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Names in Scots - countries abroad


The most comprehensive listings of Scots names for people and places are those contained in A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue edited by William Craigie (1937), which deals with the pre-1700 period, and The Scottish National Dictionary (1976) covering the period from 1700 onwards. The Concise Scots Dictionary (1985) brings together some of these materials in one volume. The following listing of country names and associated adjectives and language names in Scots is based on the sources above, on 19th and 20th century newspaper articles in the language (examples of which are given in Popular Literature in Victorian Scotland (1986) and The Language of the People Scots Prose from the Victorian Revival (1989), both by William Donaldson) and also some academic studies of spoken language which include country names (for example, Lowland Scotch as Spoken in the Lower Strathearn District of Perthshire (1915) and The Dialects of Central Scotland (1926), both by James K Wilson).


In the following listing, the name of the individual territory is first given in bold in the form currently used in English. Each entry is then followed by the form in Scots, and, where appropriate, adjective and language names, people, capitals and towns. Some entries are supplemented with guidance notes.

There is a well-established tradition in Scots whereby well known Latin-based names ending in –a or –ia (meaning ‘land’ or ‘place’) are rendered –ie or –ae in the equivalent Scots. For example, the Latin names America, Jamaica and Russia, preferred in English usage, are Americae, Jamaicae and Roushie in the equivalent Scots. In 19th and 20th century newspaper articles in Scots these endings were spelled a variety of ways including –ie and –ky (as in Ameriky, etc). In this listing the spellings –ae and –ie are preferred.

There are some country names created in more recent ages, particularly in Africa and the Americas, that end in –a or –ia which derive from various, often non-Latin sources and for which no obvious precedents are apparent in Scots at time of writing. Examples of these are Gambia, Panama, Rwanda and Venezuela.  In each case where a country name means ‘land’ or ‘place’ the established tradition has been followed and the form has been adjusted to Scots –ae or –ie, but where the meaning is different the names have been left unadjusted.  All names in this category are marked with an * so that individuals may decide for themselves whether they wish to use the Scotticised form or the form as established in current English usage.

The tradition in Scots for making a national adjective has usually been to apply the name of the country or by adding an –s to the name to indicate possession. In the case of language names, Scots often varies between adding an –ish or an –s, this second trait being shared with Dutch. For example, the equivalents to the English adjectives/language names Danish and Scottish are in Scots Dens and Scots (echoed in Dutch by Deens and Schots). In other instances, Scots adjective/language names end in –ish, as in Spainish or Swaidish. There are also adjective/language names that end in –an, and where country names end in an –ie (for example, Roushie) an n is consistently added to create the adjective/language name where appropriate (for example, Roushien).

In traditional Scots usage the term Isles has been preferred where English uses Islands. So, for example, the form Aleutian Isles is preferred in Scots, rather than English Aleutian Islands.

Scots spellings are also used to indicate the sound of the vowel where it would not otherwise be obvious. For example, the spelling –ai, as in Aisie and Albainie, indicates that the vowel a should be pronounced as in ‘stay’ and ‘pay’ and not ah as in ‘cat’ or ‘brat’. Also the Scots spelling -ei represents a long ‘ee’ vowel sound, as in Scots Algeirie (English Algeria).


A recommnded list of countries, nations and states around the world in Scots is contained in the PDF below together with the guidance notes above.