Media Release: Scots language event highlights Census question in a ‘pure braw nicht’

PRESTONPANS storyteller, Tim Porteus, together with storytellers from around Scotland, is set to mark the forthcoming Scots Census question with a night of storytelling, music and a short play in Scots.

Sat 26 March, 7pm (2hrs), £6/£4, Adults (14+)

A Braw Nicht Oot

An evening of storytelling and drama in Scots to highlight the Census 2011 in which for the first time a question on the Scots language will be part of the survey. A selection of accomplished storytellers will introduce us to the rich variety of Scots language dialects, and this will be followed by the short play, ‘Maggie’s Body’, a dark comedy written and performed in Scots.

Tim, who is a native of Prestonpans and runs community education groups in Leith and Fife, wanted to help create greater awareness of the forthcoming census question and highlight the importance of Scots dialects as he explains:

“I was punished at school for speaking Scots in the classroom, and unfortunately many people who speak Scots have been conditioned not to think of it as a language, but rather as a dialect of English, or even just slang. Yet despite this, the Scots language is alive and kicking and is an essential part of who we are. It’s really important that people register their use of Scots in the census, and I urge them to do so, as well as to come along to ‘A Braw Nicht Oot’ which will have stories and songs in Scots to celebrate the language and highlight its wonderful variety. It will definitely be, well, a braw nicht oot!”

A Braw Nicht Oot

As part of the awareness campaign, Tim Porteus has arranged a selection of accomplished storytellers to introduce the rich variety of Scots language dialects in an evening of story and song titled ‘A Braw Nicht Oot’ on Saturday 26 March at 7pm. Taking part in the evening will be storyteller and Fifer Senga Munro who said:
“Scots is ma mither tongue an inspite o bein tellt thit A shidnae yase it, A hae pleasur in tellin stories in Lallans.”

Fellow Fifer, Sheila Kinninmonth, will also be taking part along with Jackie Ross, who is Aberdeenshire born and bred, and will be telling her stories in North East Scots – popularly known as the Doric.

James Spence, a native of Jedburgh in the Borders, has been making a name for himself in recent years with his translations in Scots of classics such as ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and ‘The Lost World’. Spence said that he was glad to take part in the storytelling event and to contribute to raising awareness about Scots. Musical interludes will be provided by Coreen Scott and Alex Hodgeson singing in Scots.

Maggie’s Body

After the storytelling sessions Tim Porteus’ play Maggie’s Body will be performed. It’s a black comedy set in the session house of Prestonpans churchyard in 1826 where Duncan has been given the responsibility of watching over the body of friend Maggie for ten days to prevent body snatchers stealing it for the medical school. Because he is afraid he asks his friend Rab to sit with him. They comfort themselves with whisky, but argue because Rab wants to look at Maggie as he’s never seen a dead body before. Rab tells stories of ghosts and supernatural figures which frighten Duncan even more. The whisky runs out and Duncan goes to fetch some more, asking Rab not to look in the coffin. However, Rab breaks his promise and looks in, and their lives change forever.

Porteus originally wrote the short story in Scots based partly on his own ideas, and partly from ideas supplied by friends Andy Kinnon, Suu Ramsay, Ally Mitchell, and members of the Methil storytelling group. It was later expanded to become a 45 minute play and had its first performance at the Gothenburg Tavern on St Andrew’s Day last year.

The evening’s entertainment is supported by the Scots Language Resource Centre and Michael Hance, Director of the Scots Language Centre, said:

“The data collected in the census will give the first detailed picture of the Scots speaking community. If we are to develop measures to support and encourage Scots we need to know where Scots speaking people live, how old they are and where they work. The government has signed up to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages but there is no possibility of applying the provisions of the Charter if we don’t have accurate information about Scots speakers. People who want to know more about the Scots question in the census can visit The web site has been specially set up to help respondents work out how to answer the questions.”


Notes to editors:

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is the national body for the support and development of the storytelling artform. The organisation is a partnership between the Scottish Storytelling Forum and the Church of Scotland, and is supported by Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council and a wide range of charitable donations.

The Scots Language Centre promotes and supports the Scots language

The Census will be held on Sunday 27 March 2011 and asks people in Scotland for the first time ever whether they are able to understand, speak, read or write Scots.

MEDIA RELEASE posted by the Church of Scotland. You too can post media releases (aka press releases) on For more information, email here.

Contact: Lindsay Corr
Phone: 0131 556 9579