I’ve been away to Denmark for a few days, and I took the opportunity to read Bill Kay’s Scots: The Mither Tongue.
For people like myself who didn’t grow up in Scotland, the Scottish Cringe is often somewhat of a mystery, but as an independence campaigner I often also feel the whole campaign is a fight to overcome that sentiment.
I therefore felt it interesting to see how the linguistic persecution of Scots (and of Gaelic, of course, but people are probably more aware of that) has formed the basis for the creation and preservation of the cringe:
The effects of centuries of stigmatisation and cultural colonisation cannot, of course, be overcome instantly with a new political attitude. The Catalans are a few decades into the recovery of their language but they concede that it will take several generations of confidence building before what they call the ‘slave mentality’ of their people can be removed. In public perceptions of Scots, we face similar problems and have not even seriously begun the process of recovery. Our equivalent of the slave mentality is the Scottish cringe.
If the people of Scotland started taking pride in both the languages of Scotland again — Gaelic and Scots — it would become so much more difficult to perpetuate the belief that we’re uniquely too wee, too stupid and too poor to be independent. The unionists have a much easier time when the world is also linguistically seen through the prism of London.