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About the book
  • Published: 15 March 2006
  • ISBN: 9781845960520
  • Imprint: Mainstream Publishing
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $19.99


The Mither Tongue

Formats & editions

SCOTS: THE MITHER TONGUE is a classic of contemporary Scottish culture and essential reading for those who care about their country’s identity in the twenty-first century.

It is a passionately written history of how the Scots have come to speak the way they do and it acted as a catalyst for radical changes in attitude towards the language. Since it was first published in 1986, it has sold 20,000 copies – testimony to the power of its argument and the style, humour and smeddum of its writing. In this completely revised edition, Kay vigorously renews the social, cultural and political debate on Scotland's linguistic future, and argues convincingly for the necessity to retain and extend Scots if the nation is to hold on to the values that have made them what they are as a people. As ever, Kay places Scots in an international context, comparing and contrasting it with other European lesser-used languages, while at home questioning the Scottish Executive's desire to pay anything more than lip service to this crucial part of our national identity. Language is central to people's existence and this vivid account celebrates the survival of Scots in its various dialects, its literature and song – a national treasure that thrives in many parts of the country and underpins the speech of everyone that calls themselves a Scot.

  • Pub date: 15 March 2006
  • ISBN: 9781845960520
  • Imprint: Mainstream Publishing
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Billy Kay

Billy Kay was born in Galston, Ayrshire, in 1951 and was educated at Kilmarnock Academy and Edinburgh University. Much of his work has been devoted to creating an awareness of Scottish culture. A writer and presenter for both radio and television, he is also the co-author of Knee Deep in Claret: A Celebration of Wine and Scotland. He lives in Fife.

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Praise for Scots

“The Scots tongue, like most of the world's minority languages, is under pressure and Billy Kay in this excellent and cogent survey draws together the strands of our concern”

Daily Express

“Kay is the best writer on his own language I have read since Burchfield on English; his book should be put in schools, for it is capably seditious”

The Herald

“Moving, delightful, even inspiring”

Edinburgh Review

“It is not the kind of dry academic tome so cherished by linguistic nitpickers, but a bright, radical examination of the language which is at the heart of our existence”

Aberdeen Press and Journal

“A fresh and invigorating overview of a fascinating subject”

Stirling Observer

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