians in order tae get mair acquentit wi local fowk fae the past. Nivertheless, naebody can be inspired by a local hero they dinna ken aboot. O coorse, mair focus on local cultur an history in schuils is the wey tae gang, but that mebbe isna happenin because even the younger teachers themsels dinna ken eneuch aboot it. Until it daes happen, it canna dae ony hairm tae spreid ony tales ye ken aboot yer local area by wird o mou, nae maiter far ye come fae. Ye dinna ken ony? Dinna fash yersel! Gang an find somebody fa will hae stories tae tell, ask yer Granny or yer pal’s Mam. Heid doun tae yer local library. If aa else fails, juist gang for a walk an tak in yer surroondins, read fit it says on that monument ye’v walkit past a thoosand times in yer life. Ye get the idea. Juist dae onything ye can tae eddicate yersel, sae ye can help ithers unnerstaund far ye cam fae an the fowk fa hiv, ower the years, made yer local area even mair special.

Ah, for one, will be takkin a turnie doun tae Langside kirkyaird, tae see for masel the place far Widney’s fuil wis buirit, an his stane that wis erectit in 1861, whilk reads his poignant last wirdies: “dinna bury me like a beast.” Ah’m also gaun tae be a lot mair conscious aboot the history o ma local area, an sae shoud you, because if we dinna ken far we cam fae, fa’s fuils are we?

Antonia UriAntonia Uri is a twinty-ane year auld Doric-spikkin student o Modren Furrin Leids at the University o Aiberdeen. She is currently the Alba Eiditor at The Gaudie, an a scriever for The National. Claik awa wi her on Twitter @teuchtertoni.


(Ye can translate ony wird atween Scots an English at the Online Scots Dictionar.)

Scots English
buirit (pronoonced ‘beerit’, ‘birit’, ‘boorit’ or ‘börit’) buried
fa who
fan when
far where
fit what
fuil (‘feel’, ‘fil’, ‘föl’ or ‘fül’), fule fool
fyle while
glaiket silly, stupid
kintra (‘kintra(e)’ or ‘kwintra(e)’) country
kirst chest
Knockha’ Knockhill
loun (‘loon’) man
Neebra Newburgh
puir (‘pair’, ‘peer’, ‘pör’ or ‘pür’) poor
stane (‘stain’ or ‘steen’) stone
Widney Udny

Fift declaration o a Catalan republic

On the 27t October 2017, the Catalonie govrenment o Carlos Puidgemont declared wanthirldom as a republic. This is the fift time that the Catalonie govrenment haes declared the existence o a Catalan republic. In this airticle, we can leuk at the weys the muivement haes been born, an reborn, an developit ower the hunneryears.

The first declaration o Catalan wanthirldom wis in 1641 by Pau Claris, a priest that wis preses o the Disputacio (the Catalan legal an polítical institution). The wanthirldom wis keepit juist for a week durin the Fraunco-Spainish war, a war that happent atweesh 1635 an 1659. The impetus for this declaration wis the ‘Union o Airms’. The Union o Airms wis a plan that the Spainish govrenment pit intae place for tae obteen mair sodgers an tax fae Aragon (that Catalonie wis pairt o), an Portingal. The Catalonie govrenment refused, justifeein thair opposítion by sayin that thay were sendin ower mony sodgers, an that anerly the Catalan Coorts shoud can send Catalan sodgers ootwi Catalonie.

This first declaration, like the ithers that follaed, wis precedit by tension wi the Spainish govrenment: thare wis muivements agin the lairds an agin the urban oligarchies.7 Deed, it wis, as we’ll see, mainly the wirkers that wis at the forebreist o this muivement.

The catalyst for the revolt o 1640 that accompanied the declaration wis whan the Spainish viceroy at the time pit a nobleman, Tamarit, in the jyle for marrin the Spainish policies. In daein this, he thocht we wad can forder thair obtemperin. Hinderly, Catalonie wis in rebellion agin the Spainish kíng, wi Tamarit an ithers bein freed fae Barcelona jyle in a act reminiscent o the stormin o the Bastille. The Catalan naitional anthem descrives events fae this period: it’s cried ‘Els Segadors’, the ‘segadors’ bein the hairsters that wis gey an actíve in the rebellion at the time.

