Public Attitudes Towards the Scots Language

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3 MAIN FINDINGS

Usage of Scots today

3.1 Information on the usage of Scots nowadays was collected for speaking Scots, reading Scots and writing Scots. In each instance respondents were asked asked how much or often they did so, using a five point verbal scale, ranging from 'a lot' to 'never'. The results for each, amongst the total sample, are shown in Figure 3.1 below.

Figure 3.1: Usage of Scots today
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.1: Usage of Scots today

3.2 The two key findings here are firstly, that Scots is spoken to a degree by the majority of adults in Scotland today, and secondly, that Scots is primarily a spoken language rather than one that is read or written. In total, some 85% claim to speak Scots nowadays, with 43% claiming to do so 'fairly often/a lot'. By comparison 51% ever read in Scots, and just 31% ever use Scots when writing, with around only around10% doing either on a regular basis.

3.3 Further analysis reveals some significant age and socio-economic differences in terms of speaking, reading and writing in Scots. For example, in terms of the spoken language, the over 65s are the least likely to ever speak Scots nowadays (80% in total compared to at least 86% across all other age groups) with those most likely to speak Scots in the 55-64 year old age range (89%). Arguably the lower usage amongst the oldest group may reflect differences in upbringing amongst a generation that was encouraged to speak English and discouraged from using their local speech. Lower usage levels amongst the over 65s are also evident for reading and writing in Scots.

3.4 Conversely the younger age groups appear to be more likely to use Scots at all when writing; although the difference is only significant in comparison to the over 65s: 34% of 16-34s and 36% of 35-44s compared to 27% of over 65s.

3.5 The differences according to socio-economic status on the other hand are not consistent across the three dimensions. For example, whilst those in the highest groups are less likely to speak in Scots than any other group (80% of ABs compared to 86% of C1s, 86% of C2s and 87% of DEs) the same pattern does not hold true for reading: respondents in the highest socio-economic grades emerged as those most likely to ever read in Scots (56% compared to 48% of C1s and 50% of C2DEs). It is C1s though who appear much less likely to write in Scots (23%), compared to any other socio-economic group (33%, 37% and 34% for ABs, C2s and DEs respectively).

3.6 Looking at usage across all 3 dimensions - speaking, writing and reading - , the profile of those using Scots regularly, that is a lot or fairly often, is that of a younger, C2DE, and slightly male biased group. Figure 3.2 below shows the total percentage across all key sub-groups who speak, write or read Scots at least fairly often.

Figure 3.2: Total percentage speaking, writing or reading Scots regularly
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.2: Total percentage speaking, writing or reading Scots regularly

Reasons for speaking/not speaking Scots

3.7 To establish the reasons for not using Scots, all those respondents who claimed to speak it either rarely or never were asked why they did not speak Scots/speak Scots more. This was an open-ended question therefore the responses have been grouped into themes as shown in Figure 3.3 below.

3.8 The first column of figures shows the results based on all those asked this question (n=280 respondents) and the second column shows the same responses as a percentage of the total sample (n =1020).

Figure 3.3: Reasons for speaking/not speaking Scots
Base: All respondents never/rarely speaking Scots (280)/All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.3: Reasons for speaking/not speaking Scots

This shows all responses provided by 3% or more of those asked. A full list of responses is shown in the appended data tables

3.9 By far the most common reason given for not speaking Scots (amongst the 280 adults who claimed that they never spoke it) was 'I am not Scottish'. Almost four out of ten in this group cited their non-Scottish origins as a reason for not speaking Scots - a far higher number than recorded for any another reason given. However, whilst this percentage is high for a response amongst those answering this question, when the number is re-based on the total sample, the figure drops to 11% (as shown in the right hand column above) which is broadly in line with the percentage of non-Scottish adults in Scotland.

3.10 In terms of the other reasons offered, none were mentioned by significant numbers but several themes do emerge. There are concerns, for example, that Scots is not proper/not good English (10%), with a further 4% also specifically referring to it as slang. Additionally it appears that for some, Scots has either simply never been a part of their life, it has not been required or it has not been part of their up-bringing (8%). The issue of lack of understanding was also cited, but again by only a very small minority (7%).

