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Document 905

Interview 06: David Purves on the Scots language

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

F718 So tell me when you first became interested in Scots.
M017 Well I I was interested in eh in in the fact when I went to school that er the language we were supposed to speak in the classroom was different from what we spoke at home,
F718 Mm
M017 because I I lived in in a house where my grandparents were still present, and er
F718 Mmhm
M017 really spoke nothing else at at home. Also there's a a distinction in the the the playground in which the children
F718 Uh-huh
M017 er, where I went to school in Galashiels, er, erm, er, er used the numerals er, yin, twae, three, fower, five, six, seeven, echt, nine, ten, eleeven, twal,
F718 Uh-huh
M017 and the numerals that we got at school, so that made a very puzzling er sit- situation. So this, certainly, er, has a, er, in my view in retrospect, //[inaudible] a//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 a a very bad psychological effect, //cause//
F718 //Mm//
M017 see, er wh- what is happening is that the child is being told that the way its parents speak and its grandparents //speak is//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 wrong, something that has to be corrected. And I think that this, this er impact has got a lot to do er in later life with people in Scotland er and what is often //known as//
F718 //Mm//
M017 the as the Scottish cringe. //A sort of feeling that//
F718 //mmhm mmhm [laugh]//
M017 somehow there's something wrong with them //that has to//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 be corrected. And the people that get this impression at a very early age, it er, it can become er persistent, //and, you know,//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 affect them for the rest of their lives. Eh, I was also interested in the fact that eh I was in contact with people of older generations and that my my great grannie, who was born in eighteen-forty, spoke eh nothing else but Scots. Er and as Scots it really sounded quite, er, in a sense quite lofty
F718 Mmhm //mmhm mmhm//
M017 //compared with er// the way Scots is now presented to us.
F718 Yeah, yeah.
M017 Mm
F718 So were you encouraged to speak Scots in a in a home environment when you were //young, aye?//
M017 //Oh yes, well I didn't// really speak er anything er anything //else.//
F718 //Mm//
M017 Er though of course eh even then of course eh Scots was er er suffering erosion
F718 Mmhm
M017 from the fact that we'd had this er system of education where it was presented as an incorrect form of English for hundreds of years, //for many//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 generations. But er, er despite the fact that er that er that er the the impact of English was huge, //you know, it//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 it was used f- in the bible and in in education, er the the the structure of the language was still, er, not intact, but at least it was still
F718 Mmhm
M017 it was still substantial er er Scots that was spoken. Eh every generation of course more and more words disappeared //er//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 er er But that's a thing that interested me but of course I didn't, er, that has not been my career. //My career has been as a//
F718 //Mm Mmhm//
M017 as a biochemist.
F718 Mmhm
M017 But er, in my later years of course er erm I have er sort of erm returned, you know, to //my earlier//
F718 //uh-huh//
M017 earlier interest. //[sniff]//
F718 //Mmhm mmhm//
M017 [cough]
F718 Do- were you, did you erm do Scottish literature at school? I kind of have the //impression that you get the occasional bit of Burns and not much else.//
M017 //Well, no, very, well, yeah,// we we had er, the headmaster was English and he he sort of took the view that er that somehow er or other, er contradictory view, that it was worthwhile to teach //Scots songs,//
F718 //Mmhm// //Mmhm//
M017 //but// anyone that used it in the classroom //was sort of//
F718 //[laugh]// //[sniff] Yeah.//
M017 //guilty of some sort of// impertinence. Er every year there would be a a Burns prize, usually //given//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 to some boy that could recite Tam O' //Shanter all the way through, but//
F718 //Yes. [laugh]//
M017 we didn't really
F718 Uh-huh
M017 er we were not really aware that there was any literature in //Scots//
F718 //Mm//
M017 eh apart from er the work of Burns.
F718 Mmhm mmhm Do you think that Scots would benefit from having a a more official place in the school curriculum, or?
M017 Well my my own view is that it it er er it it should be taught as a separate linguistic //system,//
F718 //Right. mmhm//
M017 closely related //to English.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Eh er but er it it should not be represented as something which is //inherently wrong.//
F718 //Mm//
M017 Er you cannot think that it is reasonable to regard a a Scots word, er like er "dreich" for example, //as//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 being somehow wrong, //eh//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Er eh er many Scots words were brought across the North Sea by er our ancestors a long time ago.
F718 Yeah.