This declaration wis unner pertection fae Fraunce inítially. Efter the week, an for the remainder o the war, the Principality o Catalonie becam unner French control itsel. Northren Catalonie, nou kent as Roussillon, wis keepit by Fraunce efter the war.

The new Catalan republic wis opponed by the monarchist Majorcan corsairs, that attackit Catalan ships.8 The Spainish kíng then invadit Catalonie an regained control efter the war. But, in the lang rin, the eftercome o this declaration an aw the follaein insnorlment wi Fraunce wis, ither than the chynge in mairch, that the Catalans got whit thay were speirin efter in the first place: in 1652, the Spainish kíng Philip IV greed tae hain the principality’s institutions.9

The seicont declaration o a Catalan Republic wis declared by the province govrenment o Barcelona (Diputació de Barcelona) in 1873. The Balearic Islands wis includit as pairt o Catalonie at this pynt.

Baldomer Lostau i Prats, deputy o the Catalan Pairlament, wis electit as preses o the new republic.

This declaration wis different fae the ithers in that it wisnae for tae estaiblish anither independent kintra, but raither for tae estaiblish a republic ’ithin a federal Spainish republic. It wis ’ithin the wider contex o the estaiblishment o the first republic in Spainie. This first Spainish republic didnae last lang itsel, no e’en twa year atweesh Februar 1873 an December 1874.10

The third an fowert declarations precedit the Spainish cívil war. Baith the third an fowert declarations wis by a ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya/Left Republicans o Catalonie) politícian cried Lluís Companys.

The third republic lastit three day in 1931. It wis declared efter the municipal elections o 12t o April11 in whilk the independentist pairties, ERC an Estat Català, won a majority o the seats. This wis follaed by negociations wi the new-foondit seicont Spainish Republic. It wis greed that Catalonie wad hae a certain meisur o sell-govrenment throu a Generalitat.12

Juist three year efter, the fowert Republic wis declared by the same politícian. It wis pairt o the October Events, a revolutionary muivement agin the richt-wing govrenment that haed juist taen pouer in Spainie. This wis compescet by the Spainish govrenment invasion. It wis declared due tae fears that the richt wing wad estaiblish a fascist govrenment in Spainie, like the govrenments awready in place in Italy an Germany. Thay war pruiven tae hae fears o a real danger in 1936 whan Franco stertit a coup d’état, an mair conclusively in 1939 whan the fascists won the war.

The war that follaed is generally cried the Spainish cívil war. But, fae a Catalan perspective, it coud be seen as a war o wanthirldom. In this war, the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) teuk control o lairge pairts o Catalonie an sae haed de facto control ower thae pairts, ’ithoot ony declaration.

The maist recent declaration, on the 27t o October 2017, wis efter seiven year o a accressin independentist muivement. The main swecht for the rise in independentism ’ithin the past seiven year wis the Statutes o Autonomy: in 2006, Catalonie votit (wi the acknowledgement o the Spainish govrenment) a chynge in the statutes o autonomy. The population, an maist Catalan polítical pairties, wis lairgely in favour o the chynges. Major pynts o this Status o Autonomy wis reversed in 2010 by the Spainish Supreme Coort. An this wis in maugre o the fact that ae memmer o the Supreme Coort wis deid in atween times.

Sae by no bein alloued tae control pairt o thair ain destiny in the wey thay thocht possible, that actually encouraged the Catalans tae hae ane mair wish tae tak control o thair ain destiny.

Aw the declarations discussed in this airticle propones a Catalan republic as a alternative tae a mair authoritarian state, aither a Spainish monarchy or a Spainish dictatorship.

Thare haes been a chynge in attitude o internaitional commonty fae ither declarations: in earlier declarations, thare wis mair support an less opposítion fae ither kintras.

This is an orra tendency acause republics is becomin mair an mair common outthrou the hunneryears. The first time a Catalan republic wis estaiblisht wis in the 17t hunneryear, whan thare wis a wee-er proportion o republics in Europe, an thaim that did exist war wee-er (thare wis Veinice an Frankfort for ensaumple). Reaction fae ither govrenments war non-existent in the 17t century; thir days it’s maist European kintras declarin thay’re opponin the referendum result. Thir days, wi the fift declaration, the republics is the maist common form o govrenment in Europe. Yet, thir days maist ither kintras is sayin that it’s a quaisten for Spainie, that Spainie haes its territorial integrity.

