THIS week, the Scottish Languages Bill was formally introduced in parliament and questions have arisen about whether or not this is a worthwhile use of public funds in a Scotland divided by wealth – I’m going to argue that it is.

This is because you can’t put a price on culture and its benefits, and Scotland’s indigenous languages are at the heart of its culture.

After all, can you imagine a Scotland without Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and the colourful words and turns of phrases that have made us famous around the globe? Scotland’s ingenious languages are just as important as our landscape, food and everything else that gives our relatively wee country such a big place on the world stage.

We can’t afford to lose our indigenous languages, especially in the middle of a cost of living crisis when culture couldn’t be more important.

Languages don’t necessarily require wealth to be accessible either – they’re often taught for free through the generations and Scots and Gaelic texts are available in most public libraries and schools. They create a sense of community that’s vital under the weight of inflation, for Scottish-born people and immigrants alike.

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But while languages don’t necessarily require wealth to be accessed, Scots and Gaelic do need legal protection in order to thrive in a Scotland where they’ve been systematically eradicated through things like classism and colonialism – and yes, this protection involves investment in education and resources so that we don’t lose one of the things that fundamentally makes Scotland Scotland.

When I recently said that mastering minority languages like Scots alongside English will only benefit children, ironically enough, I was told off with Scots insult.

Another person decided to tell me that my new Scots children’s book, The Hoolet Thit Couldnae Fly, contained “lots of spelling mistakes” because it’s not written in English (presumably based on the title alone), clearly unaware of the fact that sister languages, which Scots and English are, exist.

While it will inevitably take time for the bill to make a difference, the fact that Aberdeen University is planning to scrap ALL of its languages degrees, including Gaelic, brings home just how close, until now, we have come to losing such an important part of our culture, which can also create a sense of confidence in people and improve their cognitive skills.

Some of the responses to the bill also demonstrate the violence that Scots speakers like myself are often subject to, particularly online – a form of discrimination that could well put speakers off of embracing Scotland’s languages.

The bill has been described as “another drain on the taxpayers’ cash” and perhaps unsurprisingly a nationalist tool, even though one of the biggest steps in protecting Scots until now – the establishment of the Scots Language Centre in 1993 – was not taken under an SNP government.

One person even suggested that Scotland would benefit more from embracing “useful” languages like French, which shows a real lack of understanding of not only Scottish culture, but the benefits of multilingualism, which exist regardless of the language learned.

But if you do want to get down to the nitty-gritty of putting a price on Scotland’s indigenous languages, they generate wealth through tourism. I’m also certain that the limited investment they are receiving from the new bill will do more good than the £8 million proposed to erect portraits of King Charles III around the UK earlier this year.

At this point, it’s also worth mentioning that the financial investment behind the new bill fundamentally equates to zero, with cost estimations describing it as a “repurposing of resources” in order to support the languages which “do not create wholly new costs or a requirement for a wholly new spend”.

While the Scottish Languages Bill is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting Scotland’s languages, there’s a serious argument to be made that it needs more than just the “repurposing” of existing resources.

Take education as a prime example. There is still no such thing as a formal Scots Higher, which could be doing countless children out of another qualification, and there’s no guarantee that this will come to fruition under the new bill.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing what difference the new bill does make to Scotland’s indigenous languages and maybe the day when I can use Scots without being told it’s bad English – because fundamentally, Scotland isn’t England, and that’s not a bad thing: every country deserves its own cultural identity.