- Languages of Scotland
Scotlandis a land of diverse linguisticand cultural heritage. Various languages spoken there over the years fall into two general categories: Germanic languagesand Celtic languages. The classification of the Pictish languagewas once controversial but it is now generally accepted to be another Celtic language. Today, the primary languages spoken are Scottish English, (Lowland) Scots and Scottish Gaelic.
The Celtic languages of Scotland can be further subdivided into three more groups. These are the
Goidelic languages, otherwise known as Q-Celtic, the Brythonic languages, otherwise known as P-Celtic, and the Pictish language, which seems to have been distinct from both. All three groups are known collectively as the Insular Celtic languages.
The Goidelic language spoken in Scotland is
Scottish Gaelic. This language arrived via Irelanddue to the growing influence of the kingdom of Dalriada from the 6th century onwards. It is still spoken in parts of the Scottish Highlandsand the Hebrides, and in Scottish cities by some communities. It was formerly spoken over a far wider area than today, even in the recent past, as evidenced by placenames. Galwegian Gaelicis the extinct dialect of Scottish Gaelic formerly spoken in southwest Scotland. It was spoken by the independent kings of Gallowayin their time, and by the people of Gallowayand Carrick until the early modern period. It was once spoken in Annandaleand Strathnith, as well.
Scottish Gaelic, along with modern Manx and Irish, are descended from
Middle Irish, a derivative of Old Irish, which is descended in turn from Primitive Irish, the oldest known form of the Goidelic languages. This form of the language is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the Oghamalphabet in Irelandand western Britain up to about the 6th century.
Goidelic languages were once the most prominent by far among the Scottish population, but now are restricted to the West. The
Beurla-reagairdis a Gaelic-based cant of the Scottish travelling community related to the Sheltaof Ireland. [Neat, Timothy (2002) "The Summer Walkers". Edinburgh. Birlinn. pp.225-29.]
None of the Brythonic languages of Scotland survive to the modern day, though they have been reconstructed to a degree.
British may have been spoken in southern Scotland in Roman times and earlier. [Jackson, K. (1953) "Language and History in Early Britain".]
Cumbric languagewas spoken in the Hen Ogleddwhich included the Kingdom of Strathclyde, as well as in Cumbria, in northern England. It probably became extinct in the 11th century.
The Pictish language is generally understood to be an Insular Celtic language, distinct from both the Goidelic and Brythonic languages. At its height, it may have been spoken from
Shetlanddown to Fife, but was pushed back as Scots, Brythons, and Anglo-Saxonsinvaded Northern Britain, each with their own languages. Pritennicmay have been a precursor of Pictish. [Jackson K; The Pictish Language in F T Wainright "The Problem of the Picts" (1955).]
West Germanic languagesin the Anglic group are spoken in Scotland today; Scots, and Scottish English, a dialectof the English language. The Norn language, a North Germanic language, is now extinct.
dialectof the Old English languagewas spoken in the Angle Kingdom of Northumbriafrom the Humberestuary to the Firth of Forth. The Vikinginvasions of the 9th century forced the dialect to split in two and in the north it began to evolve into Scots.
Early Scots, also called "Inglis" was the emerging literary language of the Middle Englishspeaking parts of Scotland in the period before 1450. Middle Scotsthen became the language of the Anglic-speaking Scottish Lowlandsin the period 1450 to 1700. This in turn developed into Scots, also called "Lowland Scots", or " Lallans". Scots is a pluricentric language. Though there have been attempts at standardising it, the language is made up of many different dialects, so much so that no one may be said to be "true" Scots more so than any other. The language's diversity is often seen as a mark of local pride among Scots. There are a variety of dialects of Scots including the Doric of the north east, Orcadian and Shetlandic, (two dialects of the Northern Islesinfluenced by Norn), Glaswegian and South Scotsspoken in the Borders. A Jewish hybrid of the early 20th century is Scots-Yiddish.
Scottish English is the standardised form of the English language used in Scotland. It has been heavily influenced by Scots, as well as Scottish Gaelic. In the Highlands,
Highland Englishis the preferable form of this dialect. Highland English has been more heavily influenced by Gaelic than all but Hebridean English, spoken in the Western Isles.
Norn is an extinct North Germanic, West Scandinavian, language that was spoken on
Shetlandand Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. Norn evolved from the Old Norsethat was widely spoken in the Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and the west coast of the mainland during the Viking occupation from the 8th to the 13th centuries. After the Northern Isleswere ceded to Scotland by Norwayin the 15th century, its use was discouraged by the Scottish government and the Church of Scotland(the national church), and it was gradually replaced by Lowland Scots over time. Norn died out in the 19th century.
Overview and statistics
Diagrammatic representation of the development of the historic
Indo-European languagesof Scotland:
According to the 2001 census
Scottish Gaelichas 58,652 speakers (roughly 1% of the population of Scotland). In total 92,400 people aged three and over in Scotland had some Gaelic language ability in 2001. [http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/press/news2005/scotlands-census-2001-gaelic-report.html "News Release - Scotland's Census 2001 - Gaelic Report"] from General Registrar for Scotland website, 10 October 2005. Retrieved 27 December 2007] According to a 1996 estimate of the General Register Office for Scotlandapproximately 1.5 million individuals, 30% of the Scottish population, speak Scots.
Romani languagehas also been spoken in Scotland, but became more or less extinct in the country during the 20th century. It has lent Scotland's other languages a number of loanwords, and has also had an effect on the Gaelic of the travelling community. Since the beginning of the 21st century increasing numbers of Roma migrants has seen the Romani languagereturn to Scotland. The Govanhillarea in Glasgowhas become home to many Roma peopleand the Romani language can be heard being spoken in the area.
*Scotland's deaf community uses
British Sign Language. There are a few signs used in Scotland which are unique to that country.
*During the 20th and 21st centuries immigrants from a wide variety of countries have created a complex mosaic of spoken languages amongst the resident population.
Ausbausprache - Abstandsprache - Dachsprache
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