WE need to talk about independence. More specifically, we need to talk about how we talk about independence.

As you will know, unless you have been in Outer Mongolia, or have shut yourself off in a cold, dark room – for which position some may well harbour a degree of sympathy ­– the starting pistol for a second independence referendum was officially fired by the First Minister on Tuesday of this week. October 19 next year is when she wants the race to be run, with the next General Election as a de facto backstop. So fasten your seat belts, here we go again.

Looking back to the last time, 2014 will seem like an aeon ago to some. To others, no time at all will have passed. What has changed, though, is some of the lexicon around the debate.

This change, admittedly, has taken place over more than just the last decade. No-one really talks about “freedom” any more. Remember “we’ll by free by ‘93”? I doubt “free in 2023” even crossed the SNP’s collective mind this time around.

In 2014, we talked about the Scottish independence referendum, often dropping the “Scottish” part. I don’t recall many mentions of “indyref”. Now, however, we have Indyref2. Note the Herald style, one word with a capital. It’s perfectly comprehensible, and pretty much universally accepted – a clear example of a slang word that has become legitimised. Incidentally, “indy” should only be used in headlines, and sparingly at that – normally only when the available space dictates.

There have of course been other changes to the political vocabulary. From about 2015 on, “Brexit” entered the public consciousness, and is now fully established as a recognised word, even taking its place in the Oxford English Dictionary. Recently, we have had correspondents trying to insert the word “Scexit” into our columns. This one is not for us, I’m afraid, certainly on the Letters Pages. For one thing, the word is ugly; it just doesn’t trip off the tongue the way Brexit does. For obvious reasons, no-one has suggested the much more easily-pronounced “Sexit”, so we’ll leave it there.

Other terms which some might deem barbed have cropped up: “secessionist” for one, “separatist” for another. Should we be taking a red pen to these? I’m inclined to think not. We want a respectful debate, but also a robust one.

With that in mind, it ought to go without saying that we will be staying clear of gratuitous insults. You won't be reading of "Nippy", "Jabba" and the like. Similarly, we would like to aim higher than the tiresome catcalling of "Yoon", "Nat" and "BritNat", for example.

Yes, this debate on our Letters Pages will be divisive. But need it be bitter?