atlas Would you say I like they trainers? What about She’s no caring? Have you ever heard anyone say I div like a good story? And might you say You’re after locking us out? All of these utterances come from dialects of Scots spoken across Scotland, but where exactly can you hear them?
To answer this question, we travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, visiting 145 communities, from Shetland in the north to Stranraer in the south. We were particularly interested in the different ways that sentences are built up in these different areas. This part of a language is called its syntax, and it’s one of the most creative aspects of how people use language. To understand more about the syntax of Scots, we asked people what they do and don’t say across these different dialect areas. For example, would you say I saw youse yesterday? Would you say I’m no been there in a while? We also recorded conversations with people across Scotland, where they talked about their lives, their communities, family and friends.
We then used both the answers to the questions and the recordings of speakers to map dialect diversity throughout Scotland.
You can explore what we found in the Scots Syntax Atlas. You can listen to different varieties of Scots, find out who says what where, and the stories behind some of the examples you hear.