A NATIONAL columnist has gone viral after recording a video about the Scots language for BBC Social.

Alistair Heather – who also writes a Scots column for The Herald and contributes to Bella Caledonia and Scots Radio – has seen his short video, produced by Pict Digital, shared and viewed tens of thousands of times.

In the short clip he introduces a new audience to the the concept of Scots, running through various terms while providing definitions.

Off the back of it he has acquired a “massive new gay following” though, as is usually the case when it comes to social media, there are more than a few “having a pop at him” for it.

Even though he is undeterred by the haters, Heather says he would do it differently if given the chance to do it over again. “I wis layin it oan a bit thick,” he said. “I thought I wis making a cocky, cheeky wee video fir 10,000 young Scots. I’d maybe make a few changes.

“Ma brother and girlfriend said at the time, ‘Do you maybe want tae take 10% aff this?’ and I wis like, ‘Ach na naebdy will see it’.”

Some of the backlash the video received and that Scots receives in general, according to Heather, is down to misconceptions about it. Once it is realised that Scots is a language, he says – a 2010 Scottish Government study found that 64% of Scots do not see it as such – people may start to embrace the idea that they are bilingual.

“According tae the 2011 Census, 24% of Glaswegians speak Scots, they speak Glasgow Scots which often gets confused wi working-class slang. But it has the functions of the language, it has the vocabulary of Scots. They’re a lot less comfortable wi it because it’s seen as a working-class, uneducated hing tae dae.

“Folk ur realising that being bilingual is something they’re really keen on. Those Weegies whae think it’s due tae a lack of education, if they found out they actually hud an additional language skill, I think it wid be really good fir their self-confidence.

“The idea tae propose working-class Weegies as being bilingual, however, wud be laughed oot of the conversation by maist middle-class Glaswegians.”

The 2011 Census also revealed that there are core groups of Scots speakers, concentrated in the likes of Ayrshire, the Borders and more rural areas.

The language has also evolved over time. Whereas past generations would use a practice known as code-switching – in which the same person would have multiple “voices”, one for the phone, one for at school, another when they talk to friends – many of the current generation instead employ code-mixing in which Scots words are mixed with English words and there is less structure to it.

Our columnist says the language has become “dialecticised”, is now being taught in many schools and universities and, after years of no official support, is becoming official again.

He sees a bright future for the language, pointing to a quote by Robert Millar, a professor of linguistics and Scottish language at Aberdeen University, who said that Scots is a “once and future language”. Heather realises there is more work to be done, though, drawing hope from comparisons with Gaelic and recounting something he heard from another of our columnists.

“Lesley Riddoch hud a great story aboot talkin about Radio Nan Gaidheal and when that wis founded

Gaelic speakers didnae think thit Gaelic wis a proper language,” he says. “It was considered to be like Scots is noo.

“People on the east coast wid think ‘Och, thit’s no a language, it’s jist a dialect ae, it’s nae a real thing’. And so people in Uist nivir even kent thit people in Strathnaver spoke Gaelic. And people in Argyll and Stornoway thought thit Gaelic wis essentially Irish.

“But when they started listening tae Radio Nan Gaidheal all the time, and they hear aw the different dialects of Gaelic, they realised thit it wis actually part of the linguistic family it jist hudnae been aware of itself fir 50 years, a hunner years.”