Not long ago, I passed by a young family having a picnic in a Glasgow park. The wee boy had found something in the undergrowth and rushed to show it to his dad.
“Hey, dude, what‘ve you got there?” said the father.
The last speaker of a northern Scots dialect has just died. Maybe all variants of Scottish will die out soon. It’s got a lot going against it.
I remember a teacher who insisted her pupils speak ‘proper’ English at all times. She thought using words like ’bried’, ‘maw’, ‘dug’ etc made you sound, as she put it, ‘backward’.
One incident sticks in my memory. She was hooting derisively at a girl’s description of ‘clapping’ a dog. She insisted on ‘patting’.
I now realise she was just a very ignorant woman. Scottish kings up to James VI would undoubtedly have talked about ‘clapping’ their horses. What damage did people like her do to the self-worth of tens of thousands of Scots?
And what’s with those middle class types who think a warped, BBC Queen’s English is the right way to talk? I once had a colleague who arrived at work white-faced and shaking telling us that she had just seen a “terrible cresh”. Mangled pronunciation aside, it did conjure up a lovely image of a kindergarten for scary weans!
Now though, it’s the globalisation of American culture through television, the cinema and the internet which is the biggest threat to what remains of the Scottish language.
A few minutes earlier during my walk in the park, I encountered a young couple just as they met up.
“You’re late, babes,” said the woman.
“I’m really sorry, babe,” was her beau’s reply.
Babe? Babes? In Glasgow?
In a supermarket the same day, a wee girl was helping her mammy with the shopping. She pointed to some packets of biscuits.
“Not today, honey,” said the mother.
Honey? In Glasgow?
When someone couldn’t help me with directions, his “Sorry, mate” made me nostalgic for the old Glaswegian “Jim”!
The day was complete later in a restaurant when my wife and I were greeted by “What would you guys like to order?”
Guys? In Glasgow?
Crivvins, we’re in our sixties! And is calling a woman ‘guy’ now a mark of equality? If so, then it’s a shame if we’ve lost that wonderful endearment, ‘hen’.
Almost inevitably these days, when the food was served we were invited to “Enjoy!” If restaurant staff have to say such meaningless things, could it be not a Scottish meaningless thing like ‘Gustie!’? The tourists at least would love it.
The waiter also had that exasperating, mid-Atlantic way of talking that so many Scots have adopted. You know, where the intonation rises at the end of a sentence. Even when it’s not aquestion.
And can we please ban the word ‘like’ when it’s used – like - in the middle of a – like - sentence for - like- no good purpose? However, I do realise this would cause great problems for the under thirties for whom the word ‘like’ appears to be an essential prop for –like – communication nowadays.
It’ll be a long struggle to defend the language against the onslaught of downloads, apps, Twitter, Facebook as well as Hollywood movies – what ever happened, by the way, to ‘cinema’, ‘films’ or ‘flics’?
Wouldn’t it be great if the first step of the fightback could be the reinstatement of Scottish endearments?
“What have you got there, laddie?” says the father to his son.
“You’re late, my bonnie doo.” The lovers meet. “I’m sorry, my jo.”
In this way, we might – like - begin to delete some of the current mid-Atlantic horrors and bring back –like - into use some of the treasures of the Scots language.
Whit dae ye think, dudes?