Scots language
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Scots ( endonym: ''Scots''; gd, Albais, ) is an Anglic language variety in the West Germanic language family, spoken in
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...

Scotland
and parts of
Ulster
Ulster
in the north of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...

Ireland
(where the local dialect is known as Ulster Scots). Most commonly spoken in the Scottish Lowlands, Northern Isles and northern Ulster, it is sometimes called Lowland Scots or Broad Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Goidelic Celtic language that was historically restricted to most of the
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
, the
Hebrides The Hebrides (; gd, Innse Gall, ; non, Suðreyjar, "southern isles") are an archipelago off the west coast of the Scottish mainland. The islands fall into two main groups, based on their proximity to the mainland: the Inner Hebrides, Inner a ...
and
Galloway
Galloway
after the 16th century. Modern Scots is a
sister language In historical linguistics, sister languages are cognate languages; that is, languages that descend from a common ancestral language, their so-called proto-language. Every language in a language family that descends from the same language as the ...
of
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the lat ...
, as the two diverged independently from the same source: Early Middle English (1150–1300). Scots is recognised as an indigenous language of
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...

Scotland
, a regional or minority language of Europe, as well as a vulnerable language by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...
. In the 2011 Scottish Census, over 1.5 million people in Scotland reported being able to speak Scots. As there are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing a language from a dialect, scholars and other interested parties often disagree about the linguistic, historical and social status of Scots, particularly its relationship to English. Although a number of paradigms for distinguishing between languages and dialects exist, they often render contradictory results. Broad Scots is at one end of a bipolar
linguistic continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of Variety (linguistics), language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are Mutual intelligibility, mutually intelligible, but the differences accumulat ...
, with Scottish Standard English at the other. Scots is sometimes regarded as a variety of English, though it has its own distinct dialects; other scholars treat Scots as a distinct Germanic language, in the way that Norwegian is closely linked to but distinct from Danish.


Nomenclature

Native speakers sometimes refer to their
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language is in contrast with a "standard language". It refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, n ...
as (or "broad Scots" in English) or use a dialect name such as the " Doric" or the "". The old-fashioned '' Scotch'', an English loan, occurs occasionally, especially in Ulster. The term , a variant of the Modern Scots word , is also used, though this is more often taken to mean the
Lallans Lallans (; a variant of the Modern Scots word ''lawlands'' meaning the Scottish Lowlands, lowlands of Scotland), is a term that was traditionally used to refer to the Scots language as a whole. However, more recent interpretations assume it refer ...
literary form. Scots in Ireland is known in official circles as Ulster-Scots ( in revivalist Ulster-Scots) or "Ullans", a recent
neologism A neologism from Ancient Greek, Greek νέο- ''néo''(="new") and λόγος /''lógos'' meaning "speech, utterance"is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not ...
merging Ulster and Lallans.


Etymology

''Scots'' is a contraction of , the Older Scots and northern version of late ang, Scottisc (modern English "Scottish"), which replaced the earlier i-mutated version . Before the end of the fifteenth century, English speech in Scotland was known as "English" (written or at the time), whereas "Scottish" () referred to Gaelic. By the beginning of the fifteenth century, the English language used in Scotland had arguably become a distinct language, albeit one lacking a name which clearly distinguished it from all the other English variants and dialects spoken in Britain. From 1495, the term was increasingly used to refer to the Lowland vernacular and , meaning "Irish", was used as a name for Gaelic. For example, towards the end of the fifteenth century, William Dunbar was using to refer to Gaelic and, in the early sixteenth century,
Gavin Douglas Gavin Douglas (c. 1474 – September 1522) was a Scottish bishop, makar and translator. Although he had an important political career, he is chiefly remembered for his poetry. His main pioneering achievement was the ''Eneados'', a full and fai ...
was using as a name for the Lowland vernacular. The Gaelic of Scotland is now usually called Scottish Gaelic.


