Doric bootcamp aims to help protect traditional Scots language

Dr Jamie Fairbairn, a Scots language teacher and head of humanities at Banff Academy, has helped to organise the programme and said it is “absolutely vital” to protect the language.

The course is due to take place in Portsoy and Fairbairn says the idea originated following a conversation with BBC Alba journalist Andreas Wolff.

“I bumped into him at the Scots Language Awards and he asked me why there wasn’t more Scots language courses for beginners – something that people would find fun and interesting,” Fairbairn tells the Sunday National.

The National:

“So we came up with this idea of doing a residential, Scots language weekend where folk – particularly those in the north east – could get into and have a shot at Doric or north-east Scots.

“They can give it a go and learn just the basics of conversation, the words and phrases and then maybe have a shot at doing some creative writing as well.”

Although he explains that it is aimed at those who consider themselves beginners, he says that anybody who is more experienced is more than welcome to come along and offer their expertise.

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He adds that it’s really about giving people “confidence” and a “safe space” in which to learn: “The way it is with Scots, it’s funny, folk don’t think you’re allowed to learn it. You can learn Spanish, French or German but as soon as you start thinking that you want to learn Scots, a lot of people say you shouldn’t. We think you should.”

He explains that having a grasp of the language can be a real asset to the area, particularly when it comes to tourism, suggesting that letting visitors hear a guide speak in the local language would offer a “real expansion opportunity”.

It also comes at a time when campaigners have called on the Scottish Government to reverse a “devastating” cut to the body responsible for promoting Gaelic development in Scotland.

Although two separate languages, there is a shared sense of needing to protect Scotland’s heritage with schemes such as the upcoming bootcamp.

“I think it’s absolutely vital to have this because it’s okay having written Scots, but spoken is where it’s maintained,” Fairbairn says.

“Any minority language I think we have to support. Scots in particular hasn’t had the financial backing, it hasn’t got a TV channel.

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“I think it’s important that folk have opportunities to protect the language. Even when you speak to bairns, I’m surprised how much they know but they’re losing words and phrases and their grandparents speak more than them.

“What I have found on the positive side is folk writing Doric on their phones so it could be they’re writing more than anyone ever has.”

The camp is due to take place from Friday, July 5 to Sunday, July 7 – more information can be found HERE – and Fairbairn says he’s looking forward to what it will have to offer.

“I think in education, learning Doric has been a problem,” he says.

“But what we’re doing now is saying it’s an opportunity for people’s health and wellbeing and to learn about the culture and history of the area.

“It’s starting to turn around and it’s looking positive.”

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