Do you speak Scots? If you’re not sure how to answer that question, a new website created by the Scots Language Center is designed to help clarify things.
While it seems like the question should be relatively straightforward, the Scots language has become more and more intertwined with English over the past few centuries. This has created a perception that Scots isn’t really a language of its own. A survey performed last year by the Scottish government even found that 64 of respondents “don’t really think of Scots as a language – more a way of speaking”.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Michael Hance of the Scots Language Centre explained the conundrum:
“Many people speak Scots every day but may not realise they are doing so, thinking that it is slang or even bad English.”
This year, the government is trying to determine how many people in Scotland can speak and/or understand Scots and to gauge their Scots proficiency. Mr. Hance explained that the Language Centre created the website to help people answer these questions accurately:
“This website, which allows people to listen to recordings of Scots words and phrases and distinct regional pronunciations, should clear up any uncertainty and help people work out how to answer the Scots language question in the census.”
The website, amusingly enough, is called “Aye Can.”
This is the first year that the government has asked about Scots proficiency as part of the census. The Scots language is classified as “vulnerable” by Cambridge University and language activists have recently called for increased study of the language in Scottish schools. Getting an accurate picture of how many people can speak and understand it should help increase the effectiveness of preservation efforts.