Scots language

Scots (endonym: Scots; Scottish Gaelic: Albais, Beurla Ghallta) is an Anglic language variety in the West Germanic language family, spoken in Scotland and parts of Ulster in the north of Ireland (where the local dialect is known as Ulster Scots).[4] Most commonly spoken in the Scottish Lowlands, Northern Isles and northern Ulster, it is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Goidelic Celtic language that was historically restricted to most of the Scottish Highlands, the Hebrides and Galloway after the sixteenth century,[5] or Broad Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Standard English. Modern Scots is a sister language of Modern English, as the two diverged independently from the same source: Early Middle English (1150–1300).[6][7][8]

Lowland Scots, Broad Scots
(Braid) Scots, Lallans, Doric
Native toUnited Kingdom, Republic of Ireland
Native speakers
Numbers disputed. 99,200 (2019)[1]
In 2011, 1,541,693 people in Scotland alone reported speaking Scots.[2]
Early forms
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Northern Ireland (as Ulster Scots), Republic of Ireland (County Donegal) (also as Ulster Scots),
Language codes
ISO 639-2sco
ISO 639-3sco
Linguasphere52-ABA-aa (varieties: 52-ABA-aaa to -aav)
The proportion of respondents in the 2011 census in Scotland aged 3 and above who stated that they can speak Lowland Scots
The proportion of respondents in the 2011 census in Northern Ireland aged 3 and above who stated that they can speak Ulster Scots

Scots is recognised as an indigenous language of Scotland by the Scottish government,[9] a regional or minority language of Europe,[10] as well as a vulnerable language by UNESCO.[11][12] In the 2011 Scottish Census, over 1.5 million people in Scotland reported being able to speak Scots.[13]

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.[14] 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, with Scottish Standard English at the other.[15] Scots is sometimes regarded as a variety of English, though it has its own distinct dialects;[14]:894 other scholars treat Scots as a distinct Germanic language, in the way that Norwegian is closely linked to but distinct from Danish.[14]:894

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