“There has been more influence exerted on the guid Scots tongue from Lallans and Doric sources”, Robert Scott tells us (Letters,
14 December). How much confusion is it possible to pack into one short sentence?
“Lallans”, in the phrase “plain braid Lallans”, was first used by Burns to refer to the way he and his friends spoke. “Doric”, originally the name of a Greek dialect used in classical times for pastoral poetry, was first applied by Alexander Geddes to the language in which Allan Ramsay wrote his best poetry. Lallans, Doric and the guid Scots tongue are precisely the same thing.
Admittedly, the first two words have recently acquired more restricted senses, “Lallans” being sometimes used to designate the enriched literary register of the post-MacDiarmid school and “Doric” to the distinctive dialect of the North-east. But to talk as if the terms referred to external sources which have influenced Scots, in the sense in which this is true of Gaelic or French, is simply ridiculous.
Mr Scott goes on to predict that the 2014 referendum will result in a vote to maintain the Union. If his prophetic power is on a par with his linguistic knowledge, the independence movement has nothing to fear.