After centuries of English oppression, Scots, a Germanic language primarily spoken in the Scottish lowland, continues to face erasure, anglicization, and suppression. Many Scottish intellectuals preferred to distance themselves from Scots due to strong prejudice against its speakers. Meanwhile, non-Scottish writers have continually mocked, deeming it a mere “dialect” of English. Scots is a language in its own right, and there is a growing interest in returning Scots to a prominent place within public spaces.
Connecting the rich Scottish literary tradition, language activist, writer, and actor Joanne Gallagher aims to change people’s minds about what it means to speak Scots. Through BOTHY, an artistic collective based in London, members of the Scots community are reclaiming and celebrating their language and their stories. The first iteration of BOTHY, a traditional Scottish ceilidh titled “BIG NIGHT OOT,” took place on March 22nd at the Streatham Space Project, featuring Scots artists and their work. For the duration of the cohort, BOTHY will curate more cultural nights in London and promote the importance of Scots in their community and beyond. As the poet Tom Leonard said, “All livin language is sacred.”
Joanne's BackgroundJoanne Gallagher is a playwright and actor from Linwood, Scotland. She trained at the Oxford School of Drama and has appeared in Film and TV (Outlander, Tell it to the Bees) and had her West End debut in Equus in 2019. She studied English Literature at Glasgow University. Joanne is a co-founder of BOTHY, and was mentored by the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland to write her debut play in 2021. She is passionate about Scots language and literature.