M017 Eh er that er it's wrong to sort of see certain modes of speech as as wrong. Certainly, there is a difficulty, in that that forms of speech, and Scots often comes into this //category,//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 er often become very unpopular and they become seen as wrong //because they are associated//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 with social deprivation.
F718 Yeah. Do you think that is particularly the case with urban varieties //rather than rural varieties, mm?//
M017 //Ye- yes, I think that has happened in// urban //situations,//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 where people often hold on to some of their //Scots//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 I mean it even comes a-a- across in er a series like "River City", //eh er//
F718 //Yes, quite, uh-huh.//
M017 that that where there is some Scots spoken. Eh very often the the broadest Scots is spoken by the most socially-deprived //people//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 in the in the series. So this is eh it raises the question of whether there is such a thing as good or bad er Scots.
F718 Yeah. //Yeah.//
M017 //Eh eh// In my view, er, you cannot escape er er seeing certain kinds of speech as being bad, //if they are//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 traditionally associated with
F718 Mmhm
M017 social- social deprivation, //drug//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 [?]edition[/?], addiction, //crime.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Eh eh that that is a it's a terrible thing that that should happen. But that is is the case, so that, eh I I, if I'm asked the question "Is there such a thing as bad Scots?" eh I would say "Well, that is in the nature of language."
F718 Mmhm
M017 I think it does become bad when it a- it acquires bad associations.
F718 Uh-huh uh-huh
M017 But ba- linguistically of course, nothing is either bad or good, //[laugh] Independently//
F718 //Indeed, [laugh]// //arguably, yeah, yeah.//
M017 //[inaudible] [sniff]//
F718 Do you think that can be then be balanced by encouraging writing in Scots, erm to improve its its er, its public face if you like?
M017 [inhale] Well, there's a substantial body of literature. //er but of course the number of people that can write,//
F718 //Oh indeed, I meant really in in the current day rather than in the past. Mmhm//
M017 eh eh in anything //which//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 resembles authentic Scots is er diminishing //er day//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 by day, I mean, it's the fact of the matter. But eh, the the obvious way to teach any language is in relation to the literature that exists in it.
F718 Mmhm
M017 And Scots has a substantial body of //literature.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Perhaps inadequate. //Nevertheless it is//
F718 //Mm//
M017 it is quite, it's substantial if //you go back//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 to the time of the Medieval makkars.
F718 Of course.
M017 And er eh of course there's a logistic difficulty in that fewer and fewer teachers may be sufficiently familiar with it //to be able to teach it.//
F718 //Yeah, mmhm.//
M017 But that should be the the objective, is to acquaint children with the literature that exists in Scots
F718 Mmhm
M017 and er convince them that there is nothing inherently wrong about this and that this the language is, has got, er, unrealised powers of expression,
F718 Mmhm
M017 that has been greatly neglected. And er the idea has been put across that somehow Scots is inherently bad,
F718 Uh-huh
M017 And I would certainly deny that there's anything inherently bad about any language, although a language can become bad in the sense of its, er er arousing distaste //because you associate it//
F718 //Mm//
M017 with social deprivation which no- nobody wants that //but it's, everybody//
F718 //Uh-huh uh-huh//
M017 sees, social deprivation, crime and drug //addiction//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 a-a-a- as bad.
F718 Mmhm
M017 Eh eh so er there's a little er a little semantic //difficulty//
F718 //Mm//
M017 here //when we speak about//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 good and bad Scots.
F718 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Erm, perhaps we can move on to the subject of Lallans magazine. Erm, you told me before that you, well, edited for a number of years. //Erm//
M017 //Yes, well I did.// Er the the Lallans magazine I think is really quite important, //because//
F718 //Mm//
M017 er erm it er, over the years it has included quite a lot of what I I regard as quite fine //poetry,//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 and er that er it is very valuable. And er I think that eh the the corpus of writing represented by er Lallans is a very good //basis//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 for teaching a language.
F718 Yes, absolutely. How did it, how did it come about? Erm, you said to me earlier, it started in about, well the early nineteen seventies, nineteen seventy-two probably. Do you know what, that, kind of what motivated the beginning of of Lallans? Did it arise out of //another project, or was it just//
M017 //Well eh it was eh it was// it eh it arose as the er as the magazine of the, eh what was originally known //as the La-//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 the Lallans society.
