Scots is one of the three indigenous languages in Scotland, along with English and Scottish Gaelic.

English is spoken throughout the country, Gaelic is mostly spoken in the Highlands and the Western Isles and Scots is spoken all through the Lowlands, the Scottish cities and in the Northern Isles.

Scots has often been mistaken for slang, and it is not widely known as a language in its own right or that it is of Anglo-Saxon origin.

The reality is that Scots has some 60,000 unique words and expressions.

There are many varieties of Scots and some of these have names of their own, like the Doric, used in the north-east. Some others are known as dialects, like the spoken languages in Caithness, Orkney or Shetland, or even the varieties spoken in the cities of Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.

Scots has its own history, a wide variety of unique grammatical features, a huge store of idiomatic expressions and a number of sounds that are never used in English. For these reasons, many linguists and academics today agree that Scots is a language in its own right.

Scots has finally achieved official recognition as a minority language by the European Commission for Regional and Minority languages, and it is accorded special protection by the UK and Scottish Governments. It was even included in the 2011 census, which showed that 1.5 million people identified themselves as speaking or understanding Scots. This only shows that the language is alive and well in the first Century.


Scots Tongue. Accessed August 6, 2019.

Aberdeen Uof. North-East Scots (Doric): The History, Present & Future (Complete Video). YouTube. Published February 13, 2019. Accessed August 6, 2019.

AMC’s FITS Project produces video on the origins of the Scots language. Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics. Accessed August 6, 2019.

Languages. Scottish Government. Accessed August 6, 2019.

Mapping Sounds to Spellings. From Inglis to Scots. Accessed August 6, 2019.

Written by Maria Blanca Escudero Fontan, trainee in the Direction of the Directorate B and in TermCoord. Holds a Degree in Translation and Interpretation ( Universidade de Vigo) and a MA in International Studies (USC).

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