THE excerpt from Carol Craig's book Hiding In Plain Sight, (Who are you calling a numpty?, The Big Read, December 10), was not in any way constructive. The connection between Scottish humour and Scots language with verbal abuse and humiliation is based on a surface understanding.

Regarding Scots, this was once a formal language used by the Royal Court, by Parliament and in literature. In the last three hundred years though, it has gone from being the King’s Scots to being a number of vigorous dialects, some of which have their own indigenous sub-sets of Scots slang. The basis of this excerpt, the Glasgow banter, is one such, which is a poor foundation for such a theory.

The author goes on from this to compare Scots with Gaelic but to compare the endearments in one language with another is misleading. The Scots Thesaurus has plenty of words under pessimistic, treacherous and villainous and just as many under friendly, gratitude, merry-making or laughter. This is only proof of a full vocabulary.

To misunderstand Scottish humour on such a tenuous basis is also mistaken. It is mainly self-deprecatory, not aggressive. When Billy Connolly tells of his father believing his story about a car windscreen which improves vision and is available on the NHS, he is describing his own discomfiture. When he recounts the "bicycle parking" joke on television he is using the surprise element of inappropriateness, but it is not aggressive.

Will Fyfe sang that everybody was his master but, on Saturday night, “Glasgow belongs to me” – a poor consolation. Chick Murray was “the tall droll with the small doll”. Lastly, the flyting by William Dunbar is mentioned. One of his efforts was entitled The Flyting Of Dumbar(sic) And Kennedie - Heir Eftir Followis Jocound And Mirrie. In other words it was fun.

Susan Forde, Scotlandwell

I WAS interested to see that you saw fit to publish an extract from Carol Craig’s new book in last week’s paper. I have followed her musings on the Scottish psyche for a number of years. She speaks sense sometimes, but has, as this latest extract demonstrates, a tendency to extrapolate very generalised conclusions about Scots from her observations, or indeed from any source, to fit her already quite polarised view of us as a people – and this is overwhelmingly negative.

Her view is (to bastardise George Eliot) that as a nation we are the quintessential extract of all that is wrong with humankind. Where we think we are funny, she says that we are abusive and bullying and that this is written into our DNA and is emitted through our language . Her other print offering ‘Scots’ Crisis of Confidence’ is very much in a similar vein. it is, if I may summarise, her very own subjective tribute to Scottish self-loathing. But she is nothing if not consistent, and her offering to the debate during the upbeat and hopeful 2014 referendum was that, “The yes campaign is being driven by over-optimism, blind zeal and indifference to reality. Life after independence will be harsh.”

I suspect that Carol Craig may wish to portray herself as a realist, but she comes over as mean-spirited and as someone with a cause to promote which lacks substance and does not bear close scrutiny.

Malcolm McMillan, Kilmarnock