Website help over Scots language

Image caption, The website features examples of written and spoken Scots

A website has been launched to help people decide whether or not they speak or understand the Scots language.

It has been prompted by the inclusion, for the first time, of a question in the upcoming census about language.

The 2011 population survey will for the first time ask those living north of the border if they can understand, speak, read and/or write Scots.

The language includes Scottish dialects such as Glaswegian, Doric, Buchan, Dundonian or Shetland.

The Aye Can website features examples of written and spoken Scots.

Visitors to the site, developed by the Scots Language Centre, can listen to recordings of people around the country speaking their local dialect.

Michael Hance, director of the Scots Language Centre, said: "Many people speak Scots every day but may not realise they are doing so, thinking that it is slang or even bad English.

"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."

Mr Hance said he was pleased the Scots question had been included in the census.

"It's really the first stage towards official recognition and that's something we are very happy to welcome," he said.

"This is the first time we will really know where the population is and that's as important as knowing how many speakers there are."

The question also asks about the same abilities in English and Gaelic.

Mr Hance said that General Registers Of Scotland carried out a study in the mid 1980s which suggested there were 1.5 million Scots speakers but he said there had been no update since then.

'Living language'

The website also features examples of written Scots, with a poem by Scots makar Liz Lochhead and excerpts by other writers.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "Scots is a key part our nation's heritage and culture. It is also a living language and this question in the census will provide us with a valuable insight into how the Scots language is being used today.

"The results of the census help inform government policy and spending, which is why it is so vital that people are able to provide consistent answers.

"The Aye Can website is a fabulous tool which explains exactly what is meant by the Scots language and will help people decide how to answer the census question."

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