F718 Uh-huh
M017 It's name was er changed from the Lallans society to the Scottish Language Society because
F718 Mmhm
M017 Er, somebody, Tom Scott, I think it was //objected//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 to the terms Lallans, and er, er it didn't sort of, his, it didn't er er make any difference when it was changed to the Scottish Language Society; he was still oppo- [laugh] //opposed to the organisation//
F718 //Uh-huh [laugh]//
M017 for some reason which I I never discovered. But eh, it started off in a very modest way, as eh the o- original numbers were simply cyclostyled sheets //and er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Then it er it er gradually became bigger and bigger and er er I er found it very very eh rewarding exercise to edit it. Though I must say editing anything is, doesn't lead to //personal//
F718 //Mm//
M017 pop- popularity! //[?]you see[/?] no- nobody likes//
F718 //[laugh] Of course. [laugh] Uh-huh//
M017 to have their material rejected. //And er mmhm//
F718 //Yes, of course, uh-huh mmhm.// We were talking earlier about the issue of spelling variation as well, and that's, it's one that's, well, controversial, and er very, erm a real problem. Erm, what are your views on that?
M017 Well, my [exhale] my views are, th- that that it's something that eh our educational system should take care of.
F718 Mmhm
M017 And that er, if there is to be a, as I understand there, this is going to happen, that there is to be a national languages //strategy,//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 that this ought to involve the teaching of Scots at school, er based on the existing body of literature,
F718 Mmhm
M017 and that er, the, spelling i-i- is an important aspect of teaching, eh, er at the moment when people want to know how to spell a Scots //word, they//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 usually go to a //dictionary.//
F718 //Yes.//
M017 But of course eh, most of the dictionaries that are available can, er, quote eh a number of possible spellings for every word //and//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 this is er the object of spelling reform to be to tidy up this state of //affairs.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Yeah. It's not unique of course; //i-i- it used//
F718 //Mm//
M017 to exist in English //[inaudible],//
F718 //Yes, yes.//
M017 further back.
F718 Yeah.
M017 But once o- official documents //begin to be//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 er spelt in a certain way, //then er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 er that helps. But of course , we cannot hope for any improvement until we the the image of Scots as being somehow inherently bad, and something which is associated //with i-//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 ignorant and uneducated people, until that image is dispelled, it isn't possible to make any progress at all. It's very very difficult er to s- to to er see a way fo- way forward in this situation,
F718 Mmhm
M017 in the face of er the process of globalisation.
F718 Uh-huh //Mmhm//
M017 //Eh, which// affects the whole //planet.//
F718 //Increasingly with English.//
M017 Eh, we've now got er er English is now taking over, er, all over the world, as a a means of //communication.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 And in has been argued by some artists that of course English is no longer a language in which it's possible to write poetry, //it's just lost its//
F718 //Mm//
M017 soul, it's become a computer language, or a, you know, or a //airport language.//
F718 //Mmhm mm// But it's a language with lots of varieties, and new varieties //developing as well, uh-huh.//
M017 //With its huge huge varieties, but of course see it's// no longer the language of any specific community //er//
F718 //Uh-huh uh-huh//
M017 this is rather //important that in//
F718 //Mm//
M017 Shakespeare's time //English was very much//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 the language of a //a specific//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 community. Now it's spoken all over the world and therefore you get er, i- it doesn't have eh the the same community association
F718 Mmhm
M017 as a language which is associated with a
F718 Mm
M017 an existing community. //Globalisation//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 tends to lead to the disappearance of communities, //it's a very//
F718 //Yes.//
M017 serious development because th- civilisation is really based on community spirit //er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 and on trust. //It's er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Er, with the disappearance of communities, er you're no longer, er if you no longer identify with a community, you feel you're in a situation where you cannot trust anybody, //because//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 Eh, you trust other people, very often, by the way they speak.
F718 Yeah.
M017 erm //I mean you//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 you get recognised and identity from hearing the way somebody else speaks.
F718 Mmhm mmhm
M017 Now that's a sort of big question, of course, //but mmhm.//
F718 //Mm// Do you s- do you see this as a problem with no solution, or with an inevitable ending, or do you think there are ways of encouraging Scots to a sufficient degree that it, won't lose out completely to English?
