We received our census form today. One of the new questions on the Scottish Census is a language question, asking whether you understand / speak / read / write in English / Scottish Gaelic / Scots.
As an English person living in an area of Scotland where there is no real Gaelic speaking community, I can confidently state that no I don't read, write, speak or understand more than the very occasional word in that language and I don't feel that there is enough real opportunity to develop lasting skills in it either, though I do occasionally think about doing a beginner's course.
Scots is more difficult. I definitely read Scots, I've just read Hugh MacDairmid's Selected Poems and I regularly read poetry and novels in Scots. I may not understand every word and I get inordinately irritated by people who write in what they claim is Scots but is just a variant spelling of English without actually including any Scots words but I'd be lying to say I don't read Scots. I understand spoken Scots a lot of the time, but give me an Aberdonian with a thick accent and I'd probably not understand a word, but still, I think in general I do understand. Though fingers crossed the Scottish Government won't send a Aberdonian with a thick accent round to check up on my understanding after the census results have been collated. I definitely don't write Scots, apart from the occasional word such as 'dippit' in emails to Scottish friends. The big question is do I speak Scots? Now leaving aside the absurdity of speaking Scots with a Manchester accent, I probably don't, but it depends on who I'm with, and I can pepper my conversation with a good few Scots words other than dippit when I want to, I have also picked up quite a Scots intonation in my speech. I guess I've until Sunday to decide whether or not I speak Scots? Probably not, probably not. Though perhaps I could if I chose to, does that count?