Almost every article on the Scots version of Wikipedia is written by one American teenager who can’t speak Scots

Originally published at:


Oh f’cryin’ out loud, computers (and a lousy punk kid) created this problem, computers (and some serious academics) can fix this problem.


Still…that is unbelievably funny.


The experts are on it:


This sounds almost exactly like something I would have done when I was a bored 13 year old with massive ADHD powered hyperfocus and lack of social life.

When I was 11 I wrote a dictionary of my own personal dialect. Because I wanted to make sure people understood me.


I mean no disrespect to the Scots-speaking people who feel harmed or insulted by this act, and I recognize that the Scots language has a long and proud tradition, but after browsing the Scots Language Centre website a bit I was surprised to see how much it really does resemble English, to the point where an English speaker such as myself with no prior exposure to it can understand most of it just fine, at least in written form. Certainly doesn’t mean that a non-speaker would be able to write it though.

When I first saw the article I was thinking that the language in question was Scottish Gaelic, which is something else entirely.


As a Scot that grew up speaking largely like this I read the article in a French accent !!

I now live i CA and often find that if I have to slow down as my Glasgow/South Ayrshire accent is pretty strong still.

Also, Scots are not that easily offended.


It’s just politics. These days Serbian and Croatian are considered separate languages but they weren’t in Yugoslav days, even though Serbians and Croatians can understand each other pretty well. On the other hand, the “dialects” of Chinese are often completely unintelligible to non-speakers of them. It’s basically Weinreich’s famous statement that a language is a dialect with its own army (sometimes said “an army and a navy”, but that isn’t in the original).


Sorry for youtube link but this is my daily occurrence. In fact just the other day I asked Alexa for weather and she/it replied along lines…“oh, also I can reply in Spanish if you would like”…cheeky git.


Oh man now I’m starting to feel bad about writing all those Latin articles on Ikipediaway.



That’s good to hear; I thought that someone might have had to call the lad an ambulance, or, if the worst came to the worst, an Erse.


Ugh. Why do people have to be assholes. This is why we can’t have nice things…


We might say “pick a windae yer leavin”, or possibly “can yer ma sow, …here stitch this ya bam”


They might be able to fix this specific problem; but I’d be much more pessimistic about the actual one.

What do you think the pool of actually Scots-qualified(much less Scots-preferring) wikipedia editors looks like if a single, astonishingly unsuitable, person is responsible for a huge percentage of Scots-language wikipedia over the course of a decade and nobody even noticed(beyond the level of ‘quality is awful’) for several years?

Does that sound like what a healthy linguistic community large and/or passionate enough to be self sustaining would do?

There are certainly more than a few situations where someone holds court, usually on a pet topic, through sheer unlimited stamina for rules lawyering until everyone else gives up; but even the sort of conflict involved there shows some signs of life in the surroundings, even if they are ultimately stifled. A single person dominating an entire language, despite being abjectly and visibly unsuited to it? And operating more or less freely until he just decided to stop a couple of years back? With minimal repair in the intervening period?

Someone operating this freely and openly doesn’t exactly suggest a minimum-viable linguistic community being set up on by a marauding outsider; it suggests a weirdo cosplaying in a mostly empty room. Since he didn’t even go to the trouble of extensive sock-puppetting or other covering of tracks he can probably be reverted readily enough; but who is available who isn’t him?


But I really love their response when they do get offended:


No problem! Just use an AI to rewrite all the articles. Now, where to get a large collection of Scots to train it with…


Oh, MLScots? It’s a totally legitimate Scots dialect; spoke by thousands of convolutional neural networks at datacenters across the western world…


Many languages other than English have a long history of varying degrees of mutual intelligibility with each other. And interestingly it isn’t always symmetric. A Norwegian speaker might understand Dutch better than a Dutch speaker might understand Norwegian. Same for Portuguese and Spanish, except with an even lower level of understanding between differing speakers.

If you know Old English you might be pretty close to reading modern Frisian or maybe Middle High German. Not that very many people know Old English. (I don’t!)


Yeah, the bigger question obviously is this: does the world actually need a Scots version of wikipedia?
Now that it has already been dragged into existence in this broken, warped format, more competent people have apparently taken it upon themselves to “fix” it. But I wonder if this is not now just a distraction that prevents these saviors from putting their competence to better use elsewhere?