Core Values Of The Scottish Worldview (Based On Clan Mottos)


The paper discusses the axiological priorities of the Scottish linguistic culture indicated in clan mottos. A symbol is a sign that shows a concentrated value content in the form of a sensually perceived image for multiple comprehension by a person in different situations or by different people in similar situations. Symbols program people’s behavior and are widely used to encode information about a community of people related by blood ties since understanding identity is the essence of a conscious attitude to life. Among these symbols are mottos. Analysis of clan mottos revealed the following groups: political-strategic, military-tactical, religious-ideological, and historical-traditional. The mottos of 215 Scottish clans were analyzed. These mottos are formulated in Latin, Scottish English, Scottish Gaelic and Old French and are reduced to one-word and multi-word mottos: Tace (Lat. – keep silence, the Abercombie clan); Creag an fhitich (Gael. – the rock of the raven, the MacDonnel clan), Keep trust (Engl., the Hepburn clan). It was found that the symbolic characteristics of clan mottos in the Scottish linguistic consciousness and communicative behavior are reduced to value-rich images that determine the self-identification of members of society. These images are enshrined in the names of the ancestors, sacred objects, descriptions of heroic deeds and tragic events, and they form the basis of the Scottish value worldview. In the minds of the Scots, symbols of the clan are manifested in signs of identification with ancestors, magical creatures, and heraldic animals.

Keywords: Clan, linguistic culture, motto, symbol, Values, worldview


A symbol, the concentrated value content that allows for multiple comprehension, underlies the collective self-identity (Averintsev, 1983; Karasik, 2012; Lieck & Rohrmeier, 2021). Thus, we can define the symbols of the Scottish linguistic culture by referring to the emblems with images that provoke the evaluative experience of some ideas. Among these symbols are mottos. A motto is an ancient phenomenon, which is not just a short saying that expresses the guiding idea of ​​behavior or activity, but also a good indicator of the evolution of human consciousness and history of language. Due to a number of historical stages – from knightly times to the present – mottos have formed as a separate cultural and linguistic reality. Mottos, as a small format text, carry a specific pragmatic and defining meaning that expresses the meaning of life and activities of individuals, institutions, corporations and states (Goncharov, 2015; Musté et al., 2015).

Problem Statement

Modeling of different types and genres of text is one of the most actively developing areas of linguistics, while motto as a text type is poorly studied.

Research Questions

The study focuses on the following objectives:

to establish a typology of Scottish mottos;

to determine the symbolic characteristics of clan mottos.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study was to identify and describe the axiological priorities of the Scottish linguistic culture objectified in clan mottos.

Research Methods

The study employed interpretive analysis and introspection.


Analysis of mottos on coins carried out by Baryshnikov (2009) revealed three motto groups: political-ideological, religious-ideological, and historical-traditional. The first group includes consolidating, democratizing, liberalizing, developing, humanizing, patriotizing, ecologizing, and other mottos. The second group includes mottos that strengthen the institution of religion and others, whereas the third type comprises democratizing, liberalizing, consolidating, patriotizing, humanizing, developing, and other mottos. With regard to this classification, we have made some modifications and presented the following groups: political-strategic, military-tactical, religious-ideological, and historical-traditional.

Political-strategic mottos that express the most important values ​​of behavior are as follows: to stand to death: aut agere aut mori – do or die, the Barclay clan; victory or death, the MacDougall clan; vincere vel mori – win or die, the Maclain clan and the MacNeil clan; to unite: aonaibh ri cheile – unite, the Cameron clan; unite, the Brody clan; to be faithful: pro rege et patria – for the king and the homeland, the Cooper clan and the McCubbins clan; pro rege – for the king, the Macfay clan; cuidich ‘n righ – help the king, the Mackenzie clan; fortis et fidus – bold and true, the MacLachlan clan; fide et fortitudine – loyalty and courage, the Shaw clan; fide et opera – by fidelity and work, the MacArthur clan; to show courage: fortiter et recte – boldly and rightly, the Elliott clan; fortiter – boldly, the Macalister clan; conjuncta virtuti fortuna – luck is associated with courage, the Macbeth clan; ardentes fortuna juvat – fortune helps the bold, the MacKinnon clan; virtutus gloria merces – glory is the reward of valour, the Robertson clan; sans peur – without fear, the Sutherland clan; to show perseverance: stand fast, the Grant clan; per ardua – through difficulties, the Macintyre clan; endure fort, the Lindsay clan; to fight for freedom: pro libertate – for freedom, the Wallace clan.

