Mutual Intelligibility between English and Scots

By   April 15, 2014

Frisian is often cited as the language that is closest to English, but Scots is actually closer (i.e. has a higher degree of mutual intelligibility with English). Not Scottish English, which is a variety of English, or Scottish Gaelic, which is actually a Celtic rather than a Germanic language, but Lowland Scots.


Map of the areas where the Scots language is spoken.

There are just over 100,000 native speakers and it is classified as a traditional language by the Scottish government and a regional or minority language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Here is a lecture in Scots about the history of the Scots language. How much can you understand?

  • Natalie

    Very cool! I love mutual intelligibility between languages (it’s like you get two languages for the price of one, you know?). I understood quite a bit of that lecture, which was really nice. If you hadn’t said anything, I would have thought it was just in heavily-accented English.

    • Jennie Wagner

      Isn’t it weird how you seem to understand everything he’s saying and then all of the sudden, you understand nothing? I love it!

  • Jason

    And that is the thing any dictionary cannot help with :-)

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