The Scots Language Resource Network recently announced that it is funding the translation and publication of nine literary works in the Scots language.
Scots — which is so closely related to English that scholars occasionally debate whether or not it’s a dialect of English or a separate language in its own right — is recognized as a minority language in the United Kingdom. While the language has a rich oral tradition, it’s long been neglected in the publishing industry and the written records in the language are fairly limited in scope, especially in comparison to its much more widely spoken sister language.
Recent interest in the language has sparked efforts to publish literature in the language and use it in education, with the recent grants serving to enrich the language’s literary tradition.
“There is a huge appetite for books in Scots and we have seen how this funding supports a range of exceptional Scots talent, in a variety of genres, and clearly demonstrates Scots is thriving,” Scotland’s education secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville told the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Most of the works that received grants from the program will be published in Scots as their original language, as they are being published for the first time. Some, however, will be translated from another language into Scots — for example, one project that received funding through the program is the translation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm into the language.
While Animal Farm has been translated into Scottish Gaelic, it has not been translated into Scots. Like Scottish Gaelic, Scots has faced repression throughout its history, with many deeming it a dialect of English or even “broken” English. To make matters a bit more complex, Scotland also has a distinct dialect of English, which is much more mutually intelligible with other varieties of English than Scots is.
Throughout the history of the Scots language, the language has experienced a phenomenon known as “language attrition,” wherein it has slowly become more and more similar to standard dialects of English. However, the language boasts a wide range of phonological and lexical differences from English — a brief look at some common Scots phrases highlights some of the major distinctions between standard English and Scots.