History

Northumbrian Old English Northumbrian was a dialect of Old English spoken in the Anglo-Saxons, Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. Together with Mercian dialect, Mercian, Kentish dialect (Old English), Kentish and Late West Saxon, West Saxon, it forms one of the sub-catego ...
had been established in what is now southeastern Scotland as far as the
River Forth The River Forth is a major river in central Scotland, long, which drains into the North Sea on the east coast of the country. Its drainage basin covers much of Stirlingshire in Scotland's Central Belt. The Scottish Gaelic, Gaelic name for the ...
by the seventh century, as the region was part of the
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a Cultural identity, cultural group who inhabited England in the Early Middle Ages. They traced their origins to settlers who came to Britain from mainland Europe in the 5th century. However, the ethnogenesis of the Anglo- ...
kingdom of
Northumbria la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of Northumbria , common_name = Northumbria , status = State , status_text = Unified Anglian kingdom (before 876)North: Anglian kingdom (af ...
.
Middle Irish Middle Irish, sometimes called Middle Gaelic ( ga, An Mheán-Ghaeilge, gd, Meadhan-Ghàidhlig), is the Goidelic languages, Goidelic language which was spoken in Ireland, most of Scotland and the Isle of Man from AD; it is therefore a contempora ...
was the language of the Scottish court, and the common use of Old English remained largely confined to this area until the thirteenth century. The succeeding variety of early northern
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments ...
spoken in southeastern Scotland is also known as Early Scots. It began to further diverge from the Middle English of
Northumbria la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of Northumbria , common_name = Northumbria , status = State , status_text = Unified Anglian kingdom (before 876)North: Anglian kingdom (af ...
due to twelfth and thirteenth-century immigration of Scandinavian-influenced Middle English-speakers from the North and
Midlands The Midlands (also referred to as Central England) are a part of England that broadly correspond to the Mercia, Kingdom of Mercia of the Early Middle Ages, bordered by Wales, Northern England and Southern England. The Midlands were important in ...
of England. Later influences on the development of Scots came from the
Romance language The Romance languages, sometimes referred to as Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages, are the various modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin. They are the only extant subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European languages, I ...
s via ecclesiastical and legal
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
,
Norman French Norman or Norman French (, french: Normand, Guernésiais: , Jèrriais: ) is a Romance language which can be classified as one of the Langues d'oïl, Oïl languages along with French language, French, Picard language, Picard and Walloon language, ...
, and later Parisian French, due to the
Auld Alliance The Auld Alliance (Scots language, Scots for "Old Alliance"; ; ) is an alliance made in 1295 between the kingdoms of Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland and Kingdom of France, France against Kingdom of England, England. The Scots language, Scots wo ...
. Additionally, there were Dutch and
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. "Saxon", Standard German, Standard High German: ', Dutch language, Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle ...
influences due to trade with and immigration from the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas, lb, déi Niddereg Lännereien) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, is a coastal lowland region in N ...
. Scots also includes loan words in the legal and administrative fields resulting from contact with
Middle Irish Middle Irish, sometimes called Middle Gaelic ( ga, An Mheán-Ghaeilge, gd, Meadhan-Ghàidhlig), is the Goidelic languages, Goidelic language which was spoken in Ireland, most of Scotland and the Isle of Man from AD; it is therefore a contempora ...
, and reflected in early medieval legal documents. Contemporary Scottish Gaelic loans are mainly for geographical and cultural features, such as '' cèilidh'', '' loch'', ''
whisky Whisky or whiskey is a type of liquor, distilled alcoholic beverage made from Fermentation in food processing, fermented grain mashing, mash. Various grains (which may be Malting, malted) are used for different varieties, including barley, Maize ...
'', ''
glen A glen is a valley, typically one that is long and bounded by gently sloped concave sides, unlike a ravine, which is deep and bounded by steep slopes. Whittow defines it as a "Scottish term for a deep valley in the Highlands" that is "narrowe ...
'' and ''
clan A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even with ...
''.
Cumbric Cumbric was a variety (linguistics), variety of the Common Brittonic language spoken during the Early Middle Ages in the ''Hen Ogledd'' or "Old North" in what is now the counties of Westmorland, Cumberland and northern Lancashire in Northern E ...
and
Pictish Pictish is the extinct language, extinct Brittonic language spoken by the Picts, the people of eastern and northern Scotland from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. Virtually no direct attestations of Pictish remain, short of a limited num ...
, the medieval
Brittonic languages The Brittonic languages (also Brythonic or British Celtic; cy, ieithoedd Brythonaidd/Prydeinig; kw, yethow brythonek/predennek; br, yezhoù predenek) form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic languages, Insular Celtic language famil ...
of Northern England and Scotland, are the suspected source of a small number of Scots words, such as ''lum'' (derived from Cumbric) meaning "chimney". From the thirteenth century, the Early Scots language spread further into Scotland via the
burgh A burgh is an Autonomy, autonomous municipal corporation in Scotland and Northern England, usually a city, town, or toun in Scots language, Scots. This type of administrative division existed from the 12th century, when David I of Scotland, Kin ...
s, which were proto-urban institutions first established by King
David I David I may refer to: * David I, List of Caucasian Albanian Catholicoi, Caucasian Albanian Catholicos c. 399 * David I of Armenia, Catholicos of Armenia (728–741) * David I Kuropalates of Georgia (died 881) * David I Anhoghin, king of Lori (ruled ...
. In fourteenth century Scotland, the growth in prestige of Early Scots and the complementary decline of French made Scots the
prestige dialect Prestige refers to a good reputation or high esteem; in earlier usage, ''prestige'' meant "showiness". (19th c.) Prestige may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Films * ''Prestige'' (film), a 1932 American film directed by Tay Garnet ...
of most of eastern Scotland. By the sixteenth century, Middle Scots had established orthographic and literary norms largely independent of those developing in England. From 1610 to the 1690s during the
Plantation of Ulster The Plantation of Ulster ( gle, Plandáil Uladh; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Plantin o Ulstèr'') was the organised Settler colonialism, colonisation (''Plantation (settlement or colony), plantation'') of Ulstera Provinces of Ireland ...
, some 200,000 Scots-speaking Lowlanders settled as colonists in Ulster in Ireland.Montgomery & Gregg 1997: 572 In the core areas of Scots settlement, Scots outnumbered English settlers by five or six to one. The name Modern Scots is used to describe the Scots language after 1700. Scots was studied alongside English and Scots Gaelic in the '' Linguistic Survey of Scotland'' at the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in Post-nominal letters, post-nominals) is a Public university, public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted ...
, which began in 1949 and began to publish results in the 1970s. Also beginning in the 1970s, the ''
Atlas Linguarum Europae The ''Atlas Linguarum Europae'' (literally ''Atlas of the Languages of Europe'', ALE in acronym) is a linguistic atlas project launched in 1970 with the help of UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a ...
'' studied the Scots language used at 15 sites in Scotland, each with its own dialect.