3.11 The relatively large number claiming that they 'don't know' at this question also seems to suggest that there are no particularly strong negative factors limiting usage; rather, for most of the non-speakers Scots is just not their normal way of expressing themselves; either because they are not Scottish or because they have not been encouraged or required to do so.

3.12 In addition to measuring personal use of Scots, the survey also sought to gauge the extent to which people consider it commonly heard in the area where they live. Specifically, as part of a battery of attitude statements respondents, were asked to agree or disagree with the statement "there is a lot of Scots spoken in the area of Scotland where I live". Not surprisingly, given the large majority claiming to speak Scots, there was widespread agreement with this statement, as shown in Figure 3.4 below.

Figure 3.4: % agreeing/disagreeing that Scots is spoken a lot in the area of Scotland where I live
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.4: % agreeing/disagreeing that Scots is spoken a lot in the area of Scotland where I live

3.13 In total, two thirds agree that Scots in spoken a lot in their area, with the remainder broadly split between those neither agreeing nor disagreeing, those disagreeing slightly and those disagreeing strongly. However, in line with the demographic profile of Scots speakers, there is also a significant difference amongst socio-economic sub-groups at this measure, with levels of agreement rising to 74% and 72% amongst DEs and C2s respectively, compared to 63% of C1s, and just 57% of ABs. The relative economic status of a local area thus appears to have a strong influence on whether or not Scots is widely heard.

3.14 Those respondents who agree that Scots is spoken a lot in their area were also asked a follow up question on their level of understanding. Specifically, they were asked to rate their understanding of the Scots spoken in their area, using a 5 point rating scale, ranging from very good to very poor. The results are shown in Figure 3.5 below.

Figure 3.5: Rating of understanding of Scots spoken in area where live
Base: All respondents who agree that Scots is spoken a lot in their area (690) Figure 3.5: Rating of understanding of Scots spoken in area where live

3.15 The results are overwhelmingly positive, with 90% claiming to have a good understanding, and only 5% rating their understanding as poor. Comprehension of Scots, in those areas where it is widely used, is therefore not a problem for the vast majority of adults.

3.16 Moreover, even amongst those who never speak Scots themselves, or who only use it occasionally or rarely, the level of understanding is generally good (68% of non-speakers and 86% of irregular speakers rated their understanding as good).

3.17 The final measures in this section on usage examine where Scots is used. Firstly all respondents were asked to indicate, from a list, where they tend to speak Scots, and secondly they were asked to specify, from the same list, where they tend to speak it most. The results for both these measures are shown in Figure 3.6 overleaf.

Figure 3.6: Where tend to speak Scots
Base: All who ever speak Scots (867)

Figure 3.6: Where tend to speak Scots

3.18 At a total level, Scots is much more widely spoken when socialising with friends and, to a marginally lesser extent, when at home with the family, compared to in more formal situations such as dealing with shop/bank or GP staff or when at work. Around two thirds of speakers use it with friends/family compared to less than half this number when out and about or at work. The family environment was most widely endorsed as the most popular place for speaking Scots (by slightly under half those speaking Scots), just marginally ahead of the social environment.

3.19 However these figures do mask some interesting variations when the results are analysed in a more detail. For example, female speakers are much more likely than males to speak Scots at home (68% compared to 58% of males), whereas it is spoken more commonly at work by males (31%) than females (20%). The gender difference is even more pronounced with regard to place where Scots is spoken most: 54% of females endorsed 'at home' compared to just 32% of males.

3.20 There is also a strong age effect, with 16-34 year old Scots speakers less likely than other age groups to be speaking it with the family (58%) but using it much more widely than any other age group when socialising with friends (81%). Arguably the emphasis on the social arena amongst younger people reflects a more active social life generally, but nevertheless the figure also highlights the strength of the Scots language amongst young people today. Males are also generally more likely to use it most when socialising (44% compared to 32% of females).

