LAST Tuesday, the annual Pride of Scotland Awards were broadcast on STV, and whilst viewers were humbled by the outstanding courage shown by the well-worthy recipients, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of linguistic diversity that the programme displayed.

The presenters, who were both born in Scotland, presented with ­accents which could only be described as Southern ­English. Kirsty Gallacher, presenter of ­controversial GB News, was born in ­Edinburgh but moved to ­Surrey as an ­infant and was raised on the aristocratic Wentworth Estate and attended St George’s School, a private school in Ascot. So, it’s of no surprise that she would naturally speak with a Southern English ­accent.

The National: Kirsty Gallacher

Nicky Campbell has spent a considerably larger amount of time living in Scotland than Kirsty, spending time studying at the University of Aberdeen, but still presented with a Southern-English accent, albeit more subtle than Kirsty’s.

With all the brilliant TV personalities and presenters that Scotland has to offer, why did the Pride of Scotland Awards choose presenters who simply don’t ­linguistically sound Scottish at all? I ­believe we are seeing the ­“Scottish Cringe” on full display here, but it’s ­disheartening that it was so prevalent at an award ­ceremony which purpose is to celebrate the accomplishments of ­ordinary members of Scottish society.

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Now, before I’m accused of ­spreading “anti-English sentiment”, this is not a ­question of nationality and ­eligibility to present an awards ceremony based on place of birth – this is a question of ­linguistic diversity. Having two ­presenters speak in Southern English accents does not showcase the linguistic diversity of Scotland. In fact, having a presenter speak in a Scottish-English accent (speaking the English language in a Scottish accent) does not showcase the linguistic diversity of Scotland.

What does showcase our ­linguistic ­diversity is having two presenters speak in a Scottish-English accent but ­codeswitching to include sentences in both Gaelic and Scots, our national ­languages. Last year the annual MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards were broadcast on BBC Alba in English, ­Gaelic, and Scots – an exemplary ­programme of presenters Alistair Heather and Mary Ann Kennedy codeswitching swiftly ­between the respective languages.

For the first time in a long time, I felt ­represented. Growing up in ­Aberdeenshire, one of the only ­opportunities to hear Scots in the ­national media was listening to Robbie Shepherd present Take The Floor on BBC Radio Scotland and reading his Doric columns in the Press and Journal. But I did notice that I was clearly the odd one out in my class at primary – nobody else would spend their Saturday’s glued to the wireless to listen to Robbie.

But at The Pride of Scotland Awards, the closest we got to the Scots Leid, was when Sir Godfrey Palmer, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award, quoted Robert Burns.

But if Burns had lived in 2021, he’d ­probably have thrown the towel in ­after being abused by trolls on Twitter for ­writing poetry in the Scots Language. This is often the reality for writers, ­musicians, comedians, politicians, and everyday ­people alike who use Scots as their ­everyday language, and in their ­artform or work environment. Some parts of our society have strong aversions to our national ­languages and seem to ­dismiss them as Nationalist agenda.

To combat this for the next generation, it’s incredibly important for children and young adults to have media and learning materials in their own language. I never had Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stane, or Diary o a Wimpy Wean or The Gruffallo in Scots. I had fooshty auld Burns books and poetry that was more suited to adults. If I did have relatable ­media in my own language, I’d have felt so much better about my own sense of cultural identity.

Instead, each January we were to learn and recite Burns poetry. I was always praised for my passionate delivery of the poems, yet saying “aye, here”, instead of “present” during the rota was something that would often make teachers scowl – or in my parents’ day, warrant a skelp of the belt. Scots was acceptable and celebrated for one week of January, and then pushed back into the closet for the rest of the year.

But not now. The SQA Scots Language Award, which is offered at several secondary schools in Scotland, has proven helpful in tackling the attainment gap.

IN the 2011 census, over 1.5 million people identified as speaking Scots. Since then, the Scots language has undergone a sort of cultural renaissance, with more and more people recognising that they possess skills in speaking, reading, and writing in Scots.

During the 2021 Scottish Election, Oor Vyce, the campaign for a Scots Language Act succeeded in lobbying 35 out of 129 elected MSP’s to sign the ­#ScotsPledge, with tens of unsuccessful electoral ­candidates signing also. With 30% of the ­Scottish population speaking Scots, ­having 29% of parliament supporting the idea of more protection, promotion and funding for the language is quite good ­going.

Oor Vyce reached out to all 129 MSP’s and asked them if they would take their Oath or Affirmation in Scots, or any ­chosen dialect of Scots. Eight MSP’s took their Oaths and Affirmations in Scots ­including Clare Adamson, Jackie Dunbar, Neil Gray, Emma Harper, Alison ­Johnstone, Richard Lochhead, Gillian Martin and Kevin Stewart.

Despite signing the Scots Pledge and representing the Doric speaking ­heartland of Aberdeenshire West, ­Alexander Burnett’s lack of response to Oor Vyce’s request for him to take his Affirmation in Doric was deafeningly silent, yet unsurprising. All talk and no action.

Another Northeast loon, Douglas Ross responded to Oor Vyce’s request saying that he intended to “take the oath once” in English.

Do these Conservative ­representatives fear that showing support for Scots is ­Nationalist agenda?

At this point, I should commend the brilliant work of ­Peter Chapman, former Conservative MSP for the North East ­Region who promoted the use of Doric and Scots in the chamber and pushed for more representation and promotion of Scots. Peter was a shining example of how our languages should not be ­politicised – yes, language must be on the political agenda to formally gain ­promotion and protection – but language should not be party political.

Opposition supporters seem to continually use Gaelic as a stick to beat the SNP with, yet the Gaelic Language Act of 2005 was the product of the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition. Scots and Gaelic, our nations languages are for everyone ­regardless of political persuasion.

Yet perhaps politics and the “Scottish Cringe” is at the very root of why the Pride of Scotland Awards chose to have two presenters who didn’t linguistically sound Scottish at all.

If we can have pride in the members of our society, why can’t we take pride in our national languages too? Our radio and broadcasting media must do better. (