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What is the Language of Scotland

What is the Language of Scotland
(Last Updated On: December 17, 2020)


scotland language


Scotland is a country in Europe with a population of 5.5 million. It is a part of the United Kingdom and shares a 96-mile border with England. Scotland also has its own parliament and government. The country is also represented in the parliament of the United Kingdom. Scotland is known for its lush green mountains and wildlife. The majority of the country’s population identify as “Scottish only”. Several islands in Scotland remain uninhabited to this day. But the overpopulation in Glasgow and Edinburgh has increased the need for new towns in the country.

What are the Languages of Scotland?

There are three official languages in Scotland: Standard English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic/Scottish Language. The Scottish Standard English language spoken in Scotland has been influenced by Scots. Scottish English differs from British English in its tone and vocabulary. The native speakers of Scottish English keep on adding new terms to the tongue, which further separates it from its foreign and local dialects.

The English language is used by the majority of the population. 93% of the people aged three and over speak English in this country. The younger generations focus more on English than older generations. The number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland is decreasing rapidly due to the increasing popularity of English. But despite being a minority language, it is still very important to some communities.

In modern-day Scotland, Scottish Standard English continues to be the native language of the majority. But the Scottish accent is quite unique. The distinct speech form has been partly caused by the influence of the Scots language. As a result, the people of England will find it difficult to understand the Scots pronunciation. The same English word will be spoken in a completely different way in Scotland and England.

Lowland Scots

The Scots language is sometimes referred to as Lowland Scots because it was primarily spoken in Lowland Scotland. It is different from the Scottish Gaelic which is restricted to Highlands. 1.5 million people in the country can speak Lowland Scots. It is an indigenous language. It is also a vulnerable language according to UNESCO. It is facing the same problem that every other indigenous language has to face. The popularity of English since the twentieth century has been on the rise. As a result, every minority language has been losing speakers. It is the Scottish culture that has protected the Scots language to some extent. There are multiple Scots language versions. They have been influenced by other groups including North Germanic and Brittonic languages.

Scottish Gaelic is native to the group known as Gaels. It was the common literary language in Scotland and Ireland until the sixteenth century. Although Scottish Gaelic continued to be popular in modern Scotland too, it eventually lost its importance in everyday lives of people. It is also classified as an indigenous language and the government of the UK has made attempts to preserve it. There is no mutual intelligibility between Scottish Gaelic and Standard Scots. They are both separate languages. The former belongs to the Celtic languages branch of the Indo-European family, whereas Scots is a West Germanic language.

Ever since the twentieth century, Standard English has affected the affected the vocabulary of the other languages of Scotland. The Scottish Government also conducts its business in Scottish Standard English, despite the fact that there are two other official languages of the country. Scottish schools have taught different languages over the years. Ancient Greek and Latin was also taught in those schools in the past. Scots speakers send their children to schools that teach their native tongue. However, all of this has not affected the popularity of English.

languages in scotland
languages of scotland

The Future of Scotland’s Languages

The world is quickly changing in the modern-day. There are many distinct languages in the world, but only a few of them are popular. There are also many languages like Ancient Greek and Latin that have already gone out of use. Many languages of today are dying and will not be around in a few decades. But we have a chance to work for the preservation of these languages. We can preserve common and literary languages. We have better writing equipment and data storage facilities today than the people of the sixteenth century. We can also understand the connection between separate languages in a much better way now.

The majority of the people of Scotland today speak only a single tongue. The younger generations have a limited degree of understanding of the indigenous tongues of their land. Although there are many words in the Scottish legal terminology that have been taken from Lowland Scots, it has not motivated the general public to learn the tongue. Some of the northern dialects of the native tongues have been influenced by English and underwent many changes. As a result, some of the dialects are closer to English than others.

The future of Scotland’s languages is not that bright. English is everywhere from the music playing in the pubs to the advertisements playing in the holiday season. The Scots tongue has become limited to the legal terminology. Even the people who speak it don’t have it as their native or single tongue. Many youngsters only know the native tongues to a limited degree. The popularity of Glasgow University among foreign students is another reason Scotland had to prioritize English over its other vernaculars.


Facts about Scottish Language


In order to protect the indigenous tongues of Scotland, an effective language policy has to be enacted. Giving them official recognition is not enough. Creating Scottish language dictionaries can also be useful but they should have accurate Scots spellings. Music playing in Scots Gaelic is not enough, the linguistic hobbies of the population has to be changed. The native tongues should not make a comeback just in the holiday season. Audio clips should be made available in these vernaculars so along with spellings, people can also learn the pronunciation. An effected language policy should not only be created but also implemented. Regular Scottish census can give the government data about language diversity. As a result, efforts can be made for the preservation of particular languages.

scotland official languages scots

Why is it Important to Preserve Scotland’s Languages?

A lot of outsiders don’t know much about the languages of Scotland. They assume that the accent marks that affect the pronunciation of English in Scotland also change other tongues, but that’s not true. A common example of this is when the Scots Wikipedia page received attention in 2020 when people noticed the mistakes in it. The Scots Wikipedia page was created by a nonnative who added incorrect Scots words and their spellings in the articles.

Youngsters turn to the internet to get help with their problems. If someone wants to learn Scots and they turn to the Scots Wikipedia page, they will come across incorrect information and believe it to be true. This can affect the learning process. But correcting Scots Wikipedia page is enough. A good language policy, accurate dictionaries, and audio clips of native speakers can help those who want to study the vernacular.

If Scotland’s languages are not protected, they will go extinct very soon. Every country’s vernaculars are important. But when a tongue is at risk, we must come together to help preserve it. A language is not just used for communication, it is also an important part of a person’s identity. If it is not protected, it can damage the national identity of a people. So, everyone in the UK should join hands to protect the languages of Scotland.

languages spoken in scotland

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