Aye Can - Speak Scots Language

Speak Scots

Scottish Census 2011 - 27th March


The Borders is a fiercely independent part of Scotland and the local ways of speaking show a number of characteristics which make them different from the dialects found to the north and west. This area takes in Annandale, Eskdale, Ettrick, and Roxburgh. Scots speakers in this area tend to call their dialect Borders although some may also refer to the name of the place they live so you might hear someone say they speak Hawick or that they speak Borders. Towns in the region include Annan, Hawick (Haaick), Jedburgh (Jethart), Kelso (Kelsae), Lockerbie and Selkirk. In Peebles, Roxburghshire and Berwickshire there are fewer of the characteristics usually associated with other Borders forms of speech.

Scots and its ancestor Anglo-Saxon, have been spoken in this region for around 1,400 years. Sometimes the Borders dialect has been called the ‘yow and mey’ dialect because of the different vowel sounds its speakers make in comparison with the other dialects of Scots. This means that some speakers of Borders say now and down rather than noo and doon (now and down) but they also say yow rather than you. Whereas the speakers of other dialects say baith, braid and claes (both, broad and clothes), speakers of Borders say beeath, breead and cleeaz.

The Borders dialect also shares with the North East of Scotland the distinction of a long tradition of poetry and song giving rise to the great Border Ballads in Scots. These are so popular that it’s now possible to listen to many versions of them on web sites like youtube. The yearly Common Ridings mark the traditional boundaries and provide an opportunity for the celebration of the Borders horse culture. The famous Scots language poet and writer Hugh MacDiarmid was a Borderer from Langholm.

Click on the links to hear people from this area speaking Scots.