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Scots shares the same Germanic roots as English, but the two languages developed separately during the Middle Ages when Scotland and England were independent, mutually hostile nations. Then, Scots absorbed distinctive words from French, Dutch, and Scandinavian languages, while ironically preserving its Old English roots better than the English of England in words like hame (home) and stane (stone). Scots was spoken by every sector of Lowland society.

The hegemony of Scots was eroded by important historical events such as the Reformation (16th century), when the first vernacular Bibles were printed in English; the Union of the Crowns (1603), ...

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