Independence podcast

The other day I did an interview with Michael Greenwell for his great series of independence podcasts.  The interview is now online on Michael’s blog, here

Or you can download and save the podcast directly by clicking here.

So that saves me from having to write anything much today.  I hope you enjoy the podcast.  I certainly enjoyed my conversation with Michael.

 

0 thoughts on “Independence podcast

  1. Listened to the podcast. Nice to hear your voice at last. Heard the weegingerdug near the start. Hope he’s looking forward to the 18th September, too.
    From reading your blog, it’s obvious how much you like the sound of words, that’s why I enjoy it so much.
    PS did you ever learn French?

  2. I enjoyed hearing you speak too. Impressed that you taught yourself Gaelic at age 10. I could never figure out how to pronounce the weird spelling e.g. I once knew a Mhairead! Who invented the orthography? If you could invent a simpler one I think it would be easier to learn. Anyway, hope you do another podcast, we need a citizens’ radio.

    • I was a very strange child. When I was about 11 I spent my week’s pocket money on a book called Teach Yourself Turkish. (I still have it!) I had no intention of learning Turkish, I just wanted to find out how Turkish worked.

      My Gaelic is appalling these days. Years of no practice.

      Gaelic spelling is based on the pronunciation of the language in the Middle Ages. Basically, Irish monks took the letters used for pronouncing British Latin in the post-Roman period and adapted it to Old Irish. That’s why c in Gaelic is always pronounced k, even when it comes before an i or an e.

      All the silent letters were once pronounced, and they were often pronounced quite different to how they’re pronounced in modern Gaelic. But although the language has evolved and changed, the spelling stayed much the same. The same thing happened with English, which is why English spelling has the reputation amongst second language learners for having a very complicated spelling system.

      • OK but we don’t spell English with medieval spelling, otherwise Chaucer’s spelling would be used to write English today?
        Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
        The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
        And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
        Of which vertu engendred is the flour

        • English still spells many sounds – like the gh in droghte (drought) which are no longer pronounced, but were in Chaucer’s day. In Middle English, night was pronounced like Scots nicht.

          The silent e at the end of many words in English was also pronounced in Chaucer’s day. Vowels in Chaucerian English had the same values as in (comtemporary) French. So flour was pronounced floor not flowr. Words like “name” in early Middle English were pronounced “nah-muh”. The pronunciation changed, but the spelling didn’t alter to the same extent. So in a lot of ways we do still use Chaucer’s spelling. Otherwise we’d spell “name” as “ném” or “neim”.

          English spelling, and Scots spelling, is based on the spelling used for Mediaeval French. Gaelic spelling goes back a few hundred years earlier, so the language has changed even more.

          Languages which have very regular spelling, like Finnish, are typically those whose spelling was standardised far more recently, or which have had a series of spelling reforms.

          • So you think keeping the orthography keeps the depth. I understand that. Once we are Independent we can develop these topics further! Thanks.

          • Gaelic, ironically like Spanish, is much more phonetically consistent in its spelling structure than English. English may, indeed, be the worst culprit for that in the World??? It is certainly the worst I know of.

            Classic example, think of how many different ways the letters ‘ough’ are pronounced in English.

          • Gaelic spelling is very inconsistent in how it marks certain vowel distinctions. Quite often they’re not distinguished in spelling at all. There are also a lot of silent letters. But there is a logic to Gaelic spelling.

            English spelling isn’t that complicated really. There is a logic to it too – otherwise it wouldn’t work as a spelling system. “ough” is a bit of an exception. Danish spelling is about the same in its level of inconsistency. Danish has a fearsome number of distinct vowels, which aren’t always distinguished in spelling. And it can be a bit laissez faire with its consonants too.

            But the most complicated writing system in modern use has to be Japanese. They use 4 different writing systems all at the same time. The complexities of English spelling don’t even come close.

            Chinese characters, called kanji, are used for content words – there are some 2000 in official use and many more archaic or unofficial ones. Depending on the word the same kanji can be pronounced in very different ways. In some words it has its native Japanese reading, in others a reading derived from Chinese. Some kanji have more than one “Chinese” reading, because the same Chinese word was borrowed at different times from different Chinese dialects with slightly different meanings. The “Chinese” pronunciations are often not easily recognisable to anyone speaking any modern form of Chinese.

            It’s a bit like if English spelled castle, chateau, and chester (in place names) identically, because they can all ultimately be traced back to the Latin word castrum.

            Usually you can tell from the context which pronunciation is required for a kanji, but occasionally that’s not possible, and the word has to be spelled out in syllabic symbols. This is common in children’s books to teach children how to pronounce the characters.

            Then there’s a set of syllabic symbols used for grammatical endings and grammatical function words and particles. An entirely different set of syllabic symbols used for foreign loanwords. And Latin letters for acronyms.

            They still manage to have one of the highest literacy rates in the world though.

  3. Loved your podcast…so good to hear your voice..and a confident Glasgow accent………but, your writing is inspiring! If our Rabbie was writing today he would be echoing what you are saying…or perhaps you’re tuning into what he would want to communicate to our fellow Scots …you are doing an amazing job at this point in our history…disarming the fear factor and exposing it for the puerile rubbish that it is! Respect Wee Ginger Dug xx

    • Maybe I’m being pure dead pretentious – which wouldn’t be the first time – but I think that the mockery and satire of Unionist pretentions is continuing in the ancient tradition of Scots flyting. The ancient makars were quite keen on fart jokes too.

      • Indeed. The flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy also includes the Scottish predeliction for swearing. Arguably the first printed use of a certain swearword in its modern vernacular meaning, in english. So prevalent was the use of swearing in medieval Scotland that it became the first country in the World to make it illegal.

        Scotland has a wealth of medieval literature in Scots thanks to the existence of the Makaris, a stipendiarilly supported poet class, throughout the middle ages. Or as they are increasingly known as in the Anglo-hegemony – ‘Scottish Chaucerians’.

        This is a misnomer, since the line of Makaris pre-dates Chaucer. Dunbar himself also concocted a delicious pun in ‘The Lament for the Makaris’ which simultaneously panders to English hubris while inferring it was Chaucer who was the beneficiary of their output.

        • I don’t know if Armando Iannucci ever said so, but the dialogue of the two Scottish spin doctors in ” In the Thick of It ” and “In the Loop ” (BBC) seemed to be influenced very much by Scottish flyting – with elaborate ( and often ) scatological curses bordering on the surreal. Very Celtic and very funny.

  4. “Do you want Scotland to be a normal country, or are you thick?” Nail head again. Good to put a voice to the dug. “Seeing Scotland through the English language”. I remember that from primary school, where we weren’t allowed to speak Scots at all, for the most part it was bad English and not guid Scots. Coming from a working class area of Ayr, we spoke Scots and not English, I think that’s when I realised Scotland should be Independent, so we could just be ourselves.

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