Glossary: Scots

Last updated 9 Feb 2006  

Scots is a language closely related to English. There are many terms, some more respected than others, used for the modern Scots language and/or specific dialects of Modern Scots, including <Broad Scots>, <Lallans>, <Lowland Scots>, <Aberdonian>, <Doric>, <Glaswegian>, and many others. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Scots speakers themselves called their language <Inglis>, while in the 16th century they took to calling it <Scottis>.

Some linguists consider Scots to be a separate language from English, others consider it a dialect of English. Since the categorization of independent language vs. dialect is a subjective one (and often based on non-linguistic considerations), there is no "one true answer". I choose to refer to Scots as a language for several reasons, including that I simply find it makes it easier to talk about and explain the linguistic situation in both modern and medieval Scotland.

Note that the word <Scots> has several other, more common, meanings in addition to referring to the Scots language, including, as an adjective, the meaning "Scottish" and, as a noun, the meaning "more than one Scottish person".


Robinson, Mairi, ed. The Concise Scots Dictionary. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987. Polygon hardcover: - - Barnes&Noble; Polygon paperback: - - Barnes&Noble; Chambers paperback (used): -; AUP hardcover (used): - - Barnes&Noble; Crown hardcover (used): - - Barnes&Noble; MacMillan hardcover (used): - - Barnes&Noble; MacMillan paperback (used): - - Barnes&Noble; AUP leather cover (used): - - Barnes&Noble  

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