3.21 The other significant difference at this measure emerges according to geographic region 4. Whilst differences at regional levels have to be treated with some caution as the base sizes are low (c100 respondents) and the demographic profiles not consistent, the percentage of those in the Glasgow region claiming to speak Scots when socialising with friends is sufficiently higher than all other regions to warrant mention. 84% of Scots speakers in Glasgow indicated that they speak it when socialising with friends, compared to percentages in the low 60s for Highland and Islands, Mid Scotland and Fife, and the Lothians.

Perceptions of Scots as a language

3.22 At the very start of the questionnaire, after playing a short recording of some examples of Scots, respondents were asked to consider four different aspects of Scots as a language. However the term 'language' was deliberately avoided in the opening introduction so as not to influence the respondents' views.

3.23 Respondents were asked to agree or disagree with four statements, the order of which was rotated, using a five point rating scale. The results for the statement, I probably do use Scots when speaking but am not really aware of it, were as follows:

Figure 3.7: % agreeing/disagreeing that I probably do use Scots when speaking but am not really aware of it
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.7: % agreeing/disagreeing that I probably do use Scots when speaking but am not really aware of it

3.24 In total, two thirds (67%) agree that their use of Scots is sub-conscious; that they are really not aware of speaking it. Moreover, a quarter agree strongly that this is the case. Reflecting lower levels of speaking Scots amongst ABs their mean score value (based on ascribing value of +2 to -2 to each of the points on the scale) is considerably lower at 0.21 compared to other socio-economic groups. These mean scores increase from 0.52 for C1s to 0.71 amongst DEs.

3.25 The results for the second statement, I don't really think of Scots as a language, it's more just a way of speaking, are as follows:

Figure 3.8: % agreeing/disagreeing that I don't really think of Scots as a language, it's more just a way of speaking
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.8: % agreeing/disagreeing that I don't really think of Scots as a language, it's more just a way of speaking

3.26 The majority of adults in the sample (64%) agree that they do not think of Scots as a language, with around half of this group holding this view with conviction (34% of the total sample). However many of those who disagree (30%) do so strongly (16% in total) highlighting the absence of a real consensus on this issue.

3.27 Perhaps not surprisingly, views on whether or not Scots is a language differ significantly according to how frequently it is spoken: the most frequent speakers are least likely to agree that it is not a language (58%) and those never speaking Scots most likely to do so (72%). For those who speak it occasionally/rarely the level of agreement was 67%.

3.28 The statement, if I heard Scots spoken more, I would be more likely to speak it myself, was included in the attitude battery in order to establish whether or not people would be encouraged to speak Scots themselves, if it was more widely spoken.

Figure 3.9: % agreeing/disagreeing if I heard Scots spoken more, I would be more likely to speak it myself
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.9: % agreeing/disagreeing if I heard Scots spoken more, I would be more likely to speak it myself

3.29 At the total level the results are very polarised, with 43% agreeing and some 35% disagreeing; therefore it is difficult to conclude one way or the other what the impact would be if Scots was more widely spoken. However, when the results are analysed according to current level of usage a completely different pattern emerges, as Figure 3.10 below shows.

Figure 3.10: % agreeing/disagreeing, if I heard Scots spoken more, I would be more likely to speak it myself by frequency of speaking Scots
Base: All respondents in each sub-group

Figure 3.10: % agreeing/disagreeing, if I heard Scots spoken more, I would be more likely to speak it myself by frequency of speaking Scots

3.30 On the basis of this evidence, it is those who are already speaking Scots, and in particular those who use it regularly, who would be encouraged to use it further if they heard it more. Conversely, it appears that hearing Scots spoken more widely would not encourage the non-speakers to speak Scots. This is perhaps not surprising however, as previous results have highlighted that non-usage often stems from a lack of connection with Scots either because of up-bringing or origins: relatively few are not using it because of issues of understanding or lack of access.

3.31 The final statement sought to gauge, at a prompted level, the extent to which Scots is regarded negatively on the basis of how it sounds and specifically with regard to whether or not it is considered to be slang.

