THE validity of the Scots language is a hotly debated topic, even though the leid has the recognition of multiple international bodies and linguists.

However, this could all change as the Scottish Languages Bill makes its way through parliament and potentially rewrites the narrative about Scots by giving the language formal legal protection.

This includes a recommendation from the Scots Language Centre (SLC) for an apology to be issued to Scots speakers as part of any new legislation, as they are often subject to classist and political discrimination – and in some cases, physical assault – for speaking the leid.

The SLC said: “Often service users express gratitude for the validation of their language accompanied by an expression that someone should apologise to them.”

But while an apology would be of some comfort to speakers like myself who receive this abuse on an almost daily basis, the mere discussion of the leid in parliament prompted more of it, proving why the legislation is so overdue.

Following the televised debate on November 16, a former president of the Law Society in Scotland, Ian Smart, slammed the Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville for speaking “gibberish”.

He wrote: “She is speaking this parody of a dialect in a conscious effort to make incomers feel unwelcome.”

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This resulted in a fierce defence of the leid from linguists and speakers, as the language brings people together, as evidenced by the international popularity of projects like Scots Word of the Day online.

Laura Law, who advocates for the Scots language on Twitter, tells me that this backlash is a reflection of the “deficit in regards to the Scots’ language’s place in legislation and in attitude”.

She continued: “Fortunately for Scots speakers, whilst certain individuals will continue to screech about how terrible the Scots language is, they are a diminishing minority.”

I saw this myself at the November 16 Cross-Party Group on Scots in my capacity as an author, where I was struck by the wealth of ideas to protect and improve the status of the language.

This included the introduction of a potential elective module for medical students on the leid so that they are better equipped to work with Scots speakers.This came as one critic described any legislation to me as a “waste of tax payers’ time and money”.

They wrote: “Fix the cost of living crisis, NHS, education and everything else that in tatters instead of bletherin p**h aw day.”

The irony here is that this criticism came from a Scots speaker, who doesn’t realise how the legal recognition will benefit these very services.

If funding is given, elective modules for medical students could, for example, help NHS workers who may understand the meaning of words like “heid” and “haun”.

Scots children’s author, Susi Briggs, who is advocating for increased funding to teach the leid to bairns, said stressed the value this would have in the education system.

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She said of her work with children: “You have a lot of Scots-speaking weans gaining validation, self-regard and confidence [from Scots education] and increasing their literary skills.

“It’s proof that their voice is just as valid, and this goes a long way into promoting how they feel about education when they hear it.”

While the cost of living crisis is a pressing issue too, what a lot of people do not realise is that many of the resources to promote and foster the leid already exist, so it would not require as much funding as its critics might think.

The Scots Language Centre will be 30 years old this year, and they have worked tirelessly to create resources like the Scots Warks project, which teaches speakers how to write in the language.

I have taught creative writing to Scottish children and cannot stress enough that giving them the opportunity to engage with their first language encourages literacy across the board. I was recently told by an adult reader of my books too that while they don’t enjoy English novels, they love Scots ones.

While any legislation that might come to fruition will inevitably be met with backlash, it is my hope that the Scottish Languages Bill will lay the foundation for future Scots speakers to grow up proud of their language and free from the backlash that’s characterised the mere discussion of the bill, which simply emphasizes why the language needs protection.

The consultation for the bill has been extended to December 8, and you can have your say on the Scottish Government’s website.