Gran, loch and jotter are Scots kids’ top words in stories


“GRAN”, “jetpack” and “haggis” have been revealed as among the words most commonly used by Scottish children in their creative writing.

The word “hashtag” was crowned as the “Children’s Word of the Year” for Britain overall, with “gran” topping the popularity table north of the border.

Research compiled by Oxford University Press (OUP) and the BBC ranked the top ten words most frequently used by Scottish children as “gran”, “phoned”, “wee”, “couch”, “loch”, “sheriff”, “jetpack”, “haggis”, “pandas” and “janitor.”

The report was produced by OUP after analysis of the 120,421 entries for the BBC’s “500 Words” 13-and-under short story competition.

Influences as varied as Robert Burns and social media seem to have made their mark on the mind's of children
Influences as varied as Robert Burns and social media seem to have made their mark on the mind’s of children


The report also ranked the Scots words most frequently used by Children, finding “wee” to be the most popular with 191 examples of usage across the competition.

In second place, with 80 uses , was “loch”, followed by “jotter” with 34. Other favourite words included “jag”, “blether”, “crabbit”, “braw”, and “janny”.

The analysis by OUP found that Scottish children “confidently demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of how spoken and written Scots can be used”.

One example was “Trick Switch”, a story submitted by a 9-year old girl.

It included the passage “BOOM! Everything was back in its place and the mess was gone. Even the floor sparkled. ‘Wow thanks man’, I said. ‘Nae bother pal’ said the Genie.”

Another young writer came up with: “Lewis slashed the haggis and with no apparent warning a plume of smoke rose up, whirled like a hurricane eventually creating a ghost of Tam O Shanter.”

Researchers said such words showed Scottish children have “a fine appreciation of their language that connects their cultural heritage with the present day.”

The report also suggested that the Scottish independence referendum had influenced the creativity of children.

In support of this claim it gave the example of “A New World Order”, a story written by an 11 year old girl, which reads: “Well, it started with the Scottish Independence elections in 2014. They let 16-year olds vote for the first time.

“In the following general election, 12-year olds voted. Somebody had to, as no one over the age of 18 or under the age of 65 seemed to bother. Then in the 2020 elections children took the initiative and set up their own political party called ‘Adults are stupid’.”

On a UK level, the OUP team gave the title of “Children’s Word of the Year” to the word “hashtag” after measuring the huge rise in its use as compared against last year’s entries.

The report said: “The symbol is entering children’s vocabulary in a new way, as they have extended the use from a simple prefix or a search term on Twitter, to a device for adding a comment in their stories.”

The report gave the example of one child’s story, which reads: “The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to get eaten (# frightened!!!).”

It also suggests that “social media, the Ebola epidemic, and World War I are just some of the things that have influenced British children’s creativity and use of language over the last year.”