Figure 3.11: % agreeing/disagreeing that, when people use Scots it doesn't sound nice - it's slang
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.11: % agreeing/disagreeing that, when people use Scots it doesn't sound nice - it's slang

3.32 This statement was posed as a negative -"it doesn't sound nice, it's slang". The high level of disagreement therefore highlights that the majority of respondents do not think of Scots as slang. Moreover many (40%) are strongly against the view that Scots is slang.

3.33 The differences in opinion by demographic sub-groups highlight that males (23% vs. 29% of females) and ABs are the least likely to consider Scots as slang (15% vs. 25% of C1s, 32% of C2s and DEs (32%). Furthermore, it is also noteworthy that whilst, as expected, levels of agreement are lowest amongst frequent speakers of Scots, non-speakers also generally disagree that Scots is slang, as shown in Figure 3.12 overleaf

Figure 3.12: % agreeing/disagreeing that, when people use Scots it doesn't sound nice - it's slang, by frequency of speaking Scots
Base: All respondents in each sub-group

Figure 3.12: % agreeing/disagreeing that, when people use Scots it doesn't sound nice - it's slang, by frequency of speaking Scots

3.34 Thus although frequent speakers have the most hardened attitudes against viewing Scots as slang, many non-speakers also do not consider it negatively in this sense. This too, is in line with the previous findings which suggested that concerns regarding the 'quality' of Scots as a language are not a major influence on levels of usage.

Importance of Scots nowadays

3.35 Moving onto attitudes towards the value of Scots nowadays, respondents were initially asked "how important is to you personally, that Scots is used in Scotland these days?" The main results, based on responses to a 5 point rating scale, are shown in Figure 3.13 overleaf.

Figure 3.13: Importance of using Scots in Scotland these days
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.13: Importance of using Scots in Scotland these days

3.36 Two thirds of adults thus indicated that they believe Scots is important, and indeed over a quarter regard it as very important. Whilst a substantial core takes the opposite view, most of this group rate it as not very rather than not at all important.

3.37 There are no significant trends on this measure by demographic sub-groups but in line with findings on previous questions, the extent to which Scots is used appears to be strongly influential. For example, amongst those regularly speaking Scots, reading it and writing it, levels of importance increase to 83%, 90% and 93% respectively. Furthermore, even amongst those who never speak it themselves, usage of Scots today appears to be valued by substantial numbers, as Figure 3.14 below overleaf.

Figure 3.14: Importance of using Scots in Scotland these days by frequency of speaking Scots
Base: All respondents in each sub-group

Figure 3.14: Importance of using Scots in Scotland these days by frequency of speaking Scots

3.38 As expected, agreement that using Scots today is important, increases as the amount of Scots spoken increases. Nevertheless, slightly under a half of non- speakers regard it as important that Scots is used these days (43%).

Reasons for Scots being important/not important.

3.39 Respondents were also asked to cite, without prompting, their reasons for rating Scots as important/not important. The results in respect of the positive attitudes are shown in Figure 3.15 below.

Figure 3.15: Reason for Scots being important
Base: All saying it is important (687)

Figure 3.15: Reason for Scots being important

3.40 The two main themes to emerge are those of identity and heritage. These were each mentioned by around one in five of all those believing Scots is important. Additionally, culture and the need to keep the language alive were also mentioned by sizeable numbers, the latter highlighting that Scots is not just associated with the past. Secondary reasons for the importance of Scots include the idea that it is the natural language and because "we are Scottish". A number of other points were also brought up, although each by only very small percentages. These include factors such as liking the sound, making Scotland unique and being part of one's upbringing.

3.41 The overall picture provided by these comments is therefore one of a language that is considered to have a legacy but remains a key part of being Scottish today.

