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Heizen up the profile of Scots

Jun 2015

Literature ,

Heizen up the profile of Scots

For those who don’t know, Scots is a Germanic language spoken across Lowland Scotland by somewhere in the region of one million people. Scots itself can be broken in down into tens of smaller dialects, including Glesga Patter spoken in Glasgow, Doric in Aberdeen and Orcadian in Orkney.

Scots is a strange language – if it’s a language at all. Because there isn’t a universally agreed distinction between language and dialect, people generally aren’t that sure what to call it. A study conducted by the Scottish Government into public attitudes found over two-thirds of people “don’t really think of Scots as a language”. Even those who say they frequently spoke Scots preferred to call it a dialect.

Scots is one of the three indigenous languages spoken in Scotland today – the others being English and Gaelic – and it plays a central role in Scottish heritage and culture.


Scots Language Policy

The catchily titled Scots Language Policy (SLP) was published earlier this month by Creative Scotland with the aim of “supporting the language through our own work and the work that we fund across the arts, screen and creative industries.”

The policy is available to read on the organisation’s website.

The newest component of the SLP is the creation of a Scots Scriever – a writer-in-residence working between Creative Scotland and the National Library of Scotland.

The Scriever will be expected to split their time between the creation of original works in Scots and the promotion of the language to the Scottish people.

Culture minister Fiona Hyslop, who attended the policy launch, said:

“The Scottish Government’s ambition is for the Scots language to be recognised, valued and used in Scottish public and community life. The Scots language is an essential part of Scotland’s distinctive culture and heritage, and the Scottish Government takes seriously the promotion of the Scots language throughout Scotland in all its regional and local variants.

“In adopting this policy, Creative Scotland acknowledges the contribution the Scots language has brought, and continues to bring, to Scotland’s rich culture and heritage, in a country with over 1.5 million Scots speakers.”


Digital Scots

A large part of the new role is the usage of social media to introduce Scots to a new digital-native audience.

According to Creative Scotland, the Scriever will “hiv explicit responsibilitie for heizin up the profile, unnerstaunin an appreciation o creative work in the Scots language, includin awthin haud within the Naitional Librarie’s collections.”

For those who aren’t familair with Scots, that translates to: [the Scriever will] have explicit responsibility for raising the profile, understanding and appreciation of the creative works in the Scots language, including anything held within the National Library’s collections.

We’ve seen value of embracing digital technologies before with the resurgence of the Manx language. If Scots is to succeed in the modern world, this is definitely the tact they they need to take.

The success of the policy will obviously largely rest on who is eventually chosen for the position and that remains to be seen. However, with the full backing of Creative Scotland and the National Library, we’re excited and hopeful for the future of Scots.

Applications for the two-year residency opened on the 3rd of June and will close on the 24th June 2015. To apply submit a CV, two samples of work, one reference and a one page cover letter to


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