The first group of mottos is dominated by calls for courage (these can be grouped as fearlessness mottos that express contempt for death and courage) and fidelity. Interestingly, the freedom-loving highlanders only once used the motto calling for the struggle for freedom.

Military-tactical mottos that emphasize the way you can defeat the enemy are as follows: to go forward: forward, the Douglas clan; gang forward – go forward, the Sterling clan; through, the Hamilton clan; to remain silent: tace – be silent, the Abercombie clan; to behave reasonably: consilio non impetus – by reason, not by pressure, the Agnew clan; to show skills: et marte et arte – skill and art, the Bane clan; not to give up: nolite tradere – never give up, the Bell clan; to be able to wait: I byde my time – I am waiting for my time, the Campbell clan; to have patience: patientia vincit – win with patience, the Cheyne clan; durum patietia frango – I overcome difficulties with patience, the Muir clan; to be careful: gang warily – go carefully, the Drummond clan; to count on strength: nec sorte nec fato – not by luck and not by fate, the Rutherford clan; to restore the destroyed: instaurator ruinae – restorer of ruins, the Forsyth clan; to rate forces: gradatim – gradually, the Kilgur clan; on land and sea: per mare per terras – on land and sea, the Macdonald clan (island); scatter: dissipate – scatter, the Scrimgur clan; to be vigilant: simper vigilans – always vigilant, the Wilson clan.

The second group of mottos emphasizes the ability to pursue a war with a superior enemy, so it is important to behave carefully and prudently, go forward in time and be able to wait. These mottos are generally utilitarian in nature.

Religious-ideological mottos combine religious and ideological ideas: to glorify God: laus deo – I glorify God, the Arbuthnot clan; God send grace, the Crichton clan; sub umbra alarum tuarum – under the shadow of wings, the Loder clan; deus juvat – God assists, the Macduff clan; turris fortis mihi dues – God is my strong tower, the Macquarie clan; vil god I zal – God willing I shall, the Menzies clan; favente deo supero – by the favour of God I succeed, the Mitchell clan; commit your work to God, the Sinclair clan; to glorify the righteous: amo probos – I love the worthy, the Blair clan; grace me guide, the Forbes clan; sola virtus nobilitat – virtue alone ennobles, the Henderson clan; justi ut sidera fulgent – the righteous shine as stars, the McCall clan; to have faith: confido – I believe, the Boyd clan; nisi dominus frustra – in vain without God, the Inglis clan; ora et labora – pray and work, the Ramsey clan; to have the fear of God: dread god – fear God, the Carnegie clan and the Munro clan; fear god in life, the Somerville clan; to have hope: j'ai bonne esperance – I have a good hope, the Craig clan; sub spe – with hope, the Dunbar clan; all my hope is in God, the Fraser clan; in hope I byde – I abide in hope, the Makian clan; I hope in God, the MacNaughton clan.

The third group of mottos expresses affirmation of faith. The most frequent mottos are calling to glorify God and hope in him.

Historical-traditional mottos of the Scottish clans are diverse and call: to remember the roots: fuimus – we were, the Bruce clan; oublier ne puis – I cannot forget, the Colville clan; ne oublie – do not forget, the Graham clan; nunquam obliviscar – I will never forget, the MacIver clan; to be proud of the origin: ‘s rioghal mo dhream – we are from the royal family, the MacGregor clan; teaghlach Phabay – Fabey family, the Morrison clan; nobilis est ira leonis – the lion’s anger is noble, the Stewart clan; to remember the place of residence: over fork over, the Cunningham clan; creag an fhitich – crow rock, the McDonnel clan; craig an tuirc – boar rock, the McLeeren clan; to remember the event: blow hunter blow thy thorn – blow, hunter, blow your horn, the Forrester clan; to make enemies afraid: touch not the cat without a glove, the Hatten clan and the Macintosh clan; cave adsum – beware, I am here, the Jardine clan; touch not a cat bot a target – do not touch a cat without a shield, the McBain clan; touch not this cat, the Macgillivray clan; to fight shortcomings: deo juvante invidiam superabo – I shall overcome envy with God’s help, the Macthomas clan; virtus sine macula – virtue without spots, the Russell clan; to treat the enemy with respect: ne parkas nec spernas – do not spare or despise, the Lamont clan.

The fourth group of mottos is dominated by calls not to forget about the origin and some calls regarding certain norms of behavior that do not fit into political, military and religious patterns of behavior.

