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Dear JAC

Michael Everson replied to my email:

> John,
>
> Almost no one speaks Ulster Scots. It's part of a
> game they play up North against Irish, and it's
> pretty silly. No one learns it as a second
> language, no one is encouraged to learn it (if I
> were to try, for instance, they would just think
> I was taking the pěss).

If either you or I as well were to try to speak it
they would think that in both cases.

> If it needs a tag, it can
> be an RFC 3066 variant of Scots (which is all it
> is). It certainly does not merit an ISO 639-1 tag.

I only asked for an ISO 639-1 tag "in passing" as it were, partly to
assess the reaction.

NB - JAC: Please give consideration to this for an ISO 639-2 tag.

NB - JAC: Please also give consideration to this for an ISO 639-3 tag.

> And I *like* these sorts of things.

Indeed I know all this. But the situation is rather like the Bosanski
language at the beginning, and it has official status, and it will
continue to have oficial status.

Serb speakers and Croat speakers made the same sort of comment when
Bosanski was raised as a language name. Now the language name, and the ISO
639-1 and 639-2 codes for it are an accepted fact of life.

And the same comments that you make about Ulster Scots, i.e.

> The fact that they write this dialect of English
> with funny spelling does not mean it is another
> language.

could be equally applied to Scots (Lowland Scots, or Lallans) which does
have a code in ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2.

What is also lacking for Ulster Scots is also interoperability.

There was certainly a UKMARC code for Ulster Scots, and this was used in
UKMARC records.

Neither MARC21 codes nor ISO 639-2 provide this. Nor does ISO 639-3.

> The fact that they write this dialect of English
> with funny spelling does not mean it is another
> language. You just read English with a Donegal
> accent and it comes out just as they are spelling
> it. "Woorsels" for "Ourselves" indeed.

There are also others who take the opposite opinion, even though I myself
can't read Ulster Scots without thinking of certain prominent Northern
Ireland politicians, and imagining them reading it aloud.

It's (a) the official language status, and (b) the longstanding presence
and use of a code for Ulster Scots in UKMARC which are the clinchers.

There is also the fact that the ratification by the UK of the Council of
Europe's Charter for Regional or Minority Language specifically provides
special status for Ulster Scots.

> Your own Cornish accent has similar features which could
> be respelled if you wanted to.

And indeed there would be those in Cornwall who would argue for the need
for a code for that too. Not all members of Mebyon Kernow (Sons of
Cornwall) speak Cornish, though many of them do have a very strong Cornish
accent of English.

This is an aside - I'm not planning to request any ISO 639 code (of any
part) for the Cornish accent of English. From practical knowledge (and I'm
planning to be back in Cornwall for part of next month) I know that the
Cornish accent of English is much closer to English than Ulster Scots is
either to Scots (Lallans) or to English.

So to recapitulate:

NB - JAC: Please give consideration to this for an ISO 639-2 tag.

NB - JAC: Please also give consideration to this for an ISO 639-3 tag.


Best regards

John Clews

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