Languages & Education
Scottish Standard English:
Scottish Standard English is the most common language spoken in Scotland, a dialect that formed after Scots-speakers began to adopt English during the seventeenth century. Germanic in origin, the standardized form of the English language used in Scotland, Scottish English has been influenced by many phonological compromises and lexical transfers from the Scots and Scottish Gaelic languages. While pronunciation varies depending on region and social status, there are, however, a number of phonological aspects that differentiate Scottish English from other varieties of standardized English. For example, Scottish English distinguished between the vowels in words such as herd, bird, and curd. The vowels in Standard English homonyms such as hoarse and horse and pore and pour are also pronounced so as to distinguish between them. Scottish English has also produced some distinctive vocabulary terms pertaining to native institutions such as the Kirk of Scotland, local government, and the education and legal systems.
Scottish English has, moreover, inherited a number of lexical items from Scots that are comparatively rare in other forms of English, such as the word landward for rural; the phrase it's your shot for "it's your turn"; and youse as the plural of "you". The use of the word "How?" to mean "Why?" is also distinctive of Scottish English. Many syntactical features of Scottish English are found in other forms of English, such as what age are you? for "how old are you?"; my hair needs washed or my hair is needing washed for "my hair needs to be washed" or "my hair needs washing"; and amn't I invited? for "am I not invited?".
The speech of the middle classes in Scotland tends to conform to the grammatical norms of the written standard, particularly in formal situations. Scottish English is slightly different in the Highlands than the variety found in the Lowlands, as it has been influenced more by a Gaelic substratum.