Readers' Letters: I dinna ken whaur all these Scots speakers are

I have always been fascinated by language, and studied several at university, but I find myself baffled by this “Scots language” thing (“Great Scottish books to get Scots translation”, 22 June).

Perhaps some savant could enlighten me about what exactly this is? I grew up using the Fife dialect, and it had a few words and usages in it that might not be known outwith Fife. I'm pretty sure, however, that at no time in my life would I have not understood local speakers of any class, in any part of Scotland. I would have said they were all speaking varieties of English, for want of a better term. I have wandered the UK, and the same would apply in Cornwall, Yorkshire or Kent.

So what is this “unified Scots language" into which “experts” are translating popular books, and why bother, if they are perfectly intelligible in the original? Your report claims there are one and a half million speakers of this non-existent language. Where does that figure come from – some poll in which people don't understand the terms of the question? I suspect an SNP plot.

Crawford Mackie, Edinburgh

Scots language ambassador Alistair Heather will lead the translation work for Visit Scotland. (Picture: BBC Alba)Scots language ambassador Alistair Heather will lead the translation work for Visit Scotland. (Picture: BBC Alba)
Scots language ambassador Alistair Heather will lead the translation work for Visit Scotland. (Picture: BBC Alba)

Spread the words

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Regarding your article on translating the first line of novels to promote Scots I always thought that the notion this was a real language, not just pidgin English, was strictly for the burdz.However, seeing it is apparently so widely understood perhaps it’s time it replaced Gaelic, which though spoken by a tiny minority is emblazoned on buildings, vehicles and signs all over the country? Or, to keep everyone happy, include all three?

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

A conundrum

Now that the campaign for Scotland to become an independent country has been set in motion, and it would seem that the UK Government is likely to oppose this, it would be interesting to know why?Scotland, they tell us, is not capable of supporting itself, we are too wee, too poor and too stupid, and we need to be supported and protected from ourselves, and the evil Nicola Sturgeon, by our benevolent friends in London.But it is very clear that the present Conservative Government are not in any way benevolent, nor altruistic, and only act for the benefit of themselves and their accomplices.So why would they wish to continue to support the basket case that is Scotland, when they could wash their hands of us, and utilise the vast amounts of money saved to keep the Brexit dream alive, and their offshore bank accounts topped up.It’s a real conundrum! Maybe one of our unionist friends might like to explain?

Les Mackay, Dundee

Broken record

Surely the purpose of the election of representatives at any level of Government is to ensure that the will of the people is enacted.

In 2014 a majority of the electorate decided that Scotland should remain part of the UK. The SNP “independence” proposals were rejected, and nothing has changed since then. It is quite simply not acceptable for Nicola Sturgeon to demand another referendum after such a short period of time. The phrase used in 2014 was “a once in a generation” event. There is no way eight years can be defined as a generation!

Any such attempt by the Nats to change the status quo should be rejected outright. The Scotland Acts, which led to the inauguration of the Scottish Executive, later changed to “Government”, are sacrosanct. There is no provision for the SNP, as a minority administration, to interfere with constitutional matters. These are reserved to Westminster, and no amount of sleight-of-hand by nationalist politicians can change that fact. They are deluding themselves in this respect.

Indeed, the Scottish Government should be concentrating all of its efforts on rectifying their sub-standard record in the administration of Scotland's Health, Education, Welfare, Police, Transport, Local Government and all the other key devolved services for which they have responsibility and have singularly failed to produce positive results. Their record is indeed one of abject failure!

Robert I G Scott, Northfield, Edinburgh

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Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon to set out route map to second referendum...

Modest proposal

Nicola Sturgeon had one outstanding opportunity to make Scotland an independent country, which was the day after the Brexit referendum in 2016. The thing she said would happen did indeed happen, her party where at their strongest then, the UK parliament was at its most divided and weakest, and legal or no, a referendum held later that summer would have had momentum and international sympathy behind it. She could have created her own political weather, and eventually prevailed. Probably.