M017 Well, there isn't any solution in the sense that er everybody in //Scotland//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 is going to sort of return to speaking the same way as ma grandfaither, you //know, that's that's not going to happen.//
F718 //Mmhm mmhm uh-huh, yeah.//
M017 W- we can sort of see that that is not possible.
F718 Mmhm
M017 But ehm people in Scotland, if we are a community in Scotland, are are entitled to have er the the the language which was originally the state language of Scotland //treated//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 with respect in education. eh that that is eh eh there is a sort of eh s-, the the idea that somehow there is a proper way to speak and and other ways of speaking which don't conform to this image //are improper,//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 that is really I I certainly hope that that is going to disappear //altogether,//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 though er I don't think there's a solution in the sense that I am going to return to a Scotland where everybody //speaks the//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 same way as they did when I was a child.
F718 Mmhm
M017 The literature is still there.
F718 Yes.
M017 And that is the the beauty of //literature and//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 recorded material that we can still access //material//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 which is not really er universal in the age in which we live.
F718 Yeah, yes. How do you feel about Scottish literature at the moment? Do you feel it's er an encouraging situation? Er, for example, over the last twenty years, have you seen a er an improved place for recognition of Scottish literature?
M017 Mm er well I'd really rather reserve er judgement about that, //because eh//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 it really depends what you mean by literature; if you //mean//
F718 //Right.//
M017 everything that is written, [?]in the whole[/?]
F718 Mmhm mmhm
M017 er I don't think the present situation is very encouraging. But eh, we have, er er then of course, I am probably speaking from the standpoint of the the the time in which I have lived,
F718 Uh-huh
M017 eh er the fact that I regret that we don't have many Robert Louis Stevensons around //erm the//
F718 //[laugh] Mmhm//
M017 It's inevitable that things should change, and that people should feel that er that the ch- the changes which are occurring in society er are bad because they are different from the time that they have experienced within their own //own own life.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 So er er I think eh it would be presumptious of me to try to er er pass judgement on what is being being written //er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 currently. Er, there there now seems to be er a rather unpleasant preoccupation with with violence and //crime.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Er //but er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 there has always been violence and there has always been crime. //But eh that's just//
F718 //Yeah, yeah.//
M017 my impression. //[sniff] mm mm//
F718 //Uh-huh uh-huh, does that// encourage the, a negative image for Scots, do you think?
M017 For Scots?
F718 Yes.
M017 We- well there are there are different images, you //see, the- they//
F718 //Mm//
M017 we have the the er "gonnae no dae that?" eh er lavatorial //humour image,//
F718 //[laugh] uh-huh//
M017 and then we've got the the view of er people that eh appreciate the the dialogue and
F718 Mmhm
M017 maybe Sir Walter Scott's novels, even Stevenson, MacDiarmid, there are people that can see er great beauty //i-i-//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 in work written in this language, because the very fact is it is as different from //English,//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 enables the writer to sort of reach parts which //English cannot really reach.//
F718 //Yes, [laugh], yeah.// //Yeah, [laugh].//
M017 //[sniff] Mmhm//
F718 That that maybe ties in with erm something you were saying earlier about Chinese poetry. Do you think there there is an affinity between well, er obviously not a small language but another language, a more exotic language compared to English, //and Scots?//
M017 //Well, [laugh]// [laugh] //that is very difficult,//
F718 //[laugh]//
M017 because eh, I I I cannot read eh the the Chinese script directly.
F718 Right.
M017 Er and my access to it is through er er translations into English.
F718 Uh-huh
M017 And of course these translations vary enormously in //quality.//
F718 //Mm//
M017 Eh if the translation's been made by a Victorian //Englishman//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 the Chinese poems sometimes have
F718 Mmhm
M017 a a a an almost Victorian //quality.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 But eh nevertheless I sort of feel that in reading some of these English translations I can sort of reach back into the psyche //of//
F718 //Mm//
M017 the original author,
F718 Uh-huh
M017 although the author may have been dead for a couple of thousand years //[inaudible]//
F718 //Yes, uh-huh//
