Document 776

Scots - in Scots

Author(s): Billy Kay

Copyright holder(s): Billy Kay


Scotland hes aye been a multilingual kintrae, fae the foundin o the natioun whan French, Flemish, Gaelic an Scots wes spoken in the early burghs richt tae the present day wi the Celtic leid Gaelic an the Germanic leids English an Scots yet tae the fore. O thir thrie leids, Scots is by faur the maist negleckit an hauden doun in offeicial terms, yet ironically is spoken in ae dialect or anither by the feck o the fowk. Wi gey pickle status, it is maistly uised in informal, familiar situations. Whiles I compare it tae an undergrund activity preed by consentin adults in the privacy o their ain hames!

Despite this restrictit uis o the leid for a lang time, it hes aye been the medium o a great literary an folk tradeition at the makars o the praisent day is eident tae continue. The makars ar also pairt o a process tae normalise Scots, tak it frae the private tae the public domain an gie fowk a sense o whit it wes and whit it will be again - a leid o mense an virr that will aye express the smeddum o the Scots fowk an their ties tae the land an its culture. In daein this we ar takin pairt in a process that is dingin doun barriers an biggin brigs aw ower Europe, whaur aince suppressit leids an natiouns ar reassertin theirsels. They ar threapin for their veice tae be heard in a Europe o a Hunder Flags an a hunder tongues, a Europe whaur linguistic diversity is regairdit wi pleisure raither than wi suspeicion.

For the relationship atween Scots an English hes monie parallels in a wheen European kintraes; Friesian an Dutch in the Laigh Kintras, Occitan an French in France, Catalan an Spanish, or Galician an Spanish in Spain. Aw thay leids cam frae similar ruits, but gaed their ain gait through belangin separate poleitical entities. In maist cases it wes anely whan they got thirlit tae political union wi mair pouerfu neebours at their mither tongues stairtit tae erode in competeitioun wi the standard language o the centrist states they belangit. The naiture o fowk's identity houever is sic that aw thae leids hes tholit the straiks agin thaim an bidit on in a mair restrictit uis as the ilka-day language o the fowk. In monie cases this strang fowk-feelin wi the leids gart thaim that spoke thaim aw the mair determinit tae haud on tae whit they hed. It is aw aboout heizin up the vernacular o the fowk tae its richtfu place in our national life. Hugh MacDiarmid, the faither o the Scots Literary Rennaissance scrievit thir words that gie hope for the future o Scots as a leivin European leid o the 21st century.

"For we hae faith in Scotland's hidden poo'ers
The present's theirs, but a' the past an future's oors."

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

Scots - in Scots. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 12 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Scots - in Scots." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 12 July 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Scots - in Scots," accessed 12 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 776

Scots - in Scots


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Word count 487
General description An introduction to the history of Scots

Text medium

Leaflet/brochure (prospectus)
Other Booklet accompanying map

Text publication details

Publisher MMA Maps
Publication year 1993
Place of publication Glasgow
ISBN/ISSN 0952262940

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 35
Forenames Billy
Surname Kay
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Writer / broadcaster
Place of birth Galston
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Newport-on-Tay
Region of residence Fife
Residence CSD dialect area Fif
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Factory charge hand
Father's place of birth Galston
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's place of birth Breich
Mother's region of birth W Lothian
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area wLoth
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Home
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic Yes No No No A little, rarely
German Yes Yes Yes Yes Occasional
Portuguese Yes Yes No Yes Home
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home