Book Chapter

Living with the Double Tongue: Modern Poetry in Scots



Watson R (2006) Living with the Double Tongue: Modern Poetry in Scots. In: Brown I, Clancy TO, Manning S & Pittock M (eds.) The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature: Modern Transformations: New Identities (from 1918), (Volume 3). Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, 3. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 163-175.

The linguistic pluralism inherent in Scottish cultural identity has made contemporary writers in Scotland peculiarly sensitive to how subjectivity is simultaneously constructed and undone in the precisions and imprecisions of language and in the tangled translations and transitions (and the political and social complexities) between utterance and reception. Such factors are doubly relevant to the unique status of Scots as a literary language, both demotic and constructed, both familiar and estranged, that is both 'other' to, and 'othered' by English. In this respect the 'double tongue' of poetry in Scots has a telling relationship with the instabilities of expression and identity as realised by contemporary writers, who are more concerned with the problematics of personal, existential, political or sexual being than they are with an older generation's interest in recovering a national identity and establishing validating links to an older literary tradition.

Modern poetry in Scots; Scots language poetry; MacDiarmid; Garioch; Sydney Goodsir Smith; Tom Leonard; W.N. Herbert; Robert Crawford; David Kinloch; Richard Price; the double tongue; postcolonial theory; Bakhtinian theory; hybridity; estrangement; Scots as English's 'other'; Scottish poets 20th century; Scottish poetry 20th century History and criticism; Scots language

Title of seriesEdinburgh History of Scottish Literature
Number in series3
Publication date30/11/2006
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publisher URL
Place of publicationEdinburgh

People (1)


Professor Rory Watson

Professor Rory Watson

Emeritus Professor, English Studies