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Current Affairs. Affairs of Currency.

pistoleThis is a Pistole bearing the head of William III of England or William II (and other things) as he was known in Scotland. The Pistole was one of the last coins struck in Scotland. It was a gold coin worth twelve Pounds (Scots) or One Pound Sterling. It was minted for the purposes of the disastrous Darien Scheme.

King William III/II was the guy directly responsible for the Massacre of Glencoe. He may be familiar to Scottish football fans and those who witness Orange walks as depicted on his white steed.

King Billy indeed.

Despite the massacre and its circumstances William is still regarded in high praise, indeed eulogised by sections of society here.

Scotland can be like that.

Anyway, I digress.

This is a bawbee: from the reign of Charles II at a time when Scotland shared a monarchy but not a parliament with England.COPPER-BAWBEE-CHARLES-II
This is a groat from the time of David II of Scotland (1329-1371)


The pound Scots (Scots: Pund Scots) was the unit of currency in the Kingdom of Scotland before the kingdom unified with the Kingdom of England in 1707. It was introduced by David I, in the 12th century, on the model of English and French money, divided into 20 shillings each of 12 pence. The Scottish currency was later debased relative to sterling and, by the time of James III, the pound sterling was valued at four pounds Scots.

In addition to the pound Scots, silver coins were issued denominated in merk, worth 13 shillings 4 pence (two thirds of a pound Scots). When James VI became King James I of England in 1603, the coinage was reformed to closely match that of England, with 12 pounds Scots equal to the pound sterling. In 1707, the pound Scots was replaced by the pound sterling at a rate of 12 to 1, although the pound Scots continued to be used in Scotland as a unit of account for most of the 18th century.

I’m a wee bit concerned that the pound Scots lost eleven twelfths of its value over time.

All this is just a look at history, but there is now a serious body of opinion recommending that Scotland have its own currency in the event of a yes vote in next year’s referendum. Whilst the return of bawbees, groats and pistoles seems rather unlikely, I’m reminded of a former Scottish Parliament initiative which offered translation into some quaint ersatz language, which I doubt anyone ever spoke. Certainly in my more than 50 years in the country I never witnessed anything like this outwith the pages of the Sunday Post cartoon section:

Gib-1-Scottish parliament Gaelic.tif

Scottish Parliament literature on how it can help the Scots Simon Walters copy

The ‘Pairlament’ seems to have quietly dropped the Scots translations presumably because no one used them and they held the whole country up to ridicule they were so popular there were frequent server errors.

Anyhoo I digress again. People have pointed to Iceland where their own small circulation currency has been cited as the reason that their economy has been able to recover so quickly from the catastrophe of a few years ago. Whist this is true it is worth pointing out that it was also a large part of the reason they got into trouble in the first place.
The risk of a repeat of there woes is so great there that they want to join the Euro……

A few weeks ago I made the point that I didn’t know how I would vote in the referendum because I wasn’t clear on what I was being asked to decide upon on many issues. It’s good that the debate has developed but there hasn’t been any increase in clarity on those issues. Indeed the waters have been muddied.

The SNP want to remain in Sterling and the EU post independence. Neither the EU nor the remaining UK it would appear want Scottish independence. The EU have made clear that Scotland would have to apply for membership and new applicants must commit to the Euro.

The SNP want independence. But do they? They want the monarch of the UK to remain as head of state, they want the Bank of England to remain the central bank with all its power over money supply, interest rates and the like. And by default on that they want to keep Sterling. I heard John Swinney yesterday say that the UK would not want to lose an independent Scotland from the ‘Sterling zone’ because it would affect the remaining UK’s balance of payments!

Clearly the SNP envisage continuing monetary union but with the freedom to decide on fiscal policy unilaterally.

That’s not independence.

That’s picking and choosing.

Michty Me!


Michty Me!

It seems that the ‘pairlament’ has quietly dropped its Scots language pages. The curious visitor when visiting the pages drafted by the script writers for the Broons the pages which represent the cornerstone of our culture, is confronted by the following:

Word searches for ‘wabsite’ return ‘did you mean website?’ ‘wark’ returns ‘did you mean work?’ etc. etc.

Maybe the response from the census wasn’t quite what they were expecting, or maybe Eck and co have realised how ridiculous the whole thing was.

Mind your language

At the risk of labouring a point (and a rant), here is the ‘front cover’ of the Scottish Parliament’s web leaflet “Garrin the Scottish Pairlament wark fur ye”

It is of course a completely ludicrous waste of money to translate into a made up language which nobody speaks  part of the fabric of our nation that we have such resources.
Further comment I feel is superfluous.

Edited to include:

“Cried Halyrude efter the pairt o Embra whaur it stauns”????

They have to be making this stuff up.




Scots Language and Gaelic Latest

This is the sign at the railway station at Linlithgow, a royal burgh situated in West Lothian about twenty miles from Edinburgh. Linlithgow Palace was the residence and birthplace of Scottish royalty. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James 6th/1st there.

I wrote here about a day trip I took there with my kids a few years ago and there are some photos of the ruined palace on that post.

It is one of the most historic places in Scotland and as such has many visitors, a good proportion of whom will be from other parts of the UK and abroad. Many will arrive by train. The visitors will I’m sure be comforted that Linlithgow’s motto is “St. Michael is kind to strangers”

However, if the sign above is typical of the signage at Linlithgow station, how on earth will ‘black bitches’ (the name for Linlithgow folk) have the opportunity to bestow their kindness? Strangers are confronted with a sign in some strange foreign sub dialect (Scots) and a pretty much deid foreign language (Gaelic) which, to my knowledge has never been spoken widely in Linlithgow. I would be surprised, nay amazed if even one resident of the place has the Gaelic as their first language and would be interested to know how many train passengers on seeing the sign think to themselves “Oh! Gleann Iucha! – my stop!”