Language shift

From the mid-sixteenth century, written Scots was increasingly influenced by the developing
Standard English In an English-speaking country, Standard English (SE) is the Variety (linguistics), variety of English language, English that has undergone substantial Standard language, regularisation and is associated with formal schooling, language assessment ...
of Southern England due to developments in royal and political interactions with England. When William Flower, an English herald, spoke to
Mary of Guise Mary of Guise (french: Marie de Guise; 22 November 1515 – 11 June 1560), also called Mary of Lorraine, was a French people, French noblewoman of the House of Guise, a cadet branch of the House of Lorraine and one of the most powerful families ...
and her councillors in 1560, they first used the . When he was , they switched into her native French.
King James VI James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and King of Ireland, Ireland as James I from the Union of the Crowns, union of the Scottish and Eng ...
, who in 1603 became
James I of England James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and King of Ireland, Ireland as James I from the Union of the Crowns, union of the Scottish and Eng ...
, observed in his work '' Some Reulis and Cautelis to Be Observit and Eschewit in Scottis Poesie'' that (''For though several have written of ''(the subject)'' in English, which is the language most similar to ours...''). However, with the increasing influence and availability of books printed in England, most writing in Scotland came to be done in the English fashion. In his first speech to the English Parliament in March 1603, King James VI and I declared, . Following James VI's move to London, the
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Na ...
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland ( sco, The Kirk o Scotland; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba) is the national church in Scotland. The Church of Scotland was principally shaped by John Knox, in the Scottish Reformation, Reformation of 1560, when it split from t ...
adopted the 1611
Authorized King James Version The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established L ...
of the Bible; subsequently, the
Acts of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Act of Parliament, Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act 1707 passed by the Parliament of Scotland. They put ...
led to Scotland joining England to form the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain (officially Great Britain) was a Sovereign state, sovereign country in Western Europe from 1 May 1707 to the end of 31 December 1800. The state was created by the 1706 Treaty of Union and ratified by the Acts of ...
, having a single
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a new unified Kin ...
based in London. After the Union and the shift of political power to England, the use of Scots was discouraged by many in authority and education, as was the notion of "Scottishness" itself. Many leading Scots of the period, such as
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 New Style, NS (26 April 1711 Old Style, OS) – 25 August 1776)Maurice Cranston, Cranston, Maurice, and T. E. Jessop, Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020
999 999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 999 is an official emergency telephone number in a number of countries which allows the caller to contact emergency services for urgent assistance. Countries and territ ...
avid Hume" ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrieve ...
, defined themselves as Northern British rather than Scottish. They attempted to rid themselves of their Scots in a bid to establish standard English as the official language of the newly formed union. Nevertheless, Scots was still spoken across a wide range of domains until the end of the eighteenth century. Frederick Pottle, the twentieth-century biographer of
James Boswell James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (; 29 October 1740 (New Style, N.S.) – 19 May 1795), was a Scottish biographer, diarist, and lawyer, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for his biography of his friend and older contemporary the Englis ...
(1740–1795), described James's view of the use of Scots by his father Alexander Boswell (1706–1782) in the eighteenth century while serving as a judge of the
Supreme Courts of Scotland The College of Justice includes the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies. The constituent bodies of the national supreme courts are the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, the Office of the Accountant of Court, and ...
: However, others did scorn Scots, such as
Scottish Enlightenment The Scottish Enlightenment ( sco, Scots Enlichtenment, gd, Soillseachadh na h-Alba) was the period in History of Scotland#18th century, 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplis ...
intellectuals David Hume and
Adam Smith Adam Smith (baptized 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer in the thinking of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Seen by some as "The Father of Economics"——— ...
, who went to great lengths to get rid of every Scotticism from their writings. Following such examples, many well-off Scots took to learning English through the activities of those such as Thomas Sheridan, who in 1761 gave a series of lectures on English
elocution Elocution is the study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and Tone (linguistics), tone as well as the idea and practice of effective speech and its forms. It stems from the idea that while communication is symbolic, sounds are ...
. Charging a
guinea Guinea ( ),, fuf, 𞤘𞤭𞤲𞤫, italic=no, Gine, wo, Gine, nqo, ߖߌ߬ߣߍ߫, bm, Gine officially the Republic of Guinea (french: République de Guinée), is a coastal country in West Africa. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the we ...
at a time (about £ in today's money), they were attended by over 300 men, and he was made a
freeman Freeman, free men, or variant, may refer to: * a member of the Third Estate in medieval society (commoners), see estates of the realm The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social stratification, social hierarch ...
of the City of
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...
. Following this, some of the city's intellectuals formed the Select Society for Promoting the Reading and Speaking of the English Language in Scotland. These eighteenth-century activities would lead to the creation of Scottish Standard English. Scots remained the vernacular of many rural communities and the growing number of urban working-class Scots. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the use of Scots as a
literary language A literary language is the Register (sociolinguistics), form (register) of a language used in written literature, which can be either a nonstandard dialect or a standard language, standardized variety of the language. Literary language sometimes ...
was revived by several prominent Scotsmen such as
Robert Burns Robert Burns (25 January 175921 July 1796), also known familiarly as Rabbie Burns, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the List of national poets, national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best kn ...
. Such writers established a new cross-dialect literary norm. Scots terms were included in the
English Dialect Dictionary English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named ...
, edited by
Joseph Wright Joseph Wright may refer to: *Joseph Wright of Derby Joseph Wright (3 September 1734 – 29 August 1797), styled Joseph Wright of Derby, was an English landscape and portrait painter. He has been acclaimed as "the first professional painter to ...
. Wright had great difficulty in recruiting volunteers from Scotland, as many refused to cooperate with a venture that regarded Scots as a dialect of English, and he obtained enough help only through the assistance from a Professor Shearer in Scotland. Wright himself rejected the argument that Scots was a separate language, saying that this was a "quite modern mistake". During the first half of the twentieth century, knowledge of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary norms waned, and , there is no institutionalised standard literary form. By the 1940s, the Scottish Education Department's
language policy Language policy is an interdisciplinary academic field. Some scholars such as Joshua Fishman and Ofelia García consider it as part of sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any or all aspects of society, ...
was that Scots had no value: "it is not the language of 'educated' people anywhere, and could not be described as a suitable medium of education or culture". Students reverted to Scots outside the classroom, but the reversion was not complete. What occurred, and has been occurring ever since, is a process of language attrition, whereby successive generations have adopted more and more features from Standard English. This process has accelerated rapidly since widespread access to mass media in English and increased population mobility became available after the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
. It has recently taken on the nature of wholesale
language shift Language shift, also known as language transfer or language replacement or language assimilation, is the process whereby a speech community shifts to a different language, usually over an extended period of time. Often, languages that are perceiv ...
, sometimes also termed language
change Change or Changing may refer to: Alteration * Impermanence, a difference in a state of affairs at different points in time * Menopause, also referred to as "the change", the permanent cessation of the menstrual period * Metamorphosis, or change, ...
,
convergence Convergence may refer to: Arts and media Literature *''Convergence'' (book series), edited by Ruth Nanda Anshen *Convergence (comics), "Convergence" (comics), two separate story lines published by DC Comics: **A four-part crossover storyline that ...
or
merger Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are business transactions in which the ownership of Company, companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred to or Consolidation (business), consolidated with another company or b ...
. By the end of the twentieth century, Scots was at an advanced stage of
language death In linguistics, language death occurs when a language loses its terminal speaker, last First language, native speaker. By extension, language extinction is when the language is no longer known, including by Second language, second-language speaker ...
over much of
Lowland Scotland The Lowlands ( sco, Lallans or ; gd, a' Ghalldachd, , place of the foreigners, ) is a cultural and historical region of Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering ...
. Residual features of Scots are often regarded as slang. A 2010 Scottish Government study of "public attitudes towards the Scots language" found that 64% of respondents (around 1,000 individuals in a
representative sample In statistics Statistics (from German language, German: ''wikt:Statistik#German, Statistik'', "description of a State (polity), state, a country") is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, a ...
of Scotland's adult population) "don't really think of Scots as a language", also finding "the most frequent speakers are least likely to agree that it is not a language (58%) and those never speaking Scots most likely to do so (72%)".


