A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

New Scots language app for young learners

 Each January Scotland celebrates the birth of our national bard, but with each passing year, Burns’ words become increasingly unfamiliar. And for youngsters struggling with lockdown and home-schooling restrictions, access to help for words like sonsie, aboon and painch from the opening lines of ‘Address To a Haggis’ can be hard to find. 

To support Scotland’s young learners, the team behind the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary and the Dictionaries of the Scots Language Online have produced a new dictionary in app format for everyone aged eight to eighteen who speaks, reads or writes Scots or would like to do so.

The new Scots Dictionary for Schools app, produced with Scottish Government funding, provides meanings in English for 9,500 Scots words and phrases — including those found in set classroom texts — with audio guides to the pronunciation of the most difficult. 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “I warmly welcome the launch of the new Scots Dictionary for Schools app. This free resource, from the Dictionaries of the Scots Language, is another useful tool for young learners of Scots and those with an interest in speaking, reading and writing in what is often the language used at home. It is important that we encourage and nurture young people’s creativity and identity as a Scots speaker.” 

Dr Rhona Alcorn, CEO of the Dictionaries of the Scots Language, added: “More and more young people are interested in learning Scots. Our new dictionary will support school-age learners, from those who encounter Scots only on Burns Night to those who are studying for an SQA Award in Scots language or studying Scots as a modern language. The free app format cuts through current restrictions on access to books and teachers and offers an up-to-date way to engage with Scottish culture.” 

The new Scots Dictionary for Schools app is downloadable free of charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play store from 25 January 2021. It arrives at a time of heightened interest in the language across multiple social media platforms. 

Further information 

  • Scots is recognised as an indigenous language of Scotland, a regional or minority language of Europe, and as a vulnerable language by UNESCO. 
  • The 2011 Scottish Census identified over 1.5 million Scots speakers in Scotland. 
  • Originally published in print in 1996 and in app format in 2014, this second edition of the Scots Dictionary for Schools app features improved content, a brand new app design, and 600 professionally recorded pronunciation guides. 
  • The Dictionaries of the Scots Language is a publicly-funded Scottish charity. As the nation’s authority on Scots, it is responsible for recording and defining the vocabulary of Scots from the earliest times to the present day. Our dictionaries span eight centuries of Scots language use and provide a unique record of the language, history, culture, and traditions of the Scots-speaking people. 
  • Contact Rhona Alcorn: 07977 136752 | rhona.alcorn@dsl.ac.uk. 

Reproduced from the Dictionaries of the Scots Language press release. 

January 25, 2021