He writes in the mither leid, the mother tongue. But nothing his own mum could ever understand.

Paul Malgrati has just had his first slim volume of poems published in Scots.

This little book is firmly part of a recent revival in interest in the language and its literature.

But it is more than that, because of where Mr Malgrati is from. The 29-year-old is French, very French.

He is, he believes with good reason, the first non-native speaker of either Scots or English to get in to print in the language of Robert Burns or Allan Ramsay.

That makes his Poèmes Écossais, fresh out via Diode Blue Publishing, something of a literary landmark for Scots. But also incomprehensible for Mr Malgrati’s mother Agnes.

“She is complaining that the poems are not translated in to French,” jokes the writer, whose day job is as a post-doctoral research assistant at Glasgow University. “She doesn’t speak Scots or even much English.”

Mr Malgrati in his work sometimes riffs, playfully, between his native French and a literary Scots that he describes as “thick”, even anachronistic. The effect, he admits, can be “weird”.

How so? Well, he writes of “fantoosh quines” in Montparnasse, declares bilingual, macaronic love - “Je t’adore mair nor a gowsterie star” - and in one poem flips between quotes from Rousseau and Baudelaire in French to those of Burns and Hume in Scots.

Mr Malgrati is not trying to capture how Scottish people speak. He is not a linguist cataloguing samples of modren Scots, he is a poet building something new from something old. And he appreciates that is controversial, that his Poèmes Écossais provokes a long-standing question about about high-register, literary Scots: is it authentic, or synthetic? More crudely: is it real or fake?

Mr Malgrati does not have a simple answer to this. Because there isn’t one.

“I’m quite happy, quite content for this not to be authentic” he explains. “I'm not born in Scotland. I was not brought up speaking English or Scots.”

His book even comes with a preamble, a warning of sorts, in English. The poems, it says, “are not an attempt at Scottish mimicry. Nor do they belong to any recognisable kind of Scottish patois. Certainly, the result is a somewhat unusual and, in places, fickle little volume”.

And, yet, the poems do no feel unauthentic and are far from mere intellectual playthings. Some simmer with feeling, romantic feeling, a love for Scotland and for a Scot, Mr Malgrati’s partner Julia Lyall. They were, the poet admits, also at least partly an attempt by a new Scot to be Scottish.

“Authenticity is really the key question here,” says Mr Malgrati. “I think, at first, the book was just a scholarly thing. But there was also a life thing, about living in Scotland and being part of my girlfriend's family.

“For a while I harboured a fantasy of becoming authentic, of becoming truly integrated to Scotland through language.

“And the language has definitely become a part of me. I don’t feel less legitimate than a Scottish person.”

Yet in his head Mr Malgrati has abandoned his fantasy. “From an intellectual perspective,” he explains, “I’ve learned to distance myself from the whole idea of authenticity, that you can never be a truly authentic of anything. Because who is to set the standard of what is authentic?”

Is it Burns? Hardly, replies Mr Malgrati. The national poet - the subject of his PhD - could be inauthentic when he needed to be.

He calls his work an attempt to create a “linguistic utopia”. “I'm quite happy to just create this little almost absurd, definitely anachronistic, definitely weird-sounding collation of French and Scots,” he says.

In Mary, Queen of Scots, Mr Malgrati has the perfect vehicle for this. Mary Stuart, after all, was bilingual in Scots and French. So Mr Malgrati - in one of his favourite poems - imagines a young future queen of both Scotland and France - calling for her mother in both tongues as she suffers from black mares over future responsibilities.

Mr Malgrati references the Auld Alliance too. The Scots language has borrowed from French, especially during this period. But he stresses Scots is less influenced by French than modern English - a consequence, a millennium on, of ‘1066 and all that’. That means his work brings a very Germanic dialect in to direct contact with a very Romance one. His work is, he says, “just one linguistic aesthetic proposition which bring Scots to a place where it is not used to going, outwith the well-trodden continuum between it and English.”

He adds: “It puts Scots face to face with French, obviously with the Auld Alliance to build upon. But if Scots is to become normalised, a bit less fetishised, a bit less hated, then it should be able to interact with other linguistic media, and that includes French.”

There is a nuance here for the culture wars being waged online. Scots - even its long-established and academically undisputed “language” status - is suddenly contentious. But only in Scotland.

Much of the academic heavy lifting on Scots is being carried out by scholars from outside the country, such as Mr Malgrati. Why? Because they do not have political cultural baggage. “They are taking a detached analytical approach,” he says. “From a distance, the Scots language looks unproblematic.”

That does not mean the kind of language Mr Malgrati uses in his Poèmes Écossais will be readily accessible to all readers. His slim volume of 70 pages ends with a lengthy glossary, to help his mum and other readers know what he is writing about.

POEM: Forêt de Fontainebleau 18 Januar 1553 Bairnheid o Mary Stuart Mither, dear mère; dinnae, please, dinnae switch it aff; keep a dim licht ‘tween ma lips an the daurk.

Please, dinnae —Ah wad aye kiss masel, lucid in sicht o ma sowl, hauf-lit, afore sleep.

Mither, dear Marie —like me— dinnae turn roon an leuk at me, parfaite an prood, in ma bed, Stuart-like an bound fir tae reign the morra when Ah wake fae camsterie an gowsterie dreams.

Maman, maman, maman, abide by me, breathe wi me, stiff thro the daurk webs o pooer, ye an yer curls, electric an wireless, sae passée in yer pyjamas of auld queen.

Mère dear, please; bide a while an leuk at me, yer bairn, gey bold tho feart —fir she hears her ain sel in the gloom an black mares a-trottin.