When Daryl and I taught for the Italian program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we never used English. For years our everyday conversations, our meetings, our parties were all conducted naturally in Italian. The friends that we shared were also Italian. But the one time that I heard Daryl speak to somebody in English was enough for me to never forget the beauty of his Scottish accent. It was like something coming directly from a theatrical stage where Douglas of John Home was being recited, or, to be more contemporary, like something similar to Sean Connery’s accent. It also might be that I am in love with the sounds of all the languages of the world, especially the endangered languages of minorities… In fact, I could have interviewed the green ogre Shrek for the purpose of this blog entry (who as I’ve read has expressed his support for the unionists in these words: Mike Myers speaking as Shrek: "Shrek wants what the will of the Scottish people want." He added in his own accent: "I love Scotland. I hope they remain part of Britain - and if they don't, I still love them.") [source] But I preferred to interview a real Scot with particular linguistic sensibilities, although he lives in the US and speaks Italian as a working language. This is my conversation with Daryl Rodgers, a Scottish professor of Italian at the University of Susquehanna.
On September 18th, after an officially renewed initiative and after years of campaigning of its First Minister Mr. Salmond of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland will vote on whether to secede from the union with Britain, and become an independent state. The polls last year made officials in the Westminster feel relatively comfortable because of a significant advantage for the Union supporters. But The Economist of this morning (September 13th) reports that the polls have recently shifted from a 20 point difference to a 2 point difference [source]. Hence the results at this point are very close to call, and therefore the campaigning has become fierce on both sides. Obviously at this point every single vote matters.