Mairches atweesh different kintras haes chynged mony times outthrou the hunneryears: maist independent kintras we see thir days disnae hae the same mairches as thay haed a hunner year syne, an the’re naur nane that haed the same mairches fower hunner year syne. Here is a chynge that is tae occur throu peacefu democratic means.

Nou, we can better unnerstaun hou we got here. We need tae leuk at the past for tae unnerstaun hou the muivement developit.

We can forby compare an contrast this wi the sítuation in Scotland:

Thare is símilarities atweesh the twa kintras: thay baith hae haed thair ain legal tradítions for hunneryears, thay war baith integrate intae a muckler union in the 18t hunneryear an thay are kintras that is pairt o a monarchy.

The reaction o the Spainish estaiblishment is gey an different fae the sítuation in Scotland: as we seen abuin, the reaction o the Supreme Coort wis tae strike doun the new Statute o Autonomy. Sae it’s the conter o ‘The Vow’: insteid o insistin thay’ll gie mair pouers, thay insist thay cannae git the pouers thay awready votit on. Obviously, we’re aye tae see mony new pouers in Scotland. Likewise, David Cameron, we can gie him that, wis willin tae offer the referendum, an the possibílity o wanthirldom, gif wanthirldom wad hae born the gree.

The richt for fowks tae determine thair ain destiny is a important pairt o democracy acause democracies gies the polítical richts tae the fowk, gies the richts for the fowk tae decide thairsels. Thae richts is incomplete gif thare isnae the richt tae chynge the existence itsel o the seistem.

A democracy that disnae allou the richt tae lea the govrenment thay’re unner awready is anerly hauf a democracy.

In the lang rin, we can see that Catalan independentism haes a lang history, fae the 17t hunneryear till the day. An, while the proposítion o a republic in Europe becomes mair an mair normal, the idea o a republic in Catalonie specífically is opponed mair an mair by the ither govrenments o Europe. This is acause thay are uisually agin the chyngin o the mairches o thair memmers, even gif this is whit the populace is wantin. Sae the opponin is a merk o conservative realpolitik, nae democratic eneuch.

An we can see that, in the first declaration in the 17t hunneryear, the Spainish govrenment thocht that imprisonment wad forder greement. The Spainish govrenment foond that the conter wis mair true: that the repressive actions o the state insteid forder disobedience an ootricht rebellion.

James McDonaldJames McDonald is a Scots polyglot steyin in Réunion. He is keen on different leids, inspecially local leids, an thair forderin, whether it’s Scots, Gaelic, Réunion Creole or ither leids. He wirks in schuils, helpin bairns wi thair hamewirk an giein chess lessons. Ye can contact him on jmcd89 [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.


(Ye can translate ony wird atween Scots an English at the Online Scots Dictionar.)

Scots English
accressin growing
atweesh between
mairch boundary, frontier
Catalonie Catalonia
commonty consensus
compescet repressed
hain protect
hairsters harvesters, farm workers
hunneryear century
in maugre o in spite of
insnorlment involvement
marrin obstructing
obtemperin compliance
oppone oppose
orra odd, uncommon
Portingal Portugal
Spainie Spain
speirin efter asking for
swecht impetus
wanthirldom independence

Rin throu the jungle

Telt tae me by ma grandfaither, Andra Coogan. He haed been sent tae Malaya in Warld War II.

I haed escaped the Japanese at first wi a gang o Sikhs. It wis deep in the Malay jungle, an the British sodgers, o which I wis a memmer, haed been telt that it wis tae be “ivery man for hissel”. An here I am, a lad fae the Gorbals wi nae rifle, nae wappen at aa, nae map an juist ma sax weeks’ basic trainin, fechtin throu the jungle wi the Japs ahint us.

The Sikhs an masel war fashed wi the midgies soukin oor bluid, an skin infections sae sair that we raxed wirsels close tae the bane. Oor lives war pure hell. Ilka step wis haurd whan ye’re as howpless as I wis.

Muckle rivers cuttit throu the jungle, an blocked oor gate. They war a deil tae cross for maist o us. Aa the brigs haed been dinged doun tae stap the Japs.

Ane o the lads retreatin wi us wis a Scot wha didnae ken hou tae swim. We haed been helpin him ower the watter ae wey or anither, passin him fae haund tae haund like a bairn or white’er. But ae time we cam tae a river in spate that wis ower wide for us tae help him tae gang across it.

