To an uninformed incomer, Scots language Wikipedia ( can appear more like a misspelt variant of English than a legitimate language. The Wiki has been derided by Scots enthusiasts, who have accused the platform of having next-to-no input from native Scots speakers, of being poor quality, and causing damage to the cause of the Scots language. So what’s the stramash about?

What is Scots Wikipedia?

We’re all familiar with English-language Wikipedia – the volunteer-manned non-profit established in 2001, with the goal of providing a free and accessible high-quality online encyclopaedia. Fast forward 19 years and the Wiki has spread to 312 languages and counting, featuring just about every language commonly spoken on Earth, a fair few dialects (including Pennsylvania German), and even a few extinct tongues like Aramaic. Weighing in at 60,000 articles, Scots Wiki is a far cry from English’s 6.1 million, but is impressive nonetheless (for reference, Scottish Gaelic has 15,000 articles).

Why is a Scots Wikipedia needed?

Almost all Scots speakers can understand English fluently – and language experts say that immersing speakers during their day-to-day lives is crucial for safeguarding Scots. Linguists also believe that normalising the use of Scots in formal settings like literature and science will help dispel the outdated perception of Scots as an unsuitable ‘low tongue’. The Wiki also aims to provide a source of high-quality written Scots to convince those that doubt it that it is truly a separate language from English, and as a useful repository for learners.

Why is protecting the Scots language important?

Once Scotland’s official language, since 1707, Lowland Scotland has been experiencing a linguistic phenomenon known as ‘diglossia’: where Scots rapidly switch between two languages. One language is taken as the prestigious ‘high tongue’ suitable for literature, education and the arts; and other is perceived as common speak suitable only for casual conversation. Some among us can still remember being hit by their teachers for not talking ‘proper’, and despite being as different as Danish is to Swedish, many still scoff at the idea of a legitimate Scots language. As a result of centuries under attack, Scots is losing its uniqueness and may be at risk of total assimilation into English.

What’s wrong with the Wiki?

Users have described the Scots Wiki as being deeply flawed – chock-full of basic grammatical errors, such as using “an aw” to replace “also”, erroneously stating that “Charles V was king o the Holy Roman Empire and an aw Spain”, and “Pascal an aw wrote in defence o the scienteefic method” – a direct mistranslation from the Scots online dictionary. Some have claimed that the majority of the Wiki has been written by one prolific American teenager with no Scots fluency, inventing words like “filosofer” and “pheesics” on the go. The Wiki’s admin has admitted they currently have no Scottish contributors – and have put out a call for Scots speakers to sign up and have a go at improving the quality of the articles.