A historical offshoot of the Northumbrian dialect of Anglo‐Saxon, sharing with Northern Middle English a strong Norse element in vocabulary and vowel and consonant developments which still mark off northern speech from Standard English. To this Gaelic, French (Norman and Parisian) and Dutch elements accrued and the political independence of Scotland gave this speech a national status. It became also the vehicle of a considerable literature in Barbour, Henryson, Dunbar, Douglas, Sir D. Lindsay, and there was much prose translation as well, but the failure to produce a vernacular Bible at the Reformation, the Union of the Crowns in 1603, and that of the Parliaments in 1707 all helped to extend the bounds of English and prevent the evolution of an all‐purpose Scots prose. The 18th‐cent. literary revival of Scots under Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns, who gave it the name of ‘Lallans’ (Lowlands), was confined to poetry, with prose used merely to represent the colloquy of rustic characters, in Sir W. Scott, Hogg, Galt, R. Stevenson and the ‘Kailyard School’. With the renaissance of the period 1920–50, writers like MacDiarmid, Robert Maclellan (1907–85), S. G. Smith, Douglas Young (1913–73), Alexander Scott (1920– ), Robert Kemp (1908– ), and others, attempted a re‐creation of a full canon of Scots to cope with modern themes, which was also called Lallans, the name now connoting the new experimental speech rather than the old historical vernacular.
Subjects: Literature — British History.