‘Let our three-voiced country sing in a new world...”

Bauld hopefu words scrievit by the makar Iain Crichton Smith, in a poem that opened the Scottish Pairlament on July 1st 1999.

In the first verse he urged us aw tae sing in oor English, oor Gaelic and oor Scots and the last wis sung by the woman that cam tae symbolise the history and promise o that day.

When Sheena Wellington sae memorably hanselled the new Scotland wi Burns’ anthem o social justice A Man’s A Man, the language that partially endit roon aboot three hunner year o London rule wis Scots.

Fast forrit tae Holyrood 2016. Look for Scots in the Scottish Pairlament Buildin. If ye find ony, gie me a shout.

There’s bonnie pamphlets tae weelcome visitors in their ain languages fae Berlin, Lyon or New Delhi, but nae weelcome for you in your Mither Tongue if ye’re veesitin yer ain Pairlament fae Buckie, Lochgelly or New Cumnock.

Gang ben the Pairlament foyer, dauner through the gairden loabby, jink up and doon the public sterrs, gawp in awe at the vaultit ceilin in the debatin chaumer. Ony Scots language visible tae the human ee?

John Rebus couldnae find it.

Unless the Detective Inspector stuck his neb in at the gift shoap. In amang the commemorative Teddy Bears and Scottish Pairlament Biscuits, he wid find some Scots books. Ah-ha!

Further investigation (and that means gaun ootside) he wid stummle ower some mair Scots language, this time scrievit on the grund.

‘Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve i my hairt, I am no nane better nor dunnerin bress or a ringing cymbal’ - 1 Corinthians 13 fae William Laughton Lorimer’s stacherinly brilliant Scots translation o the New Testament.

Guid advice for the anes inside but oot here in the street we find the ainly high-profile public statement in Scots on the haill Pairlament campus – a stainless steel inscription set in whunstane granite laid at the bespoke airn yetts whaur MSPs dicht their feet on the wey in tae Queensberry Hoose.

Doon the Mile, quotations fae Scots poems by makars like Burns and Hamish Henderson are chappit oot on quarried Scottish stane on whit’s cawed the Canongate Wa. Aye it’s Scots, sure, and some o the best Scots language ever written, but still ootby, thirled in concrete and no a workin pairt o the business o this Pairlament.

Howanever, it widnae be entirely fair tae claim there’s nae Scots spoken durin Pairlamentary business. The Official Report is a written record o awthin that’s been said in debate and committee on the Moond and Holyrood since 1999.

Cross-pairty support clearly exists for Scots words like ‘stooshie’ and ‘stramash’, wi Willie Rennie MSP wance volleyin back durin a heatit exchynge the neat phrase ‘partisan rammy’.

Fae the Pairlament’s inception tae noo, there’s been ‘slavering’, ‘havering’, ‘havers’, ‘slavers’, ‘blethers’ and MSP Elizabeth Smith’s impressive ‘two-day right big blether’.

The Official Report also recordit ‘wheesht’, ‘midden’, ‘soor grapes’, ‘sair fecht’, ‘brain deid’, ‘wisnae me’, ‘windae hinger’, ‘daft-lassie question’, ‘daft-laddie question’, ‘high heid yins’, ‘wrang’, ‘agley’, ‘stormed oot’, ‘knocked oot’ and ‘cairrie-oot’.

And mair lyrical Scots in MSPs’ speeches includes ‘Through the eyes of a bairn’, ‘Nor wee weans fae pit-heid and clachan’ and ‘smoorit doun til daith’, though thir’s usually quotes fae literature or the Bible.

‘Girn’ and ‘greet’ ye wid expect. But a special mention for the late Margo MacDonald, ane o the best Scots speakers ever tae grace the Pairlament, for summin up a particular debate as a ‘greetin meetin’. Anither favourite is ‘mince’.

Former MSP Ted Brocklebank spoke in 2004 aboot the Holyrood Pairlament as a ‘braw new biggin’. And he wis richt. Fae up abuin, it is swaw efter swaw o concrete and steel, siller fishin cobles cowped on the herbour strand, heids close thegither in eident collogue. Fae causey level, thae unco windaes look like kirks and jiles and ile-rigs aw in the same blenk.

Its visionary architect Enric Miralles wis fae Catalonia, a country whase Pairlament has three official leids. The irony mibbe wis loast on the Scottish Pairlamentary Corporate Body when it refused in 2002 tae include Scots signs at Holyrood on the groonds it wis international practice tae hae nae mair than twa languages on a Pairlament’s signage.

The Federal Assembly o Switzerland then wi its five official languages must be wan o thae pretendy pairlaments we’re aye hearin aboot.

Bairns veesitin Holyrood tae learn aboot democracy could teach the SPCB a thing or twa aboot signage in Scots as a guid mony schuils across Scotland awready hae it in corridors and clessrooms.

Ither Scottish institutions and organisations noo include or are lookin at weys tae include Scots alangside English, Gaelic and British Sign Language. But the Scottish Pairlament hasnae budged fae its 2002 position. A peedie bit o Scots on the Scottish Pairlament website wis recently taen doon and ainly restored efter a meenister intervened.

The SPCB’s policy states it recognises Scots. Whit they hivnae recognised yet is the census figures that reportit 1.6 million citizens speak Scots. They’ve had thae figures three year noo.

Is it richt for oor representatives tae sit in a Pairlament that sae puirly reflects the spoken leid o a third o the population? I didnae ken the Pairlament wis there tae reinforce prejudice. And if oor legislature doesnae believe in Scots, why should onybody else?

The wice much-lamentit Iain Crichton Smith ends his poem tae the new Pairlament:

‘Let it be true to itself and to its origins..../...its institutions mirror its beauty/ then without shame we can esteem ourselves.’

Until the Scottish Pairlament mirrors wioot shame aw the languages o Scotland’s sang, the biggin o oor democracy isnae feenished.