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Scottish Literature Blog Entry. Week 2 (6-10 th of October).


In class this week, we discussed how the perception of Scotland is formed in relation to our speech. I believe that some Scottish people find difficulty in differentiating between their informal regional dialect and their formal traditional English tongue. The conflict between these two registers has to a certain extent created an insecurity and even a slight embarrassment among Scots. I believe this to be the case because Scots are continuously re-adjusting their use of language based on who they are speaking to and are at constant risk of being ridiculed for their use of certain words and phrases. We discussed in our tutorial about the need some Scots feel to speak in a colloquial way among peers for fear of being mocked for speaking ‘properly’ and the need they feel to speak in formal English and disregard traditional Scottish words when speaking to people from other nations for fear of being misunderstood or again, mocked. I think Kevin Bridges illustrates this argument about language very well: I believe Scots are often made to feel embarrassed, improper or uneducated for using traditional Scottish language but I believe every region of Scotland has a special, almost cryptic slang sub-language of its own and we should embrace and be proud of our unique and complex speech because it is a part of our heritage and culture.

Reflections on a work not discussed in class:

I believe that Scottish language and accents are primary parts of constructing the idea of what it is to be Scottish. Scots language, in the regional dialect of Leith, Edinburgh, used in Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is essential to portraying a genuine image of what Scottish-ness means as it provides a cultural realism and builds a sense of the patriotism, political and religious opinion and attitude of Scottish people. Welsh signifies the importance of language through Mark Renton’s narrative sections in particular. Welsh’s lexical choice during Renton’s sections are intriguing because Renton uses slang terms when engaging in dialogue with his friends, implying he is uneducated and ignorant. However, Welsh also intersperses Renton’s typical use of abbreviated terms with very articulate, expressive and coherent language when he is appealing directly to the reader: “its fuckin grotesque tryin tae find an inlet. Yesterday ah hud tae shoot intae ma cock, where the most prominent vein in ma body is. As difficult it is tae conceive ay it at the moment, ah may yet find other uses for the organ…” Welsh creates a carefully balanced blend of regional slang and formal English through Renton’s repulsive description of injecting heroin coupled with his choice to use intelligent, evocative words such as ‘grotesque’, ‘prominent’ and ‘conceive’ rather than selecting colloquial alternatives. Although these words may seem out of place, Welsh experiments with linguistic patterns to suggest that Renton is in fact a very intelligent, rational character but chooses to manipulate his language when around his peers to maintain acceptance in his social group and to avoid ridicule for speaking like, as Francis Begbie might say, a ‘fuckin’ Rent boy’!

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