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Showing posts with label Unionish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unionish. Show all posts

Monday, 24 October 2011

Translating Union-speak–a Unionish phrase book

Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was no fan of the Scots but who would be largely forgotten today if it hadn’t been for Boswell, his Scottish biographer, was born a couple of years after the Union. He compiled a dictionary of the English language. I wonder what he would have made of the OED, Google and online translation facilities.

But over the last few years, another language has sprung up in these islands, one that is likely to grow rapidly in the next few years, reaching its peak around 2014-2015, then dying, unmourned, its arcane cadences lost to all but academics and historians. The language is a variant of English, with occasional rather self-conscious borrowings from Scots.

Some argue that it is merely a dialect of English, or even a patois - a pidgin or a creole. It is to be found in Scotland mainly in the Letters columns of The Scotsman and The Herald, where it is written in its purest form, and in its spoken form, in the mouths of Unionist politicians. In its extreme gutter form, it can be heard on morning phone-ins to Radio Scotland, but often enunciated in the plummiest of Establishment tones.

This new, and very temporary language phenomenon is called Unionish.

A significant number of people have attained fluency, but for many, it is baffling, especially to those who expect it convey ideas and meaning. However, it can be deciphered without the aid of a Rosetta Stone, and since I have attained a modest understanding of it from close study of its most prolific users, I thought it might be useful to offer a kind of phrase book and translation of its most frequently used words. This, I feel, is especially necessary because the Unionish language uses identical words to standard English, but with different meanings. (There must be a Gaelic version of it, but I regret that I have no Gaelic, and even the thought of that magnificent ancient language being corrupted by Unionish revolts me.) Here are a few examples – I will offer more as I come to grips with this new tongue -

THE UNIONISH WORD AND PHRASE BOOK

UNIONISH                     ENGLISH

separation                        independence

Scotland Act                     shambles

triumphalist                      confident, articulate

enemy                                 SNP

pernicious creed              Scottish nationalism

patriotism                          British nationalism

historical myth                 nationalist belief

historical fact                    unionist belief

democratic mandate      unionist party won

no mandate                       nationalist party won

North Sea oil                      Westminster slush fund

oil is running out               oil for another 40 years

loyalty                                  fear of the powerful

essential services              House of Lords

history                                  British Empire history

the old and sick                 profit potential

patriotism                            dying for the UK

public services                     waste of money

I‘m Scots/British                 I don’t know what I am