Scots is a language spoken in modern Scotland.

It is spoken by one and a half million people.

They speak it in cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling and Perth.

And in towns like Paisley, East Kilbride, Livingston, Hamilton, Cumbernauld, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Greenock, Coatbridge, Airdrie, Motherwell, Falkirk, Irvine, Dumfries, Wishaw, Arbroath, Peterhead, Elgin, Wick, Stromness and Lerwick.

And in villages like Slamannan, Coalsnaughton, Minnigaff, Muirkirk, Tarbolton, Glengarnock, Newcastleton, Ormiston, Newtongrange, Fauldhouse, Cowie, Newarthill, Carnwath, Auchterderran, Invergowrie, Aberlemno, Luthermuir, Inverallochy, Portsoy, Hopeman, Halkirk, Brae and St Margaret's Hope.

In Scotland today, people speak Scots just about everywhere.


The Scots language is almost a thousand years old.

It comes originally from Denmark and from the language of a Danish tribe called the Angles.

During the Dark Ages, the Angles crossed the North Sea and settled in the North of England. They didn't speak the same way as the locals. The Angles' language was Germanic, different from the Celtic languages spoken by the native Celtic tribes.

A few hundred years later, the descendants of the Angles migrated from northern England to live in Scotland. They brought their language with them which was called Inglis.

The Scottish kings, politicians and the best poets switched from speaking Gaelic to speaking this new language from northern England. It soon became the national language of Scotland. To reflect this, the name was changed from Inglis to Scots.

Scots remained the official language of Scotland for four hundred years. But two things happened to alter the fortunes of Scots forever.

In 1603, the Scottish king, James VI, got a new job. Not content with being King of Scotland, he also became King of England. He moved his court from Edinburgh to London, taking most of his top politicians with him. (The Scottish politicians had to learn English and they quickly forgot to how speak in Scots.)

And in 1611, King James published a new version of the Bible. It was to be read in every church in England and in Scotland too. But James' Bible was only available in English. In those days, everyone went to church and Scottish people were not able to listen to the Word of God in their own Scots language.

Scots lost its place at the centre of national life in Scotland. Although most people still spoke Scots every day as their normal language, the upper classes viewed it as quaint and old-fashioned and preferred to speak English instead.

In the 1780s, a young poet was worried that the Scots language was about to disappear altogether. So he chose to write in Scots and wrote amazing poems like 'Tam O Shanter' and 'Tae a Moose' and songs like 'Ae Fond Kiss' and 'Auld Lang Syne'. The poet's name was Robert Burns and his Scots poems and songs are loved and celebrated all over the world.

Robert Burns' Scots poetry might have been world famous but there were still people in Scotland who still didn't think speaking in Scots was a good idea. Generations of school children were told off and even punished for speaking their own natural language.


The Scots language is an important part of Scottish life. It is important because so many people speak it.

In 2011, the Census recorded one and a half million speakers of Scots.

What about you? Do you speak Scots? Do you know someone in your family or community who can speak it?

Do you use and understand words like hoose, hame, greetin, bonnie, oot and doon? Do you ever hear anyone saying things like wheesht, a piece and jam, dinnae ken and lang may yer lum reek?

How do you feel when you speak Scots? How did you learn to speak it? Who do you hear using the most Scots words?

Has anyone ever encouraged to speak more Scots? Has anyone ever told you off for speaking it?


The Scots language has many dialects.

There is Glaswegian, Doric, Edinburgh Scots, Dundonian, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Borders, West Fife, East Neuk, Stirlingshire, Shetland, Orcadian, Caithness and Galloway Irish and many others.

Which one do you speak?


For many people in Scotland, the Scots language can describe situations and express feelings better than any other language. Scots can be a very friendly way of talking to others and can make us feel part of a community.

Many thousands of children and young people can speak in Scots.

But if the current generation doesn't look after Scots by using and celebrating it, there is a chance that future generations simply won't speak Scots at all and this wonderful unique language may disappear forever.


There are three good reasons to write in Scots.

1. Writing in Scots makes you better at writing in English.

2. It helps you learn more about Scotland.

3. And it's dead easy.

Go to Scots Hoose WRITE pages to start writing in the Scots language.