Decline in status

Before the
Treaty of Union 1707 The Treaty of Union is the name usually now given to the treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually made by and between sovereign states, but can include intern ...
, when Scotland and England joined to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, there is ample evidence that Scots was widely held to be an independent
sister language In historical linguistics, sister languages are cognate languages; that is, languages that descend from a common ancestral language, their so-called proto-language. Every language in a language family that descends from the same language as the ...
forming a pluricentric diasystem with English. German linguist considered Modern Scots a ('half language') in terms of an and languages framework, although today in Scotland most people's speech is somewhere on a continuum ranging from traditional broad Scots to Scottish Standard English. Many speakers are diglossic and may be able to
code-switch In linguistics, code-switching or language alternation occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation or situation. Code-switching is different from plurilingualism ...
along the continuum depending on the situation. Where on this continuum English-influenced Scots becomes Scots-influenced English is difficult to determine. Because standard English now generally has the role of a ('roofing language'), disputes often arise as to whether the varieties of Scots are dialects of Scottish English or constitute a separate language in their own right. The UK government now accepts Scots as a
regional language * A regional language is a language spoken in a region of a sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a federated state or province or some wider area. Internationally, for the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Lan ...
and has recognised it as such under the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional language, regional and minority languages in E ...
. Evidence for its existence as a separate language lies in the extensive body of Scots literature, its independent – if somewhat fluid – orthographic conventions, and in its former use as the language of the original
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland from the 13th century until 1707. The parliament evolved during the early 13th century from the king's council of ...
. Because Scotland retained distinct political, legal, and religious systems after the Union, many Scots terms passed into Scottish English.


Language revitalisation

During the 2010s, increased interest was expressed in the language.


Education

The status of the language was raised in Scottish schools, with Scots being included in the new national school
curriculum In education, a curriculum (; plural, : curricula or curriculums) is broadly defined as the totality of student experiences that occur in the educational process. The term often refers specifically to a planned sequence of instruction, or to ...
. Previously in Scotland's schools there had been little education taking place through the
medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber A medium bomber is a military bomber Fixed-wing aircraft, aircraft designed to operate with medium-sized Aerial bomb, bombloads over medium Range (aeronautics), range ...
of Scots, although it may have been covered superficially in English lessons, which could entail reading some Scots literature and observing the local dialect. Much of the material used was often Standard English disguised as Scots, which caused upset among proponents of Standard English and proponents of Scots alike. One example of the educational establishment's approach to Scots is, "Write a poem in Scots. (It is important not to be worried about spelling in this – write as you hear the sounds in your head.)", whereas guidelines for English require teaching pupils to be "writing fluently and legibly with accurate spelling and punctuation". A course in Scots language and culture delivered through the medium of Standard English and produced by the Open University (OU) in Scotland, the Open University's School of Languages and Applied Linguistics as well as Education Scotland became available online for the first time in December 2019.


Government

In the 2011 Scottish census, a question on Scots language ability was featured and is planned to be included again in the 2022 census. The Scottish government set its first Scots Language Policy in 2015, in which it pledged to support its preservation and encourage respect, recognition and use of Scots. The Scottish Parliament website also offers some information on the language in Scots.


Media

Serious use of the language for news, encyclopaedias, documentaries, etc., remains rare and usually reserved for niches where it is deemed acceptable, e.g. comedy,
Burns Night A Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns (25 January 175921 July 1796), the author of many Scots language, Scots poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet's birthday, 25 January, known as B ...
, or representations of traditions and times gone by. However, since 2016 The National newspaper has regularly published some news articles in the language. The 2010s also saw an increasing number of English books translated in Scots and becoming widely available, particularly those in popular
children's fiction Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are created for children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader. Children's ...
series such as '' The Gruffalo'', ''
Harry Potter ''Harry Potter'' is a series of seven fantasy literature, fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young Magician (fantasy), wizard, Harry Potter (character), Harry Potter, and his friends ...
'' and several by
Roald Dahl Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short-story writer, poet, screenwriter, and wartime Flying ace, fighter ace of Norwegian descent. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide. ...
and
David Walliams David Edward Williams (born 20 August 1971), known professionally as David Walliams, is an English comedian, actor, writer, and television personality. He is best known for his work with Matt Lucas on the BBC sketch comedy series ''Little Bri ...
. In 2021, the music streaming service
Spotify Spotify (; ) is a proprietary software, proprietary Swedish Streaming media, audio streaming and media services provider founded on 23 April 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. It is one of the largest music streaming service providers, with ...
created a Scots language listing.


Geographic distribution

In Scotland, Scots is spoken in the Scottish Lowlands, the Northern Isles,
Caithness Caithness ( gd, Gallaibh ; sco, Caitnes; non, Katanes) is a Shires of Scotland, historic county, registration county and Lieutenancy areas of Scotland, lieutenancy area of Scotland. Caithness has a land boundary with the historic county of ...
, Arran and
Campbeltown Campbeltown (; gd, Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain or ) is a town and former royal burgh A royal burgh () was a type of Scottish burgh which had been founded by, or subsequently granted, a royal charter. Although abolished by law in 1975, the t ...
. In , the northern
province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire ...
in
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...

