ONE of my favourite things on Twitter recently has been a fantastic and hilarious Scots word of a day posted regularly by Scots poet Len Pennie under the name Miss PunnyPennie.

It’s a witty, fresh and modern take on the often forgotten and usually derided strengths of the Scottish language in expressing universally shared feelings which casts a delightful light on the Scots character, often from a feminist perspective.

Check out one of her most recent posts, a poem called I’m No Havin’ Children. It’s an incredible celebration of Scots words to describe not just children (weans) and experiences of childhood, as well as taking a swipe at those who looks down on the Scots language.

It ends like this:

“I’m no haein children I’m goanna hae weans

with a proud ancient language crammed in their wee brains

and whenever life tells them their English is bad

I’ll tell them the hassles that their mammy had

And I’ll say ma maw’s words till the day that I’m deid

You’ll be alright Hen

You’ve a guid Scots tongue in yer heid”

It’s a brilliant piece of work which by rights should be celebrated as an example of a vivid, intelligent and confident use of the Scots language in a modern context.

Instead it’s attracted such an outpouring of vitriol that the author has left Twitter and now uses a friend to post her poems and dissections of Scots words and phrases.

That friend posted earlier this month: “I have been passing on your kind messages of support to Lennie, she is very grateful to you all for your support and she wants you to know she’s safe and working on her mental health.”

Len Pennie isn’t alone. Author Emma Guinness recently wrote powerfully in The National about the silencing effect online abuse is having on creative women who use the Scots language.

READ MORE: Scots language poet Len Pennie leaves Twitter after vile abuse

The National has attracted considerable online abuse since it started publishing after the first independence referendum in 2014. The existence of one single independence-supporting newspaper on Scottish newsstands is too much for some Union supporters to accept without angry condemnation.

But some of the angriest, most bitter comments were levelled at the newspaper not because of our pro-indy stance but descended upon us when we had the temerity to publish a regular column in the Scots language. And the abuse came from Scots themselves. And yes, it came largely from men.

In the current climate there’s no need to prove that misogyny is a huge problem in the UK and all over the world. Its undeniable. And Scotland is sadly no less susceptible to it that anywhere else.

The combination of anti-Scots rhetoric and the hatred of women has made the discussion of the language so toxic on social media that women no longer feel safe talking about it.

That’s dangerous for so many reasons. It’s horrific that women should be abused so routinely on public platforms. It’s dreadful that a language could be used less often in order to avoid an unacceptable backlash. And it is simply ridiculous that any aspect of Scottish culture should be pilloried by bigots.

So what was it about Scots which so infuriated our countrymen? Let’s count the ways.

They said it wasn’t a “real language”. They said it was only slang. Different words were sometimes used for the same thing … and sometimes the same word was spelled differently. What kind of language was so inconsistent? It wasn’t widely spoken across the whole country.

All these and more criticisms were hurled at Scots, mostly in a mixture of gleeful and outraged tones. The very idea of Scots being a language was lambasted as ridiculous

You might think a country might celebrate its diversity of languages as a sign of a vital and still growing oral culture. I’ve seen that very suggestion being made on social media only to be dismissed out of hand by the “it’s not a language” brigade.

When I was growing up the use of Scots was very much frowned upon in my house as somehow coarse and – worse – “working class”. A reminder of my family’s roots, which my parents were extremely keen to distance themselves from. Upward mobility was a common aspiration at the times and Scots was very much not an aid to climbing the social ladder.

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Over the years that snobbery morphed into the Scottish cringe, which supplied a lens through which every aspect of Scottish life was examined and found wanting.

That cringe is one of the main reasons why we are not yet independent and why the long sequence of catastrophes which followed in the wake of the UK government’s horrific Brexit trade deal has not yet pushed support for independence up to the high 70s.

Just look at the events of the past months. Crippling collapses in Scottish exports to the EU. A drop of 83% in fish and shellfish. Meat exports drop by 59%. A sharp reduction in lorry drivers from Europe now unable to work in the UK. The resulting food and petrol shortages. A threat to Christmas deliveries. All this – it cannot be said too often – in spite of Scotland voting against leaving Europe.

And now we have an attack by stealth on the powers of our parliament at Holyrood and now a Tory bid to further reduce the number of Scottish MPs, and thereby weaken Scotland’s voice at Westminster, while increasing the number of English MPs by 10.

And yet too many Scots still fall for the Unionist myth that Scotland is uniquely unfit to enjoy the independence which is normal for most countries in the world.

Critics of those who write and speak in Scots now like to portray that decision as a political act, as if doing so is in itself a show of support for independence. In one sense that’s a ridiculous idea but the argument does have a point.

In the face of a dispiriting and all-pervasive Scottish cringe anything which talks up our country, anything which addresses our low level of self-confidence IS political. Anything which makes us better appreciate our music, our literature, our films and our poetry IS political.

Anything which makes us walk that little bit taller, that makes us recognise the extent of our abilities, that connects us to the story of our own country can’t help but

be political at a time when the UK and its supporters seem determined to undermine many of those attributes.

It’s no wonder the notion of a Scots language is under fire at the same time as the UK-appointed Scotland Minister Alister Jack refuses to say if he considers Scotland to be a nation at all.

READ MORE: Scots poet Len Pennie hits out at 'creepy, hateful' remarks by The Majority

It’s dangerous nonsense to say, as Jack does in a recent essay, that the Union creates “one great nation” and that the differences between the countries of the Union were simply “regional variations”.

That’s the same mindset that undermines Boris Johnson’s plans to stick the Union Jack over initiatives he’ll launch with powers stolen from Holyrood; the same mindset that drives the Tories’ extreme British nationalism; the same mindset that denies Scots is a language.

We don’t need to believe that Scotland’s culture is superior to those of other countries but if we don’t find the confidence to believe it deserves a place alongside them, we’re telling Alister Jack and Boris Johnson they’re right. And then we’re really in trouble.