Before the meteoric rise in printing technology, most European nations were a hodgepodge of dialects and linguistic variations. More of a flowing fabric of interwoven words across the continent, than our current situation of bounded nation-states.

With the popularity of print publications came the need to standardise written languages-translating every book into the hundreds of French dialects would have been an unwieldy and costly project, much more complicated than developing dictionaries for people to learn the standard.

Thusly, the new and increasingly ubiquitous print media at the time effected spoken variations, with institutions like L'Academie Francaise established with the sole role of linguistic arbiter; policing the nation's speakers to communicate 'properly'.

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Benedict Anderson posited in his seminal work, Imagined Communities, that it was at this point-this momentous juncture of new technology and language in Europe-that the notion of nationalism was born.

At this period in history, we see for the first time the concept of the bounded, national community defined through a shared linguistic experience of the world. One that belied variations and stuck stringently to 'standards', which were unanimously the responsibility of society's elite-language standards are inherently hierarchical and fundamentally political.

Scotland, however, is a bit more complicated.

Less than 1% of the population speak Gàidhlig. Almost all of us speak English. And, depending on who's defining, anywhere between 17 and 85% speak Scots, Lallans or Doric-a tenuous proportion for a language which has only been officially defined as such since 2001 by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

If 'nation' as an ideological concept is founded in the linguistic standardisation of a nation's diverse tongues into a 'language' that distinguishes it from other nations, where does Scotland fit in?

Linguistically, the slow decline in Scots usage is a symptom of the economic and cultural decisions of our ancestors-English as a printed language was not only more lucrative because of its wider market appeal on the island of Great Britain and in the growing colonies, but was on the fortunate end of a linguistic hierarchy, considered more respectable than wir ain leid.

This hierarchy was tied up in the same old story of class and aspiration: English was the sound of 'progress' and 'modernity' for the upper classes of Scotland, with Scots considered the twee sound of the lower classes, and an even deadlier verdict for the Gaels of the Highlands and Islands.

Many of our lowland ancestors aspired to speaking English without the unruly fricative, flattening out the texture and diversity of not only their own voices, but of the voices across Scotland, manifest in the belts which hit generations of children who were told to 'speak properly'.

And this history has followed us to our current understanding of the way we speak: not considered a language, but illegitimate, a dialect, simply a divergence from standard English.

On the flip side, this means that Scots has retained a colloquial affection and dynamism amongst speakers-not the purview of academic institutions and standardising bodies, but of the playground and yer granny's hoose.

As remedial action for centuries of lost culture and whitewashed traditions, the Scottish Government is proving its cultural mettle by developing new funding opportunities and plans for Scots as well as Gàidhlig, for example the Creative Scotland Scots Language Plan, rolled out at the beginning of June. This suits a party dedicated to an independent Scotland: a comprehensively recognised and spoken national language is in the very fabric of any formulation of nationalism, whether ethnic or civic.

But therein lies a problem. On the one hand, if we encourage institutional enthusiasm for Scots, and so see its increasing standardisation and legitimacy, we risk reproducing the hierarchies intrinsically forged in linguistic standards. We already see it in written 'standard' Scots which diverges so drastically from that spoken in the schemes and streets of the nation-academic and inaccessible, even for linguists like myself.

On the other hand; the funding stops, Scots awareness continues its downhill trajectory and the language is eventually weaned out of existence altogether, but at least continues as a living language of the people, nimble and sharp like the tongues of Scottish teenagers.

Is there a middle ground? Can we enthusiastically teach generations of Scots that their voices are legitimate, but source that legitimacy not from a governmental institution, but instead from a collective project of defining a modern, diverse and flexible Scots?

I propose a crowd-sourced dictionary of Scots; a technological intervention that comprehensively documents the language, but is participatory, shared and vitally accessible.

Children and grannies alike could participate, sharing their understanding of their voices. We could see a global community grow, where the hundreds of thousands of emigrated Scots continue to connect to their home at the click of a button. We could pioneer in developing language policy which isn't singularly focussed on regurgitating outdated and unused words, but instead builds flexibility and adaptability into its very definition.

This way, we all participate in developing a linguistic legacy, and Scots continues to live.