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Scots comprises the Anglic varieties derived from early northern Middle English spoken in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Scotland it is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic traditionally spoken in the Highlands and Islands. Scots is also spoken in parts of Northern Ireland and border areas of the Republic of Ireland, where it is known in official circles as Ulster Scots or Ullans. Since there are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects, scholars and other interested parties often disagree about the linguistic, historical and social status of Scots. Although a number of paradigms for distinguishing between languages and dialects do exist, these often render contradictory results (see Dialect). Consequently, Scots has, on the one hand, been traditionally regarded as one of the ancient dialects of English, but with its own ancient and distinct dialects. Scots has often been treated as part of English as spoken in Scotland but differs significantly from the Standard Scottish English taught in schools.

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