Ireland
, its area is usually defined through the works of
Robert John Gregg Robert John Gregg (July 2, 1912, Larne, County Antrim, Ireland – November 15, 1998, Vancouver, BC, Canada), known as Bob Gregg or R. J. Gregg, was a linguist, a pioneer of the academic study of Ulster-Scots as well as a linguistic authority on Can ...
to include the
counties A county is a geographic region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
of Down,
Antrim Antrim may refer to: Boats *Antrim 20 The Antrim 20 is an American trailerable sailboat A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails and is smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a ...
, Londonderry and Donegal (especially in East Donegal and
Inishowen Inishowen () is a peninsula in the north of County Donegal in Ireland. Inishowen is the largest peninsula on the Ireland, island of Ireland. The Inishowen peninsula includes Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head. The Grianan of Aileach, a ...
). More recently, the
Fintona Fintona (; ), is a village A village is a clustered human settlement or Residential community, community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smal ...
-born linguist Warren Maguire has argued that some of the criteria that Gregg used as distinctive of Ulster-Scots are common in south-west Tyrone and were found in other sites across Northern Ireland investigated by the Linguistic Survey of Scotland. Dialects of Scots include
Insular Scots Insular Scots comprises varieties of Scots language, Lowland Scots generally subdivided into: *Shetland dialect *Orcadian dialect Both dialects share much Norn language, Norn vocabulary, Shetland dialect more so, than does any other Scots dial ...
,
Northern Scots Northern Scots refers to the dialects of Modern Scots traditionally spoken in eastern parts of the north of Scotland. The dialect is generally divided into:{{cite web , url=http://www.dsl.ac.uk/INTRO/intro2.php?num=15 , title=SND Introduction - ...
,
Central Scots Central Scots is a group of dialects of Scots language, Scots. Central Scots is spoken from Fife and Perthshire to the Lothians and Wigtownshire, often split into North East Central Scots (Northeast Mid Scots) and South East Central Scots (So ...
,
Southern Scots Southern Scots is the dialect (or group of dialects) of Scots language, Scots spoken in the Scottish Borders counties of mid and east Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, with the notable exception of Berwickshire and Peeblesshire, whi ...
and Ulster Scots. It has been difficult to determine the number of speakers of Scots via census, because many respondents might interpret the question "Do you speak Scots?" in different ways. Campaigners for Scots pressed for this question to be included in the 2001 UK National Census. The results from a 1996 trial before the Census, by the
General Register Office for Scotland The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) ( gd, Oifis Choitcheann a' Chlàraidh na h-Alba) was a non-ministerial directorate of the Scottish Government that administered the registration of births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions ...
(GRO), ain Máté(1996) Scots Language. A Report on the Scots Language Research carried out by the General Register Office for Scotland in 1996, Edinburgh: General Register Office (Scotland). suggested that there were around 1.5 million speakers of Scots, with 30% of Scots responding "Yes" to the question "Can you speak the Scots language?", but only 17% responding "Aye" to the question "Can you speak Scots?". It was also found that older, working-class people were more likely to answer in the affirmative. The
University of Aberdeen The University of Aberdeen ( sco, University o' 'Aiberdeen; abbreviated as ''Aberd.'' in post-nominals; gd, Oilthigh Obar Dheathain) is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is an ancient university founded in 1495 when Wil ...
Scots Leid Quorum performed its own research in 1995, cautiously suggesting that there were 2.7 million speakers, though with clarification as to why these figures required context. The GRO questions, as freely acknowledged by those who set them, were not as detailed and systematic as the
University of Aberdeen The University of Aberdeen ( sco, University o' 'Aiberdeen; abbreviated as ''Aberd.'' in post-nominals; gd, Oilthigh Obar Dheathain) is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is an ancient university founded in 1495 when Wil ...
ones, and only included reared speakers (people raised speaking Scots), not those who had learned the language. Part of the difference resulted from the central question posed by surveys: "Do you speak Scots?". In the Aberdeen University study, the question was augmented with the further clause "... or a dialect of Scots such as Border etc.", which resulted in greater recognition from respondents. The GRO concluded that there simply was not enough linguistic self-awareness amongst the Scottish populace, with people still thinking of themselves as speaking badly pronounced, grammatically inferior English rather than Scots, for an accurate census to be taken. The GRO research concluded that " more precise estimate of genuine Scots language ability would require a more in-depth interview survey and may involve asking various questions about the language used in different situations. Such an approach would be inappropriate for a Census." Thus, although it was acknowledged that the "inclusion of such a Census question would undoubtedly raise the profile of Scots", no question about Scots was, in the end, included in the 2001 Census. The Scottish Government's ''Pupils in Scotland Census 2008'' found that 306 pupils spoke Scots as their main home language. A Scottish Government study in 2010 found that 85% of around 1000 respondents (being a representative sample of Scotland's adult population) claim to speak Scots to varying degrees. The
2011 UK census A census of the population of the United Kingdom is taken every ten years. The 2011 census was held in all countries of the UK on 27 March 2011. It was the first UK census which could be completed online via the Internet The Internet ( ...
was the first to ask residents of Scotland about Scots. A campaign called ''Aye Can'' was set up to help individuals answer the question. The specific wording used was "Which of these can you do? Tick all that apply" with options for "Understand", "Speak", "Read" and "Write" in three columns: English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots. Of approximately 5.1 million respondents, about 1.2 million (24%) could speak, read and write Scots, 3.2 million (62%) had no skills in Scots and the remainder had some degree of skill, such as understanding Scots (0.27 million, 5.2%) or being able to speak it but not read or write it (0.18 million, 3.5%). There were also small numbers of Scots speakers recorded in England and Wales on the 2011 Census, with the largest numbers being either in bordering areas (e.g.
Carlisle Carlisle ( , ; from xcb, Caer Luel) is a city that lies within the Northern England, Northern English county of Cumbria, south of the Anglo-Scottish border, Scottish border at the confluence of the rivers River Eden, Cumbria, Eden, River C ...
) or in areas that had recruited large numbers of Scottish workers in the past (e.g.
Corby Corby is a town in North Northamptonshire, England, located north-east of Northampton. From 1974 to 2021, the town served as the administrative headquarters of the Borough of Corby. At the 2011 United Kingdom census, 2011 Census, the built-up ...
or the former mining areas of
Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River ...
).