“Ah’m duin for, lads. Ah’ll hae tae gie masel up tae the Japs,” says Dumfy — his wis cryed Dumfy — sittin doun by the bank fit tae greet. I didnae ken whit tae dae wi him.

The Sikh lads spraffed amang theirsels for a mínit, than sterted takin aff their turbans. They snorlt aa the cloots thegither tae mak a rope. Ae Sikh swam the river an tied ae end o the turban rope ticht tae a tree. That gied us puir swimmers a chance tae pou wirsels ower the rushin burn an awa fae the Japanese. Dumfy wis weel frichtit by that hale occasion. He wad dee nae lang efter the Japs catcht us.

Somehou I wis separatit fae the main body o these lads. Suin I wis stravaigin the jungle on ma tod. I wis merchin for Singapore, an it wis easy tae ken whit wey tae gang. The lift wis stappit fou wi Jap planes breengin owerheid, makin for Singapore. Aa I haed tae dae wis follae them.

Efter a few mile I wis drouthy. Efter hauf a day I wis near deid wi thirst. I swat sae muckle that ma claes hummed an war as ticht tae us as ma ain skin. Aathing in that steamin jungle wis weet, but there wisnae a burn fit tae drink fae. Aa the watter wis clarty.

I wis fit tae faa whaur I stood whan I cam across an unco sicht.

In a clearin in this hellish jungle wis an ornamental fishpond. Twa-three dozen deuks paddled aboot in its clear, caller watter. A white pole rase fae the centre o it tae the hicht o aboot fower fit.

I near faintit wi relief. I hirpelt forrit an douked ma hale heid — plash! — richt intae the watter an gulpit deep an lang. I’v ne’er kent relief like it. Tae this day ye can keep yer lemonades an yer fancy juices. Ye cannae beat a gless o pure clean watter. I wis collapsed by the bank o this pond, wabbit fae ma days spent feart an tyned in a jungle.

I wis shakit awauk by an auld Chinese chiel wi wispy white hair. He wis the keeper o the deuks an the pond. He brocht us intae his wee widdin bothy in the clearin an gied us a pillae carvit fae wid. It didnae leuk ower comfy tae me, but as suin as ma heid wis on it I wis oot like a licht.

As I slept on the fluir o this auld Chinese lad’s bothy, he fillt ma watter bottle, an wrappit three muckle deuk’s eggs intae a hankerchief for us tae tak wi me. Whan I’d slept a guid few oors, I waukent up, an this auld Chinese lad wis makkin us a genuine pot o Chinese tea! I haed a swallae o this tea. It wis ayont braw. Whit rare, oot there in aa that horror, sic a dose o cívilisation atween twa strangers!

I wantit tae stey, but I kent fine that if the Japs caucht us they’d kill us baith. I got masel up, thankit him as best I coud, an than merchit aff sooth taewart Singapore.

Sic wis the unco heat oot there in the jungle that afore lang ma watter bottle wis tuim ance mair, an ma lips war parched. The rat-a-tat o gunfire ahint us kept us merchin, or else I wad hae thrown in the touel. Whit happened neist wis ane o the queerest ’hings I’v seen in ma hunner years on earth.

Staundin afore us in the middle o a jungle war a black-skinned midget couple. They war in the skud, completely naked except for a bittie bark tied aboot their waists tae hide their privates. They coudnae be bigger than bairns, but war as auld as me, aulder mebbe. They war whit’s cried ‘Pygmy’ fowk. They leuked feart o us, the lassie stertit cooryin intae her man’s shouder, an he leuked ready tae spring aff intae the trees. But I needit their help.

I poued oot ma ration biscuit fae ma pooch an bit a bit aff. The twa black bairnfowk stared, stamagastert. Efter chowin a wee bit biscuit, I haundit it ower tae them tae try. Nervously, the lad chowed a bit aff an swallaed it. Neist he passed it tae his wife wha took a bit in her mou. They baith broke oot in huge smiles. I smiled. It wis a great moment. I shawed them ma tuim watter bottle an mimed drinkin. Ah’m needin watter, I wis tellin them. The fella took us by the haund an led us throu the trees. They brocht us tae a burn o clear watter an we aa gluggit muckle gowpins fae it.

