The Scots language is a beautiful and rare language that’s existed for centuries and still survives today. Scots is one of the three native languages spoken in Scotland. This language is common throughout both the cities and rural areas. This language is especially common in the Lowlands and Northern Isles of Scotland.
Today, the majority of people in Scotland speak English, while the Scots language and Scottish Gaelic are minority languages. More than 1.5 million people in Scotland reportedly can speak Scots, according to a 2011 Scottish Census.
It has become easier to explore the beauty of the Scots language. This is due to the variety of resources available on the internet nowadays. Aspiring writers can now make use of tools such as Scottish dictionaries and other writing aids such as a word counter to ensure the quality of their works.
If learning about the Scots language and culture is something that interests you, this is a good place to begin. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the Scots language and culture, as well as tools that might help you write about them.
A Brief History
The Scots language is a Germanic language that traces common roots with English, German, and Dutch, among others. Some may regard Scots as a dialect of English or an ancient variety of English. However, many scholars disagree and deem it as distinct enough to be a separate language. Even the government of the United Kingdom recognizes that Scots is a distinct language. In line with this, the Scots language comprises a variety of dialects such as Insular Scots, Ulster Scots, and Doric Scots.
The Scots language is sometimes referred to as the Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic. Scottish Gaelic is a Goidelic language that shares roots with the Irish and Manx languages. Scots likely originated from speakers of Northumbrian Old English around the 7th century.
When the Vikings invaded in the 9th century, the Northumbrian dialect of the Old English language split into two. Hence, the Early Scots language evolved in the north of the Northumbrian Kingdom. Speakers of Early Scots (before 1450) referred to the language as Inglis or “English”, which is why the author of de Situ Albanie described the Firth of Forth as a firth or estuary that “divides the kingdoms of the Scots and of the English.”
The development of Scots had a number of influences from other languages, such as Dutch, German, Middle Irish, Latin, Norman French, and Parisian French. Middle Scots developed between 1450 and 1700. The language developed standards that were markedly different from its Northumbrian Old English rules.
By the 16th century, Scots became the principal language of the government. However, the country became increasingly Anglicized because of the development of Standard English and the political dominance of England. Following the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain, the shift in power to England led to the decline in the use of Scots, as well as the notion of “Scottishness.”
Many famous Scots tried to rid themselves of their Scots identities to encourage the use of the English language as the official language of Great Britain. Nevertheless, the Scots language persisted and survives up to this day as Modern Scots. Modern Scots includes the variations of the Scots language after 1700.
Helpful Resources: Using The Scottish Language Dictionaries and Other Writing Tools
When reading or writing about a certain language and culture, it’s intuitive and helpful to employ the aid of a trusty dictionary. Thanks to the internet, people can now access a wealth of resources online, and among those are online Scottish dictionaries.
The Scottish Language Dictionaries can help when you’re trying to find a word or decipher its meaning, and they can also provide some helpful insights on the word’s etymology, usage, and variations. This online resource is also free of charge and encompasses the two major Scots dictionaries, Older and Modern Scots. It can help you get a deeper look into the origins and meanings of all the recorded words in this beautiful language.
Another helpful online resource for reading and writing is a word count tool, which can help you determine how many words and characters a piece of literature contains. It can also give you a view of its reading difficulty and how long it could take to read through the whole selection. Moreover, the tool can also show you the word frequency, which can be useful to determine whether you’ve been using a certain word too many times. All you have to do is paste or type the selection, and you’ll instantly see results.
Some Words in the Scots Language
There are tens of thousands of words in the Scots language. As a sister language of English, Scots shares some similarities and common words with English. In fact, a number of words such as golf, Halloween, pony, raid, and wee all have roots in the Scots language.
The unique words of Scots also have their own charm. For example, braw can mean pleasant, excellent, or lovely. Peelie-wallie means pale or sickly in appearance. Coorie means to snuggle or cuddle. Haver means to babble or talk nonsense. There’s a wealth of unique and amazing words in the Scots language just waiting to be discovered, and you can pump up your word count with all the interesting words you can find in your Scottish dictionaries.
Popular Scots Literature
Scots is a beautiful language that’s been the major language of Scotland in the Middle Ages. It does have a wide selection of literature written in the language. Literature is a significant part of their culture, after all. The oldest surviving major text in Scots literature is John Barbour’s 1375 work, Brus. This narrative Early Scots poem depicts the historical actions of Robert I before the British invasion up to the first war of Scottish independence.
Dream of the Rood
Another poem called the “Dream of the Rood” is considered a classic historical piece. The poem is carved on the Ruthwell Cross in Dumfriesshire. This dates back to circa 750. People today believe it is one of the earliest forms of the Scots language. Scottish societies have believed to be oral in nature, hence the lack of other historical records apart from wood carvings.
The written charter was then introduced to Scotland in 1100, brought by the Normas and a school of scribes. They began teaching the settlers the art of writing, leading to the flourishing of the Scots literature around 1300. The earliest known poem written was a short lyric about the death of Alexander III, which reads as follows:
“Qwhen Alexander our kynge was dede, That Scotland lede in lauch and le, Away was sons of alle and brede, Off wyne and wax, of gamyn and gle. Our golde was changit into lede. Crist, borne into virgynyte, Succoure Scotland and ramede, That is stade in perplexitie.”
Finally, perhaps the most recognizable Scots-language poem is “Auld Lang Syne”, written by Robert Burns in 1788. This popular Scots poem-turned-song remains popular in most English-speaking countries. It is a traditional song to bid farewell to the past year and greet the new year.
Incorporating the Scots Language in Your Reading and Writing
The Scots language is wonderful and rich in history and culture. Although it faced a significant decline in the past, it’s far from being a dying language. Many people still read, write, and speak in Scots. The Scottish government is doing its part to preserve, enrich, and revitalize the language.
Of course, there are also individuals who continue to study and use the language. They ensure that the language continues to thrive like it did for centuries. As you read and write in Scots, it’s great to remember that you’re taking a piece of history and culture with you. Moreover, it also pays to remember the helpful online tools that will make your endeavors easier and more convenient, such as the Scottish Language Dictionaries and the Word Count Tool!