Scots is used by hundreds of thousands of people in their daily lives, and its present in many aspects of Scotland’s culture. Modern Scots is a Germanic language, descended, like modern English, from Old English.
The Northern variety first appeared in what is now south-east Scotland in the 7th century. Then, and for 500 years thereafter, Gaelic was the dominant language in Scotland, but from the 11th century, as the feudal system established in England by the Normans was adopted by the Scottish kings, immigrants from Northern England brought their Danish-influenced speech into many parts of Lowland Scotland.
Although called ‘Inglis’ at this time, the language north of the Tweed began to diverge from that spoken in the south, a process accelerated during the Wars of Independence in the era of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. ‘Inglis’ also flourished in the royal burghs established from the 12th century on, giving it both an urban and rural presence.
Over the next four centuries trading and political links with Scandinavia, the Low Countries, France and other parts of Europe helped to shape the language as it borrowed words from, for example, Flemish merchants. Some words also crossed from Gaelic.