Unit 5: Scots Language in Politics


As you have learned in previous units, due to a range of historical and social factors, Scots has been, and in a number of cases still is, viewed as corrupt or poor English, and does not tend to be used in more formal or official settings. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that the presence and use of Scots in political proceedings is limited. However, it is not entirely absent.

In this unit you will learn about its usage and status in the course of parliamentary business in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments. As well as learning about how Scots is used in politics, you will also learn about different political approaches towards Scots.

This unit will introduce you to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and set out the policies adopted towards Scots by the different Scottish Executives/Governments since 1999. The policy positions of the three main Scottish political parties (Scottish National Party [SNP], Labour and Conservative) will also be considered.

During the course of this unit, interesting questions will be raised about the marked difference in status between Scots and Gaelic, as well as the position of Scots in relation to political nationalism and unionism.

Important details to take notes on throughout this unit:

  • Different legislation for Scots and for Gaelic in Scotland

  • Instances where Scots has been used in both the UK parliament and the Scottish Parliament

  • The different approaches taken by the different political parties in Scotland

Activity 1

Before commencing your study of this unit, you may wish to jot down some thoughts on the three important details we suggest you take notes on throughout this unit. You could write down what you already know about each of these three points, as well as any assumption or question you might have. You will revisit these initial thoughts again when you come to the end of the unit.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

5. Introductory handsel