The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland

Author(s): Murray, Sir James Augustus Henry


HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION (for arrangement see commencement) 1
PRONUNCIATION — General characteristics … … … 93
'Visible Speech' Alphabet … … … 99
Vowels … … … … … 103
Diphthongs … … … … … 113
Consonants … … … … … 118
Unaccented Syllables and Terminations … 132
Scotch pronunciation of English … … 139
Phonetic relation between Modern Scotch and
Anglo-Saxon … … … … 140
„ and English … … … 144
GRAMMAR — Nouns … … … … 150
Adjectives … … … … … 166
Pronouns … … … … … 187
Verbs … …. … … … … 199
Adverbs … … … 226
Prepositions … … … … 228
Conjunctions … … … … … 230
Interjections … … … … 230
APPENDIX — Present limits of the Gaelic … … … 231
Dialects of Lowland Scotch … … … 237
Specimens … … … … ... 240
INDEX of Subjects and Words specially referred to … 249
THE local dialects are passing away: along with them disappears
the light which they are able to shed upon so many points in the
history of the national tongue that supersedes them, and the contributions
which they, more than artificially trimmed Literary
idioms, are able to make to the Science of Language, whether in
regard to the course of phonetic changes, or the spontaneous
growth of natural grammar. They are passing away: even
where not utterly trampled under foot by the encroaching language
of literature and education, they are corrupted and arrested
by its all-pervading influence, and in the same degree rendered
valueless as witnesses of the usages of the past and the natural
tendencies of the present.
These pages attempt to photograph the leading features of one
of the least-altered of these dialects, that of the Southern Counties
of Scotland, and, with this as a basis, to illustrate the characteristics
of that group of dialects descended from the old 14th
century "Inglis of the Northin lede," which under the names
of Northern English and Lowland Scotch, still prevail in more
or less of their original integrity from the Yorkshire dales, to the
Pentland Firth. Farthest removed from Celtic contact, and from
the influence of the literary English, the Northern tongue has in
the south of Scotland retained more of its old forms than elsewhere,
and so far as concerns its vocabulary, and grammatical
structure, affords almost a living specimen of the racy idiom in
which Hampole and Barbour, at opposite extremes of the
Northern-Speech-land, wrote five centuries ago. Its pronunciation
has of course changed since then, but with a consistent
course and definite direction; and its system of sounds is still of
interest, showing in actual operation, the processes by which the
old guttural -gh, -ch, has sunk into the -f and -w of modern
English, and that by which the long ī and ū in so many of the
Teutonic tongues have from simple vowels, become the diphthongs
in English mine, house, German mein, haus, Dutch mijn,
As the history of the Lowland Scotch division of the Northern
tongue, and its relations to the adjacent dialects in England, have
been the subject of much wild theory and but little research in
the direction whence light was to be obtained, the Historical
Introduction has been made especially full and complete.
The spelling employed to represent Scottish sounds will probably
be objected to in many points by Scotchmen, who would
prefer our shoon, to oor schuin. I have no quarrel with their
taste; when they give specimens of the speech heard around
them, they may choose what symbols they please, provided they
only explain what sounds their symbols mean. My own aim has
been truth and distinctness. Spelling is only a means (a cumbrous
one at best) to an end: the written forms so often misnamed
words, are but conventional signs of the real words, the spoken
sounds for which they stand. To convey to the reader's ear and
mouth, by the circuitous medium of the eye, a clear and correct
idea of the real word, is the first use of spelling. At the same
time, no student of a language can be insensible to the associations
of the "historical spelling" which has grown up along with its
spoken forms, nor will he willingly discard the drapery with
which it was clothed in earlier times, and which in so many cases
is our only guide to the living organism which once breathed
within. Still in dealing with a living dialect of the 19th century,
one cannot always do justice to its own form and spirit by confining
it to the winding sheet which decently enough envelopes
the dead language of the 16th. If the spelling used, with help
of the key and account of the pronunciation, succeed in giving
an idea of the living words to those who never heard them
spoken, it will fulfil its purpose. Of course in quoting the
ancient language, where the spelling is the only guide we have
to the words, care has been taken faithfully to preserve their
original written forms; the quotations are, wherever possible,
from the editions of the Early English Text or Philological
Society, or of such conscientious editors as Dr. David Laing, and
in most other cases from the original MSS. or editions. Only in
cases of importance are references to the actual passages given;
where the point in question was the ordinary usage to be found
on every page of a work, it seemed unnecessary to give reference
to page and line.
Mill Hill, Middlesex, N.W.,
March, 1873.
Page 2, Note 1, 1. 4, for some centuries read a century.
„ 10, „ 40, „ a few „ few.
,, 39, „ 4, „ allanely „ allanerly.
„ 54, „ 30, after left-handed, add partan, a crab.
,,74, „1, „oy s „ oyrs.
„ 37, dele tartan (this word
being of French origin and unknown to Celtic).
,, 99, In the "Glides" for i, J. read i, J.
,, 113, „ 4, for löcke „ Böcke.
„ 126, „ 12, „ husiz „ Husiz.
,, 147, „ 47, „ road „ rode.
,, 195, „ 20, „ owms „ rowms.
,, 202, „ 1, „ the past ai „ the past ui.
,, 205, Note 1, 1.2, „ gie „ gis•
§ 1. Changes in the application of the words Scot and Scottish. . . . . 1
§ 2. In what sense the Lowland tongue is called Scottish . . . . . . 4
§ 3. Its early history, not the history of Scotland, but of the Angles of
Northumbria . . . . . . . . . . 5
§ 4. The country south of the Forth from the Angle settlement to its union
with Scotland . . . . . . . . . . . 6
§ 5. The language south of the Firths originally Welsh . . . . . 15
§ 6. An Anglo-saxon dialect older in the south of Scotland than in most
parts of England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
§ 7. It thence spread northward and westward over the original Scotland 19
§ 8. Early remains — the Ruthwell Cross — already exhibits northern
characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
§ 9. Scanty materials from the 10th to the 13th century . . . . . 22
§ 10. The Scandinavian influence . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
§ 11. Language of Scotland from the 14th century divisible into three periods 28
§ 12. The Early Period — identical with old Northern English — Specimens . 29
§ 13. Known only as English to those who used it . . . . . . . . 40
§ 14. When and how it began to be called Scotch . . . . . . . . 43
§ 15. The Middle Period — its characteristics — the Celtic influence — the
French element — the Classical element — Specimens . . . . . 49
§ 16. The Reformation and English influence . . . . . . . . . 65
§ 17. Decay of Scotch as a literary language . . . . . . . . . 71
§ 18. The Modern Period — popular poetry — conventional spelling fails to
represent the living speech . . . . . . . . . . . 74
§ 19. The spoken language — exists in several dialects — their classification . 77
§ 20. The dialect of the Southern counties — its area — its peculiarities and
their origin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
§ 1. THE words Scot and Scottish have passed through important
revolutions in signification since they first appeared in
history. Originally applied to inhabitants of the country now
called Ireland, they included in the eighth century, and for some
centuries previous, a portion of the inhabitants of North Britain,
to whom all accounts concur in ascribing an Irish origin, and
whose territory lay along the west coast of Alban, beyond the
Firth of Clyde. At that period the terms Scot and Scottish
found their usual correlatives in Pict and Pictish, names applied
to the race and language which prevailed on the east side of the
Island, as far south as the Firth of Forth — perhaps somewhat
farther. The quœstio vexata of the ethnological relations between
the Scots and Picts does not here concern us, and we have only to
notice that, when, in the middle of the 9th century, the Scottish
ruler succeeded also to the Pictish throne, he retained his original
title of King of the Scots, the latter word gradually¹ acquiring a
corresponding extension of meaning, so as to embrace the inhabitants
of the whole country north of the Forth, or Scottis-wath
(Mare Scoticium), which, as the territory subject to the king of
the Scots, came in the 10th century to be spoken of by the Angle
writers as Scot-land. Scot and Scottish were now opposed to
Angle and English,2 terms embracing the Teutonic tribes who
already occupied the greater part of the present England, as well
as the southern part of what is now Scotland, as far as the Forth;
the terms Scottish and English having thus an ethnological or
linguistic value.
Even after the territory south of the Forth had, through the
Northumbrian and Saxon alliances of the Scottish kings, become
part of their dominions, it does not appear that it was included
in Alban or Scotland. It was an outlying province of Saxonia
or England (ethnologically, if not politically), over which the king
of the Scots held dominion, much as, in later times, kings of England
held sway over large parts of France. Thus, so late as 1091,
we are told by the Saxon Chronicle, that when King Malcolm
learned that William Rufus was advancing against him with an
army, he proceeded with his army out of Scotland, into Lothian
in England, and there awaited him (he fór mid hys fyrde ut of
Scot-lande into Loðene on Engla-lande and þær abád). The simple
and natural meaning of these words, which partisan writers
have displayed much ingenuity in explaining away, is confirmed
by the oldest Scottish laws, which show that, even a century
later, Lothian was still considered "out of Scotland." In those
laws Stirling is spoken of as a town on the frontier of Scotland,
and provision is made as to the mode to be adopted by an "inhabitant
of Scotland," i.e. a dweller north of the Firths, when he
had to make a seizure or distraint, "ultra aquam de Forth."³
¹ Gradually; for the name Pictavia
continued to be applied to the eastern
part of the kingdom, and its inhabitants
to be called Picts for some cen
turies later.
2 These are, of course, the English
names: the Scotish equivalents of Scotland,
Scattas, Englaland, Engle, were
Alban, Albannaich, Sasunn, Sasunnaich,
latinized Saxonia and Saxones.
The Teutons called themselves Engle
or Angles, the Celts knew them as Sasunnaich
or Saxons; the Scots called
themselves Albannaich, the Angles knew
them as Scottas or Scots.
³ And all Þai Þat wonnys beyhond
Forth, as in Lothyane or in Galloway,
or in ony oþir place, sall ansuer Þe
challangeouris of Scotlande (calumpniatoribus
de Scocia i.e. the accusers from
Scotland) at Þe end of vj wolkis daye,
at Þe brig of Striveling throu Þe forMoreover,
Lothian and Galloway, as well as the Bretts or Welsh
of Strathclyde, long retained their special laws as distinct from
the laws of Scotland,¹ and these the king of the Scots bound himself
to abide by and preserve. The charters of David I., Malcolm
IV., and William the Lyon, were addressed to all their subjects,
Normans, English, Scots, Galwegians, and Walenses, or Welsh of
Clydesdale; and the same ethnical elements are distinguished
by contemporary chroniclers as composing the army of David at
the battle of the Standard.
Under the succeeding sovereigns of the line of Malcolm, down
to Alexander III., the "English," that is to say, the Anglo-Saxon-speaking
portion of their subjects, became ever the more
important and predominant, and that with which the reigning
line became more and more closely identified, and, as a consequence,
the country south of the Firths, if not strictly Scotland,2
became, at least, the most important possession of the King of
Scots. For exactly as the royal house adopted the language, and
became identified with the sympathies and fortunes of its Anglo-Saxon
territories, it lost the sympathies of its own ancient kinsmen,
and the allegiance of its early cradle land; so that of the
descendants of the Scots, Picts, Welsh, Galwegians, English,
Normans, Flemings, and Northmen, out of which arose the
Scottish nationality, the only section over whom the king of
Scots no longer ruled was the Scots themselves — those Celtic
clans of the north and west who, from the days of Edgar to those
of James III., ignored the authority, and defied the arms of the
sayd assise. And all Þai þat wonnys
on Þe north half þe wattir of Forth,
in Scotlande, sall ansuer to Þam on
south half Forth, at that ilke terme,
and þat ilke stedde. — Assise Regis Willelmi,
It is ordanit be þe kyng thru con-sail
of his Bret men at Striveling þat
na man of Scotland aw to tak pund
beȝond þe watter of Forth, but gif þat
pund be first schawyn to þe schiref of
Striveling. And quhen ony man takis
a pund he aw til hald þat pund at
Hadintoun be þe space of iii dayis for
to se quha cumis to proffer a borgh for
þat pund. Item, þai þat duellis beȝond
Forth may with þe leff of þe
schireff tak a pund in Scotland, and
þat pund til hald iii dayis at Striveling.
— Ibid. xxvii. (These and the following
extracts are taken from the 14th c. vernacular
versions given along with the
original Latin in the Acta Parl. Scot.
Vol. I.)
¹ "It wes jugit of Gilespy be al þe
jugis als wele of Galowa as of Scotland."
— Assisa Alex andri 11
Galloway þe quhilk hes speciall
lawys. — .Ibid. xiv.
2 But by the reign of Alexander II.
the name of Scotland had been currently
extended so as to include Lothian
and Galloway, for in 1249 similar ordinances
to those quoted above were
made, no longer between Scotland and
Lothian, but between Scotland and
England. In that year it was arranged.
"gif ony misdoar duellis in
Scotland þat has mysdone by rubry
wythin þe kinrik of Ingland," or the
converse, the east marches were to
answer at Camysfurd, the middle
marches at Reuedeneburne or Jedwart
ouerburne, Coquetdale and Redesdale
at Kenmylispeth (Gammelspath), and
"þe scheris of Carlile and Drumfres sall
ansuere at Sulway efter þe lawis and
custumys betuix þe twa kinrikis vsit."
A commission had been issued by Alexander
II. and Henry III. to trace the
marches in 1222, when the Border line
practically coincided with that still in
Sasunnach sovereign who ruled on the banks of the Forth. It
was reserved for the great struggle for the independence of the
Scottish crown and nation to give to the words Scottish and
English the political and geographical import which they now
bear, as distinct from the questions of language and race; just as
it was reserved for the wars between England and France to
give a political and geographical definition to the terms French
and English, which, for generations after the conquest, were used
in Englund to distinguish the French-speaking descendants of
the conquerors from the English-speaking descendants of the
conquered; although both alike born in England, and both, in the
eyes of their French rivals, English. The War of Independence,
although it created the Scottish nationality of after times, was in
its essence the struggle of the last remaining bit of Anglo-Saxonism to preserve its freedom from the Norman yoke; the
Celtic population of Scotland, so far as they shared in it, ranked
chiefly on the side of England. The Gaelic-speaking clansmen
had never been reconciled to the Scoto-Saxon line of kings,
founded by Duncan and Malcolm; a sovereign on the Thames
was likely to leave them more freedom than. a king on the Forth;
and accordingly we find them, under the Macfadyans and Macdougalls,
the Lords of the Isles, of Lorn, and Galloway, implacable
foes to Wallace and Bruce, and formidable enemies to the Anglo-Saxon
Lowlanders in their struggle for independence. Nevertheless,
it was under the Scottish name and against the English
king that the combat was fought and won; and its result was to
extend, we might almost say to transfer, the name of Scot from
the Gael of the north and west — who thenceforth ranked rather
as Erschmen than Scotsmen — to the Angles of Lothian, of
Tweedside, and Annandale, — men of the same blood and the
same tongue as the Angles of Northumberland, Durham, and
§ 2. It is in this latter or geographical sense that the dialect
which forms the subject of this paper is called Scottish. Ethnologically
speaking, the Lowland Scotch dialects are Scottish only
in the sense in which the brogue spoken by the descendants of
Strongbow's followers, or of the Cromwellian settlers, is Irish; or
1 But the old feeling of a distinction
between Scotia proper and the country
south of the "Scottis Se" did not at
once die out. In a dim indefinite form
it lingered in the reign of James II.,
nearly a century and a half after the
War of Independence, when laws applicable
to the entire "kingryk" still
stated expressis verbis that they were
valid for both sides of Forth.
Acta Parl., James II., 1440. The
samyn day it is ordanit at Þe Justice on
Þe south side of Þe Scottis se ƚ alsua
on Þe north side of Þe Scottis see sett
Þare justice airis ƚ bald Þaim twiss in
Þe ƺere as aulde use & custum is.
Ibid., 1449, it is ordained "at Þe
kingis liegis in all placis throu oute Þe
realme haf power to by and sell vitall
at Þare likyne bath on Þe north half and
south half of forth;" which probably
finally repealed the old statutes interfering
with a man of Scotland having
dealings south of Forth, and vice
in which the Yankee dialect of the descendants of the New England
Puritans is American — in other words, they are not Scottish
at all. They are forms of the Angle, or English, as spoken by
those northern members of the Angle or English race who
became subjects of the King of Scots, and who became the leading
race, and their tongue the leading language of the country; to
which, however, another race, with whom the monarchy had
originated, gave its name. More particularly they are forms
of the Northumbrian or Northern English,-
"The langage of the Northin lede,"
which, up to the War of Independence, was spoken as one language,
from the Humber to the Forth, the Grampians, and the
Moray Firth; but which, since that war, or at least since the
final renunciation of attempts upon the independence of the kingdom,
has had a history and culture of its own, has been influenced
by legal institutions, an ecclesiastical system, a foreign
connection, and a national life, altogether distinct from those
which have operated upon the same language on the southern
side of the border. And yet, despite these diversifying influences,
which have obtained more or less for five centuries, — despite the
incessant warfare, the legacy of wrongs done and suffered, and
"undying hate," which were entailed from father to son, on both
sides, during the first half of that period, and the remembrance
of which it has taken nearly the whole of the second half entirely
to efface, — the spoken tongue from York to Aberdeen is still one
language, presenting indeed several well-defined sub-dialects on
both sides of the Tweed, but agreeing, even in its extreme forms,
much more closely than the dialect of Yorkshire does with that of
Dorset. It is the old phenomenon with which ethnology has continually
to deal, of a community of name concealing an actual difference,
a diversity of names disguising an identity of fact. The living
tongue of Teviotdale, and the living tongue of Northumberland,
would, in accordance with present political geography, be classed,
the one as a Scottish, the other as an English dialect: in actual
fact, they are the same dialect, spoken, the one on Scottish the
other on English territory, but which, before Scottish and English
had their political application, was all alike the Anglian
territory of Northan-hymbra-land. The living tongues of the
Carse of Gowrie, at the mouth of the Tay, and of Rannoch, at its
sources, would both be viewed as dialects of one Scottish county,
and their speakers classed under the common appellation of
Scotchmen, while in fact they are representatives of two distinct
linguistic families, more remote from each other than English and
Russian, or English and Sanscrit.
