Last updated
20 Jan 2022

Can you understand, speak, read and write Scottish Gaelic or Scots?

How do I answer this question?

Scottish Gaelic - It is up to you to decide whether you can understand, speak, read or write Scottish Gaelic. Select all that apply.

Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language. It comes from Old Irish and is one of the national languages of Scotland. It is also commonly known as Scots Gaelic or Gàidhlig.

Scots - It is up to you to decide whether you can understand, speak, read or write Scots. Select all that apply.

Scots is spoken all over Scotland. Scots is the collective name for Scottish dialects such as 'Glaswegian', 'Doric', 'Buchan', 'Dundonian', or 'Shetland'. Taken altogether, Scottish dialects are called the Scots language. Scots is often known by names such as: Borders, Doric, Scotch, Fife, broad or braid Scots, Gallowa, Glesga and Lallans. This is not a full list and you may have your own name for your local way of speaking.

I am still unsure about Scots. Where can I get more information?

More information, including audio clips that will let you hear what Scots sounds like, is available at

Why do you ask about Scottish Gaelic and Scots?

Gaelic is part of Scotland's heritage, identity and cultural life. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 places a duty on public organisations in Scotland to treat both the English and Scottish Gaelic languages equally.

Information from this question will be used with information from other questions. It will be used to help with:

  • monitoring language use in Scotland
  • designing services

Why are you not asking about other languages? 

Questions are also asked about English, British Sign Language (BSL) and Main language.

Who should answer this question?

This question should be answered for everybody who is aged 3 or over.

I am answering this question on paper for a child who is too young to speak, read or write. How do I answer?

You do not need to answer this question for children aged 2 or under.

We will be able to tell that this person’s language skills are age-related from their date of birth.

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