Itchy Coo Press, the Scots language publisher specialising in children’s books, has announced that it’s closing down. Creative Scotland, “into which the Scottish Arts Council was merged last year”, has decided to withdraw their subsidy. There’s a full report in today’s Scotland on Sunday (20 February 2011).
Matthew Fitt and James Robertson, who run Itchy Coo (which I featured in a previous post on Getting kids hooked on books) have worked very hard to promote Scots.
The imprint has sold more than 250,000 books since it was created in 2002, while Fitt has visited over 1,000 schools in Scotland to promote Scots and deliver training sessions for teachers.
‘James and I have lobbied for Scots and promoted Scots within all areas in Scotland and abroad, including the United Nations,’ he said. ‘We’ve done everything in that area, and that will all end.’
One of their recent titles was Precious and the Puggies, a detective story for younger readers by Alexander McCall Smith. Who had this to say about Scots and language:
Language is one of our greatest treasures. It is a great pity in my view that some languages are dying out, because that means that the richness and the variety of human life are diminished. Every language has something to offer – a way of looking at the world, a story to tell about a particular group of people, a stock of poetry and song. The disappearance of a language is like the silencing of some lovely bird. I have long admired the Scots language and I admire people who are determined that we should not forget how to speak and read Scots…
By promoting Scots through their books, James and Matthew been promoting language and reading too. They’ve got a fantastic, colourful website that’s a delight to visit. I think it’s a shame they’re having to close, and utterly short-sighted of Creative Scotland to cut their funding.
By Marian Dougan