§ 3. The early history of the Lowland Scottish, therefore,
especially in the southern counties, is not the early history of
Scotland, with which it came into contact only at a later period;
but of' the Angle settlement, state, or kingdom, of Northan-hymbra-land.
In its original extent the Northan-hymbra-land —
Latinized Northumbria — included the whole country occupied by
the Angles north of the Humber, that is, the territory from the
Humber to the Forth. The oldest division of this territory was
at the river Tees, by which it was parted into the two provinces
of Bernicia and Deira — the Bryneich and Deifr of the ancient
British bards — which were now under the rule of a single monarch,
now independent of each other; the seat of the Bernician
ruler being at Bamborough, that of the sovereign of Deira at
York. After the final separation of the two provinces, the name
of Northumbria was retained by the northern province between
the Tees and the Forth, until the cession of the district north of
the Tweed to the King of the Scots, and the placing of the district
between the Tees and Tyne under the jurisdiction of Durham,
left the territory between the Tyne and Tweed, or the present
shire of Northumberland, as the mutilated representative of the
ancient Northan-hymbra-land. Cymraland, Cumbra-land, or Cumbria,
the territory of the northern Cymry, the Gwynedd-a-Gogledd,
or "Wales of the North" of Aneurin, stretched from the Firth
of Clyde to Morecambe Bay; but after Strathclyde and the
territories adjacent had been annexed to Scotland, the name of
Cumberland became restricted to the fragment south of the
Solway. It is necessary to distinguish carefully these varying
applications of the names of Northumberland and Cumberland;
and especially not to confound the ancient territories with the
modern English counties, which are the mere stumps of the
original provinces, after the kings of England and Scotland had
successively cut off and appropriated their northern and southern
extremities, and England, as the stronger power, finally absorbed
the remainder.
§ 4. The date at which the Teutonic invaders first appeared
in the north has not been accurately determined. There seems
good reason for believing that, before the abandonment of the
country by the Romans, they aided the Picts and Scots beyond
the Northern Wall in their attacks upon the Romanized provinces,
and shortly after that event they appear as permanent
settlers. According to Nennius, shortly after the landing of the
Saxons in Kent, Octa and Ebissa, the son and nephew of Hengist,
crossed the North Sea with forty ciules, and having devastated
the Orkneys, and sailed round the land of the Picts, they came
and seized several districts below the Forth (Mare Fresicum,
which he describes as forming — in his day — the boundary between
the Saxons and Scots) as far as the confines of the Picts. According
to the tradition preserved by Fordun, they came at the invitation
of Drust or Drostan, the Pictish king, a statement which
tallies with Bede's account of a league between the Saxons and
Picts. William of Malmesbury, who wrote at a much later
period, in the midst of the feudal notions of his age, states, that
having in several conflicts overcome the natives who withstood
them, they admitted the rest to terms of peace, but that they
continued 100 years, all but one, in dependence on the kings of
Kent, at the end of which their dependent state (Ducatus) was
changed into a kingdom, Ida being advanced to the royal dignity.
From all of which we may at least infer a Teutonic settlement, or
series of settlements, slowly establishing themselves in defiance
of native opposition, and, during a century of struggle and conflict,
shaping themselves into something of a coherent state. The
natives whom the invaders found in possession of the soil were
not Picts or Scots, but Britons, of the same race as the inhabitants
of the more southern parts of the island, who were known
to the Angles as Welsh, and are shown by the contemporary poems
of the bards, Taliesin, Aneurin, and Lliwarch Hen, to have acquired
from the Romans no small degree of refinement and civilization.
But centuries of peace, and dependence upon the protection
of the Roman legions, had rendered them, like the inhabitants
of all parts of the empire, ill-fitted to defend themselves
against the ferocious assaults of their untamed enemies; and although
under the leadership of Arthur, Urien, Owain, and other
valiant princes, whose very personality seems afterwards to melt
away in a cloud of poetry and romance, they maintained a gallant
struggle against the "heathen barbarians," — it was a losing
struggle with a hapless issue. It was evidently during the
early part of this hundred years' contest for the establishment of
the North Angle State, that the twelve great battles recorded by
Nennius were fought between the Saxons and the Britons under
Arthur, the first of which was on the River Glen, and several
at Dubglass, identified with "the strong frontier afforded by the
waters of the Dunglass and Peass Burn," at the east end of the Lammermoors.¹
Had any genuine works of Merddyn or Merlin Caledonius
come down to us, we might have possessed contemporary
glimpses of this period, like those of the heroes, battles, and
1 The above was written before the
appearance of Mr. J. S. Glennie's
valuable paper upon Arthurian localities,
prefixed to the third part of the
Early English Text Society's Merlin,
1869. While considering that there is
room for wide difference of opinion as
to the identification of special localities,
as will be seen,. I agree with him in
thinking that all early authority points
to the country south of the Forth as
the historical scene of the Arthur Conflicts.
Indeed, the whole passage in
Nennius, relating to Arthur and the
twelve battles — beginning with the
departure of Ochtha to Kent, from the
region near the northern wall where he
had first landed, upon which Arthur
fought against the enemy along with
the British chiefs, he being himself
commander-in-chief, and ending with
the statement that while the Saxons
were repeatedly defeated they continually
sought fresh aid from Germany,
whence also they received the kings
who led them, until Ida, the son of
Eobba, reigned as first king of Bernicia
— so manifestly refers to the struggle
in the north, that it is difficult to see
how any other meaning could suggest
itself, except to those who came to the
subject prepossessed with the legendary
Arthur history of the Middle Ages.
sieges of the generation that followed in the poems of the other
three northern bards.
The Arthur period was over when Ida, the son of Eoppa,
whom all accounts agree in denominating the first local ruler of
the Northan-hymbrian Angles came to the throne in 547, a
century after the arrival of the Saxons in Kent, and half a century
after the "two ealdormen," Cerdic and Cymric, landed at
Cerdices-ore, to found the West-Saxon kingdom. According
to Welsh accounts, Ida, named by the Britons, Flamddwyn, the
Flame-bearer, formed an alliance with one of the British chiefs,
Culvynawyd Prydain, the son of Gorion, marrying his daughter,
Bun or Bebban, distinguished in the Triads as one of the three
shameless wives of Britain, and execrated by Aneurin in the
Gododin as Bun Bradwenn, Bun the fair traitress. In honour of
his wife, Ida conferred upon the place where he fixed his residence
the name of Bibban-burh, the modern Bamborough, and
long the most important fortress of Northumbria. He fought
with the Britons in many battles, until his career was cut short
and himself slain in 560 by Owain, son of Urien, prince of
Reged, as sung by Taliesin in the Maronad Owen Mab Urien. It
was apparently during the reign of his successors that the famous
battle of Cattraeth or Caltraeth was fought, commemorated by
Aneurin in the poem of the Gododin. On that occasion the entire
British forces of the old province of Valentia were drawn up to
defend a pass or position, apparently at one end of the northern
wall, against the united attack of the Angles of Deifr and Bryneich,
and the Picts. After seven days fighting, the Britons, who
spent the intervals in mead-drinking and revelry, were, on account
of their inebriation, defeated with terrific slaughter, so that out
of 363 chiefs who wore the golden torque and led their men to
battle, only three survived the fatal day, one of them being
Aneurin himself, son of the prince of Cwm Cawlwyd, in Strathclyde.
This great victory confirmed the power of the Angles in
the east, as far north as the Forth, the Britons either becoming
slaves, escaping to join the larger body of their countrymen in
Wales, or retreating to the west, where British power made a
stand for a while, and formed itself into a doubtfully independent
kingdom, known as Cumbria, or Strathclyde and Reged, the
capital of which was the fortress of Alclwyd, or Petra Cloithe,
the Rock of Clyde, known also to the Scoto-Irish as Dun-breton,
the fort of the Britons, now modernized into Dumbarton. The
battle of Caltraeth is placed by Villemarqué about 578, by Mr.
Skene in 596. It is somewhat curious that no direct record of an
event which figures so prominently in early Cymric literature,
should be found in the Anglo-saxon writers; however, the date
596 falls under the reign of the Northumbrian Æthelfrid, who, according
to Beda, "ravaged the Britons more than all the princes
of the Angles. For he conquered more territories from them,
either making them tributary, exterminating or expelling the inhabitants,
and planting Angles in their room, than any other king
or tribune." The Cymry in their straits called in the aid of
Aedan, king of the Scots of Dalriada, who, passing south of the
Firths with an immense army, joined in the struggle against the
Angles. The war ended in 603 with the decisive battle of Dagsastan
(understood to be Dalston, near Carlisle, if not Dawstone
Rigg, in Liddesdale), in which the Britons and Scots sustained
such a crushing defeat that the latter never again ventured south
of the Forth, till after their union with the Picts in the 9th
For some years after the battle of Dægsastan, the attention
of the Northumbrian rulers was directed more towards the south
than the north; but when Eadwin ascended the throne in 617,
he seemed destined to reduce beneath his sway the whole island.
According to the Chronicle, "he became supreme over all
Britain, the Kent-ware alone excepted," and in the north he
firmly established the Angle dominion as far as the Forth, where
he is said to have erected his strong fortress of Eadwines-burh,
which was at a later date to become the far-famed metropolis of
Scotland.¹ The reign of Eadwin is memorable for the adoption
of Christianity by the Angles of the north, he and his people
being baptized by Paulinus in 627. The Scots, Picts, and Strathclyde
Britons had been Christians long before. Eadwin was
succeeded by Oswald and Oswiu, during whose reign the Angle
power was still further extended in what is now the south of
Scotland, their supremacy being apparently recognized by the
Cumbrian Britons. Witnesses to this extension of the Northumbrian
area, at or shortly after this period, exist in the Cross at
Bewcastle, in Cumberland, with a Runic inscription commemorating
Alchfrid, son of Oswiu, who was associated with his father
in the government about 660, and the Runic Cross at Ruthwell
in Dumfriesshire, of the same high antiquity.
The reign of Ecgfrid was marked by still more ambitious designs,
being occupied by incessant wars with the Picts, and efforts to
extend the Northumbrian dominion beyond the Forth. In these
he was at first successful, and gained such an extension of territory
in the north, that it was deemed proper to form a new
bishopric, the seat of which was fixed at Abercorn, on the upper
estuary of the Forth, and, according to the Chronicle, A.D. 681,
"Trumbriht was consecrated bishop of Hexham, and Trumwine
of the Picts; for at that time they were subject to this country."
In 685 "Ecgfrid made war upon the Pictish king Bredei, and
¹ It is not probable that Eadwin
originated the name of Edinburgh. The
fortress doubless existed before, under
some such name as Eiddin, Caer-eidin,
Dun-eiden, the "oppidum Eden" of
the Pictish chronicler, which would be
Anglicized Eden-burh (compare Romeburh,
Cantwara-burh), and probably
confounded with Eadwines-burh, in
memory of Edwin's conquests.
resolved, in opposition to the advice of his nobles and the forebodings
of his bishops, among whom was the famous Cuthbert,
to invade the Pictish territory. He is supposed to have passed
the Forth below Abercorn (at the modern Queensferry), and
destroying everything before him, plunged into the forests of
Caledonia. After laying waste the Scottish and Pictish capitals
of Dunadd and Dundurn, he crossed the Tay into Angus.
Bredei, the Pictish king, feigning flight, retired before the invaders
till he had drawn them into the recesses of the country,
where he attacked them in a narrow pass in the Sidlaw Hills,
at Nechtans-mere, near Dunnechtan (now Dunnichen in Forfar-shire),
on the 20th May, 685. The Angle army was defeated
with great slaughter, and the king was himself slain by the
hand of Bredei. Ecgfrid's body was carried to Iona, and there
buried; and few of his followers returned to Northumbria to tell
of his defeat."As a result of their victory, according to Bede,
who wrote 46 years after the event, "not only did the Picts
recover possession of their land which the Angles had seized,
but the Scots and even a considerable part of the Britons regained
their freedom, which they continued to hold at the date
of his writing; while a great number of the Angle race perished
by the sword, were reduced to slavery, or driven to a hasty flight
from the land of the Picts; amongst others, the venerable man of
God, Trumwine, who had received the bishopric among them, withdrew
with his companions from the monastery of Æbbercurnig,
situated indeed in the Angle territory, but in the immediate
vicinity of the Firth which divides the land of the Angles from
the land of the Picts — and took his abode at Strea-næs-healh "
(Whitby), where he remained till his death. This expulsion of
Angle settlers from the land of the Picts, with Bede's careful
distinction between what was Pict-land and what Engla-land,
and his care to explain that Abercorn was not in Pict-land,
though dangerously near to it, imply that, during the victorious
period of Eadwin, Oswald, Oswiu, and Ecgfrid, numerous
Angles had crossed the Forth and settled in the Pictish territory
beyond. An attempt of the Angles in 699 to avenge their
defeat was again repulsed, but in 710, Berhfred, the general
of King Osred, defeated and overcame the Picts, slaying their
king Bredei.
From this date, for more than a century, we hear of few or
no hostilities between the Angles and Picts or Britons, and the
former held undisputed possession of what is now the south-east
of Scotland, the elevated range distinguished as the Peht-land or
Pentland Hills, indicating probably the north-western frontier.
Along the Solway their dominions evidently extended farther west,
since from the contemporary words of Beda, in closing his history,
we learn that "in the province of the Northumbrians, of which
Ceolwulf is king, there are now (A.D. 731) four Bishops, to wit, —
Wilfrid in the church of York, Æthelwald in that of Lindisfarne,
Acca in that of Hexham, and Pectelm or Peht-helm in that which
is called Candida Casa (Whitherne)." On Pecthelm's death, in
735, he was succeeded by Frithewald, and at his decease, in 763,
Pechtwin held the see till 776. Four bishops — Æthclberlit,
Baldwulf, Heathored, and Ecgred succeeded in due course. Not
only do the names of these bishops indicate their nationality, but
their existence proves that this part of the country was under
the rule of the Northumbrian kings, for the rivalry between the
Scoto-Irish and Latin-English branches of the church was so
strong, that the expulsion of the ecclesiastics of either party followed
as a matter of course when a territory changed hands.
But with the eighth century the tide of Northumbrian prosperity
decisively turned. During the greater part of that century
the North Anglian kingdom was torn and distracted by internal
feuds and disputes for the crown, while its closing years
brought the first instalments of those heathen hordes, whose
devastations were continued with unabated fury for more than a
century. The Danes were closely related kinsmen of the original
Angle settlers, but being still heathens, their ravages were as
terrible to the Christians of Northumbria, as those of Ida and his
followers had been to the British. The final result of their invasion
was to people the southern part of the Northan-hymbraland
(Deira) with a considerable Danish and half-Danish population,
forming an important element in the ethnology, and what
was of more immediate consequence, constituting a barrier which
long retarded the incorporation of Northumbria, and permanently
prevented that of the country between the Tweed and the Forth,
with the rest of England. During this period the Northumbrian
kingdom relapsed into utter anarchy and dismemberment, and
the territories beyond the Tweed and Solway would have fallen
an easy prey to the attacks of a powerful neighbour on the north.
But the final struggle for mastery between the Scots and Picts,
north of the Forth, on one or other side of which the Strathclyde
Britons were generally engaged, occupied all the energies of
these tribes, and restrained them from taking advantage of the
weakness of the Angles. After the union of the Picts and Scots
under Kenneth Mac Alpin in 843, "Saxonia" or Lothian was,
according to the Pictish Chronicler, six times invaded and pillaged
by him, in which incursions he is recorded to have "burnt the
fortress of Dunbar, and spoiled the Abbey of Melrose." But
he and his immediate successors made no attempt to retain
possession of these districts, having enough to do in holding
their own against the turbulence of their new Pictish subjects,
the hostilities of the Britons of Strathclyde, and the inroads of
the Danes and Norwegians, who, having now permanently occupied
the east of England, the Orkneys and Caithness, the Isles
and coasts of the West of Scotland and the Irish Sea, used these
as points of vantage whence to ravage and plunder, with indiscriminate
fury, the territories of Saxons, Scots, and Britons.