The above mottos of the Scottish clans indicate that constant military confrontation was a pattern of life for the Scots. In these conditions, everyone must be ready to boldly fight for the king or clan leader. A graphic form of the motto was an inscription on the clan’s coat of arms, and although many of the mottos were written in a language that was adopted traditionally (for example, Latin or Celtic), clan members had to know the meaning of the motto. The motto contributed to the consolidation of the clan. Functionally, the motto on the coat of arms affected the clan members as a reminder of a glorious or bitter history, established a hierarchy of values, ​​and was a concise guide to action. Least of all, in our opinion, the religious-ideological mottos of the Scottish clans emphasize the ethno-cultural specifics. The cited texts do not imply a confrontation between the Catholic and Anglican churches. In addition, these mottos do not emphasize the values ​​of the tribal organization of society, which are universal. The military-tactical mottos cannot be referred to as specific signs peculiar to the Scots, although the very fact of the presence of a large number of such mottos can indicate this fact. However, the political-ideological and historical-traditional mottos (those that calls for remembering the past) emphasize the collective identity of clan members.

The descriptions of the clan history are of interest. Here are excerpts from the history of the Agnew clan. This prominent family settled in Wigtowrishire and Galloway in the 14th century. Although the origin of the clan name is disputable, many believe that it goes back to the Norman baron d’Agneaux. The Celtic septs from Ulster (O’Gnimh, Aodha Bhuidhe), famous for their poets and bards, belong to this clan. The clan name was spelled differently – O’Gnive, O’Gnyw, and O’Gnew. The clan is related to the glorious clans of the Macdonalds and MacDougalls, and the seated eagle depicted on the clan’s emblem recalls the 12th century king Somerled, the clan’s ancestor. In 1451, Andrew Agnew was appointed Sheriff of Wigtown, and this title is still held by his descendants. Many members of this clan intermarried with the noble families of Scotland, in particular, the MacDowells, Montgomerys, and Stuarts. The most striking events and sayings of the clan members are recorded in the clan’s history. Andrew, 5th Baronet Agnew, became famous for his military exploits. At the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, he commanded a regiment of Scottish Fusiliers, and when the British King George II said that the French cavalry had managed to break through the regiment’s chains, Agnew replied: ‘Yes, please your Majesty, but they did not win back again’. Many members of the Agnew clan settled in the British colonies in America and became famous. The current head of the clan, Sir Crispin, 11th Baronet Agnew, after his retirement from the army, took up the practice of law. He is one of the leading experts in the Court of the Lion Lord (Scottish Heraldry) (Harris, 2000).

The above description emphasizes the most important values of the Scottish worldview – the nobility of origin, military valour and loyalty to the monarch. The saying of a famous ancestor has become one of the symbols that unite the clan. Tribal and feudal symbols are intertwined in the Scottish clan system.

The history of the clans includes descriptions of magical events. The history of the MacLeod clan states that the clan came from the Vikings of royal blood. First, the clan members lived on the northern Isles of Skye, and in the 14th century, they settled on the western coast of Scotland, ceding their territory on the islands to the hostile Macdonald clan. The head of the Macleod clan built the Fairy Tower in his castle, because the fairy flag presented to him by these magical creatures was raised. This flag had magical powers and could summon a magical army. The flag was used twice in battle with the MacDonalds and they defeated them. The etymology of the MacLeod name (Son of Leod, from Norse ljot, ugly) indicates that beauty was not inherent to the legendary ancestors. The MacLeods’ coat of arms features a frontal view of a black bull with golden horns, a symbol of courage. This clan became famous for its famous writers and poets (Maclean, 1995).

The magical origin or connection with magical creatures are characteristic of the archaic worldview.


Thus, the most important values in the Scottish linguistic culture include courage, loyalty, pride, and memory of the roots. These value dominants of behavior have developed in the conditions of intense centuries-old competitive struggle between clans in the form of symbols fixed in heraldic traditions. These values are expressed in a set of images that go back to tribal archetypes and the canons of medieval chivalry. The main symbols of the Scottish linguistic culture are indicated in clan mottos, which fall into political-strategic, military-tactical, religious-ideological, and historical-traditional ones. The clan symbols in the minds of the Scots are manifested in identification with ancestors, magical creatures, and heraldic animals. The nature of Scotland, and the deeds and sayings of famous people are perceived as such symbols.


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Kalykova, E. A., Mandzhieva, S. V., Mandzhieva, S. I., Sarangaeva, Z. N., & Khalgaeva, D. D. (2022). Core Values Of The Scottish Worldview (Based On Clan Mottos). In D. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism (SCTCMG 2022), vol 128. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 324-329). European Publisher.