Musings of the University of Dundee MLitt Publishing Writing students


To Write in Scots

I don’t speak in Scots. Almost never. Nothing against it, but it’s just not how I speak. And because I don’t speak in Scots, I only seldom write in Scots.

In fact, although I don’t speak in Scots, I do often SING in Scots. Whenever I sing to myself I’ll often find myself slipping into Scots or deliberately translating songs I like into Scots. This is because as a kid when I was put into Scots singing and competing for the Leng Medal, which I didn’t win. I remember lobbying to make a joke about that in my leaver’s assembly but was told against it. The point is, Scots paradoxically does and does not come naturally to me. When I’m a singing it’s the most natural thing on Earth, as natural as a tree. When writing in Scots, it often feels artificial to me. In poetry, at least. Prose is another matter. Certain characters I have written naturally speak in Scots tongues, in my head that’s just how they speak, it’s just natural to them, even if it isn’t to me, which is strange.

It is funny how the language we inhale constructs works of art we exhale. I remember Stephan King wrote on the amount of swears he puts in his novels, because that’s true to his life. A lot of people I know swear a lot, I don’t but it doesn’t really effect my writing one way or another. But the amount of Scots around me and inside me, that does effect.

Scots is a beautiful dialect, but it is only sometimes “my” dialect. It is mine in song, not in speech.

Final “Scots” Count: 13