In the south, the rulers of Wessex had been gradually gaining
that ascendency over the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which
converted the shadowy dignity of Bretwalda into the more
tangible authority of king of England, but they also were engaged
for nearly a century in a death struggle with the Danes,
and it was not until the days of Edward the Elder, the worthy
son of the great Alfred, that their hands were sufficiently free in
the south to allow of their effective interference north of the
Humber. In 924, Edward had reduced to submission the Danish
and half-Danish rulers of the northern provinces, and received
their allegiance, when, in the words of the contemporary chronicler,
there "chose him for father and lord, the king of the Scots
[Constantine III.], and the whole nation of the Scots, and Regnald
[Danish ruler of York], and [Ealdred] the son of Eadulf [of
Bamborough], and all those who dwell in Northan-hymbra-land,
as well English as Danes, and Northmen and others, and also the
king of the Strathclyde Welsh, and all the Strathclyde Welsh."¹
Thus early began that theoretic recognition of the supremacy of
the Bretwalda, or king of England, which another Edward tried
to reduce to practice, and which was only finally repudiated at
Bannockburn. In the reign of Edward's successor, Æthelstan,
Constantine king of the Scots, alarmed at the consolidation of the
English dominion, combined, on several occasions with the Welsh,
the Northumbrian and Irish Danes, against the Anglo-Saxon
monarch, by whom Scotland was in consequence ravaged by land
and sea, as far as Caithness. At length Constantine, "the hoary
warrior," effected that great alliance of Scots, Danes, Britons,
Welsh, and Irish, who invaded England in 937, and were defeated
in the famous battle of Brunan-burh, which resulted in
establishing more firmly than ever the Anglo-Saxon power in the
An event of great importance to the Scottish monarchy occurred
in 945, when the English king, Eadmund, having overrun
the principality of Cumbria or Strathclyde, over which the English
kings claimed authority as a dependency of Northumbria, but
which was too remote to be worth the trouble of keeping, transferred
the supremacy to Constantine's successor, Malcolm, on
condition of obtaining his aid whenever required for keeping in
order his troublesome half-Danish subjects in Northumbria. The
rule of the king of the Scots was thus extended south of the
Firths, which had hitherto been its boundary, and although the
Strathclyde Britons offered a persistent resistance to their incorporation
in the Scottish dominion, the union was fully consummated
before the close of the century. In pursuance of this
engagement we learn that when the Northumbrian Danes re¹
And eac Stræcled Weala cyning and ealle Stræcled Weallas. Chron. 924.
volted in favour of their native leaders, the Scottish kings repeatedly
overran the territories of Lothian and Northumberland,
in co-operation with the Anglo-Saxon monarch. Similar reasons
to those which prompted the transfer of Cumbria, led probably
also to the cession of the Northumbrian frontier fortress of Eadwinesburh,
to Malcolm's successor, Indulf, the son of Constantine,
in whose time, according to the Pictish chronicle (954-962),
"oppidum Eden vacuatum est, et relictum est Scottis usque in
hodiernum diem."¹ While Northumbria was an independent kingdom,
whose relations to the Picts and Scots were generally
hostile, Edinburgh was of course one of its most important bulwarks;
but to the English kings, separated as it was from the
rest of their dominions by the two only half-subdued Northern
provinces, it was probably better in the hands of their ally and
"fellow-worker," the king of the Scots, whose aid they so often
required against their own refractory Northumbrian subjects.
Whether the cession was due to the policy of Eadred or the
weakness of Eadwig is unknown, but it shews the direction in
which the Scottish kings were now casting eager glances, and
it paved the way for that possession of Lothian and Tweeddale,
which proved so pregnant with mighty consequences for the
language, the laws, the civilization, and whole history of Scotland.
The circumstances of the latter transaction are not quite clear,
but according to John of Wallingford and Roger of Wendover,
the grant of Lothian, or that part of Bernicia north of the Tweed,
was made by Eadgar, who died 975, to Kenneth III., son of
Malcolm I., who began to reign 970, and therefore between those
two years; the latter holding it in the same capacity as it had
been held by the Northumbrian eorls, and engaging that the
province should retain its own laws and customs, and its Angle
or English language ("promittens quòd populo partis illius
antiquas consuetudines non negaret, et linguâ Anglicanâ remanerent"),
stipulations which we know were faithfully observed;
this "English" of Lothian, as we shall presently see, having
become the national language of Scotland, or "Lowland Scotch."
Shortly after this date began the second great series of Danish
invasions, which, after devastating England for forty years, resulted
in placing a Danish dynasty upon the English throne.
During the utter helplessness and prostration to which the central
power was reduced in this struggle, the remote provinces again
relapsed into quasi-independence, the eorls of Northumbria acting
for themselves without any reference to their nominal sovereign
in the south. A quarrel, the grounds of which we do not know,
broke out between the eorl of Northumbria and Malcolm II., king
of the Scots; perhaps the former wished, with the help of the
Danes, to reunite Lothian to the rest of his dominion, and rule
once more over a united Northan-hymbra-land, — at any rate,
¹ Skene — Chronicles of the Picts, &c., Edin. 1867, p. 10.
Malcolm invaded Bernicia and laid seige to Durham, where he
was defeated in a great battle, by Uhtred, son of eorl Waltheof.
Whether, in consequence of this, Malcolm lost part of his territories
south of the Forth is uncertain, but in 1018, the year after
the accession of Cnut to the English throng, he renewed the
war with Eadwulf, the brother of Uhtred, whom he defeated in
a great battle at Carham. Eadwulf afterwards came to an agreement
with Malcolm, and ceded to him Lothian for ever. The
division of the old Northan-hymbra-land, lying between the
Forth and Tweed, was thenceforth a portion of the dominions of
the king of the Scots, who held it however, as it had been held
by the eorls of Northumbria, and as he himself held Strathclyde,
i.e. in his own right when he could maintain it, — when he could
not, in dependence upon the king of England. In the latter
capacity, when Cnut personally visited Scotland in 1031, "the
king of the Scots, Malcolm, submitted to him, and became his
man, but that he held only a little while; and two other kings, Macbeth
and Jehmarc."¹
The history of the Scottish kingdom during the 10th century
exhibits the struggles of two dynasties, one of which was
by marriage and sympathies more connected with Northumbria,
and courted the English alliance; the other identified with the
northeast, and more exclusively Celtic in its leanings. The Celtic
or native line found its greatest representative in Macbeth, who,
after the defeat and death of Duncan, ruled over the original
Scotland, while the Angle districts south of the Forth remained
attached to the family of Duncan. It was rather as a king
of Lothian, conquering Scotland, that Malcolm Ceanmor, son of
Duncan and the Northumbrian eorl's daughter, at the head of an
Anglo-Saxon army overthrew Macbeth and recovered the crown
of his fathers. Having spent the days of his exile with his uncle,
Eorl Siward, in Northumbria, and at the Court of Edward the
Confessor, Malcolm returned to Scotland the heir of a line of
Celtic kings, but half a Saxon in blood, and wholly Saxon in tastes
and sympathies, which were still more confirmed by his marriage,
in 1067, with Margaret, sister of Edgar the Ætheling, heiress of
the hopes and aspirations of the English Saxon dynasty. The
southern names of the children born from this union are thus
recorded by Wyntown (Book VII. iii. 30) :-
"Malcolm kyng, be lawchfull get,
Had on hys Wyff Saynt Margret,
Sownnys sex, and Dowchtrys twa.
Off Þir Sownnys, thre of þa
Wes Edmwnd, Edward, Ethelrede,
Kyng of Þire nowcht ane we rede;
Bot Edgare, Alysawndyre, and Dawy yhyng
Ilkane of Þire wes crownyd a kyng."
¹Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1031.
2 In this and the subsequent quotations,
expansions of the contractions of
the MSS. are indicated by italic letters.
They form quite a contrast to the characteristic Celtic nomenclature
of the Donalds, Kenneths, Duncans, Malcolms, and Ferguses, who
had hitherto occupied the throne, and mark the turning point
from which the Scottish royal family may be looked upon as an
Anglo-Saxon line, and the history of Scotland that of its Teutonic
element. This element continually increased, through the policy
of Malcolm and his successors, in encouraging English settlers
north of the Forth, affording refuge to the fugitives from the Norman
conquest, and displacing the ancient troublesome chiefs by a
nobility personally attached to the sovereign, of Saxon, Flemish,
and Norman origin. The Celtic portion of their subjects, who
had formed the original germ of the kingdom, did not submit to
be thus ousted from the first place without many a struggle, and
in the reign of Malcolm's immediate successors, it seemed doubtful
for a while whether the Celt or the Saxon should eventually
gain the predominance. The struggle was scarcely decided before
the year 1100, and after fortune finally declared in favour of the
latter, backed as they were by their kinsmen in England, the
work of Saxonizing the seaboard country north of the Firths went
on rapidly under Edgar, Alexander, and David I.; or, as Wyntown
puts it:—
"Þe Saxonys and Þe Scottis blude
In natyownys twa before þan ȝhud, (i. e. went)
Bot Þe Barnetyme off þat Get
Þat Malcolme had off Saynt Margret,
To-gyddir drw full vnyowne
To pass syne in successyowne." — (Book VII. iii. 163.)
§ 5. Having traced the course of events by which the Angles
of Northern Bernicia became politically connected with the
ancient kingdom of the Celtic Scots, and a leading element in
the later Scottish nationality, we approach the question of the
language. At the arrival of the Teutonic invaders on the east
coast, the territory between the walls, now forming the south of
Scotland, was like England, British; that is, Celtic, of the Cymric
or Welsh division. The names of the princes with whom the
invaders leagued or fought, of the principalities and places mentioned
in the record of the wars, are all Cymric. It is in an
ancient form of Welsh, and by the care of the Welsh bards, that
the poems of Taliesin, bard of Urien and Owain, princes of Reghed,
of Lliwarch Hen, son of Elidir, chief of Argoed, both divisions of
ancient Cumbria, and of Aneurin, a native of Strath-clyde, and
probably of Alclwyd, or Dumbarton, have come down to us with
contemporary delineations of the great events of the struggle.¹
It was among their kinsmen in Wales or Brittany that all the
three northern bards ended their lives; to Wales also that many
¹ Les Bardes Bretons. — Poemes du
vie siecle, traduits pour la première fois,
en Français, avec le texte en regard
revu sur les manuscrits. Par le Vicomte
Hersart de la Villemarque,
Nouvelle Edition. Paris, 1860.
of the Cumbrian Britons fled after the battle of Caltraeth. It is as
Bretts and Welsh, moreover, that the inhabitants of Cumbria or
Strathclyde are referred to by the contemporary Saxon chroniclers,
and in the charters and proclamations of David I., Malcolm IV.,
and William the Lion. So late as 1305, it was enacted by
Edward I., in revising the laws of Scotland, that "the usages of
the Scots and Bretts should be abolished and no more used."
Finally, it is to the ancient British or Welsh that we must still
look for the etymology of the names of the great natural features
of the country, "the ever-flowing rivers and the ever-lasting hills."
It is to this tongue that we look for the derivation of the names
of the Tweed, the Teviot, the Clyde, the Nith, and the Annan,
the numerous Esks, Edens, Tynes, Avons, Calders, and Alns or
Allans; that we explain Cheviot, and the other border hills,
which were conspicuous enough to retain the names given by the
earlier race. The eminences of the south country, when not
hills, fells, laws, or knows, are pens like Pennygent, Pen-maen-maur,
and the other Pens of Wales and Cornwall. In Teviotdale
we have Penielheugh, Pen-chrise Pen, Skelf-hill Pen, and
the obsolete Penango and Penangoishope; on the watershed between
Teviotdale and Liddesdale, Pennygent repeats a southern
name in its entirety. At the head of Eskdale rises Ettrick Pen;
in the vicinity of Innerleithen in Tweeddale, the Lee Pen. There
is no trace of any Gaelic element at this time in the south-east
of Scotland; the occupation of Galloway and Carrick by a colony
of Scots from Ireland took place some centuries later. A few monastic
and missionary settlements of the Scoto-Irish church like
Melrose have a Gaelic etymon; but these are isolated, and, from
their very nature as exceptions, prove the rule. Many of the Celtic
local names which occur along the southern borders of the Firth
of Forth doubtless belong to the period when the Scottish kings
first extended their authority over Lothian, and Celtic Scots were
mixed with the Angles who occupied the district.
§ 6. An Angle or English dialect has been as long established
in the South-east of Scotland as in any part of England, with
the exception, perhaps, of Kent. According to accredited accounts,
the district was entirely abandoned by the Britons after
the battle of Caltraeth, and even though we allow of a much
less sweeping change of population, it is evident that Northumbria
north of the Tweed and Cheviots was as completely peopled
by the Angles as Northumbria south of these lines. In confirmation
of this we find that the geographical names of the
Southern Scottish counties, so far as they refer to the dwelling-places
of men, or even to the smaller streams or burns, the bursts,
shaws, morasses, and lower hills, are as purely Teutonic as the
local names of Kent or Dorset. Such names as Coldingham,
Redpath, Haliburton, Greenlaw, Mellerstane, Wedderburn, Cranshaws,
in Berwickshire; Linton, Morebattle, Newbigging, Edgarston,
Fernieherst, Rutherford, Middleham or Midlem, Langton,
Eckford, Hassendean (Halestanedene), Hawick, Denholm, Langlee,
Whitmoor, Whitriggs, Whitchesters, Wilton, Ashkirk, Essenside,
Harwood, Wolfelee, Wolfcleuchhead, Swinnie, Swinhope,
Todlaw, Todshaw, Todrig, Cateleuch, Oxenham, Buceleuch,
Newstead, Stow, Drygrange, Darnwick, Selkirk, Oakwood,
Hartwood-myres, Hindhope, Dryhope, Midgehope, Hellmoor,
Thirlstane, Corsecleugh, in Roxburgh and Selkirkshires; Langholm,
Broomholm, Muckledale, Westerkirk, Morton, Thornhill,
Ruthwell, Lockerby, Canonby, Mousewald, Torthorwald, Tinwald,
Applegarth, Elderbeck (the latter of which are Norse), in
Dumfriesshire, are only specimens of the common names of towns,
hamlets, parishes, and farms. The instant we leave the dales of
the Esk and Annan, in Dumfriesshire, and cross into that of the
Nith, we find ourselves in the midst of a foreign nomenclature,
that of the Ersch of Galloway. Drumfries, Sanquhar, Auchencairn,
Anchendarroch, Glencairn, Cairnkinna, Linncluden, Dalscairth,
Darngarroch, Drumlanrig, Drummore, and hundreds of
other examples of Dal, Drum, Auchen, Craigen, Bal, Glen, and
Cairn, testify to the ethnological change. To return to the Angle
area, it was from the banks of the Leader, a northern tributary
of the Tweed, that the shepherd boy, Cuthberht, was called to
be the apostle of Northumbria; it was over the area of Tweeddale,
Teviotdale, and Ettrick Forest, as well as in Tynedale and
Lindisfarne, that his labours of faith and love were performed,
and that commemorative chapels rose to his memory. One of
the most famous of these, to the history of which six chapters are
devoted by Reginald of Durham, 1 stood by the Slitrith, a tributary
of the Teviot, and among the worshippers we have recorded the
genuine Anglo-Saxon names of Seigiva (Sæiʓifu) and Rosfritha
(Rosfrið), "duae mulieres de villâ quâdam Hawich dictâ ipsius
provintiæ de Tevietedale." Dumfriesshire has, moreover, preserved
to us, in the "Dream of the Holy Rood," inscribed in
Anglo-Saxon Runes upon the Ruthwell Cross — perhaps the most
venerable specimen of the language of the Northumbrian Angles,
which ranks with the Runic inscription upon the Bewcastle
Cross, commemorative of Alchfrid, son of Oswiu (ab. 664) — the
genuine fragment of Cædmon, and the deathbed verses of Beda,
as our chief, almost our only, data for the state of that dialect in
the 7th and 8th centuries. The Ruthwell Cross is of course of
Christian origin, but a relic of North Anglian heathendom seems
to be preserved in a phrase which forms the local slogan of the
town of Hawick. and which, as the name of a peculiar local
air, and time refrain, or "owerword" of associated ballads, has
been connected with the history of the town "back to fable-shaded
eras." Different words have been sung to the tune from
¹"Reginaldi Monachi Dunelmensis
Libellus de Admirandis Beati Cuthberti
Virtutibus." Ed. Dr. Raine, Publications
of the Surtees Society, vol. i.
time to time, and none of those now extant can lay claim to any
antiquity: but associated with all, and yet identified with none,
the refrain "Tyr-ibus ye Tyr ye Odin," Týr hæb us, ʓe Týr ʓe
Odin! Tyr keep us. both Tyr and Odin! (by which name the
tune also is known) appears to have come down, scarcely mutilated,
from the time when it was the burthen of the song of the
gleó-mann, or scald, or the invocation of a heathen Angle warrior,
before the northern Hercules and the blood-red lord of battles had
yielded to the "pale god" of the Christians.¹
it seems probable that although the Northumbrian territory
extended to the shores of the Forth, the Anglian occupancy of
Lothian was more fitful and precarious than that of Tweeddale
and the basin of the Solway, and that it was not till a later
period that the Teutonic dialect exclusively prevailed there.
This idea is supported by the geographical nomenclature; such
names as Dunbar, Aberlady, Drummore, Killspindy, Pencaithland,
Dalgowrie, Dalkeith, Dalhousie, Roslin, Pennicuick, Abercorn,
Cathie, Linlithgow, Torphichen, Cariden (Caer-eiden?), Kinneil,
are mixed with the Teutonic Haddington, Linton, Stenton, Fenton,
Dirleton, Athelstaneford, Ormiston, Whittingham, Gifford,
Newbattle, Cranston, Duddingston, Broxburn, Whitburn, and, so
far as they are ancient, indicate the continued existence of a
British or Pictish population, among whom the advancing Teutonic
made its way more gradually.² To this later prevalence of
the North Angle dialect on the shores of the Firth, I also attribute,
in part, the difference still existing between the pronunciation of
¹The ballad now connected with the
air of "Tyribus" commemorates the
laurels gained by the Hawick youth, at
and after the disastrous battle, when, in
the words of the writer,
Our sires roused by "Tyr ye Odin"
Marched and joined their king at
Annually since that event the "Common-Riding"
has been held, on which
occasion a flag or "colour" captured
from a party of the English has been
with great ceremony borne by mounted
riders round the bounds of the common
land, granted after Flodden to the
burgh; part of the ceremony consisting
in a mock capture of the "colour,"
and hot pursuit by a large party of
horsemen accoutred for the occasion.