I fund oot much later that these wee fowk are sort o like stane-age people wha bade intae the jungle. Deid nice they war.

Nae lang efter I fund mair Scots lads heidit sooth in their ragged duds. Me an a lad cryed Ginger walked intae Singapore thegither. We maun hae leuked some state: a muckle ginger lad an his wee pal, droukit wi sweat an coatit wi mosquito plouks, hirplin intae the British Colony o Singapore.

The first hoose we seen wis a white colonial ane, wi perfect green gairdens. Mair nor thon: a sprinkler wis on, gushin pure watter ower the plants! Me an Ginger flew ower tae it, tore the hose aff the sprinkler an startit gluggin the watter, sprayin the bluid, sweat an clart aff wir claes, an lauchin!

A posh vyce fae the hoose cried oot “Get out of here, what on earth do you think you’re doing? This is private property!”

The posh wallahs wha we haed juist been fechtin the Japs for didnae want us in their gairden!

Ma pal Ginger gied them baith barrels. “Mind you be a bit mair fuckin polite tae the Japs! They’ll be here afore lang!”

The Chinese lad, the Pygmies fae the stane age haed helpit us. But the fowk we’d been sent tae protect? They wadnae lat us in their gairden tae drink the watter meant for their gress. Bastards.

Alistair HeatherAlistair Heather is the Scots Editor at Bella Caledonia. He studies History an French at Aiberdeen University, an wirks wi the Elphinstone Institute promotin the cultur o the North-East. Gie him yer chat @historic_ally on Twitter.


(Ye can translate ony wird atween Scots an English at the Online Scots Dictionar.)

Scots English
caller cool
cooryin snuggling
deuk duck
duds clothes
feart afraid
gowpin two handfuls
hirpelt limped
plouks spots
spate flood
stamagaster surprise
tyned lost

Toodily-doo, Flanderinos!

It stairts like this. Ye’re on yer traivels somewhaur — Malta, coud be, or Spain. Weel, mebbe no Spain. But whauriver. Somewhaur warm. Touristy. Nice, but no too nice. Say, Turkey. An ye’re in a bar. This daurk wee howff for fowk wha cannae staund the heat. Weel, there’s a queue in this bar, an here’s you, staundin in it. Fower places back fae the front, an there’s nae twa people in the place speak the same leid as ony ither twa. This micht tak a while.

It daes, o coorse. But at lang an last ye’re yin awa fae the bar, an prayin that the chiel in front o ye’s o a mind tae keep it simple. Peely-wally fellae. Sunglesses. He raises his haund, flashes up the wee peace sign.

“Twa mair beer,” he says.

Yer jaw draps. Gin ye’d a drink in yer haund, ye’d be wipin it aff the fluir. O aw the gin joints in aw the warld..! Ye’v heard it aw, bi nou; the Serbo-Croat for can ah hae a Black Russian, Mai-Tais magicked up in Madeira Portuguese. Yet wha’d hiv thocht? The wunner o them aw! A Bud Light speirt for in guid braid Border Scots! Ye sidle on up tae the bar wi a smile. The boy shoots ye kind o a leuk. But that’s awricht. He disnae ken that ye ken.

“Awricht, mun?” ye say. “Far aboots are ye fae?”

The far is a bit o an affectation — ye dinnae actually speak Doric — but the occasion seems tae warrant something a pickle oot o the ordinar, a wee bit pruif o yer ootstaundin credentials. The chiel glences ower at ye, obviously impressed, an clinks up his bottles bi their green gless necks.

“Flanders,” he mutters, an scleushes aff oot the door.

A mínit passes. Forgettin yer drinks, ye daunder oot intae the sunlicht as in a daze. Flanders, ye think tae yersel. But fit wey… Ah mean, whit fur wis he speakin in Scots? An than it hits ye, like a blockbuster twist. He wisnae speakin in Scots at aw. He wis speakin in Flanders… ese?

Flemish. Awricht, whitiver. Pynt is. Suddently, oot o naewhaur, yer leid is nae langer some evolutionary deid end, a doomed aff-brand Betamax affshoot o a faur superior product. Yer leid, ye see, haes got connections. It’s in wi the boys; it’s pairt o the scheme o things. This leid o yours, man, it’s gaun places. It wad be missed gin owt wis tae happen tae it.

