1.5m Scots speakers

Scots speakers
Scots speakers in 2011. Data from the census, base map from Wikipedia.
Today saw the release of more results from Scotland’s 2011 census, in particular about languages.

The decline of Gaelic seems to have stopped — the number of speakers dropped very slightly, but it rose amongst young people, so that’s excellent news.

For the first time ever, the census asked also about Scots, the Germanic language spoken in Scotland.

More than 1.5m people declared that they were able to speak Scots, which is a lot for a language with hardly any official support.

At the moment there are no Scots-medium schools, no Scots TV channel, no Scots radio channels.

I’ve made a map showing where the speakers of Scots are located within Scotland. It’s interesting how the areas with very few Scots speakers are either Gaelic-speaking (Na h-Eileanan Siar) or posh (East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire). The map doesn’t take population densities into account, so the council area with the higher number of Scots speakers is actually Glasgow, in spite of its relatively pale colour.

Hopefully this census will be the starting point for the revival of the Scots language. It’s such a beautiful, rich and nuanced language that it would be a real shame if it ever died out.

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