by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Accents are in the news, it seems. An advertisement highlighting that Scotland is an open and inclusive country has come in for some criticism which includes people having a dig at the narrator’s accent.

Sadly, it seems this type of discrimination will not go away. Not only do some people deride languages they cannot understand, they also mock people who speak with a different accent. Does it never occur to them that the people they are mocking might think that they, in turn, speak with an odd accent?

The way you speak is a product of your upbringing and social environment. Language is a communication tool and, as long as you are able to communicate clearly and politely, then nobody should make fun of you simply because of the way you pronounce words. In a country like Scotland where accents can alter within the space of a few miles, Accentism should be as socially unacceptable as any other form of discrimination.

The other criticism of the advertisement is almost as bizarre. It seems that at least one person was upset because she felt that Scotland should not be advertising how welcoming it is when we have our share of idiots, bigots and people with unsavoury social attitudes. Now, it is true that Scotland is no exception when it comes to having a section of society who behave in a manner which most of us would view with distaste if not abhorrence. Witness, for example, the events after the Old Firm match yesterday. But, and it is an important but, nobody ever attracted business by putting out advertisements telling the world how crap they are. And if we are going to suspend any positive statements until all social ills have been solved, we are likely to have a long wait. Addressing unacceptable social behaviour is one of the remits of any Government, usually through law enforcement, but nobody can seriously expect any Government to parade its society’s problem areas when attempting to attract new immigrants or businesses. I’m afraid that’s just silly. And, on a weekend when we’ve seen fascists parading in London, to call a pro-Scottish advertisement "Peak Nationalism" is more than a little bit over the top.

But the really sad thing is that the current political climate in the UK has created such divisions within our society that even things like an advertisement can cause such controversy*. If only we lived in a normal country.

*I really don’t care whether you pronounce that CONtroversy with the emphasis on the first syllable, or conTROversy with the emphasis on the second syllable.