What language do they speak in Scotland?

Scottish, you say?

English? Gaelic? Scots?

All of the above?

Sounds like a simple question…but it isn’t. In the newly elected Scottish Parliament, where members were allowed to take their oaths in the language of their choice, the following languages were represented: Arabic, British Sign Language, Canadian French, Doric, English, Gaelic, German, Orcadian, Punjabi, Scots, Urdu, Welsh, and Zimbabwean Shona! If you’re a map junkie, like me, you will want to study the following map in detail.

Also, if you’re a political junkie, like me, you will want to know the correlation between these languages and the members’ political parties. I wasn’t able to find that information, so let me know if you can discover it. The best I can do is this otherwise informative page.

Contrast this situation with England, which is now a multi-ethnic and multilingual country, and yet the word on the street is that no one is allowed to speak anything but English in the British Parliament.

Then, of course, there’s the rest of the UK—Wales and Northern Ireland, not to mention a few small islands which may or may not actually be part of the UK, but that’s a story for another time. For now, just sit back and admire the diversity of Scotland.

Categories: Linguistics