M017 w- we can sort of reach, eh make contact, it's almost like a sort of spiritualistic //experience.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 And then of course by using Scots to represent this man's poem, somehow eh eh you achieve a kind of contact with him that er is really quite remarkable.
F718 Hm mmhm mmhm How do you, how do you proceed then? Do you, do you work with parallel versions of, translations into English of the poem, and try to sort of use one, erm consider one against the background of the others to, to get //get to the the original spirit of it?//
M017 //No no I I don't I don't I don't// I don't do that. I I I I I read through collections of er of er renderings of Chinese poems by different people and then //and I I//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 er when I hit one I think will go well into Scots, I sort of try //it out.//
F718 //Right.//
M017 Of course eh, the result is eh is not eh is often quite different from the the English translation.
F718 Mmhm
M017 But i- and nevertheless I get the feeling er that I know what the original author is trying to say,
F718 Yeah.
M017 although the the English exists in between. But eh, eh there is, the the the translations of poetry from another language are are are, it's a different kind of exercise from simply trying to sort of reproduce //the meaning//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 as it appears on the page. I-i- it has to be
F718 [cough]
M017 a re-creation,
F718 Yes. //Yeah.//
M017 //because// of the different social background //of the//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 original author and the translator.
F718 Mmhm
M017 Nevertheless it is er, it does sort of provide a a bond //with people//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 that lived thousands of years ago //[inaudible]//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 fascinating.
F718 Do you find themes in common, when, in looking at the, the very old material, do you find things that are still relevant //to//
M017 //[exhale]// //Yes, oh yes.//
F718 //still [inaudible]//
M017 well er th- yes, there are th- there are some tremendous er Chinese poems about er the pain of grief and //bereavement er.//
F718 //Mmhm mm// //Universals, uh-huh//
M017 //Th- these things are dealt with// eh in a very direct way, er
F718 Mm
M017 And er they're not really greatly concerned with abstractions.
F718 Right.
M017 The trouble is that that contemporary Chinese eh very often tend to sort of look with disdain on this
F718 Mm
M017 nebulous //tradition.//
F718 //Uh-huh uh-huh//
M017 It doesn't appear to them to be er nearly materialistic enough, ehm
F718 Mm
M017 But that's another //[laugh]//
F718 //Uh-huh [laugh]//
M017 another question.
F718 Yeah, I imagine the directness would translate quite nicely into Scots, //does it not? The directness of the//
M017 //Which one?// //Er ye-, yes, yes, er I think//
F718 //the sentiment.//
M017 Well there is eh, there is er, a a a a man called Harvey Holton that er //that//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 translated the whole of the er the Water Margin into Scots.
F718 Right, uh-huh
M017 And er reading, reading er his translations into Scots, the situation becomes er curiously alive, you know? //[inaudible]//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 folk bein thrown to the jail, and it eh it's eh it is possible to er eh to share eh the the vision er of the author.
F718 Mmhm
M017 That's, that is er er I haven't seen these for a while. Yes, yes, there's two brothers, both from Selkirk. There's er //there's//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Harvey Holton er who writes poems in Scots
F718 Mm
M017 and there's Brian Holton //that er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 that translated the Water //Margin.//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 into Scots. //[sniff]//
F718 //Yeah.// Right. Wh- what are your views on the new Scottish Parliament, er as it relates to the language? Do you think that they, do you think it it's it goes far enough in encouraging Scots? Do you think it //[inaudible] Well, quite, anyway, ehm mmhm//
M017 //Well it hasn't got th-, gone very far so far.// It's er it's er really done er very, there was a
F718 Mm
M017 a a a national cultural strategy, //[inaudible]//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 which is produced, but it didn't really have er er er, or hardly any //specific//
F718 //Mm//
M017 proposals
F718 Mm mmhm //mm//
M017 //in this.//
F718 Mmhm
M017 Th- there now appears to be a commitment to a national languages strategy, which
F718 Uh-huh
M017 raises the whole question of how important eh Scotland's indigenous languages, that is Scots and and Gaelic, eh eh are. eh in education,
F718 Mmhm
M017 and in broadcasting, and //fortunately//
F718 //Yes.//
M017 the the the P- the Scottish Parliament doesn't have any control over broadcasting //or any//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 direct, any way of directly influencing what is //broadcast.//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 There's no drama in Scots to speak of, apart from //"River//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 City", and er
F718 Mmhm
M017 I am actually quite thankful for the existence of //[laugh] "River City" [inaudible]//
F718 //[laugh] Are you a fan? [laugh]//
