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Scots language

Scots is the form of speech used in Scotland. There is some dispute as to whether Scots is a dialect of English, or a separate language in its own right. Evidence for its existence as a separate language lies in the extensive body of Scots literature; in the existence of several Scots dialects; and in its former use as the official language of the original Scottish Parliament.

There is little doubt that, had Scotland remained independent, Scots would be regarded as a separate language from English. This has happened in Norway with Norwegian. Norwegian, once regarded as a dialect of Danish, has been regarded as a language in its own right since Norwegian independence in the nineteenth century.

Since Scotland joined England to form Britain, it is probably more correct to regard Scots as a group of related dialects of English. However, since Scotland has distinct political, legal and religious systems there are many terms that are only Scots and not English. For instance, libel and slander, separate in English law, are bundled together as defamation in Scots law.

On the other hand, many Scots words have become part of English: flit (move out), greed, eerie, cuddle, clan, stob (a post).

There are at least four Scots dialects:

As well as the main dialects, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow have local variations on an Anglified form of Lallans.

An example of Glaswegian Scots would be:

D'ye ken, hen?

D'ye means Do you, ken means know, and hen means hen which is a common way for a man or woman to address a woman.

In Doric the same question would become

Div ye ken, quine?

hen is not used in Aberdeen. The word quine, used for all women, is related to the Standard English word, queen.

The book Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh was written using the Edinburgh dialect of Scots (and later made into a movie of the same name, though with language allegedly watered down for an international audience).

These dialects are distinct from Scottish Gaelic, a Gaelic language still spoken by some in Northern Scotland.



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