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Thread: The Scots Language

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    Aka wdrake Vintersorg's Avatar
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    The Scots Language

    This is my first time posting in the Scotland sub-forum. My family is a mix of English, German, and Scottish, with the majority of my family being Ulster-Scots and Lowland Scots on my mother's side (I understand them to be the same, primarily Germanic, Scots, just in different areas?). My family mistakenly called themselves Irish, however, upon some actual genealogical study, this was not the case. I have recently become very interested in Scotland, its history, culture, etc.. However, I am most interested in the Scots (Lallans/Lowland Scots) language. I have searched through the sub-forum and found some excellent links and discussions but I had a few questions I thought could only be answered by making a new thread.

    I speak English as my native tongue but am also fluent in French (learned in school and college, no French ancestry) and have a working understanding of German, which I am attempting to become fluent in. I can read Old English (Anglo Saxon) too fairly well, although I would not call myself proficient yet. I'd like to add Scots to round out my languages and be able to speak all of the tongues of my heritage. I have read online that many Scots view the Scots language as just a dialect of or improper English and, as such, deride those outside the country who make attempts to learn it. From what I have read and seen of the actual language though, this could not be further from the truth.

    So, how many of you in Scotland speak Scots? Would it be a worthwhile endeavor for someone outside of Scotland but with very prominent Scottish heritage to learn? Any books, poems, stories, or authors in Scots that you particularly enjoy? Feel free to converse in Scots here as well.

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    Senior Member Winterfylleth's Avatar
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    I see no-one has replied, so I'll try to help.

    First off, congratulations on finding out the truth about your heritage. Many people just go with the popular myths, for example, if you're from Ireland you must be a Catholic Celtic-speaking republican, or if you're from Scotland you must be a kilt-wearing Highlander. Also, I'm envious about your language abilities. I'm struggling with Old English and Dutch at the moment.

    The trouble with Lallans Scots is that it's not a distinct language. It's still very close to English. And apparently professional linguists can't distinguish where a dialect starts and a language ends. So, to speak it well, you will have to put on a Scottish accent and speak something that contains a lot of English-sounding words. No-one would have problems if you did this for French or German, then you would be speaking (or at least trying to speak) fluently. But unfortunately people will think it's odd if you do it with Lallans.

    The other problem is popularity, again. Gaelic is popular, Lallans and Old English aren't. So a lot of people aren't aware that what they speak isn't just "wrong English". A lot of blokes here see nothing wrong with wearing what is, for them, a skirt, when the only Scottish thing flowing through them is the occasional Bells. It's your heritage, so I say learn it. Just be prepared to explain what it is to everybody. And if they are Scottish, be polite (and enthusiastic) when you explain it and if they argue, don't press the point.
    "Nooan loikes bein towd abeawt theer tawk be a forriner"*

    *That's Lancastrian, by the way, not Lallans

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