New Bill gars Scotland heid the wey in modren record-keipin

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The SNP haes succeidit in passin the Public Records (Scotland) Bill throu the Scots Pairliament.  The Bill passed unanimouslie wi the uphaud o aa pairties.  The Bill was brocht afore Holieruid bi the Scots governament in response to yae o the heid recommendaciouns o the Historical Abuse Systemic Review in 2007, kent as the Shaw Report efter Tom Shaw at wis heid o the Review buddie.  The Review wis stertit bi the umquhyle Labour admeinistracioun.

The review funn at puir staunerts o record keipin an the missin o auld records gey aft gart hit haurd fur umquhyle indwallers o bairns hames an reseidencial scuils quhan thae wantit thair documents fur faimlie, legal, medical or ither raisons.  This wis leein monie wi sair deificulties quhan thae wantit tae speir out thair faimlies or wis affectit bi ither personal maitters.  

The Shaw Report schaaed hou thousans o records anent bairns residential services wis screived atwein 1950 an 1995, but the laa in thon days wisnae feckfou in makin siccar at thir records wis weill-kep.  The outcum wis at monie umquhyle indwallers wis no able tae get a haud o thair ain records and wis roupit o witterins anent thair bairnheid.

Bi the wey o the new legislacioun, named publick authorities athort Scotland, at intaks the Scots Governament, Scots Pairliament, local counsils, the Scots Court Service, the NHS an ithers, wull be requairt tae produce an pit inti feck a records manischment plan at maun be greed wi the Keiper o the Records o Scotland.

The Keiper is nou tae produce wycelynes on the furm an content o plans, an wull be gied pouers fur tae scanse hou offeicial buddies pits thaim inti feck.  Quhaur authorities taks on  privat or voluntarie organisaciouns at cairries out turns on thair behauf, onie records creatit bi thae organeisaciouns wull be kivvert bi the new legislation an aa.

Consultaciouns cairried out airlier this yeir schaaed braid uphaud fur the Scots Governaments propones.  Maist o thaim at wis speirt greed at the propones wud be a guid an positive stap ti makin lestin betterness in the weys at the publick authorities manisches records.  Mair nor hauf o respondents sayed at nae improvements wud no cud be duin wiout chynges in the laa.  

The new legislacioun ettils tae meit thir concerns an haes bene walcumed bi organisaciouns like In Care Survivors Service Scotland.  Speikin fur the organisacioun, Lynda Patterson sayed: “Historical records are essential in providing information about what happened to a person when they were in care. Later in life they are crucial in helping a survivor to gain a sense of themselves as a child, to find out about their identity, family history and how they came to be in care. We and survivors believe that records are essential to providing the answers to important questions. In Care Survivors Service Scotland fully supports this Bill.”

Fiona Hyslop, SNP meinister fur culture an external affairs, walcumed the uphaud o the Bill bi the hail o Pairliament an sayed: “”Public records are our collective memory and the basis for individual rights and obligations.

“This legislation will modernise and improve the way public authorities deal with records. It aims to create an improved standard of consistent record keeping that will protect the rights of all members of the public by ensuring information about them is managed properly.”

The Meinister eikit: “It is my sincere hope that in future people who have been in care will never again experience the grief and frustration of discovering that records about their earlier lives are incomplete, inaccurate – or simply not there.”

Wurds ye mibbie no ken

luck – to succeed, to prosper

umquhyle – former, ex-

speir out – to trace, to track down

intak – to include

athort – across

pit inti feck – to put into practice, to implement

manisch or manish – to manage

scanse – to scrutinise

wycelyne – guideline

turn – duty, chore, task

uphaud – support

roup – to deprive, to rob of

eik – to add

A note on Scots spelling: In this article I’ve used the spelling ‘quh’.  This traditional Scots symbol is not found in any other language.  It represents a sound pronounced differently in different Scots dialects.  In most mainland Scots dialects outside the North East it is pronounced ‘hw’.  In my accent the h is quite clearly pronounced before the w, but there are other pronunciations too.  In North Insular Scots the ‘h’ part is even more strongly pronounced (almost like ch in loch) giving ‘chw’.  It is equivalent here to the English spelling ‘wh’.  In North Eastern Scots it is pronounced, and usually written, ‘f’.

Quh provides all Scots dialects for the same symbol for this sound which varies between dialects.  eg. Quhaur is pronounced “whaur” in Central Scots but “faur” in North Eastern Scots.  The famous Doric phrase Faa fuppit the fyte fulpie (Who whipped the white puppy) becomes Quhaa quhuppit the quhyte quhulpie which will then be instantly recognisable to speakers of other Scots dialects who are familiar with the use of quh.  

The problem with quh is for North East Scots speakers, who must learn which words they pronounce with f should be spelled with quh, and which should remain spelled with f.  However speakers of North Eastern Scots can simply read off quh in texts written in other dialects as f.  They can still write f if they want to.  If a speaker of another Scots dialect knows that quh is pronounced f in the North East, they are then more likely to understand a word written with f where they have quh in their own dialect.  This increases the mutual intelligibility of Scots dialects on the page.

You’ll either love or hate quh.  I’ve avoided using it up to now.  Most Scots language activists raise eyebrows when I mention it.  It appears strange and exotic to readers of modern English.  But that’s why I love it, it makes Scots instantly recognisable on the page as Scots.  However the real reason for using it is that it serves a practical purpose.  It unites a dialectally variant sound in a single symbol.  

I’ve also used the traditional spelling sch in this article.  Sch is directly equivalent to the English spelling ‘sh’.  Unlike quh it serves no practical purpose, but it is the traditional Scots spelling.  I don’t usually use it, but have used it here just to show it in context so others may learn how to use it if they want.