She didn’t do it, and the chance was gone. Brexit has opened our eyes to what Scexit would be really like, the courts will be against her, and all the businessmen who sat on the fence and didn’t say anything in 2014 because they didn’t think it would happen are much more likely to speak their mind this time around, given the precarious state of the economy.

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We are told any vote now would be “consultative”, perhaps asking permission to negotiate. There might be something in this. All of us who have better things to do with our lives could just ignore the vote but be gracious and agree that if Ms Sturgeon gets more than 2 million votes then her vote is higher than the No mandate in 2014 and she can negotiate. All of us then get a second vote on the outcome, as advocated by Ms Sturgeon on Brexit, and to make sure that this is legally binding, it could be organised by the UK Government who can set a timetable to make sure that negotiations and the confirmatory referendum take place within this parliament and that there is no scope for foot-dragging from Holyrood. They could also take the opportunity to change the Yes/No answers to Leave/Remain, as advocated by the Electoral Commission in 2016.

That way, those who want an illegal referendum can have one, those who don’t can ignore it, and as long as we have the check and balance of a confirmatory vote, then surely we would all be happy?

What could be easier?

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Standing still

News that Sir Keir Starmer is ruling out freedom of movement with the EU if Labour wins the next General Election is clearly disappointing, but not unexpected.

Labour is now clearly just as bad as the Tories on Brexit, which is exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis, costing Scotland's economy billions of pounds in lost trade and harming our NHS through increased costs and staffing shortages. Free movement, alongside the wider benefits of EU membership, are essential to growing Scotland's economy, boosting living standards and supporting the staffing of public services. As a result of Brexit, it is clear the UK is lagging behind other countries.

The irony was that Mr Starmer’s announcement was made at the same time as a report from the Resolution Foundation found that Brexit has damaged Britain's competitiveness and will further reduce productivity. It is also set to leave the average worker poorer, with real pay set to be £470 per worker lower each year on average than it would otherwise have been. Reinforcing these horrendous economic statistics, according to the OECD the UK is set to have the lowest economic growth of the G20 nations next year, except Russia.

We deserve better than this economic sabotage, and it is heartbreaking to see freedom of movement, one of the EU’s greatest achievements, stolen from Scotland despite our vote to remain.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Tale of two ships

On a recent holiday I noticed the cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery, docked at Mahon, Menorca. On doing some research I discovered that this is one of two sister ships ordered by the Saga Group in October 2015 from a German shipyard, Meyer Werft. It carries 1,000 passengers.

There is, of course. another ship which is also one of two ordered in October 2015 and which also carries 1,000 passengers (in somewhat less palatial surroundings), the long awaited Glen Sannox. A comparison between these two ships is instructive.

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At 58,250 Gross Tonnage (GT), Spirit Of Discovery dwarfs the 7,040 GT Glen Sannox, yet the £346 million cost of the ship is less than 3 times that of Glen Sannox. When the build programmes are reviewed the comparison becomes really interesting. The first steel for the Glen Sannox was cut nine weeks after the contract with Ferguson Marine was signed. The equivalent duration for Spirit of Discovery was 29 months. Is there something in the adage “failing to plan is planning to fail”?

The Spirit of Discovery was delivered to its operator on 24 June 2019, less than 16 months after the first steel was cut. In contrast, the latest anticipated date for Glen Sannox being handed over is around May 2023, almost 7.5 years after the first steel was cut. A ship over eight times larger than Glen Sannox was built in less than one fifth of the time.

This comparison highlights the scale of the national embarrassment that the procurement of these two ferries represents. On 31 March the First Minister said “We will learn lessons from this.” Surely the most important lesson must be that a private sector company, with competent and accountable management, delivers efficiently while safeguarding shareholders’ funds and promptly delivering a return on their investment.

In contrast, multiple layers of unaccountable public sector bureaucracy attempting to deliver a range of objectives set by politicians (which go far beyond that of providing the means by which a reliable ferry service can be maintained) is incapable of satisfactory delivery or of safeguarding taxpayers’ funds.

George Rennie, Inverness

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