At the conclusion "Tyribus" is sung,
with all the honours by the actors in
the ceremony, from the roof of the oldest
house in the burgh, the general populace
filling the street below, and joining
in the song with immense enthusiasm.
The influence of modern ideas is gradually
doing away with much of the
parade and renown of the Common-Riding.
But "Tyr-ibus ye Tyr ye
Odin" retains all its local power to
fire the lieges, and the accredited method
of arousing the burghers to any
political or civic struggle is still to send
round the drums and fifes "to play
Tyribus" through the town, a summons
analogous to that of the Fiery
Cross in older times. Apart from the
words of the Slogan, the air itself bears
in its wild fire all the tokens of a remote
origin. It will be found in the
Appendix, accompanied by the first verse
of the modern ballad.
² Upon consulting the map it will be
seen that the Celtic names increase in
number as we travel west. East Lothian
is nearly as Teutonic as Berwickshire
or Teviotdale; West Lothian or
Linlithgow, which was on the Pictish
frontier, has a very large Celtic element
in its nomenclature; around Edinburgh
the names are pretty well mixed.
Lothian (in the modern restricted sense of the word), and that of
the Southern counties.
§ 7. As to the country north of the Firths, or Scotland proper,
we find that the vulgar tongue, the lingua Scotica, was still
Celtic in the reign of Macbeth. Still later, in the days of Malcolm
Ceanmór, when "Queen Margaret in 1074 caused a council to be
convened to inquire into the abuses which were said to have crept
into the Scottish church, it was found that the clergy could speak
no language but Gaelic. As Margaret, who was to be the chief
prolocutor, could speak to them only in Saxon, her husband, king
Malcolm, who happened to know Saxon as well as Gaelic, was
obliged to act as interpreter."¹ Gaelic continued to be the language
north of the Forth down to the final defeat of Donald Bane,
under whom the Celtic element made its final struggle for predominance
in connection with the succession to the crown and
the accession of Edgar, son of Malcolm and Margaret in 1097. Such
was the effect, however, of the identification of the royal dynasty
with the English-speaking portion of their subjects, and of the
policy of Edgar, David, and their successors, in encouraging the
settlement of Anglo-Saxons, Flemings, and Normans, by grants
of land, charters, and privileges, that during the course of the
two following centuries, the Teutonic dialect, hitherto confined to
the district south of the Forth, crept northward along the coast
line to the shores of the Moray Firth, and before the death of
Alexander III. was apparently the spoken tongue of the greater
part of the population, the Welsh having disappeared before it in
Strathclyde, and the Gaelic being confined pretty nearly to what we
still designate the Highlands, and to Galloway. There is no need
to account for this change by the operation of any sudden and
violent causes; the Celtic dialects of the north-east, and the
British of Strathclyde, disappeared before the Anglo-Saxon tongue
of the court, and education, just as at a later time the Erse of
Galloway and Carrick, the British of Cornwall, the Irish of
Leinster, died out before the English, or as in our own day the
Gaelic of Perthshire, the Cymric of Wales, the Irish of Tipperary,
are ever retreating backwards before the same advancing tide.
The people remain, but with the change of language they lose
the greatest of their distinctive marks, and in course of time
merge their history in that of the country at large.
The name of Scotland, and the language now known as Scotch,
were thus in their introduction and diffusion exactly the converse
of each other. Neither of them indigenous to North Britain — the
name was introduced from Ireland to the extreme west, and by a
gradual movement eastward and southward, in the wake of the
ascendancy of the king of Scots, attained its present limits in the
thirteenth century; the language, introduced from the opposite
¹ Wright — History of Scotland, p. 33.
coast of the continent to the extreme south-east, extended itself
westward and northward, till by the end of the same century it
occupied something like its present area. Totally unconnected,
and even antagonistic in their origin, the encroaching monarchy
and the encroaching language met each other on the battle-furrowed
banks of the Forth, when the kings of Scotland commenced
their attempts upon Lothian. The struggle which ensued
ended in a compromise. The Angles of Lothian and Tweeddale
accepted the Scottish king and the Scottish name — Scotland and
the king of Scots accepted the Angle tongue, and the Anglo-Saxon
character. The sovereign ruled as the hereditary descendant
of Fergus the son of Ere and the fabulous Gathelus — he
reigned because he represented the feelings and sympathies, and
was identified with the interests and national spirit, of his Anglo-Saxon
§8. Of the dialect of the North Angles before the tenth century,
the remains are scanty. The inscription upon the Ruthwell Cross,
the most certain specimen 1 afforded by that part of the Northanhymbra-land
now included in Scotland, forms no inconsiderable
portion of the whole. The following transcription of that fragment,
chiefly after its latest and most careful editor, Professor Stephens
(by whom it is attributed to Cædmon), along with the West
Saxon version or paraphrase of the poem from the Codex Vercellensis,
shews that already in the seventh century the Northern
dialect was distinguished from the Southern by some of the chief
characteristics which afterwards defined them.
The .Ruthwell.
On-geredæ hinæ
God almeyottig
þa he walde
On galgu gi-stiga
Modig fore
Alle men
Buga ik ni darstæ
Ahof ik riiknæ kuningk
Heafunæs hlafard
hælda ik ni darstæ
Bismærædu ungket men
The West Saxon paraphrase.
On-gyrede hine þa ʓeonʓ hæleð
þæt wæs God ælrnihtig
Strang and stiðmod
gestah he on gealgan heanne
Modig on manigra gesyhðe
þat he wolde mancyn lysan
Bifode ic þa me se beorn ymbclypte
Ne dorste ic hwæðre bugan to eorRod
wæs ic aræred [ðan.
Ahof ic ricne cyning
Heofona hlaford
hyldan me ne dorste
Bismeredon hie unc
1 A monumental cross at Friar's
Carse. in Dumfriesshire, bears a short
inscription read as North-Anglian by
Ralph Carr, Esq., of Hedgeley, Alnwick,
who has devoted much attention
to Anglo-Saxon inscriptions. See his
paper, read before the Philological
Society, in November, 1869. Mr. Carr
also considers many of the inscribed
stones of the N. E. of Scotland to be
Teutonic. See his "Sculptured Stones
of Eastern Scotland," Edin., T. and
T. Clark, 1867; and paper on the Inscribed
Stones of Newton Insch and-St.
Vigean's, in the Transact. of Soc.
Antiq. Scot., vol. vii., pt. 1, 1866-7.
The Ruthwell.
ba ætgadre
Ik [wæs] miþ blodæ bistemid
Bi-goten of ...........
Krist wæs on rodi
Hweþræ þer fusæ
fearran cwomu
Æþþilæ til anum
Ik þæt al biheald
Sare ik wæs
Miþ sorgum gidrœfid
Hnag ic [hweþræ]
Miþ strelum giwundad
A-legdun hiæ hinæ lim-wœ-rignæ

Gistoddun him æt his likæs
Bihealdun hiæ þer heafun. . . .
On-graithed him(self)
God almighty
When he would
On the gallows ascend,
Strong-of-mood before
All men.
Bow I dared not
[A rood I was reared]
Up-heaved I the rich king,
Heaven's lord.
Lean I dared not!
Men reviled us two
Both together ;
I [was] with blood bestained
The West Saxon paraphrase.
butu ætgædere
Eall ic wæs mid blode bestemed
begoten of þæs guman sidan
syððan he hæfde his gast onsended.
Crist wæs on rode
Hwæðere Þær fuse
feorran cwomon
to þam æþelinge
Ic þæt eall beheold
Sare ic wæs
Mid sorgum gedrefed
Hnag ic hwæðre
þam secgum to handa
Eall ic wæs mid strælum forwundod
Aledon hie ðær limwerigne
Gestodon him æt his lices heafdum
Beheoldon hieðær heofenes dryhten.
Translation of the Ruthwell.
Out-gushed from [the hero's side,
Since his ghost he had sent forth.]
Christ was on rood ;
Howbeit there hastily (fussily)
From-afar came
Noble ones to him alone (?)
I that all beheld.
Sore I was
With sorrows oppressed;
Inclined I yet
[To the hands of his servants.]
With shafts wounded,
Laid they him limb-weary;
Stood (by) him at his lyke's head,
Beheld they there heaven['s,lord].
In the form walde for the southern wolde, we see the distinction
between the northern wald, wad, and the southern wold, would.
Bi-heald for beheold, and darstæ for dorste, are dialectical points
of the same kind. The use of ea for eo, as heafun for heofon,
heaven, fearran for feorran, and the use of œ for e, miþ for mid,
and the prefixes gi- and bi for ge- and be-, are well-known characteristics
of the Northumbrian glosses of the tenth century. But
the most interesting point to be noticed is the dropping of final
n from the inflections of nouns and verbs (galgu, buga, hælda,
bismærædu, kwomu), also noted in the glosses, in which the Old
North Anglian agreed with the Scandinavian and Frisian, rather
than the Saxon, and anticipated the early loss of the noun and
verb inflections by the northern dialect, seen in comparing the
southern thei loven to ben, we wolden gon, with the northern thai
luf to be, we wald ga.
§ 9. In the tenth century, or thereabouts, several interlinear
translations or glosses of Latin ecclesiastical works were executed
in a Northern dialect in England, especially a gloss to the Ritual
of Durham, and two glosses of the Gospels, the Lindisfarne, or
Durham-bóc, and the Rushworth,¹ the intimate relation between
which suggests the existence of a currently recognized rendering
of the Evangel in the Vernacular. A charter written at Durham²
gives a specimen of the language, about 1100, and a few words in
the native tongue in the Latin charters of David, William the
Lion, and their successors, such as "cum sacca et socca cum tol et
them et infangtheefe," answering to the "mid saca and socne, mid
tolles and teames, and mid infangenes theofes" of the contemporary
English charters; the terms ut-were and in-were, foreign
and internal war, tri-gild, a penalty for cutting down trees, and a
reference in defining the boundaries of properties to landmarks,
known in the vulgar tongue as þe stane cross, þe standand stane,
are contemporary witnesses of the dialect in Scotland.³ The Leges
Quatuor Burgorum (Berewic, Rokisburg, Edinburg, et Strevelin)
and other of the early Scottish laws, have also embalmed in their
Latin originals, some of which date to David I. numerous words
and phrases of the vernacular speech, some with Latinized terminations,
but others in their naked forms, intended to identify
¹I do not include the Psalter (M.S.
Cotton, Vesp. A. 1), seeing no grounds
on which to consider it Northumbrian.
I altogether fail to see the "close agreement
in the general structure of its
language with the Lindisfarne and
Rushworth Gospels, and with the Durham
Ritual," spoken of by the Surtees
² The Charter of Ranulph, created
Bishop of Durham 1099 (Hickes Thesaurus,
vol. i. 149), contains some
Southern forms as well as Northern.
To the Rev. W. Greenwell, M. A.,
Canon of Durham, I am indebted for
the following fresh transcript of the
original, correcting the errors of Hickes's
text :-
R[anulf] bisceop ʓreteð wel alle
his þeines ʓ drenʓes of Ealondscire ʓ
of Nohamscire. Wite ʓe þat icc habbe
ʓe-tyðed Sce Cuhtberht þat lond in
Elredene, ʓ all þat þær to be limpeð
clæne ʓ clacles. ʓ Haliwareſtelle ic
habbe ʓe-tyðtd S̄c̄e Cuhtberht his
aʓen into hiſ cyrce. ʓ hua sua b[e]-
raues ðisses, b[e]raue Criſt hine þisses
liueſ hele ʓ heofne riceſ mirde.
In the oldest Lowland Scotch or
Northern English this would be:
Ranulf bischop gretis wel alle his
þaynes and dryngis of Yland-schire and
of Norham-schire, Wyt ʓe þat Ik haFe
tythyd to Sanct Cuthberht þe land in
Ellerdene, and all þat þar-to belangis
clene and clag-les; and Haliwarestele
Ik hafe tythyd to Sanct Cuthberht, his
awen in-to his kyrke. And quha sua
bereuis [þame] of þis, Christ bereue
hym of þis lyfis hele and hevyn-rikis
myrd (or mirthe).
Hickes notices the words drenges
(Dan. dreng, a lad, an attendant) and
clac-les (Dan. klage, a complaint, charge)
as Scandinavian, and wanting in the
Southern Saxon, where the latter term
would be sác-leas, Both are used by
Scottish writers, dryng by Lyndesay, and
clag as a law term, a charge or burden
upon property. For Ik see Barbour:
Cursor Mundi has ic. Belimpes might
perhaps have been retained instead of
belangis (the only verbal change);
at least we find the simple limpus in the
sense of falls to, pertains, in the
"Anturs of Arthur at the Tarne Wathelan
" (ab. 1300), edited by Mr.
Robson, for the Camden Society, in
³ Quoted by Prof. Cosmo Innes-Introduction
by Barbour's Brus, in
Spalding Club series.
more thoroughly the subjects of legislation. Thus "Si quis verberando
fecerit aliquem blaa et blodi, ipse qui fuerit blaa et blodi
prius debet exaudiri," eic. In the 15th. century translation, "Gif
ony man strykis anoþir, quhar-thruch he is mayd blaa and blodi,
he þat is mayd blaa and blodi sall fyrst be herde, etc. "Stallingiator
nullo tempore potest habere loth, cut, neque cavyll de
aliquo mercimonio, nisi infra nundinas quando quilibet potest
habere loth, cut, atque cavyll," translated "Na stallangear (itinerant
stall-keeper) may hafe na tyme loth, cut, or cavyll wyth a
burges of ony maner of merchandise, but in þe tym of þe fayris,
quhen þat ilk man may hafe loth, cut, and cavyll, wythin the
kyngis burgh." The stalingiator may also have "botham coopertam"
a covered buith. "Et sciendum est quod intra burgum non
debet exaudiri blodewite, styngesdynt (a cudgelling), merchet,
herieth (transl. here-gild, military-tribute, the heriot), nee aliquid
de consimilibus." The widow of a burgess is to have left to
her "interiorem partem domus qua dicitur le flet;" among the
personal effects of which the destination is fixed are "plumbum
cum maskfat (mash-vat, masking fat in Lyndesay's Flyting), hucham
(a hutch, transl. schyrn, shrine), girdalium (the gyrdle or griddle),"
etc. Further instances are found in the following expressions:-
"Infantem clamantem vel plorantem vel braiantem," the chylde
cryand or gretand or brayand; "Si in responsione negaverit wrang
et unlaw et dicat, etc"; "post woch (A.S. woh, injustice) et wrang
at unlaw"; "Non ut husbandi non ut pastores"; "forestarius habebit
unum hog." So also among other terms we meet.with hamesokyn,
iburþeneseca seu berthynsak, explained in the translation as "berthynsak,
þe thyft of a calf or of a ram, or how mekill as a man
may ber on his bak;" inboruche et [h]uteboruche potestatem habens
ad distinguendum, cokestole, opelandensis, "ane uplandis-man,"
schorlinges (shearlings), etc., etc. So "fremd" do these terms
look in the Latin texts, so entirely natural are they in the vernacular
versions, that it is very difficult to realize that the Latin is
the older by two or three centuries, and the conviction is forced
upon one that there must have been an earlier vernacular in oral
if not in written existence, which the scribes had in their mind,
if not before their eyes, and which was drawn upon where the
Latin would have been wanting in precision, or failed altogether
to render a technicality.
But, with the exception of such isolated fragments, the history
of the northern dialect is all but a blank for nearly three centuries,
and that precisely at the period when the old Northan-hymbra-land
was being incorporated with the English and Scottish
monarchies respectively; so that we have no connected data
showing the transition of the Old North Anglian into the Early
Northern English of Cursor Mundi and the Scottish laws, such as
those which enable us to trace the insensible passage of the classical
Anglo-Saxon into the Southern English of the Ancren Riwle
and Ayenbite, or to inform us of the date at which the Northern
tongue emancipated itself from the trammels of inflection, and
assumed that essentially modern form which it wears in the
earliest of these connected specimens. All we know is, that the
grammatical revolution had already begun in the 9th and 10th
centuries, and that the change was completed long before it had
advanced to any extent in the south, so that when the curtain
rises over the northern dialect, in England towards the close of
the 13th century, and in Scotland nearly a hundred years later,
the language had become as thoroughly uninflectional as the
modern English, while the sister dialect of the south retained to
a great extent the noun-, pronoun-, and adjective-declension of
the Anglo-Saxon. The same phenomenon of earlier development
has been repeated in almost every subsequent change which the
language has undergone. The South has been tenaciously conservative
of old forms and usages, the North has inaugurated
often by centuries nearly every one of those structural changes
which have transformed the English of Alfred into English as it
has been since the clays of Shakspeare. Hence, of two contemporary
writers, one northern and the other southern, the Englishman
of to-day always feels the former the more modern,
the nearer to him — Cursor Mundi and Barbour are infinitely more
intelligible, even to the southern reader, than the Kentish Ayenbite
of Inwyt.
§ 10. The same deficiency of materials, in the period preceding
the 13th century, renders it difficult to estimate the amount of
influence exerted upon the Northern dialect by the Scandinavian,
in consequence of the Danish invasions and settlements of the 8th
and 10th centuries. In the opinion of the writer the present
tendency is rather to over-estimate the amount of this influence.
He sees reason to believe that the Northern dialect from the
beginning diverged from the classical Anglo-Saxon in a direction
which made it more closely connected in form with the Scandinavian.
