Scotland enjoys three spoken languages. English, Gaelic, and Scots. A generation ago, speaking Scots, with it's unique and colorful words like dreich, drookit, scunner, glaikit, wean, blether and more, was not welcomed. However, Scots is still spoken widely in Scotland yet when talking to strangers, or in a more formal setting, those who speak Scots often adopt a different tone, speaking "proper English," a result of the language having been frowned upon for many years by educators and those in power. Recently the Scottish Government announced a new National Scots Policy to promote the learning and speaking of Scots among its populace. The initiative will provide, among other things, new educational emphasis and the appointment of celebrity Scots ambassadors to bring attention to the language.
As a language, Scots' origins date back over 1,400 years ago, though the "modern" period of the language is dated from the 1700's forward to the present. You could say Scots is the language of poet Robbie Burns. It is a language built around the varied Scottish dialects. At one time. Scots was the official language of Scotland until it was supplanted by English after the political union of 1707.
Scots today is largely a spoken language, a mixture of English and Scots. For example, caught out in a pouring rain without an umbrella a person speaking English might say, "I am soaked." Or, "I am wringing wet." In Scots, a person would say, "I am drookit!"
A most valuable tool to learn about any language is a dictionary. No self-respecting writer would be caught without a copy of Websters' or the Oxford English Dictionary on their desk. To delve into the Scots language, I sought out the aid of Pauline Speitel, Senior Editor at the Scottish Language Dictionaries. The non-profit SLD maintains and has published a variety of titles on the Scots language, including the 10-volume National Scots Dictionary, begun in 1929 and completed in 1976; the online Dictionary of the Scottish Language in 22-volumes; and the single volume Concise Scots Dictionary. Published in 1985, it is currently being revised for a second edition with publication planned for 2016.
• www.scots-online.org -- a website dedicated to Scots including various resources
was the official language of Scotland pplanteuntil it was