The English language as it is used in Scotland has a genuine claim to be considered one of the important varieties of English in the world today. Scots has also had a major influence outwith its home territory, notably in Ulster and, to a smaller, but no less important extent, in Canada and Australia where both vocabulary and grammatical features of Scots can be found to this day. This book has three central aims: (1) to provide a brief and concise introduction to the grammar (the pronunciation and syntax) of Modern Scots, (2) to examine its vocabulary (the meanings and structure of words) and (3) to describe the complex ways in which the modern language shows considerable dialectal differences between speakers in areas of the country from the Northern Isles to the Borders. Socially too, this Scottish variety of English shows much social contrast, the usage of Working Class and Middle Class speakers in the large conurbations being noticeably divergent, with evidence still of local urban prestige forms like Morningside and Kelvinside Scots in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. Interest in the Scottish variety of English has never been stronger than now. The study of Scots is taking an ever more important place in school and unversity curricula, while the advent of a Scottish Parliament has raised the national consciousness to the importance of Scots as a cultural identifier. This brief "Introduction" aims to make its reader more conscious than ever of the divergence, uniqueness and character of the forms of English heard (and read) in Scotland in every-day contexts, and to see them in a vital and vibrant part of the linguistic, cultural and social heritage of Scotland itself.
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Charles Jones is Forbes Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.
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