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Author

Radha Zanzal

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Hugh West

Second Advisor

Dr. Sydney Watts

Third Advisor

Dr. Raymond Hilliard

Abstract

The main aim of this thesis is to explore the cultural ambivalence of the Edinburgh literati as it relates to their relationship with the Lowland Scots language. As a result of the tension between the literati's patriotic nationalism and worries about their provincialism in comparison with England and the European continent, the literati began to reject their own spoken vernacular as a emblem of provincial vulgarity in favor of the more polite, enlightened English. Although the literati succeeded in removing written Scots from their own work, their attempts to rid themselves of spoken Scots, particularly through the actions of the Society for Promoting the Reading and Speaking of the English language in Scotland, were largely unsuccessful. This relationship between the literati and Scots was further complicated by their general acceptance of the literary revival of the language. The two forms of this revival, the restoration of an older Scots literary tradition and the contemporary, sentimental works of Scots poetry and pastoral, allowed the literati to indulge in nostalgic reminiscences while maintaining their belief in the inherent vulgarity of the Scots language. The cultural ambivalence of the Edinburgh literati in the mid-eighteenth century played out in their treatment of the Scots language as both a language of patriotic nostalgia and corrupt provincialism.

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