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Language Log extols Edinburgh Uni’s results in the UK’s RAE

“But with these figures out, even these shy people will have to admit, if pressed, that if you want to study in the biggest language sciences community in the U.K., and the best one as judged by volume of work judged to be of world-leading quality, it looks like you should make plans to head for Edinburgh.”

As a graduate, all I can say is, heck yeah.

Scots-Texans of the past

This is too funny. I was looking at the area around Dallas on Google maps, and found that there is a city in Ellis County called Midlothian, which is also the name of the area around Edinburgh to the south and the historical government area in which Edinburgh is located (these days it’s a council area unto itself).

Although the Wikipedia page doesn’t mention it, Midlothian, TX is (not hugely surprisingly) named after Midlothian, Scotland. There are apparently four other Midlothians, one of which was definitely also named after the Scottish area. The others, it’s not clear.

Unusually for an X, he was also a Y

While re-reading The Right Attitude to Rain, I came across several quotations I thought about memorializing in my Facebook profile, including this one:

How many people in the United States believed that they had been abducted by aliens? It was a depressingly large number. And the aliens always gave them back! Perhaps they were abducting the wrong sort.

This is so emblematic of what I love about Alexander McCall Smith. He’s full of these funny little observations that are expressed in the compact, deadpan way that British people have of saying things. Perhaps they were abducting the wrong sort. It’s lovely.

In the end I decided that pickled onions were probably enough Alexander McCall Smith for one Facebook profile, but I did want to add a lovely little poem about Scotland that’s quoted closely following the above gem. When I searched for the poem, though, one of the results that came up was from an SNP (Scottish National Party) news release, about SNP MSPs wearing the white rose of Scotland to the opening of Parliament. I was concerned that maybe the poem has nationalist associations that I wasn’t aware of, but I couldn’t find anything else that suggested that it’s more than a longstanding image association made famous by nationalist poet.

To make sure I was spelling the poet’s (pen) name correctly, I looked him up in Wikipedia, and found this gem:

He was instrumental in creating a truly Scottish version of modernism and was a leading light in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th century. Unusually for a first generation modernist, he was a communist. Unusually for a communist, he was a committed Scottish nationalist.

The parallel there sent me into gales of laughter, closely followed by coughing. There can’t have been that many Scottish communists, anyhow, I would think.

I also found this bit amusing:

MacDiarmid listed Anglophobia amongst his hobbies in his Who’s Who entry.

Not that Anglophobia is funny, per se, but having Anglophobia as a hobby in your Who’s Who entry strikes me as strangely hilarious.

For what it’s worth, I’m neither a Scottish nationalist nor an Anglophobe, but I do think it’s a beautiful little verse, expressive of the love I feel for Scotland.

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet — and breaks the heart.