The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech (SCOTS)

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech (SCOTS)

Recent years have brought significant changes to the political situation in Scotland. This new political situation has been accompanied by a resurgence of interest in the languages and culture of Scotland. On 1 July 1999, for example, in an historic address, the late Donald Dewar offered a 'handsel' to the Queen at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. A 'handsel' is a gift intended to bring good luck to something new or to a new beginning. He was thus marking this special occasion in a traditional Scottish manner.

Advances in computer technology have now made it possible to store and analyse very large quantities of information in a way which would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. As a result, in recent years much research in the Humanities has focused on the building of large text archives and corpora. Such resources offer exciting opportunities to study language on a broad scale and with an accuracy which would otherwise be impossible.

The SCOTS project is the first large-scale project of its kind for Scotland. It provides a large electronic corpus of both written and spoken texts for the languages of Scotland. It has been online since November 2004, and, after regular updates and additions, it reached a total of 4 million words of text in May 2007. It is hoped that SCOTS will allow those interested in Scotland's linguistic diversity, and in Scottish culture and identity, to investigate the languages of Scotland in new ways, and address the gap which presently exists in our knowledge of these. It will also preserve information on these languages for future generations.