Literature

Among the earliest Scots literature is John Barbour's ''Brus'' (fourteenth century),
Wyntoun Andrew Wyntoun, known as Andrew of Wyntoun (), was a Scottish poet, a Canon (priest), canon and prior of Loch Leven on St Serf's Inch and, later, a canon of St. Andrews. Andrew Wyntoun is most famous for his completion of an eight-syllabled met ...
's ''Cronykil'' and Blind Harry's '' The Wallace'' (fifteenth century). From the fifteenth century, much literature based on the Royal Court in Edinburgh and the
University of St Andrews (Aien aristeuein) , motto_lang = grc , mottoeng = Ever to ExcelorEver to be the Best , established = , type = public university, Public research university Ancient university , en ...
was produced by writers such as Robert Henryson, William Dunbar,
Gavin Douglas Gavin Douglas (c. 1474 – September 1522) was a Scottish bishop, makar and translator. Although he had an important political career, he is chiefly remembered for his poetry. His main pioneering achievement was the ''Eneados'', a full and fai ...
and David Lyndsay. ''
The Complaynt of Scotland ''The Complaynt of Scotland'' is a Scottish book printed in 1549 as Wartime propaganda, propaganda during the war of the Rough Wooing against the Kingdom of England, and is an important work of the Scots language. Context and authorship The boo ...
'' was an early printed work in Scots. The '' Eneados'' is a Middle Scots translation of
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...
's ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
'', completed by Gavin Douglas in 1513. After the seventeenth century, anglicisation increased. At the time, many of the oral
ballad A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French ''chanson balladée'' or ''Ballade (forme fixe), ballade'', which were originally "dance songs". Ballads were particularly characteristic of t ...
s from the
borders A border Borders are usually defined as geographical boundaries, imposed either by features such as ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...
and the North East were written down. Writers of the period were Robert Sempill, Robert Sempill the younger, Francis Sempill, Lady Wardlaw and Lady Grizel Baillie. In the eighteenth century, writers such as Allan Ramsay,
Robert Burns Robert Burns (25 January 175921 July 1796), also known familiarly as Rabbie Burns, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the List of national poets, national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best kn ...
, James Orr,
Robert Fergusson Robert Fergusson (5 September 1750 – 16 October 1774) was a Scottish poet. After formal education at the University of St Andrews, Fergusson led a Bohemianism, bohemian life in Edinburgh, the city of his birth, then at the height of intel ...
and
Walter Scott Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832), was a Scottish novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of European and Scottish literature, notably the novels ''Ivanhoe'', ''Rob Roy (n ...
continued to use Scots – Burns's "
Auld Lang Syne "Auld Lang Syne" (: note "s" rather than "z") is a popular song, particularly in the English-speaking world Speakers of English language, English are also known as Anglophones, and the countries where English is natively spoken by the maj ...
" is in Scots, for example. Scott introduced vernacular dialogue to his novels. Other well-known authors like
Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson; 13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as ''Treasure Island'', ''Strange Case of Dr Jekyll a ...
, William Alexander,
George MacDonald George MacDonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet and Christian Congregational church, Congregational Minister (Christianity), minister. He was a pioneering figure in the field of modern fantasy literature a ...
, J. M. Barrie and other members of the Kailyard school like Ian Maclaren also wrote in Scots or used it in dialogue. In the
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian era, Georgian period and preceded ...
popular Scottish newspapers regularly included articles and commentary in the vernacular, often of unprecedented proportions. In the early twentieth century, a
renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...
in the use of Scots occurred, its most vocal figure being
Hugh MacDiarmid Christopher Murray Grieve (11 August 1892 – 9 September 1978), best known by his pen name Hugh MacDiarmid (), was a Scottish poet, journalist, essayist and political figure. He is considered one of the principal forces behind the Scottish Rena ...
whose benchmark poem " A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle" (1926) did much to demonstrate the power of Scots as a modern idiom. Other contemporaries were Douglas Young,
John Buchan John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (; 26 August 1875 – 11 February 1940) was a Scottish novelist, historian, and Unionist Party (Scotland), Unionist politician who served as Governor General of Canada, the List of Governors General of Canada#G ...
, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Robert Garioch, Edith Anne Robertson and Robert McLellan. The revival extended to verse and other literature. In 1955, three
Ayrshire Ayrshire ( gd, Siorrachd Inbhir Àir, ) is a historic county and registration county in south-west Scotland, located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Its principal towns include Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine and it borders the counties o ...
men – Sandy MacMillan, an English teacher at Ayr Academy; Thomas Limond, noted town chamberlain of
Ayr Ayr (; sco, Ayr; gd, Inbhir Àir, "Mouth of the River Ayr The River Ayr (pronounced like ''air'', ''Uisge Àir'' in Gaelic) is a river in Ayrshire Ayrshire ( gd, Siorrachd Inbhir Àir, ) is a historic county and registration county ...
; and A. L. "Ross" Taylor, rector of Cumnock Academy – collaborated to write ("Child Songs"), a collection of children's
nursery rhyme A nursery rhyme is a traditional poem or song for children in Britain and many other countries, but usage of the term dates only from the late 18th/early 19th century. The term Mother Goose rhymes is interchangeable with nursery rhymes. From t ...
s and poems in Scots. The book contains a five-page glossary of contemporary Scots words and their pronunciations. Alexander Gray's translations into Scots constitute the greater part of his work, and are the main basis for his reputation. In 1983, William Laughton Lorimer's translation of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...
from the original Greek was published. Scots is sometimes used in contemporary fiction, such as the Edinburgh dialect of Scots in '' Trainspotting'' by
Irvine Welsh Irvine Welsh (born 27 September 1958) is a Scottish novelist, playwright and short story writer. His 1993 novel ''Trainspotting (novel), Trainspotting'' was made into a Trainspotting (film), film of the same name. He has also written plays and ...
(later made into a motion picture of the same name). '' But'n'Ben A-Go-Go'' by
Matthew Fitt Matthew Fitt (born 1968) is a Scots language, Scots poet and novelist. He was writer-in-residence at Pollok, Greater Pollok in Glasgow, then National Scots Language Development Officer. He has translated several literary works into Scots. Early li ...
is a
cyberpunk Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian Futurism, futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of low-life, lowlife and high tech", featuring futuristic technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial in ...
novel written entirely in what ("Our Own Language") calls "General Scots". Like all cyberpunk work, it contains imaginative
neologism A neologism from Ancient Greek, Greek νέο- ''néo''(="new") and λόγος /''lógos'' meaning "speech, utterance"is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not ...
s. The ''
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ''Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám'' is the title that Edward FitzGerald (poet), Edward FitzGerald gave to his 1859 translation from Persian language, Persian to English of a selection of quatrains (') attributed to Omar Khayyam (1048–1131), dub ...
'' has been translated into Scots by Rab Wilson (published in 2004). Alexander Hutchison has translated the poetry of
Catullus Gaius Valerius Catullus (; 84 - 54 BCE), often referred to simply as Catullus (, ), was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient R ...
into Scots, and in the 1980s,
Liz Lochhead Liz Lochhead Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Hon FRSE (born 26 December 1947) is a Scottish poet, playwright, translator and broadcaster. Between 2011 and 2016 she was the Makar, or National Poet of Scotland, and served as Poet La ...
produced a Scots translation of '' Tartuffe'' by
Molière Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (, ; 15 January 1622 (baptised) – 17 February 1673), known by his stage name Molière (, , ), was a French playwright, actor, and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and world ...
. J. K. Annand translated poetry and fiction from German and
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Literary Latin used in Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying deg ...
into Scots. The strip cartoons ''
Oor Wullie ''Oor Wullie'' ( en, Our Willie) is a Scottish comic strip published in the D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd, D.C. Thomson newspaper ''The Sunday Post''. It features a character called Wullie; Wullie is the familiar Scots language, Scots nickname for boy ...
'' and ''
The Broons ''The Broons'' (English language, English: The Browns) is a comic strip in Scots language, Scots published in the weekly Scottish newspaper ''The Sunday Post''. It features the Brown family, who live in a tenement flat at 10 Glebe Street in (s ...
'' in the '' Sunday Post'' use some Scots. In 2018, ''Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane'', a Scots translation of the first
Harry Potter ''Harry Potter'' is a series of seven fantasy literature, fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young Magician (fantasy), wizard, Harry Potter (character), Harry Potter, and his friends ...
book, ''
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ''Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'' is a 1997 fantasy novel written by British author J. K. Rowling. The first novel in the ''Harry Potter'' series and Rowling's debut novel, it follows Harry Potter (character), Harry Potter, a youn ...
'', was published by
Matthew Fitt Matthew Fitt (born 1968) is a Scots language, Scots poet and novelist. He was writer-in-residence at Pollok, Greater Pollok in Glasgow, then National Scots Language Development Officer. He has translated several literary works into Scots. Early li ...
. In 2020, the
Scots Wikipedia Scots usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: * Scots language, a language of the West Germanic language family native to Scotland * Scots people, a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland * Scoti, a Latin name ...
received attention after a
Reddit Reddit (; stylized in all lowercase as reddit) is an American social news news aggregator, aggregation, Review site#Rating site, content rating, and Internet forum, discussion website. Registered users (commonly referred to as "Redditors") subm ...
post criticised it for containing a large number of articles written in very low-quality Scots by a single prolific contributor who was not a native speaker of Scots.