Because — let’s face it — even the maist enlichtened views o Scots still hae it doun as a failed experiment, a foustie graft ontae a gowsterous tree. It’s Poundland English, uised anely bi the puir oot o necessity an the enthusiasts oot o thrawnness. Scots beirs the same relation tae its paurent tongue that phonographs dae tae Spotify, or Grease 2 daes tae the oríginal. Some fowk micht prefer it, but ye’v tae wunner at their motives.

It’s no juist tae dae wi langage, like. Oor pairtnership wi England haes dominatit us, linguistically, polítically an in aw ither weys, tae the extent that ye juist cannae speak o Scotland wi’oot reference tae oor soothren sibs. Throu nae partícular faut o onybody’s, the exclusivity o that relationship haes lang preventit us explorin oor relationships wi ithers. That’s a loss felt richt across the buird. But oor associations wi ither kintras are vital tae the story o Scots, if for nae ither raison than that they explain hou the leid we speak the day isnae juist Swamp Thing English.

We’re trippin ower oorsels richt nou tae link airms wi the Kurds or the Basques or the Catalans or ony ither polítical minority wi a faintly romantic cast. Awricht — guid. But oor historical affinity wi the fowk o Flanders is as lang an strang as ony ither. Like oorsels, Flanders haes its ain pairlament, langage, an independence muivement — but the relationship atween us rins deeper as that. In 1154, whan Henry II shawed England’s Flemish population the door, it wis tae Scotland that mony o them neist brocht their talents. The naitur o their national skillsets — weaving, seafaring, an tred — transformed the local economy, turnin Scotland fae a mere producer o raw guids intae a major processor o them. Nearlins a thoosand years efter, thae chynges can still be witnessed in the mills an ports o the eastern coast, whaur the Flemish mainly sattlt.

But haud on, tho. That’s no the hauf o it. Tak a keek at a map o oor principal Flemish sattlements. The lang straik rinnin up the hale eastern lenth. The three prongs, like a backarties E, stickin oot intae the tap, middle an bottom. Gin ye’re no seein owt, set it neist tae a linguistic map o Scotland, an staund richt back. It micht tak a mínit, but it’s wirth it. It’ll be like ye’re the polis chief at the end o ‘The Usual Suspects’. Kobayashi. Guatemala. Awthing stairts makkin sense.

Sae keep diggin. Scots, Flemish, 1154, whan the influx fae Flanders arrives in Scotland. Whit else is gaun on? Weel, for the Scots leid, no an awfu lot. It haesnae really got up an rinnin yet. But gin ye wantit tae pit a date on it, the pynt at which Scots begins tae branch awa fae English an become a leid in its ain richt… Och, ah widnae want tae haggle ye doun tae the exact mínit. But gin ye jaloused in the region o the 12t century, ye’d certes be in greeance wi the bouk o the evidence.

Aye, awricht, ah ken, ah ken. Post hoc ergo propter hoc an aw that. Ah’m no staundin here sayin that the Flemish inventit Scots. There’s a bit mair tae it as that. But the quaisten is, whit happens at the fork in the road whaur yin langage stairts tae become anither? Whan a tongue taks on an identity o its ain? Weel, ane o the maist important things that’s gaun on is that yin variant o that langage is developin its ain distinct lexicon. Simply — Scots becomes Scots whan it haes different wirds for things fae English. An the principal soorce for this chynge in vocabular is borrowins fae ither leids.

The langages o the Law Kintras hae contríbuted mair tae Scots than mebbes ony ither tongue ootside o English. A puckle wirds, still in common uiss, that we pauchelt aff the Flemish: callant, scone, craig, howff. No bad for a day’s wark. Some o these treisurs were shiny eneuch that the English than stole them aff us in turn: golf, lambkin, masterpiece. There’s a wheen mair, some o which hae syne fawen oot o uiss. We dinnae really need wirds tae descrive the individual pairts o a crossbow nou, or the partícular riggins o a ship. But gin we iver did, it wad be cantie tae think we micht yinst again leuk tae Flanders or Holland for oor borrowins insteid o juist turnin up aye at the OED, a nuisance neibour cadgin for a cup o sugar.

