Monday, May 07, 2012

Speaking of...

Linguistically, the Picts who drove the Romans from Hadrian's wall seemingly spoke a distinct Pictish language, possibly distantly related to Welsh. The Scots who settled in the west, and eventually came to dominate the Picts, spoke a form of Gaelic. The Angles of the south east spoke Northumbrian Old English which later became the Middle English known as Early Scots. The Britons of Strathclyde spoke Cumbric, also related to Welsh; while people in the Viking dominated areas spoke Norn, or Old Norse.

Over the 500 years until 1500, the Norse influence was largely displaced by the Gaelic-speaking Scots. Meanwhile, The Early Scots language slowly expanded its influence to become the most common language spoken in the Borders, the Central Lowlands, the coastal fringe of Aberdeenshire, Caithness and the Northern Isles. Everywhere else, including a large part of Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire, spoke Scottish Gaelic. Over the 500 years since 1500, Scots has remained a commonly spoken language, but largely displaced by Scottish English, much more closely related to English, for the written word and by many in speech as well. One of them, "North East Scots" is sufficiently distinct for it to carry a separate name, "Doric".  Increasing use of Scottish English across Scotland forced Scots Gaelic to steadily retreat west.

In 2001 the figure for those who could speak Gaelic stood at 1.2% of the population, the lowest ever recorded.

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