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It's a pleasantry; if the Scottish people think of themselves as a nation, they're certainly entitled to call their speech a language, and no one can tell them any different.

The same thing can be seen here in Finland, too. Or not exactly in Finland but quite close: Finnish has been spoken both sides of the Tornio River Valley for centuries; both in Finland and in Sweden. However, those who speak Finnish in the Swedish side of the valley have decided to call their dialect 'Meän kieli' ('Our language'), perhaps to emphasize the fact that they do not feel Finnish but not very Swedish either.
The differences between Meän kieli and Northern Finnish dialects are not very big. The biggest difference is on the vocabulary level: Meän kieli has been heavily influenced by Swedish. However, this does not mean Meän kieli is uncomprehensible to us Finns. There are some dialects in Finnish that are much more difficult for most Finns to understand.

I think the same thing applies to Scots, too, even though the historical background is different. I have taken some courses in the history of English and as far as I recall from the lectures, Scots was recognized as a separate language some centuries ago. That was before the Acts of Union in the early 18th century (?).
Anyway, this page looks very interesting to me:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots Language

The Borg assimilated my race & all I got was this stupid T-shirt.
"
/nq]
Good grief. Did you fall for one of those books that makes pictures out of characters?

"
Sounds like many of us have been misled, Peter. Set us straigh!
I don't know what pictograms underlie the character he was talking about, but they weren't what he said they were.
Many books on "learning" a handful of characters try to make pictures out of their present forms that relate to their present meaning, and these pictures since they usually don't even respect the phonetic vs. radical components have nothing to do with their origin.
Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Branch of English or a Separate Language?

A dialect. As far as I know, everyone who speaks Scots understands most forms of English. I'm not sure if it works the other way around, though.

It's a language because people who decide these things (the people who speak it) say it's a language. Who understands what is just not relevant. Cases have been brought up before in this forum to demonstrate why intelligibility between speakers is not a useful criterion. To rehearse: Swedish and Norwegian (at least Bokmaal) are very readily mutually intelligible but they aren't usefully conceived of as one language: the speakers consider them to be two languages, they rely on different standards (ie are autonomous), they have separate literary traditions and so on. Danish and Norwegian (Bokmaal or Rijksmaal) are readily mutually intelligible. If Norwegian and Danish are one language on this ground and Norwegian and Swedish are one language then are Danish and Swedish (which are far from readily mutually intelligible) one language?
Some Maghreb dialects - especially Moroccan - of Arabic are not at all readily intelligible to speakers of Levantine, Egyptian, Peninsular or other varieties of Arabic whether standard or dialectal. But the people who speak Morocdan dialects consider that these are not separate languages but varieties of Arabic. They rely on Standard Arabic for their written language and these varieties have no separate literary tradition.
Most Scots speakers are bilingual in Scots and English (two as it happens very closely related languages) but very few English people can make much of spoken Scots and the speakers of that language will tend - if they are accomodating - to modify towards English to facilitate comprehension. But it makes little difference: the only way to differentiate a language from a dialect is socio-historically.
Scots could be categorized as a separate language if Scotland was an independent state and had an army. I don't know who originally stated this idea of languages having armies, but it works here.

It doesn't work here and while the original characterisation of a language as a dialect with an army and a navy has powerful resonance, it wasn't I believe intended as you deploy it. Lots of language varieties have no army or navy or idependant state associated with them but they are not usefully considered dialects of any other language. Consider Occitan - of what on earth could it be a dialect? It's just another Romance language. And what of the Lichtensteiners: they have an independant state but no language that is uniquely theirs: they speak high German and high German dialects.

All natural languages are dialects - there is no special linguistic distinction between dialect and language except the sociolinguistic ones. All dialects are languages. The assertion that the variety you speak is a dialect of another language or is a separate language is an act of identity not of language analysis.
Jim
Branch of English or a Separate Language? www.sottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/scots/index.htm

A dialect. As far as I know, everyone who speaks Scots understands most forms of English. I'm not sure if ... and had an army. I don't know who originally stated this idea of languages having armies, but it works here.

I think the dialect/language borderline is as elusive as that between Russian and Ukrainian, or Bulgarian and Macedonian, right?

Arpad
A dialect. As far as I know, everyone who speaks ... this idea of languages having armies, but it works here.

I think the dialect/language borderline is as elusive as that between Russian and Ukrainian, or Bulgarian and Macedonian, right? Arpad

Agreed.
The northern Scottish language, Gaelic is a classic example.

It travelled to Scotland from Ireland around 500 AD and has changed enough that it is still mutually intelligible in written form to Irish speakers and vice-versa, almost qualifying for dialect status.

However, it is only truly orally intelligible when spoken by and to native speakers of either language. In the meantime, both Irish and Scots Gaelic have developed dialects of their own.

Until the 1700s. the Scots version was called Irish but now it is considered that Scots Gaelic and Irish are separate languages.

Michilín
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Branch of English or a Separate Language? www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/scots/index.htm (corrected version)

It helps to spell the URL correctly: www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/scots/index.htm

Apologies. The text on the page is interesting to read aloud
semiretired wrote

Branch of English or a Separate Language?

A dialect. As far as I know, everyone who speaks Scots understands most forms of English. I'm not sure if ... and had an army. I don't know who originally stated this idea of languages having armies, but it works here.

So it ceased being a separate language around 1707?
semiretired wrote

Branch of English or a Separate Language? www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/language/scots/index.htm

Or a low blow?

(URL link corrected above)
Worth reading the text aloud IMHO
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Oh God... not again... that same dialects vs. languages topic...

Arpad
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