Pronunciation is not enough to make Scots a language, or the Geordie English spoken in the north-east of England would be one, too. But it also has its own vocabulary, which goes beyond the well-known “aye, bonnie lass” of ﬁlms and television. Scots descends from Northumbrian, one of the dialects of Old English; standard southern English descends from a dialect farther south. Scots retained Old English words that southern English lost, such as “bannock”. It was more inﬂuenced by Norse, in words such as gate (street) and kirk (church). It also has words from Gaelic, not just loch and whisky but quaich(a kind of bowl)and sonse (good luck). It has its own Norman French borrowings, not shared with English, such as douce(sedate, sober).
Still, vocabulary does not make a language either. More fundamental still is grammar—and here, Scots stands out again. Its speakers say “I’m going to my bed” whereas Englishmen say simply “to bed”. “Dinnae” is a Scots version of “don’t”. “Div” commonly replaces the auxiliary verb “do”. There are past-tense forms such as jamp (jumped), and irregular plurals like een (eyes) and kye(cows).