“Be proud o’ whaur yih come fae, keep speakin’ yir language, it’s wha yih are!”
The global spotlight has been shining brightly on Dundee for over a year now, since the V&A Museum opening in 2018, and, as we said in these very pages, that light was about to illuminate Dundee’s best kept secret… the Dundee people. So, what better way to celebrate our Fifth Birthday Special than with some of the people who are passionately and creatively shining our culture, our dialect and our unique Dundee character back out to the rest of the world. As Dundee scaffie Gary Robertson’s quote above proclaims in our Made in Dundee article, it’s okay to be Dundonian and to speak Dundonian because that’s who we are. As you’ll see from many of the other interviews inside, the Dundee language is funny and full of life and character. Schemers actor Steve Merton puts it simply in his interview, “Listen tae what we’re sayin’ cos we’ve got somethin’ tae say, an’ if you try an’ understand what we’re sayin,’ yul learn something fae us, yul git to know the culture better an’ yul git a laugh!”.
Despite Dundee’s turbulent history and attempts to suppress our culture and even discourage our language, we have somehow managed to hold onto this beautiful old Scots dialect. That’s pretty special and something to be celebrated. However, along the way we have, no doubt, lost part of our language and, therefore, part of ourselves. As street poet Kev McCabe tells us in our Schemers article, “Yir tongue is yir connection tae yir ancestors, an’ when yih stop speakin’ yir native tongue yi loose yir connection tae yir ancestors”, a sentiment shared by rock legend Ged Grimes in our Celtic Connections article, “It’s an ancient language and it’s oors!”. So, let’s give Dundee people the confidence to express themselves in Dundonian, it’s time for the world to listen to us and time for us to positively and radically reimagine our culture and our language as it’s the best way to express ourselves to the world.
Kengo Kuma, the V&A Museum architect, warmly told us in his interview, “Dundee used to be the window to the world”, and, as you’ll learn inside, people like Ged Grimes, Gary Robertson, Gaelic singer Eilidh Cormack, Scots singer Iona Fyfe and many Dundonians involved in the Dundee movie Schemers are reimagining that window out to the world and have proven that it’s okay to express yourself creatively in your mother language, whether that be Scots or Gaelic, and still be successful nationally and internationally. So, come awa’ in’tae this very special issue o’ City Life and meet some o’ the Dundee fowk that are showcasing oor toon, oor culture, oor people, oor languages and oor country tae the world.