Scotland’s Languages

TRACS Language Policy

Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland is committed to recognising and supporting all of Scotland’s languages, and to welcoming Scotland’s multilingual identity, through English, Gaelic, Scots and other minority languages.

Gaelic, Scots and English are Scotland’s three surviving historic languages. While many other languages are spoken in Scotland today, Scots and Gaelic are special because if their use were to cease here, where they are rooted, they would effectively become extinct.

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Scottish Gaelic

The Gaelic language is a powerful symbol of Scotland’s unique heritage and provides enduring linguistic and cultural links to other nations in the British Isles and beyond.

Its speakers number less than two percent of today’s national population but differs from many minority languages because it was once the national tongue; the primary language of power and influence.

The historical marginalisation of Gaelic, both politically and geographically, is understood (and lamented) by Gaelic speakers, but not always by those who don’t speak the language or the misapprehension that Gaelic was always a marginal element in Scottish life.

Read Language Policy in Gaelic


Scots is used by hundreds of thousands of people in their daily lives, intangibly connected to Scotland’s culture.

Modern Scots is a Germanic language, descended, like modern English, from Old English.

From the 11th century, as the feudal system established in England by the Normans was adopted by the Scottish kings, immigrants from Northern England brought their Danish-influenced speech.

Over the next four centuries trading and political links with Scandinavia, the Low Countries, France and other parts of Europe shaped the language.

Listen to Scots podcasts on a wide range of subjects at Scots Radio

Read Language Policy in Scots