Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Ebonics of the Highlands

While casually researching my Scottish ancestry, I found my way to the website of the Scottish Parliament and to the page of my no doubt distant cousin Alasdair Morrison, MSP. Noticing that he was a member of the Gaelic caucus (Buidheann Thar-Phartaidh na GĂ idhlig), I wondered what other languages the Parliament might cater to; Cornish, perhaps? I was amazed to learn that the regional government's website was available in such unlikely tongues as Italian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Bengali, and even Catalan. What truly amazed me, however, was that it was also available in ... Scots.

Naturally this suggested the question: There's a seperate Scottish language? The answer turned out to be: Well, kind of. Scots turns out to be a crude, phonetic rendering of the English language in the form of a heavy Scottish accent. Here's a (thankfully brief) example of the website's welcome message rendered in Scots:

"The Scottish Pairlament is here for tae represent aw Scotland's folk. We want tae mak siccar that as mony folk as can is able tae find oot aboot whit the Scottish Pairlament dis and whit wey it warks. We hae producit information anent the Pairlament in a reenge o different leids tae help ye tae find oot mair."

I at first assumed this had to be some sort of elaborate Mike Myers-inspired joke, but further reflection suggests that it is, in fact, for real. It strongly seems the equivalent of the U.S. Congress translating their website into Appalachian. I'm still torn between being amused and horrified.


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