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Plain Scots Bible

The Launch of the Bible in Plain Scots by the Ullans Academy
Until this time, the Bible has not been completely translated into Plain Scots. The Plain Scots Bible has used the core Scots words. This means the Bible does not favour one Scots dialect over another but all who speak Scots can understand it
Map highlighting the areas where the different Scots language/ dialects are spoken.


Prior to 1560 church services were usually conducted in Latin using a Latin translation of the Bible. To use the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people was regarded as heresy by the Roman Catholic Church, particularly so after Martin Luther’s attack on the papacy from 1517. Only in 1560 when Scotland became Calvinist did it become legal for the ordinary person to use a Bible in their language or dialect. So the new Scottish Church adopted the English Geneva Bible because it was the only full translation available which was ideological acceptable and was in a language close enough to the local language or dialect.
In 1603 King James VI succeeded to the British Throne as James I of England. James was keen to bring about conformity in culture, language and religion among his kingdoms and produced the King James (Authorised) Version (KJV), in English. This is not to say, of course, that Scottish Sermons and preaching were performed solely in English from 1560. Indeed, there is evidence that Scottish Presbyterian ministers commonly preached in Scots well into the 1800’s. Most Scots Bible translations have traditionally taken English texts as their source. A translation of Old Testament texts from the original Hebrew would require a substantial investment of money, time and expertise. It is a distinct possibility that no such translation will ever be completed, and it was to plug the resulting gap that the present project was conceived.
The Ullans Academy was formed prior to the Ulster-Scots Language Society in July 1992, following a meeting between the linguist Professor Robert Gregg and Dr Ian Adamson in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. One of its prime objects was the undertaking of a Bible translation in Scots supportive of and appropriate to the other language development of the Company. We are highly honoured that Gavin Falconer and Ross Arthur have chosen us to act as publishers of his superlative and historic translation of the Bible in Plain Scots. There could be no one better than they for the task of bringing to the Scottish people such an inspirational work during this time of such modern cultural expression.

We are grateful to the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Ulster-Scots Academy of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure for their financial support, to our friends and colleagues in the Ullans Academy, to Professor Wesley Hutchinson of the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle –Paris 3,and to Helen Brooker of Pretani Associates, Consultants in Common Identity, for their invaluable assistance.

The Ullans Name

The Ullans name was chosen as it was felt the name was inclusive and neutral. It is a neologism combining Ulaidh, the Irish Gaelic name for Ulster and Lallans, the name used by Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson for the Scotch language. It can also be used as an acronym for Ulster Language, Literature And Native Speech, thus encompassing all languages and traditions in Ulster and the island of Ireland. In essence the Ullans name promotes the common identity of all our people.