Unit 2: Vocabulary – old and new


Like many other living languages, Scots keeps adapting to modern life and the resulting change has perhaps never been as rapid as in recent years. This unit will introduce you to some of the ways in which Scots has adapted, developed and recycled its vocabulary. The Dictionary of the Scots Language has over 77,000 separate entries. While you may learn some new words during your study it is beyond the scope of this unit to do more than scratch the surface of this rich range of Scots vocabulary.

Yet this unit will hopefully provide a useful introduction to the rich Scots vocabulary. Those who are already confident in using Scots and who are wishing to improve or enhance their Scots vocabulary will find specific activities for more advanced Scots speakers in this unit. They are also directed to explore the links in section 2 and the Further research at the end of this unit.

Important details to take notes on throughout this unit:

  • Scots as a living language
  • Scots words which have been repurposed for the modern world
  • Neologisms in Scots
  • The influence of other languages on Scots and of Scots on English.

Activity 1

Before commencing your study of this unit, you may wish to jot down some thoughts on any of the four important details we suggested in the Introduction above that you take notes on throughout this unit.

You could write down what you already know about each or any of these four points, as well as any assumptions or questions you might have. You will revisit these initial thoughts again when you come to the end of the unit.

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2. Introductory handsel