Congratulations to Ashley Douglas who have been nominated in Scots Speaker o the Year in the Scots Language Awards 2020. Vote now!
We asked Ashley Douglas the following questions.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
I’m an Edinburgh-dwelling, multi-lingual (Scots, English, German, Danish, Gaelic) researcher, translator and writer. The other half of the time, I’m a parliamentary reporter (specialising in Scots and Gaelic) at the Scottish Parliament.
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
It was when studying German and Danish at university that I first became aware of the many connections between what I speak, Scots, and other European languages. I realised that, far from a “dialect”, “bad English” or “slang”, Scots is a language in its own right, and part of the wider family of Germanic languages. Moreover, as I soon went on to learn, it is one with a rich and proud place in Scotland’s history and a magnificent, centuries-long written tradition.
Although things are changing for the better, due to many complex historical and political reasons, Scots today is still a bit like a treasure chest of riches gathering dust in the attic of Scotland’s national consciousness – when it should be a shiny jewel out front and centre on the mantlepiece.
Through highlighting both the many links between Scots and other languages as well as the many magnificent written sources of Scots that have come down to us – from Parliamentary records to Renaissance poetry – the aim of my work is to make clear that Scots is a national language – and one that’s of great importance not just in Scotland’s history, but to Scotland today. Most importantly, that, in turn, is about making Scots-speakers aware of the worth of what they speak, giving people a greater sense of pride and self-worth, and helping us to better understand ourselves and our country, past and present.
This point is perhaps most important in schools, as we know that working with Scots in the classroom raises confidence and attainment, develops multi-lingual literacy and understanding, and opens up access to our history – most transformationally among the most disadvantaged of Scotland’s children.
Ony particlar career heighlichts?
I’ve had the good fortune to have been involved in many great Scots projects over the past few years, so it’s difficult to pick out highlights – but I’ll give it my best shot!
Working with the support of the National Library of Scotland to produce, with my friend and colleague, Tam Clark, an authoritative modern Scots translation of the famous 1320 Declaration of Arbroath for its 700th anniversary year
Being part of the team to bring out the beloved fairy-tales o Hans Christian Andersen in Scots for the first time
Researching and writing the chapter on “Scots Language and Politics” for the Open University’s smashing new course on “Scots Language and Culture”
Addressing a conference of national heritage professionals about the central role of the Scots language in Scotland’s past, and the ways in which it has a special role to play in communicating that past today
Undertaking the role of Scots translator on an Edinburgh International Book Festival project that saw well-known Scottish writer, James Robertson, exchange a series of letters with a Basque counterpart
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
To continue promoting the importance o the Scots language, past and present, at every opportunity that comes my way. More specifically, I’m working on two very Scots exciting projects as I write this, and have many more planned for the future!
Read more about Ashley Douglas
The Scots Language Awards 2020 will be online at www.scotslanguageawards.com. We will have a mixture of events on the 23rd / 24th October. Performing at the Award on Saturday 24th September will be Gerda Stevenson, Gary Robertson, Shona Donaldson and Jim Malcolm.
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This post is also available in: Scots