Phonology


Vowels

The vowel system of Modern Scots:
Vowel length In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
is usually conditioned by the
Scottish vowel length rule The Scottish Vowel Length Rule (also known as Aitken's law after Adam Jack Aitken, A. J. Aitken, the Scottish linguist who formulated it) describes how vowel length in Scots language, Scots, Scottish English, and, to some extent, Ulster English a ...
.


Consonants


Orthography

The
orthography An orthography is a set of convention (norm), conventions for writing a language, including norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word, word breaks, Emphasis (typography), emphasis, and punctuation. Most transnational languages in the ...
of Early Scots had become more or less standardised by the middle to late sixteenth century. After the
Union of the Crowns The Union of the Crowns ( gd, Aonadh nan Crùintean; sco, Union o the Crouns) was the accession of James VI of Scotland to the throne of the Kingdom of England as James I and the practical unification of some functions (such as overseas dipl ...
in 1603, the
Standard English In an English-speaking country, Standard English (SE) is the Variety (linguistics), variety of English language, English that has undergone substantial Standard language, regularisation and is associated with formal schooling, language assessment ...
of England came to have an increasing influence on the spelling of Scots through the increasing influence and availability of books printed in England. After the Acts of Union in 1707 the emerging Scottish form of Standard English replaced Scots for most formal writing in Scotland. The eighteenth-century Scots revival saw the introduction of a new
literary language A literary language is the Register (sociolinguistics), form (register) of a language used in written literature, which can be either a nonstandard dialect or a standard language, standardized variety of the language. Literary language sometimes ...
descended from the old court Scots, but with an orthography that had abandoned some of the more distinctive old Scots spellings and adopted many standard English spellings. Despite the updated spelling, however, the rhymes make it clear that a Scots pronunciation was intended. These writings also introduced what came to be known as the apologetic apostrophe, generally occurring where a
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are and pronounced with the lips; and pronounced with the front of the tongue; and pronounced ...
exists in the Standard English
cognate In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical ...
. This Written Scots drew not only on the vernacular, but also on the
King James Bible The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an Bible translations into English, English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and publis ...
, and was heavily influenced by the norms and conventions of Augustan English poetry. Consequently, this written Scots looked very similar to contemporary Standard English, suggesting a somewhat modified version of that, rather than a distinct speech form with a phonological system which had been developing independently for many centuries. This modern literary dialect, "Scots of the book" or Standard Scots, once again gave Scots an orthography of its own, lacking neither "authority nor author". This literary language used throughout Lowland Scotland and Ulster, embodied by writers such as Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Murray, David Herbison, James Orr,
James Hogg James Hogg (1770 – 21 November 1835) was a Scottish poet, novelist and essayist who wrote in both Scots language, Scots and English. As a young man he worked as a shepherd and farmhand, and was largely self-educated through reading. He was a ...
and William Laidlaw among others, is well described in the 1921 ''Manual of Modern Scots''. Other authors developed dialect writing, preferring to represent their own speech in a more phonological manner rather than following the pan-dialect conventions of modern literary Scots, especially for the northern and insular dialects of Scots. During the twentieth century, a number of proposals for spelling reform were presented. Commenting on this, John Corbett (2003: 260) writes that "devising a normative orthography for Scots has been one of the greatest linguistic hobbies of the past century". Most proposals entailed regularising the use of established eighteenth- and nineteenth-century conventions, in particular, the avoidance of the apologetic apostrophe, which represented letters that were perceived to be missing when compared to the corresponding English cognates but were never actually present in the Scots word. For example, in the fourteenth century, Barbour spelt the Scots
cognate In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical ...
of "taken" as . It is argued that, because there has been no ''k'' in the word for over 700 years, representing its omission with an apostrophe is of little value. The current spelling is usually . Through the twentieth century, with the decline of spoken Scots and knowledge of the literary tradition, phonetic (often humorous) representations became more common.