M017 It doesn't really go very far, //er//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 And er it it, what er it does is sort of, er, the Scots in it is sort of differentially fragmented, if you know what I mean? //No//
F718 //Mm//
M017 two people speak the same way.
F718 Uh-huh
M017 [inhale] Mm
F718 H- has that to do with the writers or to do with the actors, do you think?
M017 Ah, well, er, I haven't been on the set. //I don't really, I don't//
F718 //Right. Fair enough! [laugh]//
M017 really know that, I
F718 Mmhm
M017 Er, I suspect that er that er, some of the members of the cast, they sort of bring their own experiences, //to the part//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 and that er, there is a certain amount of flexibility in the direction in allowing people to say things which sound natural
F718 Mmhm mmhm //Yeah.//
M017 //er to them.//
F718 Uh-huh uh-huh [inaudible]
M017 I mean, I don't know if you've seen it yourself, you'll notice there's er, there's one character who comes from er Aberdeen.
F718 Mmhm
M017 And er, she comes out with characteristically North-East phrases, like //er//
F718 //Right, uh-huh//
M017 but er "Happy New Year aabody", sort of er
F718 Uh-huh
M017 er and er the, when when an actor is saying something er which is completely natural to him or her, er it has a, to me it has an extra impact, //but anyway.//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 It's er sort of transcends ac- [laugh] //Mm?//
F718 //Yeah, yeah.// More authentic. Yeah. Erm, in loo- in well, in looking at the Scots Parliament, Scottish Parliament website, it's kind of immediately, the first thing you notice, really, or I noticed anyway, was the fact that they have the guide to the Parliament in Scots
M017 Uh-huh
F718 Erm, do you think that that's erm a political choice, or do you th-, or is it tokenism, or is it a step in the right direction? There's very little in //Scots, but there's one or two things.//
M017 //Well I I I have eh// erm reservations about trying to undo four hundred //years of//
F718 //Mm mmhm//
M017 of representation //of//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 Scots in education as being something which is incorrect. //a-a- and//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 suddenly using it for official documents, because //eh//
F718 //Mm//
M017 eh eh that is er can't be done overnight,
F718 Uh-huh
M017 and I don't think, that eh, myself, though some people might disagree with this, that it would necessarily be a good idea to sort of eh rename all the public lavatories in //the new//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 Parliament building as as as er shunkies, cludgies, an an an //duffies, eh//
F718 //[laugh]//
M017 wouldn't, I don't think that this would
F718 Mmhm
M017 necessarily be a good idea; it's putting the cart before the horse. The the the basic problem //is//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 is an educational one, is //the way//
F718 //Uh-huh//
M017 that Scots is represented in school and in public life.
F718 Mmhm
M017 Er and er that has to be altered eh before we can hope for any improvement that that it, in fact it could be counterproductive,
F718 Mmhm
M017 to sort of eh start off by renaming public lavatories, because then immediately it //associates//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 Scots with lavatorial //humour.//
F718 //[laugh]// //Uh-huh uh-huh//
M017 //It's not// that there is anything inherently wrong //with it with//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 with with with these words, but eh it's a it's not a very wise policy //I think it would be//
F718 //Mm//
M017 er it's er the the place to start is in education.
F718 Mmhm
M017 And with broadcasting. I- it is, seems to me quite absurd that we should not get er drama in Scots. //Eh//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 in in er from the BBC. Er, apart from the the likes of "River City".
F718 Mmhm
M017 Aye, there is a place for that but er, there are so many fine plays that have been written in Scots that //could be produced.//
F718 //Yeah.//
M017 Er for a long time there was a pr- prejudice in, against producing er the likes of Macbeth, er in erm anything but a a rather erm far-back er English accent.
F718 Mmhm
M017 I think some years ago there was a a a version of Macbeth which was produced with actors with a Scots accent and er Orson //Welles//
F718 //Mmhm mmhm//
M017 actually made a film
F718 Mmhm
M017 of Macbeth. After all the play's supposed to have taken place in in er in Scotland, //and er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 it seemed to be quite natural to me Ideally, I suppose [inaudible] representationally, it would need to be produced in er
F718 Yeah.
M017 in old Gaelic. //But of course//
F718 //Uh-huh uh-huh//
M017 er er Macbeth er would certainly have spoken er Gaelic most of the time.
F718 Mmhm
M017 But at least to produce it in a Scots accent er at least labels it as belonging
F718 Mmhm
M017 to the Scottish scene.
F718 Uh-huh
M017 Er to produce it in in Scots is er carrying that process a s- a stage further.
F718 Yeah.
M017 Er, I don't think that er drama has necessarily got to be completely representational, //but er//
F718 //Mmhm//
M017 the idea that er that er Macbeth should be produced in what one would regard as a a a sort of very affected type of English accent er doesn't seem to bear examination, somehow.

