The Scotsman for 12 May 2008 reported on renewed linguistic problems in Scotland’s courts (see previously No 187), this time involving the Mendip Media Group (based in Dorset) which in 2006 won from Scottish Courts Administration the contract for transcription of proceedings in the criminal courts. It seems there have been problems with place names (Barlinnie becoming, rather splendidly, “Barrel Annie”), technical terms (“libelled” = “liable”) and even relatively ordinary words (e.g. “fanciful”, a word in constant use in criminal jurisprudence, rendered as “fanciable” – this, however, surely forgiveable in the context). Donald Findlay QC was, we believe, correctly transcribed by the Scotsman’s reporter as saying that the quality of the transcriptions was “bloody awful”. Mendip defended itself by reference to the “atrocious” quality of court recording systems and said it had hired transcribers based in Scotland to do the work; but if their instructions were given in best Dorset tones, perhaps the transcribers were in trouble before they ever began work. Scottish Courts Administration were however quoted as admitting problems with the recording systems, while maintaining that quality issues about the transcriptions were also being taken up with Mendip.

“Lede” = language (see Dictionary of the Scots Language http://www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/, ‘lede’ No 3)