[Spellyans] Ulster Scots

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Sun Oct 6 22:23:52 BST 2013

On 6 Oct 2013, at 13:27, Craig Weatherhill <craig at agantavas.org> wrote:

> Governments.  You seem to misread my point, Michael.  Westminster would just love to kill Cornish.  It hasn't the slightest interest on saving it, and never has had.  It's obvious - they give millions to Ulster-Scots, a dialect (not a language) that is basically Middle English,

This is incorrect. Ulster Scots is a distinct dialect of Scots. I have published Alice in Ulster Scots (as well as in North-East Scots, Shetland Scots, South-East Scots, and "Synthetic" Scots (a literary variety). I have been to Ballymoney in people's homes and have heard their children speaking this language. It is not Standard English; it is a variety of Scots. (It is certainly not Middle English.) Had I not prepared for my journey by having edited the South-East Scots Alice, I would have found it quite difficult to understand what was being said. By children. 

> but give mere scraps to Cornish.  This leads to a question that maybe Ken McKinnon could answer.  There are between 2,000-3,000 users of Cornish (speakers, writers and to varying degrees of competence).

The best estimates I have heard are that there are 200 or fewer competent speakers of Cornish. 2000-3000 people may have had some exposure to the language or made a stab at learning it, but that is not the same thing as competence. A handful of children have been raised speaking Cornish. 

> How many users of Ulster-Scots are there?  Does the funding ratios hold up in the light of that answer?  If the answer is no, then ask yourself why.

The Wikipedia says that the 1999 survey gave 2% of Northern Ireland reporting as Ulster Scots speakers. That would be something like 30,000-100,000. This http://scots-anorak.blogspot.com/2012/12/ulster-scots-on-map.html blog article gives more solid figures based on the 2011 survey. It says that most speakers are concentrated in Co. Antrim, and lists percentages of a number of communities there reporting as being users. Let's be conservative and say that only those are real Ulster Scots speakers. 

Ballymoney 29.43 (of 30,600, 2010) = 9005
Ballymena 22.15 (of 63,500, 2010) = 14065
Moyle 21.71 (of 17,000, 2010) = 3690
Larne 19.20 (of 31,700, 2010) = 6086
Coleraine 15.93 (of 56,800, 2010) = 9058
Ards 13.27 (of 78,200, 2010) = 10377
Antrim 09.57 (of 54,100, 2010) = 5177
Carrickfergus 09.39 (of 40,200, 2010) = 3774
Newtownabbey 09.13 (of 83,600, 2010) = 7632

That would be 60,764 people self-identifying as speakers of Ulster Scots. Even taking over-reporting and bloated figures into account, there's no way you could reduce this figure to below 2000-3000 as you suggest for Cornish. 

I can tell you that the Ullans Speakers Association has bought many hundreds of copies of "The Furst Readin Book in Ulster Scots" and "Alice's Àventurs in Wunnerland" for distribution to school children in Northern Ireland. I cannot say the same for "Kensa Lyver Redya" or "Alys in Pow an Anethow". 

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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