Promoting Ulster-Scots


Sir, - Conal Gillespie of the Ulster-Scots Language Society is quite wrong (October 7th): I do not lack knowledge of Ulster-Scots. Indeed I am a fluent speaker of it, and - good news for him - so is everyone I know! But here it is known as English; a quaint and colourful dialect, but English nonetheless. No doubt were Geordies or Liverpudlians to commit their native dialects to print, the results would appear equally - though superficially - impenetrable to outsiders.

What is disturbing about all this, however, is that interest in the subject comes mainly from the more obscurantist purlieus of unionism, where a "them and us" stance sits comfortably with a half-baked racial philosophy. Someone unkindly remarked that Ulster-Scots is a "DIY language for Orangemen". Pol O Muiri (An Irishman's Diary, October 6th) echoed this when he wrote: "Ulster-Scots was an anchor forged to stop Orange Ulster from drifting away in a sea of Gaelic green."

I am all for fostering diversity, but not for manufacturing difference. To go to the extent of promoting a dialect to the status of a language in pursuit of some darker pseudo-ethnic agenda, borders on madness. But then, whom the Gods wish to destroy .. . - Yours, etc., John Rooney,

Belfast 15.