2015 Roland Bibby Memorial lecture by Dr Jamie Fairbairn

The Scots are breathing new life into their native tongue by getting it on the educational curriculum. And the benefits are already been seen by boosting the self esteem of young people, says Dr Jamie Fairbairn, of Banff Academy, Aberdeenshire.

He was presenting the 2015 Roland Bibby Memorial Lecture at Morpeth Town Hall. Mr Bibby was a champion of the native dialect and founder member of the Northumbrian Language Society. Dr Fairbairn’s talk was entitled ‘A gift from Northumbria: the journey of Scots back to the classroom’. He told his audience that he was in the privileged position of being able to deliver the Scots language to children through the curriculum. For the past two years they had been able to opt into the subject through the Scots Language Award which was worth half the number of points they needed towards a GCSE or A level qualification. He had found that being able to study their own tongue boosted the self esteem of young people and helped to give them confidence.

Later, during a question and answer session, Dr Fairbairn said Northumbria already had the means of promoting its language through its annual Gathering, but added that campaigning was the only way to keep it in the spotlight. He thought teachers would probably like to play around with the Northumbrian language in classes and perhaps push for a qualification, although he warned that it had taken a lot of work over many years, plus Government will, for Scotland to get where it currently is. But the benefit to children, he said, was absolutely clear.

Dr Fairbairn acknowledged the Northumbrian origins of the Scots language and illustrated this with examples of words common to both tongues. He also demonstrated it with musical comparisons.

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