Languages of Scotland: Scots, English and Scottish Gaelic
Arana Aboitiz, Mikele
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The current linguistic landscape of Scotland is composed of three languages: Scottish Standard English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic. Nonetheless, the knowledge of this fact does not appear to be particularly widespread, as various misconceptions regarding the languages arise in diverse situations. Thus, this paper aims to clarify what the languages spoken in Scotland are, as well as to provide insight into them in order to promote a better understanding of the subject. Firstly, I go into detail about the linguistic history of Scotland, explaining the different stages that the region underwent until the present day, where the Celtic origins of Scottish Gaelic and the Germanic origins of Scottish English and Scots are substantiated. In this respect, I also describe the current state of affairs of each language by specifying the amount of speakers and the areas where they are based, amongst other matters. Secondly, I elaborate on the rather unique relationship between Scottish English and Scots, which is commonly referred to as Linguistic Continuum. In simplified terms, these two languages are located on the two opposite ends of a spectrum that contains a range of subsequent varieties, which additionally results in the existence of phenomena such as style-drifting. Thirdly, I shift the attention of the paper to Scots with the purpose of focusing on its perception as a language, for instance by defining terms such as “Good Scots” and “Bad Scots”, as well as examining a piece of research dealing with Scottish dialectal perceptions. Finally, maintaining the focus on Scots, I describe and exemplify a number of grammatical constructions which are characteristic of the language, with occasional references to other varieties of English that contain that very same particular property. The paper concludes by highlighting its own relevance, as it serves multiple functions apart from clearing up misconceptions about the languages of Scotland. For instance, papers such as this one might promote additional research on Scottish English, Scots and/or Scottish Gaelic, or even underlying phenomena such as the aforementioned linguistic continuum, which is also found in other parts of the world.