Can you read Scots? 16 Scots language examples, is it really “just a dialect”

Once thought of as the ‘universal language of Scotland’ outside of Gaelic-speaking areas, the native tongue is often described as “just a dialect”.

According to The National, Scots is “one of three native languages spoken in Scotland today” along with English and Scottish Gaelic. However, despite the ongoing debate as to whether or not Scots is a real language or just a dialect, it can be considered a settled matter as it has already been recognised by the UK government and Council of Europe.

Possibly, the issue arises as people conflate ‘Scottish English’ which includes well-loved Scottish words and unique Scottish sayings with Scots itself since these two see an overlap but are not quite the same thing.

If you’ve ever read the works of legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns then you’ll know well that Scots is indeed a language worlds away from formal English, and even though Burns Night has passed in 2023 it’s fun to practice languages regardless of special occasions.

Here are sixteen examples of the Scots language taken from street signs, newspapers, books and a variety of dialects all over Scotland (including Doric), how many can you translate?