Scots

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The form of English spoken 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 an separate language from English. This has happened in Norway where Norwegian once regarded as a dialect of Danish, is regarded, since Norwegian independence in the nineteenth century, as a language in its own right. However since Scotland joined England to form Britain, it is probably more correct to regard Scots as a group of dialects.

There are several Scots dialects:

  • Lallans, the dialect of the Borders and Central Lowlands, mostly used for literary purposes;
  • Doric, the dialect of Aberdeen and northeast Scotland
  • The dialect of Shetland.

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 (later made into a movie of the same name) was written using the Edinburgh dialect of Scots.

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