The chief points in which the language of the Ruthwell
Cross, and the verses of Cædmon and Beda differ from the contemporary
West Saxon, are the inflectional characteristics which
distinguish the Scandinavian and Frisian from the Saxon and
German division of the Teutonic languages. There seems ground,
therefore, to regard many of the characteristics of the northern
dialect which currently pass as Danish as having been original
elements of the North Angle speech, due to the fact that this
dialect was, like the Frisian, one which formed a connecting link
between the Scandinavian and Germanic branches. Such characteristics
would of course be strengthened and increased by the
influx of Danish and Norwegian settlers, but the influence of
these was necessarily at first confined to particular localities, and
only gradually and at a later period affected the northern dialect
as a whole. Cursor Mundi and Hampole have more of it than
the glosses of the 10th century, but Cursor Mundi and Hampole
have little of it in comparison with certain modern provincial
dialects of the north of England, such as those of Cleveland,
Whitby, Lonsdale, Furness, and parts of Cumberland. In the
county of Northumberland, and in Scotland, the Danish influence
is apparently at a minimum, agreeing with the fact noted by
Mr. Worsaae, that "the whole east coast of Scotland, from the
Cheviot Hills to Moray Firth, is entirely destitute of characteristic
and undoubted Scandinavian monuments." 1 As a consequence
the Lowland Scotch of the present day represents Hampole and
Cursor Mundi, and the Northern dialect of the 13th and 14th
centuries generally, much more closely than those North English
dialects, in which the Danish element, or what currently passes
for Danish is more apparent. The use of at as the relative, of til
for to, thir for these, and waar for worse, are common to the
modern Scotch with the old northern writers. The use of t' or 't
as the article, instead of the (t' master o' t' houses), of at instead
of to in the infinitive (a sup o' summat at drink), of the form I is
for I am, I war for I was, are unknown in Scotland. In general
1 The Danes and Norwegians in
England, Scotland, and Ireland, by J. J.
A. Worsaae, Lond. 1852, p. 217. Elsewhere
the author says : ,'Extremely few
places with Scandinavian names are to
be found in the Scottish Lowlands, and
even these are confined almost without
exception to the counties nearest the
English border. Dumfriesshire, lying
directly north of Cumberland and the
Solway, forms the central point of such
places. Northumberland and Durham,
the two north-easternmost counties of
England, contain but a scanty number
of them, and consequently must have
possessed, in early times at least, no
very numerous Scandinavian population.
Cumberland, on the contrary,
was early remarkable for such a population;
whence it will appear natural
enough that the first Scandinavian colonists
in the Scottish border-lands preferred
to settle in the neighbourhood of
that county. On the S.E. coast of
Scotland they would not only have been
separated from their kinsmen in the
East of England by two intervening
counties, but also divided by a broad
sea from their kinsmen in Denmark and
Norway. Such a situation would have
been much more exposed and dangerous
for them than the opposite coast, where
they had in their neighbourhood the
counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland,
inhabited by the Northmen, as
well as their colonies in Ireland and
the Isle of Man The Scandinavian
population in Dumfriesshire
evidently appears to have emigrated
from Cumberland over the Diddle and
Esk, into the plains which spread
westward of these rivers; at least the
names of places there have the very
same character as in Cumberland,"
p. 202-3. Mr. Worsaae then instances
the names of fell (fjeld) and rigg (ryg)
applied to hills, and the local names
Thornythwaite, Treethwaites, Robiethwaite,
Murraythwaite, Helbeck,
Greenbeck, Bodsbeck, Torbeck, Stonybeck,
Waterbeck, Hartsgarth, Tundergarth,
Applegarth, Lockerby, Alby,
Middleby, Dunnabie, Wyseby, Percebie,
Denbic, Newby, Milby, Sorbie, Canoby,
and the words pock-net (Isl. pokanet)
and leister (Isl.ljóster, Danish lyster),
fishing implements also well known in
the 'Tweed and Teviot, and adds: "In
the Lowlands the number of Scandinavian
names of places is quite insignificant
when compared with the original
Celtic or even with the Anglo-Saxon
names. "I may add that the dialect
spoken in the S.E. corner of Dumfriesshire
and the adjacent corner of Roxburghshire,
or Canobie and Liddesdale,
is still quite distinct from that of the
rest of these counties, and is rather that
of Cumberland than of Lowland Scotland.

it may be said that the contributions which the Scotch has received
from the Scandinavian affect rather the vocabulary than the grammar;
numerous words passed from the districts in which the
Danes settled into the Northern dialect generally; the grammatical
inflections, particles, and formative affixes have not been so widely
adopted. As an illustration of the caution which ought to be
exercised before pronouncing a word or grammatical form to be
of Scandinavian origin upon internal evidence alone, we may take
the case of the relative ăt (the man ăt was here) for that. This is
generally, if not universally, accepted as Scandinavian, as the
same word occurs in Old Norse and the modern languages derived
from it.
Old Norse Ek hefi spurt at þú hafir aldri blótat skúrgoð.
Færæese E hävi spurt at tú hevir aldri ofra til Afgudar
I have learned at thou hast never offered to idols.
Swedish Du wet, att jag sade, att jag hörde det
Danish Du veed, at jeg sagde, at jeg hörde det
You know at I said, at I heard that.
So far nothing could seem clearer than that the at of the English
dialects is the Norse at. But there is another class of facts
requiring consideration. In the Gaelic, although th is one of the
commonest of written combinations, the sound is quite lost in the
language as now spoken, its place being indicated by a breathing,
or a simple hiatus. Thus athair, mathair, brathair, ceithir = father,
mother, brother, quatuor, are pronounced a'air, ma'air, bra'air,
kai'er. Cath, cathair (Welsh cad, cader), fathast, leth, are ca',
ca'air, fa'ast, le'. Thighearn, thigh, Thomais (vocative of Tomas),
Theurlach (genitive of Teurlach, Charles), are pronounced hee-arn,
hee or high, homish, hairlach. Now the Lowland Scottish dialects,
all along the Celtic border-line, or in districts where the Teutonic
has only lately superseded the Celtic, have a tendency to drop
the initial th of unaccented subordinate words and particles.
Aa'nk or aa'ink for I think is generally diffused; and in Caithness
we hear not only at, but ee, ay, aim, an, air, are, for that, the,
they, thaim, than, thair, thare. In the West of Forfar and Fife,
South of Perth, in Kinross, Clackmannan, etc., the article is regularly
abbreviated into ee "ee haid ŏ ee toon, ee haid ee toon, pyt
ee braid i' ee prêss" (the head of the town put the bread in the
press).¹ After disappearing in Clydesdale and Lothian this peculiarity
crops up again in Galloway, a district which was Celtic in
the 16th century. Lest in these districts, and Caithness in par¹
The definite article de, den, has
also been contracted into e, æ, in South
Jutland, as e By, e Barn, e Bynder,
e hele Hus, the town, the bairn, the
farmers, the whole house (Det Danske
Folksprog in Sonderjylland ved J. Kok,
quoted in Introduction to Cleveland
Glossary, p. xxiii.) At an earlier time
the Norse at and en themselves were
doubtless from the þat and Þen (dat,
denn) of the first Germanic occupants
of the Scandinavian peninsulas, and
perhaps by similar contact with a preexistent
ticular, this peculiarity should be claimed as Norwegian (although
it extends to words never so contracted in Norse), we have a conclusive
example in the interesting dialect of Barony Forth, in
County Wexford, Ireland. The baronies of Forth and Bargy
were occupied by an isolated colony of Strongbow's followers in
1169, who have preserved almost to the present day a remarkable
form of speech, being a very archaic stage of English (with verbal
-eth singular and plural, as in Chaucer, the e- prefix to past participles,
etc.). modified in pronunciation and glossary by the native
Irish, by which it was surrounded, especially in this matter of the
aphaeresis of initial th, as may be seen in the following passages :
Yn ercha an of o' whilke yt beeth
wi' gleezom o' core 'th oureene dwytheth
apan ee Vigère o' dicke zouvereine,
Wilyame ee Vourthe, unnere fose
fatherlie zwae urc dai•ez be ye-spant;
az avàre ye trad dicke lone yer name
waz ye-kent var ee Vriene o' Livertie
an he fo braak ee neckàr-ez o' zlaves.
Mang ourzels—var wee dwytheth an
Eerloane, as ure general haime—y'ast
be ractzom o' hoane ye-delt t'ouz ee
laas ye-mate var ercha vassàle, ne'er
dwythen na dicke waie nar dicka.
Wee dwitheth ye ane fose daiez bee gien
var ee gudevare, o' ee lone ye zwae,
t' avance pace an livertie an wi' oute
vlynch, ee garde o' generàl reights an
poplàre vartùe.
In ever-each and all of which it beeth
with joy of heart that our even looketh
upon the Viceroy of thilk sovereign
William the fourth, under whose
fatherly sway our days are y-spent;
as before you trade thilk land your name
was y-known for the friend of liberty
and he who broke the halters of slaves.
Among ourselves — for we look on
Ireland as our common home—you have
by righteousness of hand, y-dealt to us the
laws y-made for ever-each subject, never
looking to thilk side nor to thilk (i.e.
this nor that),
We look on you as one whose days be given
for the well-fare, of the land you sway
to advance peace and liberty, and without
flinching, the guard of common rights and
public virtue.
(From Address to the Viceroy, 1836.)
Mot w' all aar boust, hi soon was ee-teight
At aar errone was var aam ing oar angish ee-height
Zitch vezzeen, tarvizzeen, tell than w' ne'er zey
Nor zitchel n'e'er well, nowe, nore ne'er mey.
Ha-ho! be mee coshès, th'ast ee-pait it, co Joane;
Y'oure w' thee crokeèn, an yie mee thee hoane.
He at nouth fad t'zey, llean vetch ee man
Twish thee an Tommeèn, an ee emothee knaghàne.
(From a "Yola Zong.")
But with all their boasting, they were soon y-taught
That their errand was for them in their anguish y-heightened,
Such driving and struggling, till then we ne'er saw,
Nor such never will, no, nor never may.
Hey-ho! by my conscience thou hast y-paid it quoth John;
Give over with thy croaking, and give me thy hand.
He that knows what to say, mischief fetch the man
Twixt thee and Tommie and the emmet-hill (knockan)
(From an "Old Song.")
Aar was a weddeen ee Ballymore
An aar was a hundereth lauckeen vowre score.
There was a wedding in Bally-more
And there was a hundred lacking four score.1
1 A Glossary (with some Pieces of
Verse) of the Old Dialect of the English
Colony of Forth and Bargy, County of
Wexford, Ireland. Collected by Jacob
Poole. Edited by W. Barnes, B.D.
London: J. R. Smith, 1867.
To the Scottish philologer this dialect is of importance in more
respects than one. Not only does the aphæresis of initial th
illustrate the similar forms in some Scottish dialects, but the same
(or a similar) Celtic influence which has changed the hwo, hwose,
hwat, hwan, hware, of Strongbow's English followers into fo, fose,
faad, fan, far, has changed the hwa, hwas, hwat, hwan, hwar, of
the Angles and Flemings of the north-east, and Norwegians of the
north, into the faa, faa's, fed, fan, faar of Aberdeen, Caithness,
Angus, and Moray. The same (or a similar) influence which
has in Barony Forth produced loane, hoane, sthoan, eiloane from
the old Southern English lond, hond, stond, ilond, has in Scotland
produced laan', haan', staan', hielan's, wherever the Teutonic has
come in peaceful contact with the Celtic, the original land, hand,
stand, heelands, being retained in the old Angle area of the
south-east. There is therefore as much to be said for the Celtic
as for the Norse influence in at; and what has been shown with
regard to at, may mutatis mutandis be shown, I believe, of much
else that passes as Danish.
§ 11. From the fourteenth century onwards, Scotland presents
a full series of writers in the Northern dialect,¹ which, as spoken
¹ Among the earliest connected
specimens must he placed the fragments
of Scottish songs relating to the siege
of Berwick, 1296, and the battle of
Bannockburn, 1314, preserved by the
English chronicler Fabyan, which, although
they have suffered somewhat in
orthography, retain the characteristically
Northern grammatical inflexions.
What wenys kynge Edwarde, with his
lange shankys,
To have wonne Berwyk all our
Gaas pykes hym
And when he had it
Gaas dykes hym.
Maydins of England sore may ye morne,
For your lemmans ye haue loste at
Wyth heue a lowe,
What wenyt the kynge of England
So soone to have wonne Scotlande,
Wyth rumbylow.
To these may be added the well-known
fragment, contrasting the peace
and plenty of the reign of Alexander
III. with the calamities of the interregnum
and war with England, which
followed his death, thus introduced by
Wyntown into his Cronykil (Royal
MS. 17 D. xx., leaf 190b, new numbering
— Bk. VII., chap. x., 1. 521 of Macpherson's
edition) :-
A boll off bere, for awcht or ten,
In comowne pryse sawld wes þen;
ffor Sextene a boll off qwhete,
Or fore twenty, þe derth wes grete.
Þis falyhyd fra he deed suddanly;
Þis sang wes made off hym for-þi:-
"Quhen¹ Alysander oure kyng wes dede,
Þat Scotland led in luwe and le,
Away wes sons off ale and brede,
Off wyne and wax, off gamyn and gle;
Oure gold was changyd in to lede,
Cryst borne in to virgynyte,
Succoure Scotland, and remede
Þat stad in his perplexyté."
As a specimen of the language, however,
these lines cannot, with certainty,
be placed earlier than the date of the
Cronykil (1430). Indeed every MS.
of Wyntown gives us a different version
of them, the variations being instructive
as to the fate of poems handed
down by popular tradition. Thus the
Harleian MS. 6909 has:-
Sen Alexander our king wes deid,
Away wes sones of aill & bread,
That Scotland left of lust & le,
Of wyne and wax, of gamyr & gle.
The gold wes changeit all in leid,
The fruit failƺeit on evir ilk tre;
Ihūm succour and send remeid,
That stad is in perplexitie.
¹ Pronounce A'lsander or E'lshander, in
three syllables, as still used in some parts
of Scotland. Sons, fullness, abundance, the
root of sonsy.
and written in this country, may be conveniently divided into
THREE periods. The first, or EARLY period, during which the
literary use of this dialect was common to Scotland, with England
north of the Humber, extends from the date of the earliest
specimens to the middle or last quarter of the fifteenth century.
The second, or MIDDLE period, during which the literary use
of the northern dialect was confined to Scotland (the midland
dialect having supplanted it in England), extends from the close
of the fifteenth century to the time of the Union. The third,
or MODERN period, during which the northern dialect has ceased
to be the language of general literature in Scotland also, though
surviving as the speech of the people and the language of popular
poetry, extends from the union of the kingdoms to the present
§ 12. The language of the EARLY period may be called Early
Lowland Scotch, at least that of the early Scottish writers. In
point of fact it is simply the northern English, which was spoken
from the Trent and Humber to the Moray Forth, and which
differed characteristically from the Midland English, which
adjoined it on the South, and still more from the Southern
English which prevailed beyond the Thames.¹ The final division
of the Northan-hymbrian territory — over which the King of Scots
had at times held dominion as far south as the Tees, and the King
of England claimed supremacy as far north as the Forth — between
the two kingdoms, produced no sudden break in the common
language. Previous to the War of Independence, the relations of
the owners of the soil in this territory were such that the division
was more nominal than real; and even after that struggle, which
made every one either an Englishman or a Scotchman, and made
English and Scotch names of division and bitter enmity, Barbour
at Aberdeen, and Richard Rolle de Hampole near Doncaster, wrote
for their several countrymen in the same identical dialect. It is
not, of course, implied that in the matter of orthography, in
which every man did that which was right in his own eyes — and
ears — and in which every copying clerk altered the spelling of
his original to suit his own taste or convenience, there was
absolute uniformity, although, even in this matter, the older our
examples are, the closer is the agreement. The following speIt
is to be regretted that Macpherson,
in his printed edition of Wyntown
— implicitly copied, apparently, by all
subsequent writers instead of following
the contemporary Royal MS.,
altered the last line after this garbled
copy, reading:-
Succour Scotland, and remedy,
That stad is in perplexyte,
which is simply nonsense, although
Dr. Jamieson makes stad a past participle,
meaning placed. The meaning
of the two lines is evidently "Succour
Scotland, and remedy that state (or
stead ?) in its perplexity."
¹ For the distinguishing characteristics
of the three great English
dialects of the 13th and 14th centuries,
the reader is referred to Mr. R.Morris's
"Specimens of Early English," and his
numerous contributions to English
philology in the proceedings of the
Philological, and publications of the
Early English Text Society.
cimens show the identity of the Northern dialect in England and
Scotland, and illustrate the difficulty experienced in judging, from
internal evidence alone, whether a given production of the period
was written north or south of the Tweed. They consist of:
1. Passages from the Northern version of Cursor Mundi, written,
near Durham, about 1275-1300 (while Alexander III. reigned in
Scotland), and preserved in an orthography not much later.
2. Extracts from the Early Scottish Laws, the Latin originals of
which date to the reign of David I., William the Lion, &c.; and
the vernacular translations to the end of the fourteenth and beginning
of the fifteenth century. 3. Passages from Barbour's Brus,
written at Aberdeen about 1375; but as the existing MSS. are
more recent by a century, the extracts are taken from the passages
incorporated by Wyntown in his "Orygynal Cronykil of Scotland,"
1419-30, and preserved in the Royal MS. 17 D. xx., of
date 1430-40. 4. The same passages from John Ramsay's
transcript of Barbour in 1489, assimilated to the orthography of
that later period. 5. An Extract from The Craft of Deyng, one of
the 15th c. Scottish pieces contained in Camb. Univ. MS. K.K. 1, 5,
and important as being, with exception of some of the older translations
of the laws, and other formal documents, perhaps the most
archaic specimen of Scottish prose yet published. 6. From Hampole's
"Pricke of Conscience," written near Doncaster early in the
fourteenth century, but of which the MS. is not earlier than the
beginning of the fifteenth, and the orthography influenced by that
of the Midland English. 7. From the prose works attributed to
Hampole in the Thornton MS., of which the orthography is also
somewhat modified, but, upon the whole, more Northern; and
8. Specimens of contemporary date with the Thornton MS., from
the Acts of the Scottish Parliament of James I. and James II.