3.42 The main spontaneous comments given by those rating Scots as not important are shown in Figure 3.16 below.

Figure 3.16: Reasons why Scots is not important today
Base: All saying it is not important (311)

Figure 3.16: Reasons why Scots is not important today

3.43 The most noteworthy finding from these results is the relatively large percentage (19%) who commented on the lack of relevance of Scots; its pointlessness. This emerges quite clearly as the most likely reason for regarding using Scots today as unimportant.

3.44 There were a range of other factors cited too, but by relatively small minorities of less than 10% in each instance. Some 8%, for example, referred to Scots as slang, thus confirming that this is a cause for concern for some. Small numbers also noted that it was difficult to understand and that it was old fashioned/out of date. References were also made to English being the universal language, to the importance of being understood, and to need to learn "proper English". None of these however were mentioned by significant numbers, and indeed over 10% gave a 'don't know' response.

3.45 Overall, there do not appear to be any particularly strong or widespread criticisms of the use of Scots today; rather, many are simply not engaged with the language nor interested, often due to their not being of Scottish origin or simply not being brought up with it.

Perceptions of Scots generally

3.46 In addition to seeking spontaneous comments, the survey sought to gauge opinion towards some specific aspects of Scots. Four such aspects were included in the questionnaire, and respondents were asked to agree or disagree with each using a 5 point rating scale. The order in which they were rated was rotated.

3.47 The results obtained with respect to three out of the four statements are very similar and these are shown in Figure 3.17 below.

Figure 3.17: % agreeing/disagreeing with different aspects of Scots
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.17: % agreeing/disagreeing with different aspects of Scots

3.48 With agreement levels of around 80-90%, these findings confirm the value that is placed on the historical and cultural role of the Scots language, as well as its significance to local identities across Scotland. Moreover, the majority also agree strongly with each of these, highlighting the strength of positive feeling towards Scots.

3.49 As a consequence of the consensus of opinion there is little variation by demographic sub-group. However it is worth noting that even amongst non-speakers of Scots the majority agree with these views, with two thirds to three quarters agreeing with each statement. Likewise, respondents who had previously indicated that Scots was not important also tend to support these values of Scots, with two thirds to three quarters agreeing across the three statements.

3.50 The findings obtained with respect to the fourth statement, 'Scots is not relevant to the modern Scotland of today' are slightly more mixed, with some demographic differences also emerging. Figure 3.18 below summarises the results for the total sample and by age and socio-economic status. As this statement is in 'the negative', the higher the level of disagreement the greater the positive opinion of Scots.

Figure 3.18: % agreeing/disagreeing that Scots is not relevant to the modern Scotland of today
Base: All in each subgroup

Figure 3.18: % agreeing/disagreeing that Scots is not relevant to the modern Scotland of today

3.51 Whilst the overall balance of opinion remains positive, with slightly under two thirds disagreeing that Scots is not relevant, a quarter of the sample agree with this view, and some 10% are unsure either way. The findings for age highlight a slight increase in agreement as age increases, with over 65s significantly more likely to agree compared to those under aged under 34 year (32% vs. 20%). As regards socio-economic status, ABC1s are significantly more likely to disagree that Scots is not relevant compared to C2DEs (66% vs. 56%).

3.52 Whether the respondent is a Scots speaker, and the extent to which Scots is spoken, also appear to have a strong impact on attitudes towards the relevance of Scots in modern Scotland. The levels of agreement/disagreement according to this variable are summarised in Figure 3.19 overleaf.

Figure 3.19: % agreeing/disagreeing that Scots is not relevant to the modern Scotland of today by frequency of speaking Scots
Base: All respondents in each sub-group

Figure 3.19: % agreeing/disagreeing that Scots is not relevant to the modern Scotland of today by frequency of speaking Scots

3.53 There is a very clear pattern of increasing agreement with the view that Scots is not relevant as the level of Scots spoken declines; from 18% amongst regular speakers to 40% amongst non-speakers. However even amongst non-speakers, the proportion supporting Scots is significant, with 42% disagreeing.