Grammar

Modern Scots follows the subject–verb–object sentence structure like
Standard English In an English-speaking country, Standard English (SE) is the Variety (linguistics), variety of English language, English that has undergone substantial Standard language, regularisation and is associated with formal schooling, language assessment ...
. However, the word order (''Give us it'') vs. "Give it to me" may be preferred. The
indefinite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of speech. In English language, English, both " ...
''a'' may be used before both consonants and vowels. The
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of speech. In English language, English, both " ...
''the'' is used before the names of seasons, days of the week, many nouns, diseases, trades and occupations, sciences and academic subjects. It is also often used in place of the indefinite article and instead of a
possessive pronoun A possessive or ktetic form (Glossing abbreviation, abbreviated or ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός, translit=ktētikós) is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession (linguistics), possessio ...
. Scots includes some strong
plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated pl., pl, or ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of number. The plural of a noun typically denotes a quantity greater than the ...
s such as ("eye/eyes"), ("calf/calves"), ("horse/horses"), ("cow/cows") and ("shoe/shoes") that survived from
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
into Modern Scots, but have become weak plurals in Standard Modern English – ''ox''/''oxen'' and ''child''/''children'' being exceptions.
Noun A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Organism, Living creatures (including people ...
s of measure and quantity remain unchanged in the plural. The
relative pronoun A relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause. It serves the purpose of conjoining modifying information about an antecedent referent. An example is the word ''which'' in the sentence "This is the house which Jack built." Here the r ...
is ''that'' for all persons and numbers, but may be elided. Modern Scots also has a third adjective/adverb ''this''-''that''-''yon''/''yonder'' () indicating something at some distance. and are the plurals of ''this'' and ''that'' respectively. The
present tense The present tense (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense whose principal function is to locate a situation or event in the present time. The present tense is used for actions which are happening now. In order to ...
of
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descrip ...
s adheres to the Northern subject rule whereby verbs end in -''s'' in all persons and numbers except when a single personal pronoun is next to the verb. Certain verbs are often used progressively and verbs of motion may be dropped before an adverb or
adverbial phrase In linguistics, an ''adverbial phrase'' ("AdvP") is a multi-word expression operating adverbially: its syntax, syntactic function is to modify other expressions, including verbs, adjectives, adverbs, adverbials, and Sentence (linguistics), sentence ...
of motion. Many verbs have strong or irregular forms which are distinctive from Standard English. The regular past form of the weak or regular verbs is ''-it'', ''-t'' or ''-ed'', according to the preceding consonant or vowel. The
present participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
and
gerund In linguistics, a gerund ( list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is any of various nonfinite verb forms in various languages; most often, but not exclusively, one that functions as a noun. In English language, English, it has the properti ...
''in'' are now usually but may still be differentiated and in Southern Scots, and and in Northern Scots. The negative particle is , sometimes spelled , e.g. ("can't"), ("daren't"), ("mightn't").
Adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that generally modifies a verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or ...
s usually take the same form as the verb root or
adjective An adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that describes a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives were considered one of the main part of speech, par ...
, especially after verbs. Examples include ("Having a really good day") and ("She's awfully tired").


Sample text of Modern Scots

From ''The Four Gospels in Braid Scots'' (William Wye Smith): From ''The New Testament in Scots'' (William Laughton Lorimer, 1885–1967)


See also

*
Bungi Creole Bungi (also called Bungee, Bungie, Bungay, Bangay, or the Red River Dialect) is a dialect of English with substrate (linguistics), substratal influence from Scottish English, the Orcadian dialect of Scots language, Scots, Norn language, Norn, S ...
of the Canadian Metis people of Scottish/British descent *
Doric dialect (Scotland) Doric, the popular name for Mid Northern Scots or Northeast Scots, refers to the Scots language as spoken in the northeast of Scotland. There is an extensive body of literature, mostly poetry, ballads, and songs, written in Doric. In some liter ...
* Glasgow patter * Billy Kay *
Languages of the United Kingdom English language, English, in various dialects, is the most widely spoken language of the United Kingdom, but a number of regional languages are also spoken. These are Scots language, Scots and Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster Scots and the Celtic l ...
* Phonological history of Scots * Scotticism *
Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech (SCOTS) is an ongoing project to build a text corpus, corpus of modern-day (post-1940) written and spoken texts in Scottish English and varieties of Scots language, Scots. SCOTS has been available online si ...
*
Scottish literature Scottish literature is literature written in Scotland or by List of Scottish writers, Scottish writers. It includes works in Scottish English, English, Scottish Gaelic language, Scottish Gaelic, Scots language, Scots, Brythonic languages, Bryth ...


References


External links


Scots-online

The Scots Language Society

Scots Language Centre



a phonetic description of Scottish Language and Dialects
at Dictionary of the Scots Language
''Words Without Borders'' Peter Constantine: Scots: The Auld an Nobill Tung

Scots in Schools


Dictionaries and linguistic information


The Dictionary of the Scots Language

Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.

Dialect Map



Scottish words – illustrated



Collections of texts


ScotsteXt
– books, poems and texts in Scots
Scots Threap

Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech
Multimedia Multimedia is a form of communication that uses a combination of different content forms such as Text (literary theory), text, Sound, audio, Image, images, Animation, animations, or video into a single i ...
corpus Corpus is Latin language, Latin for "body". It may refer to: Linguistics * Text corpus, in linguistics, a large and structured set of texts * Speech corpus, in linguistics, a large set of speech audio files * Corpus linguistics, a branch of lingu ...
of Scots and
Scottish English Scottish English ( gd, Beurla Albannach) is the set of varieties of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inh ...

BBC Voices, Scots section
– The BBC Voices Project is a major, though informal, look at UK language and speech
Scots Syntax Atlas
{{DEFAULTSORT:Scots Language Languages of Ireland Subject–verb–object languages Languages of Scotland Languages of the United Kingdom Languages of Northern Ireland