The identity of the language of these works may be studied,
first, in the words and word-forms, such as wone, mirkness, byggin,
gar, tynsel, pousté, reauté, to-morn, barne, dede, mekyll, mare, maste,
kynrik, quhilk, swilk, ilka, swa, quha, stane, ald, cald, hald, aucht,
ga, gang, gede, gane, tas, tane, ma, mas, sal, sould, wald, chese, ane,
twa, nowcht, na, wrang, lang, nathyng, bath, ryn, hyng, hym, kyng, &c.
Secondly, in the grammatical inflections: the irregular plurals,
brether, childer, kye, gait, schone, &c; the possessive, as in his
fader broder, his syster sone, the childer ayris; the indefinite
article identical with the numeral, a before a consonant, ane or an
otherwise; the demonstratives, thir, tha; distinction between
tha and thay; the pronouns, scho, thay, thair, thame; the relative,
at; the forms, whatkyn, alkyn, nakyn, swylkin, the tane, the tother;
the verbal inflections, thow cumis, clerkes sayis, we that lyves; the
participle, in and, and gerund in ing, falland, fallyng; preterites,
like fand, rayse, &c.; the negative, nocht, noght; the preposition,
tyl, for to, &c.
Thirdly, in the orthography, in which we notice that the
guttural was originally gh, both with English and Scottish writers,
but with the latter gradually changed into ch; the Ags. hw
became first qw, qu, afterwards quh, qwh, and, in England, at length
wh; sh, originally sc, became, in both, sch, upon which the Midland
English sh intrudes; i and y are interchanged; the past
participle in-yd in the oldest Scotch, as in English, but later
changed into -yt.
l. — CURSOR MUNDI, or Cursor o Worlde (Cott. MS. Vesp. A. iii.)
God's creative might.
Quat man mai wiit, quat man mai lere
Quat man may se, quat ere may here
Quat man in erth mai thinc in thoght
Hu al þis werld ur laverd wroght,
Heven and erth al in þair haldes,
Þat mighti godd þat alle waldes?
Qua can sai me hu of a sede (i.e. ae seid)
He dos an hundret for to brede?
Thoru his mighti wille dos þat king
Ute of the erd tre to spring
ffrst the lef and sithen þe flur
And þan þe frut with his savur
Ilkin frut in his sesun. . .
The Resurrection.
Sua haali sal þai þan rise þare,
Þam sal noght want a hefd hare, (i.e. one hair of the head)
Ne noght a nail o fote ne hand;
Þof-quether, we sal understand
Þat nail and hare þat haf ben scorn, (i.e. schorn)
Bes noght al quar þai war beforn;
Bot als potter with pottes dos,
Quen he his neu wessel fordos,
He castes al þan in a balle,
A better for to mak with-alle ;
O noght he lokes quilk was quilk
Bot maks a nother of þat ilk
Wel fairer þan þe first was wroght;
Right sua sal crist, ne dut þe noght.
Here the Anglo-Saxon u (and even the French ou) is still
represented by u, which in later times was written ou, u alone
being reserved for the French u. The vowels remain simple, ai
and ei, being used only to represent an original diphthong, mai,
nail. Qu and sc prepare the way for the Scotch quh, sch, for
which the English afterwards substituted wh and sh.
2.-THE OLD SCOTTISH LAWS (Acta Parlm. Scott., vol. i.).
Þe blude of þe hede of ane erl or of a kinges son is ix ky.
Item þe blud of þe sone of ane erl is vi ky or of a thayn. Item
þe blude of þe sone of a thayne is iii ky. Item þe blud of þe
nevo of a thayn is twa ky and twa pert a kow. Item þe blud of a
carl (rustici) a kow. — Leges inter Scottos et Brettos.
Giff ony be tane with þe laff (loaf — pane) of a halpenny in
burgh, he aw throu þe toun to be dungyn. And for a halpenny
worth to iiij penijs worth, he ow to be mar fayrly (A.S. fæƺer)
dungyn. And for a pair of schone of iiij penijs he aw to be put
on the cuk. stull, and efter þat led to þe hed of þe toune and þar he
sall forsuer þe toune. And fra iiij penijs till viij penijs and a
ferthing he sail be put upon þe cuk stull, and efter þat led to þe
hed of þe toune and þer he at tuk hym aw to cut his eyr
(A.S. eár, South. eƺr) of. And fra viij penijs and a ferding to
xvj penijs and a obolus he sall be set apone þe cuk stull and efter
þat led to þe hed of þe toune, and þer he at tuk hym aw to cut his
uther ear of. And efter þat, gif he be tane with viij penijs and a
ferding he þat takis hym sail hing hym. Item for xxxij penijs j
obl̶ he þat takis a man may hing hym. — Fragmenta Vetusta, ii. t
It is to wyt þat all playntis þe quhilkis ar in burgh sall be
endyt wythin þe burgh, out-takyn þa at fallis to þe kyngis croune
— Leges Quatuor Burgorum, vj.
Þa landis at war gottyn in þe tyme of þe fyrst wyffe sall turn
agayne to þe childer ayris of þe first wyffe. Ibid, xxiv.
Nane aldirman, bailƺe (French bailli), na beddell sall bake brede
na brew ale to sell wythin þar awin propir house durande þe tym
þat þai stande in office. — Ibid, lix.
Baxtaris at bakis brede to sell said bake quhyte brede and gray
eftir þe consideracion and prise of þe gud men of þe toune eftir as
þe sesson askis. . . And quha þat bakis brede to sell aw nocht
for to hyde it, but sett it in þair wyndow, or in þe mercat þat
it may be opynly sauld. — Ibid, lx.
Gif ony man fyndis his bonde in the fayre, the quhilk is fra
hym fled, quhil the pece of the fayre is lestande, he may nocht of
lauch chace na tak hym. — Ibid, lxxxviii.
Gif a leil man passis thruch a wildernesse or thruch woddis,
and seis a man þat he weil knawis leddand a hors or an ox, or
suilk othir manor of gudis, and he knawis nocht quha þat it aucht,
and syn it be sperit at hym be ony man þat þe said gudis hes tynt,
gif he wyst ocht of suilk manor of gudis, and gif he sayis þat he
saw sic a thyng in þe hand of sic a man, he aw to suer þat sa it is,
as he sais, and syn þe tothir sal seik to his gudis. And gif forsuth
he þat challangis þe gudis sais wytterly þat he hes art and part of
þa gudis takyng, and þat he wald pruff eftir þe assyse of þe land,
þat he þat saa is challangyt, gif he be fre man and worthi to fecht,
wyth his awyn hand he sal defend hym thruch bataile. — Assise
Regis Davidis. xx.
Here ou has come into use for the Anglo-Saxon ú (u being used
for Ags. o), but the other vowels generally remain simple. The
qu and sc of Cursor Mundi have become quh and sch; and ch is
seen generally taking the place of gh as the symbolisation of the
guttural. Final e also becomes more abundant, but, upon the whole,
the language approaches closely to that of the former specimen.
3. — ANDRO OF WYNTOWN'S Extracts from Barbour's Brus in
the "Cronykil," (ab. 1440.)
Qwhen Alysandyre oure kyng wes dede
Þat Scotland had to stere and lede,
Þe land, sex yhere and mayr perfay,
Wes desolate eftyr his day.
Þe barnage off Scotland, at þe last,
Assemlyd þame and fandyt fast
To cheß a kyng þare land to stere,
Þat off Awncestry cummyn were
Off kyngis þat aucht þat Reawte,
And mast had rycht þare kyng to be.
Bot Inwy þat is fellowne
Amang þame mad dissensiown.
* * * *
A! blynd folk, fulle of all foly,
Had yhe wmbethowch[t] yowe inkyrly
Quhat peryle to ƺowe mycht appere,
Yhe had noucht wroucht on þis manere.
Had yhe tane kepe how þat þat kyng,
Off Walys, for-owtyn sudiowrnyng,
Trawalyd to wyn þe Senhowry,
And throw his mycht till occupy
Landys, þat ware till hym merchand,
As Walys wes and als Irland,
Þat he put till sic threllage,
Þat þai þat ware off hey parage
Suld ryn on fwte als rybalddale,
Quhen ony folk he wald assale
Durst nane off Walis in batale ryd,
Na yhit fra evyn fell, a-byde
Castell or wallyd towne wyth-in,
Þan he suld lyff and lymmis tyne,
In till swylk thryllage þame held he
Þat he oure-come wyth his powstè.
Yhe mycht se, he suld occupy
Throwch slycht, þat he na mycht þrow maystri.
Had yhe tane kepe quhat was threllage,
And had consydryd his oysage,
Þat grypyd ay, but gayne-gyvyng,
Yhe suld, for-owtyn his demyng,
Hawe chosyn yhowe a kyng þat mycht
Hawe haldyn welle yhoure land at rycht.
Walis ensawmpill mycht hawe bene,
To yhow, had yhe It before sene.
Quha will be oþir hym-selff chasty
Wyß men sayis, he is happy,
And perylowß thyngis may fall perfay,
Als well to-morne as yhystyr-day
Bot yhe trastyd in lawté,
As Sympil folk but mawvite,
And wyst noucht quhat suld efftyr tyde;
For in þis warld þat is sa wyd,
Is nave determyne may, na sall
Knaw thyngis þat ar for to fall: For God, þat is off mast powsté
Reßerwyt þat till hys Maiesté.
4. — BARBOUR. The same passage from John Ramsay's transcription
of the Brus, towards the close of the century (1489).¹
Quhen Alexander þe king wes deid,
That Scotland haid to steyr and leid,
The land vj ƺer, and mayr perfay,
Lay desolat eftyr hys day;
Till þat þe barnage at þe last
Assemblyt þaim, and fayndyt fast
To cheyß a king þar land to ster,
Þat off awncestry cummyn wer
Off kingis, þat aucht þat reawte
And mayst had rycht þair king to be.
Bot enwy, þat is sa feloune,
Maid amang þaim gret discencioun.
* * * *
A! blynd folk full of all foly!
Haid ƺe wmbethocht ƺow enkrely,
Quhat perell to ƺow mycht apper,
ƺe had nocht wrocht on that maner: Haid ƺe tane keip how at þat king
Alwayis, for-owtyn soiournyng,
Trawayllyt for to wyn senƺhory,
And throw his mycht till occupy
Landis, þat war till him marcheand,
As walis was, and als Ireland;
¹ From Mr. Skeat's edition of the
Brus for the Early Eng. Text Soc.
The thorn (þ), which was by this time
confounded in writing with y, and so
printed in old books, Mr. Skeat prints
th italic. It is here printed þ, the
letter intended by the MSS.
Þat he put to swylk thrillage,
That þai, þat war off hey parage,
Suld ryn on fute, as rebaldaill,
Quhen he wald our folk assaill.
Durst nane of Walis in bataill ride;
Na yhet, fra ewyn fell, abyd
Castell or wallyt toune with-in,
Þat he ne suld lyff and lymmys tyne.
In-to swilk thrillage þaim held he,
þat he ourcome throw his powste.
ƺe mycht se he suld occupy
Throw slycht, þat he ne mycht throw maistri.
Had ƺe tane kep quhat was thrillag,
And had consideryt his vsage,
þat gryppyt ay, but gayne-gevyng,
ƺe suld, for-owtyn his demyng,
Haiff chosyn ƺow a king þat mycht
Have haldyn veyle þe land in rycht.
Walys ensample mycht have bene
To ƺow, had ƺe It forow sene.
þat be oþir will him chasty,
And wyß men sayis he is happy.
For wnfayr thingis may fall perfay,
Alß weill to-morn as ƺhisterday.
Bot ƺe traistyt in lawte,
As sympile folk, but mawyte ;
And wyst nocht quhat suld eftir tyd.
For in þis warld, þat is sa wyde,
Is nane determynat at sall
Knaw thingis þat ar to fall;
But god þat is off maist poweste,
Reserwyt till his maieste,
For to knaw, in his prescience,
Off alkyn tyme the mowence.
In the later transcription of Barbour we note the greater frequency
of the orthographic peculiarities of the Scottish writers of
the Middle period, ai, ay, and ei, ey, being used for the older a
and e. Thus, deid, leid, weill, cheys, steyr, keip — travayll, bataill,
thaim, thair, mayst, maid, traist, haiff, haid, faynd, represent the
older, dede, lede, well, chese, stere, kepe — travall, batale, tham, thar,
mast, mad, trast, have, had, fand. In the 16th c. all long a's and
e's were represented by ai and ei, which in early times were used
only for an original diphthong Anglo-Saxon or French. Observe
also the change of the Ags. and Eng. past participle in d,
assemlyd, travallyd, wallyd, consydryd, grypyd, trastyd, used
by Wyntown, into the Middle Scotch form in t, assemblyt,
travaylyt, wallyt, consideryt, gryppyt, traistyt.
Efter the dear [i.e. dier] be informyt of thir temptaciouns, at
will be put to hyme, he ſuld be demandyt, Fyrſt, gyf he be blyth
at he deis in the faith of criſt and of haly kirk, and ſyne gyf he
grantis at he has nocht leuit rycht wyſly, as he aucht to do, and
gyf he forthinkis his myſdedis, and gif he has wyll to mend thaim
at his poware. Syne ſuld he ask at hym, gyf he trowis that criſt,
godis ſonne our lord, deit for hym, and al ſynaris; and gif he
thankes hyme thar of with al his hart, And gyf he trowis ony
oþer ways than be the faith of hym and ded to be ſauf. Than
byd hyme be ſtark and ſykir in that faith, and have hop of nan
vthir thinge for temptacioune of the deuill: and gif thi ſynis be
laid befor the by the angell gud or Ill, ſay than, "the paſſioune of
criſt I put betuex me and my ſynis, & betuex me and the eternall
ded, the ded of criſt." And alſua, he ſuld be examynit in the
arteclis of the treuth, that is to ſay, gyf he trowis in the faþer, and
in the ſone, and the haly gaiſt, and ane anerly god, makar of
hevyne and erde; and in our lord Ihesu criſt, anerly ſone to god
by natur, at our lady mary euervyrgne conſauit by þe werkis of
the haly gaist, but ſeid of man: the quhilk tholyt ded one the
corß, for ws fynaris, and was grawyne and diſcendyt to hell, to
radem our eldaris at had hope of his cumyne. The quhilk raiß
one the thrild day, fra ded to lyf, one his awne mycht, and affendyt
to hevyne, & ſytis one his faderis rycht hand, and fra thyne, in
the ſamyne wyß as he paſſyt, is to cum agan one domys day to
Iug all mankynd. Als he ſuld trow in the haly gaist, & in the
bydingis of haly kirk, and the ſacramentis þarof. He Suld trow
Alſua, in the reſurrectioune of al men, that is to ſay, at the ſam
body and ſaull, as now is, ſal met to-gyddyr and tholl perpetuall
Ioy or payne. He ſuld nocht anerly trow in thir xii arteclis, bot
als in the haly wryt, and haf his hart rady to do thar-to, as his
curat chargis hyme; and he ſal forſak al hereſyß ande wichcraftis,
forbydin[g] be haly kyrk. Als þe ſek man ſuld aſk mercy with
al his hart, of the ſynis done agane þe lufe, gudnes, and mycht of
god, and erar for the luf of god, than for the dred of ony payne;
alſua, he ſuld ſykirly think that in caß he mend of that ſeknes,
that he ſal neuer wylfully ſyne in thai ſynis, na in na vthir dedly:
For in the thocht, at the ſaull paſſys fra the body [it] is tan For
euer, and thar after ched or rewardyt ay leſtandly, as the angellis
was in the begynyng.
Comparing this with the extract from Wyntown, we see at once
the striking similarity of the language. Although here the past
participle ends in -yt instead of -yd, the orthography of the Middle
Period otherwise scarcely appears in it. Its close correspondence
with the following specimens from Hampole is no less marked:—
¹ Ratis Raving, and other Moral
and Religious Pieces, in Prose and
Verse. Ed., from Camb. Univ. MS.,
KK. 1, 5, by J. Rawson Lumby, M.A.
Early Eng. Text Soc., 1870.
The miseries of old age.— l. 766.
Bot als tyte as a man waxes alde,
Þan waxes his kynde wayke and calde,
Þan chaunges his complexcion
And his maners and his condition;
Þan waxes his hert hard and hevy,
And his heved¹ feble and dysy; ¹ head.
Þan waxes his gaste seke and sare,
And his face rouncles, ay mare and mare;
His mynde es shorte whan he oght thynkes,
His nese ofte droppes his and² stynkes, ²stynkes breath.
His sight waxes dym Þat he has,
His bak waxes croked, stoupand he gas.
Fyngers and taes, fote and hande,
Alle his touches er tremblande:
His werkes forworthes þat he bygynnes,
His haire moutes, his eghen³ rynnes: ³ eyen, eyes.
His eres waxes deef, and hard to here,
His tung fayles, his speche is noght clere,
His mouthe slavers, his tethe rotes,
His wyttes fayles, and he ofte dotes;
He es lyghtly wrath, and waxes fraward,
Bot to turne hym fra wrethe, it es hard;
He souches and trowes sone a thyng,
Bot ful late he turnes fra þat trowyng;
He es covatous, and hard-haldand,
His chere es drery and his sembland;
He es swyft to spek on his manere,
And latsom and slaw for to here;
He prayses ald men and haldes þam wyse,
And yhung men list him oft despyse;
He loves men þat in ald tyme has bene,
He lakes þe men þat now er sene;
He es ofte seke and ay granand,
And ofte angerd, and ay pleynand;
All þir, thurgh kynd, to an ald man falles,
at clerkes propertés of eld calles.
