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Scottish Cant
Spoken in United Kingdom
Region Scotland
Total speakers
Language family Indo-European
Official status
Official language in None
Regulated by None
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 trl

Scottish Cant (often simply Cant) is a cant spoken in Scotland by Scottish Travellers.[1]



Although a certain amount of Romani words have entered Scottish Cant through intermarriage with British Romanis, Scottish Travellers are an autochthonous group of travelling people and not to be confused with British New Age Travellers. Scottish Cant essentially remains a Germanic language.[1] The Goidelic (Irish and Gaelic) element in Scottish Cant is put anywhere between 0.8% and 20%.[1]

Use of archaic Scots

Scottish Cant uses numerous terms derived from Scots which are no longer current in Modern Scots as spoken by non-Travellers, such as mowdit "buried", gellie "a bothy or mools "earth".[1]

Gaelic influences

Loans from Gaelic include words like:[1]

  • cluishes "ears" (Gaelic cluasan or cluais, a dative form of cluas "ear")
  • shan "bad" (Gaelic sean "old")

Romani influences

There are Romani loans such as and the percentage of Romani lexial borrowings is said to be up to 20% of the lexicon; some examples are:[1]

  • gadgie "man" (Romani gadžó "a non-Romani person")
  • pannie "water" (Romani paní)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kirk, J. & Ó Baoill, D. Travellers and their Language (2002) Queen's University Belfast ISBN 0-85389-832-4

See also



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