I've always felt (or have felt for some time anyway) that supporters of independence can't afford to bang on about the Gaelic and Scots languages too much, because there's a danger of getting stuck in a ghetto inhabited only by people who are interested in language/cultural issues, and irritating everyone else. For the proof of that, we need look no further than the way the Quebec sovereignty movement enjoys almost no support outside the French-speaking population.
But when you see how poorly educated people are about Scots, and how they don't even seem to notice when they're speaking the language themselves, it's difficult not to want to weep, or to do something about it as a matter of some urgency. I've just had an exchange on Twitter with an STV journalist called Peter A Smith, whose heart is entirely in the right place on this subject - he sees Scots as a language not a dialect, and thinks it's harmful to the credibility of the language if something which is not really Scots is held up as an example of the language. So far, so good. Unfortunately, that leads him to look upon the Glaswegian dialect as something completely different from Scots - a language which is spoken "elsewhere". Even more astonishingly, he claims that Scots has never been spoken in Glasgow. This misconception appears to be based on a garbled recollection of being taught about a language similar to Welsh that was once spoken in these parts, plus a "Lancashire dialect", both of which were superseded by "standard English". He well and truly gives the game away by using the word "accent" when he mocks an attempt to replicate spoken Glaswegian on a menu. That implies Glaswegian is simply heavily accented standard English, which it plainly isn't - standard English looks like standard English when it's written down, regardless of accent. Glaswegian looks rather different from standard English when it's written down, and for a simple reason - it's a dialect, not an accent.
When I suggested to Peter that Glaswegian is actually a debased dialect of Scots, or a transitional dialect on a continuum between Scots and English, he insisted that the Scots elements of speech that exist in the dialect are just "borrowed words and expressions" - similar to the borrowed words and expressions we have from Gaelic and Latin. I mean, where to begin? The most basic words used by Glaswegians, the fundamental building-blocks needed to construct a sentence like "doon" and "aff", are Scots. These are not "loan-words" - they are words which have been passed down through generations since a time when the Scots spoken in Glasgow was as distinct from standard English as modern-day Doric is. It's the more complex Scots words, phrases and idioms that have been lost, due to the influence of English-medium education and the media.
(Incidentally, speakers of Glaswegian do of course also use the English forms of words like 'doon' and 'aff' at times, but that's simply code-switching, which is a completely normal phenomenon where a language continuum exists.)
To an extent Peter is right that it's counter-productive to parade modern-day Glaswegian as an example of Scots without any qualification, because that unintentionally plays into the hands of those who regard the idea that Scots is a separate language as being laughable. But it's also counter-productive to set up an artificial Berlin Wall between Scots and Glaswegian, and to pretend that Glaswegian belongs only to English and has nothing to do with Scots apart from a few "borrowed words" here and there. The much better approach is to clear-sightedly recognise the dialect for what it actually is - namely a transitional dialect between Scots and English, one that is probably closer to English these days, but which is undoubtedly an authentic blend of both languages. In that way, Glaswegians can proudly take ownership of the Scots speech-forms they still retain, rather than needlessly regarding them as alien borrowings from a Burns theme-park.