Expectations of the use of Scots today

3.54 A further key objective of the research was to determine the level of support for usage of Scots in different aspects of Scottish life, including elements such as culture and broadcasting and the more formal worlds of civic/political life, the law and business. In the first instance respondents were asked to rate the importance of using Scots nowadays in each of the five areas, and the results obtained are shown in Figure 3.20 overleaf.

Figure 3.20: Rating of importance of Scots across different aspects of Scottish life
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.20: Rating of importance of Scots across different aspects of Scottish life

3.55 Not surprisingly perhaps, given the high level of support for the usage of Scots generally, attitudes towards its use in some specific aspects of life in Scotland are also fairly positive, although attitudes are by no means similar for each. Support for the usage of Scots in culture (arts, drama, music, etc.) is particularly widespread, and strong (69% in total rate it as important). Overall support for usage in broadcasting is also more positive (57%) than negative (40%) although clearly views are more variable. Comparatively though, the proportions claiming that Scots is important in political life, the law and business are therefore much lower, but by no means insubstantial (at 44%, 43% and 38% respectively).

3.56 The lower inclination to support Scots in these formal settings is very much in line with current patterns of speaking Scots, with most claiming to do so when with friends and family, with only a minority speaking when out and about or at work.

3.57 A further follow-up question sought to determine the level of support for increasing the amount of Scots used across each of the five areas. Figure 3.21 overleaf highlights, for each aspect, the percentage claiming that there is enough Scots, too much Scots and not enough Scots.

Figure 3.21: Whether usage of Scots is enough across different aspects of Scottish life
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.21: Whether usage of Scots is enough across different aspects of Scottish life

3.58 One of the key findings here is that the majority are content with the amount of Scots usage - indeed the percentage claiming that the amount is adequate is very similar across all five aspects. Secondly, although culture achieved the highest level of endorsement in terms of importance, there is fractionally more support for increased usage of Scots in broadcasting. Interestingly the percentages claiming there is insufficient usage are relatively similar for all areas - ranging from 29% to 20%. Only tiny minorities indicated that they felt there was too much Scots.

3.59 To illustrate these findings more clearly, each of the five aspects is plotted on a two dimensional grid in Figure 3.22 overleaf. The vertical axis shows the relative importance of usage, and the horizontal axis shows the level of support for more/less usage - both based on the mean score values of each.

Figure 3.22: Priority for change based on importance and support for increased usage
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.22: Priority for change based on importance and support for increased usage

3.60 This highlights very neatly that current usage is slightly below what it should be for all aspects, and thus all aspects appear to the left hand side of the grid. On the other hand only two aspects, culture and broadcasting, are considered to be important and appear above the horizontal line. Furthermore of the two, culture stands out above broadcasting as the aspect of Scottish life which warrants most consideration for increased usage of Scots due to its greater importance

Scots in Education

3.61 This final section of the report examines attitudes towards learning Scots and Scots in education. Respondents were asked to agree/disagree with three statements, the first of which referenced the contribution of learning Scots to a sense of cultural identity and the second and third referred specifically to the benefits of learning and teaching Scots in school.

3.62 The full results for each, based on the total sample, are given in Figure 3.23 overleaf.

Figure 3.23: % agreeing/disagreeing with statements on learning/teaching Scots
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.23: % agreeing/disagreeing with statements on learning/teaching Scots

3.63 In line with previous findings that have highlighted the strong associations with the Scots language and Scottish culture, there is a high level of agreement with the first statement, 'Learning the Scots language can contribute to a sense of national cultural identity': almost three quarters agree with this and approximately well over a third of the total sample agree strongly. Moreover, whilst some are unable to either agree or disagree, the percentage actively disagreeing is low, at just 12%.

3.64 The results for the second statement 'Learning the Scots language has educational benefits for children in Scotland' are significantly different however with only just over half agreeing (56%) and slightly over a quarter disagreeing. A similar proportion also disagrees that Scots should not be taught in schools in Scotland (55%).

3.65 It therefore appears that whilst many acknowledge that learning Scots contributes to cultural identity, opinions are more mixed when considering the educational benefits of learning/teaching Scots in school. This perhaps reflects that Scots is considered more as a way of speaking in Scotland rather than a language with the emphasis on the spoken element; this may suggest therefore that Scots is not regarded as a language that need or could be formalised in the educational environment.