þe last ende of mans lyfe es harde
Þat es, when he drawes to ded-warde;
When he es seke, and bedreden lys,
And swa feble þat he may noght rys.
¹ The Pricke of Conscience: A Northumbrian
Poem, by Richard Rolle de
Hampole. Edited by Richard Morris
(from MS. Cotton-Galba E. ix.), published
for the Philological Society by
A. Asher and Co., Berlin, 1863.
Dam Fortone and hir Whele.— l. 1273.
Bot with the world comes dam fortone
Þat aythir hand may chaunge[e] sone;
For sho turns about ay hir whele,
Up and doune, als many may fele;
When sho hir whele lates about ga,
Sho turnes sum doune fra wele to wa,
And, eft, agaynward, fra wa to wele;
Þus tunics sho oft obout hir whele,
Þe whilk thir clerkes noght elles calles
Bot happe or chaunce þat sodanli falles
And þat men haldes here noght elles,
Bot welthe and angre in whilk men duelles.
Þarfor worldly happe es ay in dout
Whilles dam fortune turnes hir whele about.
The broad and the narrow way.— l. 1394.
Þis world es þe way and passage
Þurgh whilk lyes our pilgrymage
By þis way by-hoves us al gang,
Bot be we war we ga noght wrang;
For in þis world liggis twa ways
Als men may fynd þat þam assays
Þe tane es way of þe dede calde,
Þe tother es way of lyfe to halde
Þe way of dede semes large and eesy
And þat may lede us ouer-lightly,
Un-til þe grysly land of mirknes
Þar sorow and pyn ever-mare es.
Þe way of lyfe semes narow and harde
Þat ledes us til our contré-warde
Þat es þe kyngdom of heven bright
Whare we sal won ay in Goddes sight
And Goddes awen sons þan be calde
If we þe way of lyfe here halde.
Here the orthography of the adjacent Midland English has
caused the substitution of wh for quh, in most cases, although
instances of the latter also occur, e.g. lines 1165, 1354,
He says þe world es na thyng elles
Bot ane hard exil in qwilk men duelles.
Þe quilk als says wyse men and witty
Onence God is bot folly.
This MS. also uses the more modern sh for the older sch, which
occurs in other MSS. of the same work, and in the following,
which is also in other respects more characteristically northern.
"Of the vertus of the Haly name of Ihesu:" from a sermon of
Richard the Hermit on Canticles i. 3. (page 4).
Allanely þay may joye in Ihesu þat lufes hym in þis lyfe, and
þay þat fyles þam with vices and venomous delittes, na drede þat
ne þay ere putt owte of joye. Also with all þat þe name of
Ihesu es helefull fruytfull and glorious. Thare-fore wha sall
haue hele þat lufes it noghte, or wha sal bere þe frwytt before
Criste þat has noghte the floure, and joy sall he noghte see þat
joyeande luffede noghte þe name of Ihesu. The wykkede sal
be done awaye þat he see noghte þe joye of God. Sothely e
ryghtwyse sekys þe joye and þe lufe and þay fynd it in Ihesu
whaym þay luffede. I gede abowte be covatyse of reches and I
fande noghte Ihesu. I rane þe wantonnes of flesche and I fand
noght Ihesu. In all thir(e) I soghte Ihesu bot I fand hym
noghte, ffor he lett me wyete by his grace þat he ne is funden in
Þe land of [þe] softly lyfand. . . . Sekyrly may he or scho
chese to lyfe anely þat has chosene þe name of Ihesu to thaire
specyalle, for thare may na wykked spyrite noye þare Ihesu es
mekyll in mynde or is nevenyd in mouthe.
James I. and James II.
Alsua it is seyn speidfull, þat all taxatouris þe tyme of þar
extent, warne all maner of man þat of all þair gudis þat ar
taxit bathe of bestis, corn, and vthir gudis, within xv dais nixt
eftir following þe taxt, þe payment be redy in siluer and golde
as is befor writyne. And gif at þe ende of þe saide xv dais,
þe payment be nocht redy, þe officiaris of ilk schyrefdome sall
tak of ilk man þat warnys payment a kow for v s̃ a ƺowe
or a wedder for xij d. a gait a gymmer or a dynmont for viij d
a wilde meire and hir folowar for x s̃, a colt of tyre ƺere and
mare of eild xiij s̃ iiij d. a boll of quhet xij d. a boll of
ry, bere, or peiß viij d. a boll of aitis iij d. And gif þe schiref
takis þar gudis, he sall ger þe lorde of þe lande, gif he may be
gottin, pay þe taxt to þe king and deliuer þe gudis till him. And
gif he will nocht, þe schiref sall ger sell þe gudis at þe nixt
mercat day or sende þame to þe king on þe kingis costis quhar þe
king or his deputis ordanys. — Acta Jacobi I., 1424.
Item, it is ordanit þat of ilk sek of wol þat sal paß out of
Scotland, þe Scottis merchande gif he sailys þerwith, or þe Scottis
merchande þat sellys it to strangearis sal fynde sickar souerte to
¹English Prose Treatises of Richard
Rolle de Hampole (who died A.D. 1349),
Edited from Robert Thornton's M S.
(cir. 1440 A.D.) in the Library of Lincoln
Cathedral, by George G. Perry,
M. A., London. Early English Text
Society. No. 20.]
þe custumaris of þe portis quhare þe schippis sailys to bring hame
in Scotlande toþe maister of þe kingis moné thre vnce of bulƺeon.
And of a last of hydis alß mekill as of three sekkis of wol. And
of v hamburghe barellys alß mekill as of a sek of wol. And of
veer gndis þat aw na custuns or þat aw custunt offer þe fraucht of
þe serplaithe; at is to say, it at payis as a serplaithe in fraucht
sail bring thre vnce of bulƺeon hame under þe payne of tynsal of
a1ß mekill bulƺeon as þay sulde bring hame to be applyit to þe
king. — Ibid. 1436.
Item, it is ordanyt for þe distruccione of wolfis at in ilk cuntre
quhar ony is, þe schiref or þe bailƺeis of þat cuntre sall gader þe
cuntre folk þre tymis in the ƺere betuix sanct markis day and
lammeß for þat is þe tyme of þe quhelpis. And quhat euer he be
þat rysß nocht with þe schiref or þe bailƺe or barone, within
himself he sall pay vnforgeuin a wedder as is contenyt in þe
aulde act maid þerapone. And he þat slays ane wolf þan or ony
vþer tyme he sall haif of ilk houß halder of þat parochin þat þe
wolf is slayne within j d. And gif it happynnis ony wolf to cum
in þe cuntre þat witting is gðttyne þerof þe cuntre salbe redy and
ilk houshalder to hvnt þame vnder þe payne forsaide. And he
þat slays ane wolf sall bring þe hede to þe schiref, bailƺe or barone
and he salbe dettour to þe slaar for þe sovme forsaide. And
quha ever he be þat slays a fox and bringis þe hede to þe schiref,
lorde, barone or bailƺe he sall haif vj d. — Acta Jacobi II., 1457.
§ 13. The identity of the language of the Scottish writers of
the 14th and 15th centuries with that of the northern half of England,
during the same period, has been only partially recognized,
or not recognized at all, by most writers upon the origin of "the
Scottish language," who, comparing early Scottish fragments with
specimens of Semi-Saxon and Southern English, such as Layamon,
the Cuckoo Song, and the Ayenbite of Inwyt — not as Northern
contrasted with Southern dialect, but as Scotch in contrast with
English — have, without difficulty, shown that the difference between
the idioms was much greater then than now, and quite
enough to warrant their being ranked as distinct languages;
whereupon, ignoring the Northern English, or claiming all the
Northern romances as Scotch,¹ they have asserted for the Scotch
an origin independent of the Anglo-Saxon, which has been
variously sought (and found) in the Pictish (whatever that might
be), the Norwegian, the "Suio-Gothic" — anywhere, indeed,
rather than in the Old Angle or Northern English of Lothian and
Northumbria. Allowance will, however, be made for these
vagaries, when it is remembered how very recent is our knowledge
of any facts connected with the distribution and distinguish¹
See David Irving's History of
Scottish Poetry, in which the second
chapter is taken up with works scarcely
any of which are Scotch, and some not
even Northern, in language.
ing characteristics of the dialects of the 13th and 14th centuries —
a region of research which was all but a terra incognita when
taken up by Mr. Richard Morris. His classification of the Early
English dialects into Southern, Midland, and Northern, with the
careful discrimination of their grammatical forms, has introduced
order and precision into the study, and has contributed more than
anything to a true appreciation of the position of the Scottish
varieties of the Northern dialect. But the facts are still far from
being generally known,¹ and I have repeatedly been amused, on
reading passages from Cursor Mundi and Hampole to men of
education, both English and Scotch, to hear them all pronounce
the dialect "Old Scotch." Great has been the surprise of the latter
especially on being told that Richard the Hermit wrote in the
extreme south of Yorkshire, within a few miles of a locality so
thoroughly English as Sherwood Forest, with its memories of
Robin Hood. Such is the difficulty which people have in separating
the natural and ethnological relations in which national
names originate from the accidental values which they acquire
through political complications and the fortunes of crowns and
dynasties, that oftener than once the protest has been made,
"Then he must have been a Scotchman settled there;" reminding
us of the dictum of a learned Scottish judge upon the Pricke of
Conscience — "You call it Early English, but it is neither more
nor less than Broad Scots!" To which the reply has been
given, "You call the language of Barbour's Brus and Blind
Harry's Wallace, of Wyntown, James I., and Dunbar, Scotch;
but this is only a modern notion, for those writers themselves,
whose patriotism certainly was not less, while their authority was
greater than yours, called their language Inglis." The retort has
certainly the facts on its side. Down to the end of the 15th
century, there was no idea of calling the tongue of the Lowlands
Scotch; whenever the "Scottish language" was spoken of, what
was meant was the Gaelic or Erse, the tongue of the original
Scots, who gave their name to the country. The tongue of the
Lowlanders was "Inglis," not only as being the tongue of the
Angles of Lothian and Tweeddale, and as having been introduced
beyond the Forth by Anglo-Saxon settlers, but English as
being the spoken tongue of the northern subjects of the King of
England, those with whom the subjects of the King of Scotland
¹ Even so careful a writer as John
Hill Burton quotes Rishanger's version
of the taunt offered by the Scots to
Edward I. at the siege of Berwick,
"Kyng Edward wanne thu havest
Berwic, pike the; wanne thu havest
geten dike the,"
as "perhaps the oldest relic of the Lowland
Scots of the day." The sentence
may represent the chronicler's translation
of what was said, but "wanne
thu havest" is characteristically Southern
English, and could never have been
used north of the Humber. More truly
Northern is the metrical version given
by Fabyan (see ante. p. 28.)
came most immediately in contact. So Audro of Wyntown, in
introducing his "Orygynal Cronykil," thus explains his plan:—
Allsna set I myne Intent
My wyt, my wyll, and myne talent,
Fra þat I sene hade storis sere,
In Cronyklys quhare Þai wryttyne were,
Þare matere in-tyll fowrme to drawe,
Off Latyne in-tyll Ynglys sawe,
And clerly bryng Þame tyll knawlage,
Off Latyne intyll owre langage,
Tyl1 ilke mannys wndyrstandyng
For syndrynes of þare chawngyng. — Book 1., Prol., 1. 25.
Barbour (Brus IV. 252) thus translates into his own "Inglis"
the answer of the nigromansour consulted "be the erl Ferandis
Rex ruet in bello, tumulo que carebit honore.
This wes Þe spek he maid perfay,
As is in Ynglis toung to say:
"The king sall fall in the fichting
And sall fale honour of erding."
Harry the Minstrel (Wallace, p. 231) says of Wallace's French
friend, Longueville:—
Lykly he was, manlik of contenance,
Lik to the Scottis be mekill governance
Sauff of his tong, for Ingliss had he nane.
So Dunbar, in his well-known apostrophe to Chaucer, Gower,
and Lydgate, at the end of The Golden Terge:—
O reverend Chawcere, Rose of Rethoris all,
As in oure Tong ane Flouir imperiall,
That raise in Brittane evir, quho redis rycht,
Thou beiris of Makaris the Tryumphs riall;
Thy fresch anamalit Termes celicall
This matir couth illumynit have full brycht:
Was thou noucht of our Inglisch al the Lycht,
Surmounting eviry Tong terrestriall
Als fer as Mayes morow dois Mydnycht.
O morall Gower and Lydgate laureate,
ƺour sugurit lippis, and Tongis aureate
Bene til our eris cause of grite delyte;
ƺour angel mouthis maist mellifluate,
Our rude langage hes clere illumynate,
And faire owre-gilt our speehe, that imperfyte
Stude, or ƺour goldyn pennis schupe to write
This Ile before was bare and disolate
Off Rethorike or lusty fresch endyte.
A letter addressed to Henry IV. of England by George, Earl of
Dunbar, February 18th, 1400, is of such interest, not only from
the writer's denomination of his language, but also as a dated
specimen of the current Lowland tongue at an early period, that
I cannot withstand the temptation of reproducing the concluding
sentences entire from the careful transcription given by Professor
Cosmo Innes, in his introduction to the Spalding Club edition of
"And excellent prince, syn that I clayme to be of kyn tyll
yhow, and it peraventur nocht knawen on yhour parte, I schew it
to yhour lordschip be thus my lettre that gif dame Alice the Bewmont
was yhour graunde dame, dame Mariory Cumyne hyrr full
sister was my graunde dame on the tother syde, sa that I am bot
of the feirde degre of kyn tyll yhow, the quhilk in alde tyme was
callit neir. And syn I am in swilk degre tyll yhow, I requer
yhow as be way of tendirness thareof and fore my seruice in
maner as I hafe before writyn, that yhe will vouchesauf tyll help
me and suppowell me tyll gete amende of the wrangs and the
defowles that ys done me, sendand tyll me gif yhow lik yhour
answer of this, with all gudely haste. And noble prince, mervaile
yhe nocht that I write my lettres in Englis fore that ys mare clere
to myne understandyng than latyne or Fraunche. Excellent
mychty and noble prince, the haly Trinite hafe yhow euermar in
kepyng. Writyn at my Castell of Dunbarr the xviij day of
§ 14. That "Scotticè" meant "in Gaelic," in the reign of
Macbeth, has been already mentioned. The same meaning continued
to be attached to the word during the reigns of the early
Scoto-Saxon kings down to Alexander III.; and even after the
War of Independence, John of Fordun (about 1400) expressly
distinguished the Celtic of the original Scots from the Lowland
tongue as Scotish. Speaking of his fellow-countrymen, he says¹:—
"For two languages are in use among them — the Scotish and
the Teutonic; the people using the latter tongue occupy the seacoast
and lowland districts; the people of Scotish language
inhabit the highlands and the isles beyond." But as Scotland
became more and more distinct from England, and Scottish became
confirmed in a political sense, instead of its ancient historical one,
it was found inconvenient or misleading to apply the name to
one of the two languages used in the country, and the original
Celtic tongue of the Scots consequently came to be generally
known to the Teutonic Lowlanders as Yrisch or Ersch (the
modern Erse), in allusion to its Irish origin and affinities, although
the Gael themselves distinguish the Gaelig Albannach
(Scotch Gaelic) from the Gaelig Eirionnach (Irish). Thus, Sir
David Lyndesay, in pleading that the people should have all books
necessary for their faith in their own vulgar tongue, instead of
Latin, says:—
¹ "Duabus enim utuntur linguis,
Scoticâ et Teutonicâ; hujus linguae
gens maritimas possidet et planas regiones,
linguae gens Scotticae montanas
inhabitat et insulas ulteriores." —
"Scotochronicon," vol. i. p. 44.
Sanct Ierome in his propir toung Romane
The law of God he trewlie did translait,
Out of Hebrew and Greik, in Latyne plane,
Quhilk hes bene hid frome ws lang tyme, god wait!
Onto this tyme: bot, efter my consait,
Had Sanct Ierome bene borne in tyll Argyle
In to Yrische toung his bukis [he] had done compyle.
In the "Flyting" between Dunbar and Kennedy, one of the
points with which the former poet taunted his rival was his
extraction from the Irish Scots of Galloway and Carrick, who
still retained their Celtic tongue, whence he styled him "Ersch
katherane, 1' "Ersch brybour baird," and his poetry as —
Sic eloquence as thay in Erschery use;
proceeding to vaunt:—
I tak on me, ane pair of Lowthiane hippis
Sall fairar Inglis mak and mair parfyte,
Than thow can blabbar with thy Carrik lippis.
But though the Sasunnach might thus forget or ignore the fact,
the Celt was not likely to forget that his own ancient and sonorous
tongue was the original "Scots," and the "Lowthiane Inglis"
but an intruder in the historic Scotland. In this spirit Kennedy
answered Dunbar's taunt of the "Erschery":—
Thow luvis nane Erische, elf, I undirstand,
But it sowld be all trew Scottismennis leid;
It wes the [fyrst] gud langage of this land,
And Scota it causit to multyply and spreid,
Quhil Corspatrik, that we of tressoun reid,
Thy fore fader, maid Ersche and Erschmen thin,
Throw his tressoun brocht Inglis rumpillis in ;
Sa wald thy self mycht thow to him succeid.
