The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages was adopted in 1992 by the Council of Europe to help protect and promote Europe’s lesser used languages. It is intended to ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that regional or minority languages are used in education and in the media, to permit and encourage their use in legal and administrative contexts, in economic and social life, for cultural activities and in transfrontier exchanges.
The UK Government signed the Charter in 2000 and ratified it in 2001 in respect of Welsh in Wales, Scots and Gaelic in Scotland, and Ulster-Scots and Irish in Northern Ireland. Manx Gaelic and Cornish were subsequently incorporated.
The Scottish government-commissioned survey of 14 Jan 2010 shows 85% of the population speak Scots, although there is no formal education in it. A minority of 29% prefer it to remain untaught, while the majority say learning Scots contributes to national cultural identity and want it taught in schools. As a language it is widely used in social discourse, in literature, legal terminology, history, and to describe Scotland's geographic features.