3.66 Interestingly analysis of attitudes towards teaching Scots in schools highlights that those who do have school aged children, and secondary aged children in particular, are the most likely to be supportive of teaching Scots at school. Moreover it is those with pre-school aged children (any under 5 years) rather than those without any children that are the least likely disagree that it should not be taught: 62% of those with 12-17 year olds disagree compared to 58% of those with primary children and just 51% of those with any under 5 years. The corresponding figure for those without any children in the household (aged under 18years) is 54%.

3.67 Following on from the above, attitudes towards encouraging children to speak Scots generally also flagged up differences according to the age of children in the household. Figure 3.24 below summarises the findings at the total level, as well as for those with children under 5 years, children aged 5 to 11 years, and those with any 12-17 years.

Figure 3.24: Whether children in Scotland should be encouraged to speak Scots by presence of children in household
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.24: Whether children in Scotland should be encouraged to speak Scots by presence of children in household

3.68 Overall the majority are in favour of encouraging children in Scotland to speak Scots, although it is not a huge majority - some 31% disagree. However, as found on the previous measure, whilst those with older children, and particularly secondary school aged children, appear particularly keen for their children to speak Scots, parents of pre-school children are more likely to have reservations. In total 40% of the latter are against encouraging children to speak Scots compared to just 23% of those with secondary children in the household.

3.69 Arguably, concerns stem from the fact that pre-school children are at a much earlier stage in their language development generally, and that to introduce the Scots language so young might negatively interfere with this process. It would be interesting to examine though whether there was the same level of reluctance amongst this age group to teaching / encouraging children a new language if the language in question was a foreign language. There is an argument that children can learn new languages easily, without necessarily jeopardising the 'mother' language and that in fact exposing children to additional languages can help all language development generally. The issue to explore would therefore be whether learning Scots is considered to offer the same benefits to language development as learning foreign languages.

Reasons for encouraging/not encouraging children to speak Scots

3.70 An open-ended follow-up question on the reasons for believing that children should be encouraged to speak Scots produced very similar responses to those obtained when respondents were asked why Scots is important generally. The main comments obtained are shown in Figure 3.25 below.

Figure 3.25: Reasons why children should be encouraged to speak Scots
Base: All respondents (1020)

Figure 3.25: Reasons why children should be encouraged to speak Scots

3.71 The responses generated at this measure also focus on the key themes of identity, heritage and culture. Additionally, comments were again made for the need to encourage usage in order to ensure that the language is "kept alive". A number of slightly different but related comments were also obtained with regard to Scots being the language of Scotland, Scots being the national language and the language of Scottish people. These latter comments thus suggest that Scots is regarded by some as the 'norm' for people living in Scotland, and for Scottish people.

3.72 The reasons given for claiming that children should not be encouraged to speak Scots are summarised in Figure 3.26 below.

Figure 3.26: Why children should not be encouraged
Base: All who say children shouldn't be encouraged to speak Scots (305)

Figure 3.26: Why children should not be encouraged

3.73 There were many different comments across a range of issues at this question - many mentioned by very small numbers; only those given by 4% or more are shown here. As highlighted before, those who are less supportive of Scots often regard it is unimportant/not relevant, and this also appears as a main reason for not encouraging children to speak it. The other reason offered by a significant proportion is that they should be taught "(proper) English". Almost one in five of those answering this question gave this as a reason for not encouraging children to speak Scots, which suggests that there are concerns that Scots is not as good as English. Indeed a further 7% also referenced the need to speak "properly".

3.74 Other reasons for not being in favour of encouraging Scots amongst children covered concerns about it being slang, difficult to understand and of affecting careers, as well as references to Scots not being an international language and it not being as useful as other foreign languages. Overall none of these criticisms were raised by more than relatively small minorities but they again highlight that for some, Scots compares badly compared to English and possibly also to other languages too.