Minding Our Language

The BBC’s two-part documentary ‘Minding Our Language’, which outlines the history and development of Scots and particularly Ulster-Scots. Comedian and writer Tim McGarry wants to find out if Scots really is a language, or if it’s “just English with a few Scots words thrown in.” Tim begins his quest by going right back to the origins of the Scots language in dark-ages Northumbria. We learn how this minority Anglo Saxon language in an overwhelming Gaelic-speaking Scotland became the dominant one in Scotland by the 14th century. By the 15th and 16th centuries, Scots was the language of the Scottish Royal Court. In the early 17th century the Plantation brought the Scots language to Ulster. However, the Union of the Scottish and English Crowns, along with the Act of Union, started the decline of the Scots language. This episode also explores the rich literary tradition of the Scots language from Barbours the Brus through to the high water mark of the Makar Poets. With contributions from former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond and Martin O’Muilleor MLA, Laura Spence and other Scots and Ulster Scots language experts.

In Part 2, Tim McGarry continues his quest charting the history of the Scots language from the 18th century to the present day. As the language declined, it was still able to throw up literary geniuses who saved Scots from obscurity and obliteration. Scottish poets like Robbie Burns and Hugh MacDiarmid kept Scots literature burning bright. In Ulster, Tim explores the genius of James Orr, the largely forgotten Ballycarry poet who many literary experts regard as the equal of Burns. With contributions from former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, Martin O’Muilleor MLA, Laura Spence and other Scots and Ulster Scots Language experts, the programme also asks what the future is for Ulster Scots and Scots.

No Yer Usual Burns Nicht

Join Scotland’s newest Scots language literary zine, Eemis Stane, for an alternative look at our other national language. Featuring performances from contributors, a blether with the editors, and more songs, poems, and stories than you can shake a stick at.


Whilst the Scots words in this blog refer to historic items, Scots continues to thrive as a modern language. In the future, new words for items that have entered into the Scots lexicon may find themselves represented within the collection.

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