Of course plenty of locals will refer to the place as “Lithgae” because it’s a coloquialism and that’s all fair and good, but they won’t need a sign to tell them where they are.

However visitors, be they Scots, English,Welsh, Irish or from overseas do actually do require to know where they are.

I wonder how many have looked at the above sign and missed their stop?

My friend Almax took this photo in Arrochar recently:

Notice how the Gaelic name for Helensburgh has prominence ABOVE the English name.

I have no idea how many fluent Gaelic speakers there are in Helensburgh but I’d guess somewhere around the square root of hee-haw. Having lived there for most of my life I don’t think I’ve ever heard it spoken in the town. Again, I wonder how many visitors to the area would know it by the name Baile Eilidh, or more to the point be able to pronounce it?

As an introduction to this blog’s view on such matters click here, and for a more full collection of rants on the subject click here

The people responsible should go and raffle their doughnut.

Aye Right

More from the prepostrous wabsite Aye Can

Can I speak Scots?

If you were brought up to speak a local Scottish dialect, or you have learned to speak the dialect of the area where you have chosen to live, or both, this means that you can speak Scots.

If you find it very difficult, or impossible, to speak the Scottish dialect of the area where you were brought up, and also cannot speak the dialect of the area you have chosen to live, this means that you do not speak Scots.

Can I read Scots?

If you can easily read a poem, story, or e-mail, written either in the local Scottish dialect with which you were brought up, or in the dialect of the area where you have chosen to live, or literary Scots – such as Robert Burns or Hugh MacDiarmid – this means that you are able to read Scots.

If you find it very difficult, or impossible, to read a poem, story, or e-mail, written in the Scottish dialect of the area where you were brought up, or the dialect of the area where you have chosen to live, or literary Scots – such as Robert Burns or Hugh MacDiarmid – this means that you cannot read Scots.

Michty me! whit a connach o’ bawbees!

Sense? Us?

So I finally sat down to do it last night. Perhaps the best incentive to do it is provided on the Scottish government’s website:

Members of the census non-compliance team will visit people that refuse to fill in and return the questionnaire. Anyone who continues to refuse to fill in their census questionnaire will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

You risk a fine of up to £1,000 if you don’t fill in and return your census questionnaire.

Question 16 presented me with a dichotomy:

I simply love the various rich dialects spoken in Scotland. I also love all the old words and phrases. However I hope this question isn’t a trojan horse to promote the complete nonsense of translating documents and road signs into Scots.

Of course it’s all begun, and I can only hope that the completely unnecessary translated pages at the Scottish Parliament are not a sign of things to come.

These translations are for no-one. Is there is anyone in Scotland who speaks as if they are appearing as a guest in the Broons by using a kind of ersatz amalgam of several different versions of Scots?

It is really beyond belief that there is and that they require a written translation to unerstaun parliamentary information.

Anyway, back to the census form. I clicked the boxes which affirm that I can understand, speak, read and write Scots, in the full knowledge that many people will give the same answers but with a very different attitude to my own.

And yes I did say clicked the boxes, the online version was simple and I completed it in about 20 minutes.

If you’re in Scotland and want to complete it online, click here

The very first census on these shores took place in the kingdom of Dalriada (comprising parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland) in the 7th century.

The first English census was the domesday book compiled by the Normans in the eleventh century.

Modern UK censuses began in 1801 and have continued every ten years until the present day, with a break in 1941 for the second world war.

There is some debate whether this census may be the last as so much information is now held about us on various databases anyway.

Tesco will probably provide the info for the next one.

Footnote: I just heard on Radio Scotland a government mannie explaining that the question about Scots was to see ‘what support’ the language required. ‘Much in the same way that Gaelic has received support over the last hundred years’ he said, speaking from his bahooky.

That support includes translated government documents, road signs, subsidised TV channels, schools etc. etc. which has done a fantastic job in reviving the language which seems to have done the square root of hee-haw to arrest the decline in the numbers speaking Gaelic.

Don’t these eejits get it? On the one hand they seem to be telling us that Scots is a separate living vibrant language that has survived untroubled by government interference for hunners o’ years, and on the other that it ‘needs support’.

Chanty wrastlers and tumshies that they are.

Here’s a wee hand grenade for the debate. It is precisely because of the street quality of Scots, the edgy organic nature of it, the kind of almost anti-establishment idiom in which it operates that makes it so good to hear and use.

Hand it over to the academics and tartan taliban and we’ll start to hear the kind of phoney Scots language currently only heard within the confines of Burns suppers in Edinburgh. I feared all this at the opening of the Scottish pairlament when I heard some of these types singing ‘four aw thet end aw thet, a men’s a men four aw thet’ And just to emphasise what a farce the whole thing is there is even a wabsicht to help you decide whether you can speak or understand Scots.

Helpfully the home page is in English.

Michty Me! Whit a Waste o’ Siller!

And indeed jings, crivvens and so help ma boab

So the 2011 census is to include a question on whether you speak ‘Scots’. As a helpful guide to help you decide, the Scottish government has set up a website or should that be wabsicht?.

A future Scottish library sign?

And here was me thinking that any adult of reasonable intelligence would ken fine whit leid they were haverin’ in.

I get fair scunnert by this complete waste of resources to try to promote several disparate dialects of the English language which have survived for hunners of years completely untroubled by censuses or subsidy.

I’m awa’ for a kip.

The whole thing has made me a bit peely wally.