The Ulster-Scots Language Society was formed in 1992 by a group of enthusiasts who were concerned about the decline in numbers of speakers. This, they felt, was largely due to the tendency of teachers and other authority figures to discourage children from speaking Ulster-Scots. Their intention was to reassert the dignity of the language, work for an improvement in its status and encourage its use in both speech and writing. From the start, the Society also concerned itself with the promotion of Ulster-Scots cultural forms, and most of its members through the years have combined their interest in the language with involvement in pipe bands, the Ulster-Scots forms of dance, and folk songs and ballads.
The Society’s journal, Ullans, showcases Ulster-Scots writings, old and new, and for most of the time the Society has existed it has been the only publication in Northern Ireland dedicated to that purpose. With our sister organisation, the Ulster-Scots Academy, we have also been responsible for the publication of many other books in and about Ulster-Scots, and our two best-sellers are James Fenton’s Hamely Tongue, a dictionary of modern County Antrim Ulster-Scots, and Philip Robinson’s Ulster-Scots: A Grammar of the Traditional Written and Spoken Language.
Many of our more active members are deeply involved in projects such as the Tape Recorded Survey (recording Ulster-Scots speakers in Antrim and Down), transcription of older writings, and the Bible translation led by Philip and Heather Saunders of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Folk joining the Society are encouraged to join in, and also to try their hand at writing in Ulster-Scots. As well as looking for members prepared to form themselves into local groups affiliated to the Society, we are planning in the near future to employ development officers who will work with members on the ground to organise on a regional basis.
The ongoing business of the Society is conducted by its Committee, which meets once a month. At that level we also concern ourselves with lobbying government to seek fairer treatment for the language in public life.
The Ulster-Scots Language Society is non-political and welcomes as members all those who are willing to uphold the objectives of the Society. It tries very hard to keep subscriptions at an affordable level so that no one will be excluded by the cost of membership, and members receive Ullans free. Why not join us in protecting and promoting this language which is right at the heart of who we are in Northern Ireland?