Still, wha needs new wirds whan we’v awready loads? There’s plenty o fowk wha’d like tae see Scots pit in permanent stasis; nae mair borrowins, nae mair neologisms, naethin like that. Juist guid auld-farrant Scots the wey yon Gavin Douglas scrievit it. But a leid is like ony ither livin thing; it wants stimulation tae thrive. An for Scots richt nou, that’s no forthcomin throu commerce wi ither tongues, the wey it shoud be. Wi’oot fresh wirds comin in, fresh ideas, Scots, as a langage, is mairchin on stairvation rations. Oor leid is dyin o cultural malnutrition, an it’s anely shapin up tae get warse.

Sae, the European Union is naebody’s flavour o the month at the mínit. Shoudnae be. But resistin Brexit wis niver aboot oor affinity wi Guy Verhofstadt or Donald Tusk. It wis aboot oor relationship wi oor sister cítizens an brither culturs on the Continent. Keepin thae links alive haes aye been hard eneuch — Scottish playdates wi ither kintras bein sae vigorously chaperoned — but in the wake o Brexit, oor límitit cultural commerce wi ither nations will dwyne awa tae nearly naething. GDP, halth care indexes, unemployment rates — aye, we shoud be wirrit, awricht. But these are aw figures that can be meisured an (possibly) managed. The cost tae oor cultur, on the ither haund, o a stagnant, narrae nationalism, driven bi the politics o isolation, is ayont ony reckonin.

Efter Catalonia, ah dug oot ‘The Napoleon of Notting Hill’ again, G.K. Chesterton’s auld yarn aboot a Lunnon borough turnt brakawa nation. Ye can read it, gin ye’v a mind tae, as a satire on parochialism an secessionist politics; a cantankerous auld bugger like Chesterton coudnae help but gie ye that option. His wis a pint-stowp that wis niver hauf-gates full. But whan it cam tae bress tacks, an he’d tae speir hissel — whit if a kintra haed juist niver existit? — even yon age-auld cynic, in the end, turnt saft in hert an heid:

“The same that would have happened to the world and all the starry systems if an apple-tree grew six apples instead of seven; something would have been eternally lost.”

Och, dry yer een, eh, big man; we’re no there yet. But we’re on the road. The loss o a kintra, the extinction o a nation, is no a thing that happens on the signin o a treaty, or at the business end o a gun. It isnae the stickin o a Union Jack on a pund o Ayrshire tatties. The deith o a kintra is no a chynge. It’s the lang, protractit absence o chynge, the weirin oot o tired seimbols, the dullin o a deid flag in the gradual sun. This is whit the Brexit voters dinnae unnerstaund — that ye can hae a gurly nationalism, or ye can hae an actual nation, but ye cannae ultimately hae baith. A kintra is juist an idea like ony ither, an tae reclaim an idea disnae mean tae wheech it aff the shelves. It means tae circulate it, tae get it oot there. The Magna Carta, the Bill o Rights, the Constitution o the Unitit States; these are no items for a private collection. They belang, as a great man yinst said, in a museum. They belang tae awbody.

Oh wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, etc. But than, hou we see oorsels haes ayeweys been the problem. A quick typology o staundart Twitter metaphors for Scotland’s relationship wi England: battert hoosewife, neglectit wean, underappreciatit scuddler-for-hire. The stories ye tell yersel, eh? But the futur narrative ah’m descryin for the UK ootside o Europe is something muckle less blythesome. Scrievit in French, bi an Irish carle lívin in Paris — hou else? — it involves twa auld hobos wi naething tae say tae themsels or ilk ither, sittin on a bench bi the side o the road, spraffin awa aboot killin theirsels. Waitin for something tae happen. But naething iver happens. It niver will. It’s awfu. Naebody comes, naebody gans. There’s naethin tae be duin.

Thomas ClarkThomas Clark is a makar an scriever fae the Scottish Borders. He is praisently eiditor o Scots at Bella Caledonia, an poet-in-residence at Selkirk FC. He gabs awa at an on Twitter: @clashcityclarky.


(Ye can translate ony wird atween Scots an English at the Online Scots Dictionar.)

Scots English
ayont beyond
bouk bulk
cadgin hawking or peddling wares
cantie nice, pleasant
carle old man
certes certainly, assuredly
descryin seeing, envisioning
foustie in a decayed state or smell
gowsterous hearty and healthy
greeance agreement
jaloused guessed
pint stowp pint glass
scleushes walks clumsily
scrievit written
scuddler scullion
spraffin col. talking
straik a long and narrow strip of land
tred trade