(187)  Ay aye

The Scotsman and The Times for 20 August 2002 both report Sheriff Lindsay Wood at Stirling Sheriff Court telling Ryan Seath (18) of Stirling not to use the word aye when seeking to answer questions in the affirmative.  Sheriff Wood told Mr Seath (who is accused of vandalism and breach of the peace, and has pled not guilty): Next time you appear in court you don’t say ‘aye’, you say ‘yes’.  Do you understand that?  Mr Seath replied Yes.  He has now been bailed to appear for trial on 3 December 2002.  There have been previous reported examples of sheriffs insisting on the use of Yes rather than Aye: Sheriff James Nolan, also in Stirling Sheriff Court, in 1993, and Sheriff Irvine Smith at Glasgow in 1994, the latter pointing out that the word ay in Scots means always, making oral use of the word ambiguous.  For discussion of these and other linguistic difficulties in court see H L MacQueen, Laws and languages: some historical notes from Scotland, Electronic Journal of Comparative Law, vol 6(2) (2002), http://www.ejcl.org/62/issue62.html.

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