IF ye stap readin here and go and dae somethin infinitely mair interestin like mak a cup o tea or gie yer taenails a trim, I widnae blame ye.

The ins and oots o hoo tae spell the Scots language can be yin o maist borin subjects ablow the sunless lift o bonnie Scotland.

But it does seem tae fascinate a wheen o folk as weel. Some feel sae strangly aboot spellin in Scots it can whiles mak them loss the tattie awthegither.

And as this is the ainly newspaper column in Scots on the broukit bairn that is Planet Earth, and since some folk hiv been gaun their best dinger aboot ma ain Scots spellin, Scots spellin then is a subject I cannae jouk.

Sae takkin a deep braith (and possibly a peel), I lowp injudiciously and extremely glaikitly ontae the third rail o the Scots language and spier: dae we need a Standard form o the guid Scots tongue?

Gentle gadges, stert yer tractor engines!

For the hert o the maitter is we hivnae got ane. There is nae Standard Scots and there never his been.

But why for no? Weel, unlike English, French, German, Welsh and Friulian (aye, Friulian, fae Italy) and juist aboot ivry ither language in use the day, a standard form o Scots wisnae hammered oot in the nineteenth century and then forced doon the weans’ thrapples at the school in the twentieth.

That, and of course naebody’s been able tae agree on wan.

And when Scotland switched on the telly in the 1950s it spoke Standard English and no a Standard remotely resemblin onythin Scottish. Sae that didnae help. (For a lang time Scottish TVs mysteriously ainly spoke Scots when Rikki, Stanley or Rab C wis on. Aw that in the days afore the great gallus Glesga gabfest, River City.)

But if people dinnae learn tae read and write the same wey in a language, inevitably folk will end up spellin it aw different weys. Some caw that a dampt disgrace, ithers a big bourach. Still ithers caw it pure liberation.

I’ve aye said I’d raither eat ma hat than see a Standard Scots.

As a Scots writer, I’d hate the idea o onybody tellin me hoo tae write it. Bad enough gettin telt tae speak proper English aw the time, never mind some kind o Scots Language polis nippin ma heid for no writin in “proper” Scots.

And I’ve aye thocht a Standard Scots could herm irreparably oor mosaic o dialects, thae unique soonds, twangs and expressions shaped by time, landscape and the folk. Maist people dinnae identify wi the national name Scots onywey but wi Doric or Shetland, Dundonian, Stirlingshire, Fife, Galloway Irish or whitever’s their ain particular dialect o the leid.

Wale ae Scots dialect as the Standard and the ithers, awready pit doon as common or coorse, will be even mair diminished. Elevate Embra Scots for example tae the national standard and watch as Scots speakers in the rest o Scotland tak the collective huff at it.

But I doot I’m aboot tae scran ma ain bunnet. (Somebody gonnae pass the saut.)

For I’m seik o folk sayin Scots isnae a language because it hasnae got a Standard. It juist legitimises aw the sharn aboot Scots bein slang and hoo Scots speakers wid be better aff learnin Morse Code or Klingon. (Worth mentionin here that a Standard Klingon actually does exist while a Standard Scots doesnae. “qaStaH nuq? Jlyajbe”, as the jaggie-heidit wans on Kronos are aye sayin.)

And a Standard micht mak the Scottish Government tak Scots mair seriously. Although aye sayin it supports Scots, it aften stauns ahint the fact there is nae Standard as yet anither reason for no pittin adequate resources intae the language. Wi a Standard Scots in play, the Scottish Government micht still no resource Scots tae the levels they morally should but at least there wid be wan less excuse for them no tae.

The lack o a Standard is simply haudin the language back when it needs tae be gangin forrit. Ower mony folk fae teachers tae weans tae new writers and people fae ither countries are lookin for guidance on Scots and juist no gettin it. And the authorities can faur ower easily clap the language on the heid or ignore it awthegither.

Sae I’m sayin the day let’s agree on a standard for Scots – and let’s stert that process noo.

Tae develop a Standard form o the leid, there needs tae be a Scots language campaign on a national scale. No juist the usual worthies on a comatee decidin it aw ahint steekit doors but a Muckle Conversation wi aabody (includin bairns) contributin, sharin their Scots words and ideas on orthography and giein their thochts on whit a Standard Scots should look like.

The Norwegians faced this sel-same challenge mair nor a hunner year syne. In the end they wrocht twa official standards o their language. Aa we need is ane.

Makkin a Standard Scots wid be nae dauner in the glen. There’s been a wheen attempts afore noo and they’ve aw endit in acrimony and wi nebs oot o joint. But I think we owe it tae the nixt generation o bairns and weans tae pit differences aside and stert.

This is big darg, a muckle wark fit for a Scotland wi ambitions tae be itsel.

Insteid o girnin aboot spellin things this wey or yon or whither the word should be “poet” or “makar”, let’s get on wi makkin a Standard Scots while there’s still a leevin language cawed Scots tae mak it for.