Scots language and alphabet

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Scots (Scots Leid / Lallans)

Scots is a West Germanic language closely related to English and spoken by about 1.5 million people in Scotland, and also Northern Ireland, where it is known as Ulster Scots or Ullans. Scots is descended from the language of the Angles who settled in northern Britain, in an area now known as Northumbria and southern Scotland, in the 5th century AD. The language was originally know as 'Inglis' and has been influenced by Gaelic, Norse, Latin, Dutch, Norman French, Standard French and English.

Scots at a glance

  • Native names: Scots Leid / Lallans [skɔts leid; lo̜ːlən(d)z/ˈlɑːlənz;]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Germanic, West Germanic, Anglo-Frisian, Anglic, Scots
  • Number of speakers: c. 1.5 million
  • Spoken in: Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • First written: 11th century
  • Writing system: Latin alphabets
  • Status: classified as a "traditional language" by the Scottish Government, and as a "regional or minorty language" under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

By the 14th century Scots was the main language of Scotland and was used in literature, education, government and in legal documents. This was the period when Scots literature began to take off and notable literary works include Barbour's Brus, Whyntoun's Kronykil and Blin Harry's Wallace.

After the union of the Scottish and English parliaments in 1707, English became the language of government and of polite society in Scotland, though the vast majority of people continued to speak Scots. English also began to replace Scots as the main written language in Scotland.

Since the 1990s there has been limited use of Scots in education, the media and in literature. In 1983 a Scots translation of the New Testament was published and 1985 the saw the publication of the SNDA's Concise Scots Dictionary.

Scots is also known as braid Scots, Doric, Scotch or Lallans. Some people classify it as a dialect of English, and while it is closely related to English dialects spoken in Northumbria, it has had it's own literary tradition since the 14th century.

The UK government accepts Scots as a regional language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and the Scottish Executive recognises and respects Scots (in all its forms) as a distinct language, and does not consider the use of Scots to be an indication of poor competence in English.

Scots alphabet

Scots alphabet

Notes

  • The last letter, usually referred to as yogh, still appears in Scots personal and place names, though is usually written Z z. This has lead to the spelling-based pronunciations of names like Menzies [mɛnziz] - should be [mɪŋʌs], Dalziel [dɪjəɫ] and Monzie [mɔne]
  • The names of the letters and these notes come from Chris Robinson of Scottish Language Dictionaries.
  • There is considerable variation in the way Scots is written and pronounced throughout Scotland and there is no standard spelling system. See: www.scots-online.org for more information.

Scots pronunciation

Scots pronunciation

Notes

  • t can become a glottal stop [ʔ] between vowels or word finally
  • In northern dialects kn can be pronounced [kn] or [tn] and gn as[gn]
  • wh is pronounced [ʍ], or [xʍ] by older speakers. In northern dialects, such as in Aberdeen, it can be pronounced [f]
  • wr can be pronounced [vr] in northern dialects

Sample text in Scots

The Scots Leid Associe wis foondit in 1972 an ettles tae fordle Scots in leeteratur, drama, the media, eddication an in ilka day uiss. Akis Scots wis ance the state langage o Scotland, it's a vailid pairt o wir heirskip an the associe taks tent tae the fact that it shoud can tak its steid as a langage o Scotland, alang wi Gaelic an Inglis.

Translation

The Scots Language Society was founded in 1972 and exists to promote Scots in literature, drama, the media, education and in every day usage. Since Scots was once the state language of Scotland, it is a valid part of our heritage and the society recognises that it should be able to take its place as a language of Scotland, along with Gaelic and English.

Another sample text in Scots

Aw human sowels is born free and equal in dignity and richts. They are tochered wi mense and conscience and shuld guide theirsels ane til ither in a speirit o britherheid.
(Airticle 1 o the Universal Declaration o Human Richts)

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Example of spoken Scots

A lecture in Scots about the history of the Scots language.

Information about Scots | Scots phrases | Scots learning materials

Links

Information about Scots
http://www.scots-online.org
http://www.lowlands-l.net/anniversary/scots-info.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Scots
https://sites.google.com/site/scotsthreip/

Scots Dictionaries
http://www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/
http://www.scots-online.org/dictionary/

Scotstext - a collection of poetry and other writing in Scots
http://www.scotstext.org

The Scots Language Centre
http://www.scotslanguage.com

The Scots Leid Associe / The Scots Language Society
http://www.lallans.co.uk

Scots Education Resources
http://www.scotseducation.co.uk

Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech
http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk

Scottish Language Dictionaries
http://www.sldl.org.uk

Itchy Coo - Braw Books for Bairns o Aw Ages
http://www.itchy-coo.com

Germanic languages

Afrikaans, Alsatian, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Danish, Dutch, Elfdalian, English, Faroese, Flemish, German, Gothic, Icelandic, Low German / Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, Norn, North Frisian, Norwegian, Old English, Old Norse, Pennsylvania German, Saterland Frisian, Scots, Shetland(ic), Swedish, Swiss German, West Frisian, Yiddish

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet


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