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APA Style:

Interview 06: David Purves on the Scots language. 2021. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved January 2021, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=905.

MLA Style:

"Interview 06: David Purves on the Scots language." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2021. Web. January 2021. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=905.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Interview 06: David Purves on the Scots language," accessed January 2021, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=905.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2021. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk.

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Information about Document 905

Interview 06: David Purves on the Scots language

Audio

Audio audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Specialists
For gender Mixed
Audience size 1

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2005
Recording person id 718
Size (min) 31
Size (mb) 151

Audio setting

Education
Recording venue Private house
Geographic location of speech Edinburgh

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Known via mutual acquaintance
Speakers knew each other N/A

Audio speaker relationships

Known via mutual acquaintance

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 718
Year of transcription 2005
Year material recorded 2005
Word count 4815

Audio type

Interview
General description Interview with David Purves

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 17
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1920
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired Biochemist
Place of birth Selkirk
Region of birth Selkirk
Birthplace CSD dialect area Slk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Midlothian
Residence CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Master Grocer
Father's place of birth Selkirk
Father's region of birth Selkirk
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Slk
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Selkirk
Mother's region of birth Selkirk
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Slk
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All circumstances
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 718
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1970
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Lecturer
Place of birth Hamilton
Region of birth Lanark
Birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Accountant
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Radiographer
Mother's place of birth Norton on Tees
Mother's region of birth Durham
Mother's country of birth England

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All functions
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Work and pleasure
German No Yes No Yes A little
Scots No Yes No Yes Work
Spanish; Castilian Yes Yes Yes Yes Work and pleasure

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