Probably this defence of the Ersch, as the original Scotch, and
the insinuation that the Inglis or Lowland tongue was introduced
by traitors under Edward I. — when Corspatrick, Earl of
Dunbar, refused to attend the summons of "Wallace King in
Kyle" — was influenced by the fact that the "Lowthiane Inglis,"
not content with supplanting the Celtic as the language of the
Court and nation, was now in the act of completing the work of
displacement by monopolising the name of Scottish, which had,
up to this, been retained by the older tongue. The causes which
brought about this consummation arose partly from the important
change in the mutual relations of the English dialects in England;
partly from certain changes which had been gradually passing
over the language of the Scottish writers during the two centuries
since the death of Alexander III., and had now reached such a
point as to justify us in fixing upon the last quarter of the 15th
century as the approximate starting point from which to date the
commencement of the Middle Period of Scottish literature — that
in which the Northern dialect became thoroughly national or
Scottish. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the three English
dialects — the Southern, Midland, and Northern — had held equal
rank as practically distinct languages, each sovereign in its own
territory, and each boasting its own literature. When a work
which had been produced in one dialect had to be reproduced for
the speakers of another, it was not a simple transcription, but a
translation that had to be made:—
In Suthrun Englys was it drawin,
And I have turned it till our awin
Langage of the Northin lede,
That can nane other Englys rede.
The man who lived north of the Humber was only partly intelligible
when he wrote, probably altogether unintelligible when
he spoke, to the man who lived south of the Thames. But
as the country became more consolidated into a national unity,
and its extremities more closely drawn together, the Midland
dialect, which united the characteristics of the other two,
and was, moreover, the form of speech used at the great seats of
learning, where Northern and Southern thought were blended in
one, began to stand forth as the medium of a common literature,
the language of education and culture. In proportion as the
Midland dialect acquired this pre-eminence, the dialects of the
North and South, understood only in their own localities, ceased
to be employed for literary purposes, and sank gradually into the
position of local and rustic patois. By the close of the 15th
century, when England settled down from the Wars of the Roses,
and the great collisions of populations and dialects by which they
were accompanied, there was thus but one standard language
acknowledged, viz., that founded upon the Old Midland tongue.
But while the Northern tongue had thus sunk beneath the surface
in the North of England, in Scotland it had continued to be cultivated
as the language of the Court, literature, and law. No
wonder, then, that this dialect, from which the literary English
had severed itself, and which had now a literature only in the
Northern kingdom, came to be considered as peculiar to that
kingdom, and to be distinguished from the literary English as
Scotch. As Scotch, accordingly, we find it distinguished from
English, and also from the Gaelic, by the protonotary Don Pedro
de Ayala, who, as a personal friend of James IV., and the only
Spaniard who knew the country, was engaged by the envoys of
Ferdinand and Isabella, in London, to write to those sovereigns
a report upon Scotland. His letter, of date July 25th, 1498,
preserved in the Simancas archives, of which a translation is
given by the late Mr. Bergenroth, in his Calendar, after describing
the linguistic attainments of the king, which embraced a knowledge
of Latin, French, German, Flemish, Italian, and Spanish,
continues:—"His own Scottish language is as different from
English as Aragonese from Castilian. The king speaks, besides,
the language of the savages, who live in some parts of Scotland
and in the Islands. It is as different from Scottish as Biscayan
is from Castilian. His knowledge of languages is wonderful."¹
The first native writer who applied the name of Scottish to the
Anglo-Saxon dialect of the Lowlands was apparently Gawain
Douglas, in the well-known passage in the preface to his "XIII
Bukes of Eneados of the Famose Poete Virgill, translatet out of
Latyne Verses into Scottish Metir, bi the Reuerend Father in
God, Mayster Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkel, and Unkil to
the Erle of Angus — every buke hauing his perticular Prologe," ²
"compilyt," we are told, "in auchtene monethis space," and
Apoun the foist of Marye Magdalane,
Fra Cristis birth, the date quha list to here,
Ane thousand, fyue hundreth and threttene ƺere."
Douglas sought especially to recommend his work to his countryman
by the homeliness of his style, and was patriotically ostentatious
of his "vulgare rurale grose," his
Bad harsk speich and lewit barbare toung ;
for he had, to his best ability,
Writtin in the langage of Scottis natioun ;
and as to his aim, he described it thus:—
And ƺit forsoith I set my besy pane
(As that I couth) to mak it brade and plane,
Kepand na Sodroun, bot oure awin langage,
And speke as I lerned quhen I wes ane page;
¹ Bergenroth's Calendar, vol. i. No.
210. Don Pedro's characterisation of
the Lowland Scotch is singularly exact,
and shows that he was possessed of no
small amount of philological insight.
The languages of Spain, like those of
Britain, belong to two widely-severed
linguistic families. The Castilian and
Catalan, or Aragonese, are sister descendants
of the Latin, as the Southern
English and Lowland Scotch are of the
Anglo-Saxon. Although the rougher
and stronger Catalan is in many respects
the more interesting tongue, the
softer Castilian, as the language of the
capital and court, is the Spanish of
Literature. The Basque dialects of the
ancient Iberians, which linger on the
slopes of the Pyrenees and along the
rugged coast of the Bay of Biscay, are,
like the Celtic dialects which survive in
similar situations in Britain, the modern
remains of a language which once extended
over the country. The Basque
is as far removed from the Romance
family as the Gaelic is from the Teutonic
stock. Don Pedro's reference to
the Celtic clans as "the savages who
live in some parts of Scotland and the
Islands," is a faithful echo of the current
sentiment of Anglo-Saxon Scotland
in his own day and for centuries
after. A competent authority has remarked,
"The Highlanders were the
human raw material which a king of
Scots could in that day employ, so far
as their nature suited, for the use or
amusement of his guests. Them, and
them only, among his subjects could he
use as the Empire used the Transalpine
barbarian — 'butchered to make a
Roman holiday.' The treatment of
the Celt is the blot on that period of
our history. Never, in later times,
has the Red Indian or Australian
native been more the hunted wild beast
to the emigrant settler than the Highlander
was to his neighbour the Lowlander."
— "The Scot Abroad," vol. i.
p. 133.
² The title of the original edition,
"imprinted at London, 1553."
Na ƺit sa clene all Sudroun I refuse,
But sum worde I pronunce as nychboure dois,
Like as in Latine bene Grewe termes sum,
So me behuffit quhilum, or be dum
Sum bastard Latyne, Frensche or Ynglis ois,
Quhare scant wes Scottis, I had nane vther chois;
Not that oure toung is in the seluin skant,
But for that I the fouth of langage want.¹
And yet, as if to show that it was the patriotic feeling of the good
bishop rather than the consent of his contemporaries to which he
gave expression, we find his friend and survivor, Sir David
Lyndesay, in an affectionate eloge upon the poet, refer to this very
work as "Inglis":—
Allace for one, quhilk lamp wes of this land,
Of eloquence the flowand balmy strand,
And in our Inglis Rethorick the rose,
As of rubeis the Charbunckle bene chose!
And as Phebus dois Cynthia precell
So Gawane Dowglas, Byschope of Dunkell
Had, quhen he wes into this land on-lyue
Abufe vulgare Poetis prerogatyue,
Boith in pratick and speculatioun;
I saye no moir, gude redaris may discriue
His worthy workis in nowmer mo than fyue:
¹ The expressed intention of Douglas
to "kepe na Sodroun" is very curious,
in the light of the fact that no Scottish
writer — indeed, so far as I know, no
Northern writer, of any period, either
in England or Scotland — has employed
so many genuine Southern
forms. For example, not only does he
use the y-prefix to the past participle
(which the Northern dialect had dropped
before the 12th century), in y-beried,
y-clepit, y-conquest, i-conquest,
y-fettcrit, y-forgit, y-lowpit, y-markit,
y-sowpit, y-womplit, y-wymplit; y-drad,
y-plet; y-bound, i-bound, y-boundin,
y-brokin, y-graven, y-slane;
but he has even the peculiarly Southern
forms which retain the prefix and drop
the terminations — y-baik, y-be, y-bore,
y-clois, y-draw, y-schroude, y-set — for
the Northern bak-en, be-en, bor-en,
clos-it, draw-en, schroud-it, sett-en or
sutten. (Compare the modern Dorset,
"Thay be a-zet," with the Sc. "Thay're
suitt-en.") Some of these forms were
indeed more "Sodroun" than the
literary English of his own day; but
all are Chaucerian, and show how
deeply Douglas had drunk of him who
was, more even than Virgil,
In that art of eloquence the flude
Maist cheif, profound and copious
Surss capitall in vene poeticall
Souerane fontane, and flue imperiall.
Nor must we forget the exigencies of
the situation — the requirements of the
measure and rhyme, and the restrictions
of faithful translation.
Quhare as the cullour of his propirté
To keip the sentence (i.e. the sense)
thareto constrenit me,
Or that to mak my sayng schort
sum tyme,
Mare compendius, or to lykly my
Tharfor gude freyndis, for ane gympe
or ane bourd,
I pray ƺou note me not at every
The lykly-ing of the rhyme is, I suppose,
also accountable for the frequent
use of mo, more, two, so, one, none,
tone, own, go, also, hold, &c., as well
as the more "brade and plane" ma,
mare, twa or tway, sa, swa, ane, nane,
tane, awin, ga, alswa, hauld; but only
partly for the Midland English and
Chaucerian, thay bene instead of the
Northern thay ar or er.
Thay bene sa plane, eke and sa
And specialiye the trew translatioun
Off Virgil!, quhilk bene consolatioun
To cunnyng men to knaw his gret ingyne
Als weill in natural science as deuyne.
Compl. of Papyngo, 1. 22.
With Lyndesay, as with the older writers, from Barbour to
Dunbar, the Lowland tongue is always "English." Thus, in the
"Satyre of the thrie Estaitis," the Doctour who is desired by
Veritie to preach a sermon in the vulgar tongue, so as to edify the
common people of Scotland, is addressed:—
"Magister noster, I ken how ƺe can teiche
Into the scuillis, and that richt ornatlie;
I pray ƺow now, that ƺe wald please to preiche
In Inglisch toung, laud folk to edifie."
So also we are told — 1. 2597 :—
Sanct Paull, that pillar of the kirk,
Sayis to the wretchis that will not wirk,
And bene to vertews laith,
Qui non laborat non manducet,
This is in Inglische toung or leit,
"Quha labouris nocht he sall not eit."
On the other hand, the author of the celebrated "Complaynt of
Scotland" — a contemporary of Lyndesay — claims for his "propir
toung materne " the name of "Scottis langage." In his "Prolog
to the Redar," he prays all wise men to excuse the homeliness of
his style, in consideration of his patriotism:—
"Ane affectiue ardant fauoir that i hef euyr borne touart this
affligit realme quhilk is my natiue cuntre. Nou heir I exort al
philosophouris, historigraphours, & oratours of our scottis natione,
to support and til excuse my barbir agrest termis: for i thocht
it nocht necessair til hef fardit and lardit this tracteit witht¹
exquisite termis, quhilkis ar nocht daly vsit, bot rather i hef
vsit domestic scottis langage, maist intelligibil for the v[u]lgare
pepil. ther hes bene diuerse translatours and compilaris in ald
tymys, that tuke grite pleseir to contrafait ther v[u]lgare
langage, mixand ther purposis witht oncoutht exquisite termis,
dreuyn, or rather to say mair formaly, reuyn fra lating, and sum
of them tuke pleiseir to gar ane word of ther purpose to be ful of
sillabis half ane myle of lyntht, as ther was ane callit hermes,
quhilk pat in his werkis thir lang tailit wordis, conturbabuntur,
constantinopolitani, innumerabilibus, solicitudinibus. ther was ane
vthir that writ in his werkis, gaudet honorificabilitudinitatibus.
Al sic termis procedis of fantastiknes ande glorious consaitis. I
hef red in ane beuk of ane preceptor that said til his discipulis,
thou sal speik comont langage ande thou sal lyue eftir the verteous
maneirs of antiant men. ƺit nochtheles ther is mony wordis of
antiquite that I hef rehersit in this tracteit, the quhilkis culd
¹ In this and all other cases, the original has v, instead of w — vitht, vas,
voman, &c.
nocht be translatit in oure scottis langage, as auguris, auspices,
ides, questeours, senaturus, censours, pretours, tribuns, ande mony
vthir romane dictions: ther for gyf sic wordis suld be disusit or
detekkit, than the phrasis of the antiquite wald be confundit and
adnullit: ther for it is necessair at sum tyme til myxt oure langage
witht part of termis dreuyn fra lateen, be rason that oure
scottis tong, is nocht sa copeous as is the lateen tong, and
alse ther is diuerse purposis and propositions that occurris in
the lating tong that can nocht be translatit deuly in oure
scottis langage: ther for he that is expert in latyn tong suld
nocht put reproche to the compilation, quhou beit that he fynd
sum purposis translatit in scottis that accords nocht witht the lateen
regester : as we hef exempil of this propositione, homo est animal,
for this terme homo signifeis baytht man and woman: bot ther is
nocht ane scottis terme that signifeis baytht man and woman:
and animal signifeis al thyng that hes lyue and is sensibil, bot
ther is nocht ane scottis terme that signifeis al quyk sensibil thyng,
ther for this propositione, mulier est homo is treu, and ƺit we suld
nocht say that ane woman is ane man. Ande siclyik this propositione,
homo est animal is treu, and ƺit we suld nocht say that ane
man is ane beyst; of this sort ther is baytht termis and propositionis
in lateen tong, the quhilk wil be difficil to translait them."
The author of the "Complaynt" was evidently a strenuous
adherent of the French party, in the divisions with which Scotland
was torn during the minority of Mary Stuart; and the
purpose of his work was to arouse his countrymen to combine
against "our mortal ald inemyis," the "rauand sauvage woffis,"
"cruel insaciat borreaus," and "incredule seid of ingland,"
against whom his animosity knows no bounds. He puts it to the
sense of "uniuersal cristianite to juge quhidder that inglismen be
sarrasyns or cristin men," and whether they be not "excommunicat
and denuncit goddis rebellis be al lauis for they infidilite,
incrudilité, cruaute, tirranye, sacreleige, &c." Of course he recognized
no connection with the "Inglis" tongue. It would have
seemed too dangerous an act of deference to the enemy to call the
language of Scotland "Inglis," albeit he allows, in the sequel,
that the difference was not in the language, but the men who
spoke it. "There is nocht tua nations vndir the firmament that
ar mair contrar and different fra vthirs, nor is inglis men and
scottis men, quoubeit that thai be vtht in ane ile, and nychbours,
and of ane langage" (fol. 69 [84]).
Later in the same century, John Knox, who wrote many prose
works in the vernacular, is celebrated in a poem entitled "Ane
brief Commendatioun of Vprichtnes,"¹ by John Davidson, Regent
¹" Ane brief Commendatioun of
Vprichtnes, in respect of the sureness
of the same, to all that walk in it,
amplifyit chiefly be that notabill document
of Goddis michtie protectioun, in
preseruing his maist vpricht seruand,
and feruent messinger of Christie Euangell,
Johns Knox. Set furth in Inglis
meter be M. Johne Dauidsone, Regent
in S. Leonard's College. Imprentit at
Sanctandrois be Robert Lekpreuik,
1573." Reprinted in Suppl. to McCrie's
Life of Knox. — Irving's Hist. of Scottish
Poetry, p. 399.
of St. Leonard's College, St. Andrews, as eloquent in the "Scottis
leid," or language:—
For weill I wait that Scotland never bure
In Scottis leid ane man mair eloquent:
In to perswading also, I am sure,
Was nane in Europe that was mair potent.
In Greik and Hebrew he was excellent,
And als in Latine toung his propirnes
Was tryit trym, quhen scollers wer present,
Bot thir wer nathing till his vprichtnes.
Yet, curiously enough, the poem itself, though much more
Scottish than any of the works of Knox, bears on its title that it
is "set furth in Inglis meter"; while, to increase the inconsistency,
the Poems and Fables of Henrysoun, published at the same
time, in the same dialect, and from the same press, are "compylit
in eloquent and ornate Scottis meter."
Abacuck Byssett, servant to Sir John Skeane, in his "Rolment
of Courtis," written in the reign of Charles I., in language differing
but little from the literary English of the period, also claimed to
write in Scottis, "I haue written reuerendlie and spairinglie,
usand my awin maternal Scottis langaige or mother toung, as we
call it, in als pithie, schoirte, and compendious termes, and clene
dictionare, according to my simpill iudgment and knawledge for
oppyning up and declaratioun of the truth of my intensiounis of
the mater or purpoiss in hand, and making it sensabill to the
unlerned and vulgare sortis understanding."¹
To sum up these authorities, then, we may say that the lingua
Scotica, or Scottis toung, from the earliest period down to the year
1400, meant the Gaelic of the original Scots; which, however,
from the 15th century onwards, was known to the Lowlanders as
the Yrische or Ersche. The Teutonic tongue of the Lowlanders
was, in like manner, known only as the Lingua Anglica, or Inglis,
from the earliest period to the close of the 15th century, and by
many writers was called Inglis, even down to the Union of the
Crowns. But during the 16th century there were foreign writers
who, for the sake of distinction, and native writers who, from
patriotic or political motives, began to distinguish it from the
Inglis of England as Scottis or Scots. And thus the tongues of
the Highlands and Lowlands were distinguished down to the 14th
century as Scottish and English — during the 15th century as
Yrische, or Ersch, and English — and during the 16th century by
some as Ersch and Inglisch; by others, probably, as Ersch and
§ 15. By whatever name known, the language of the Scottish
writers of the Middle period had come to differ considerably from
that of the 14th and beginning of the 15th century. The differences
which it presents fall under three heads: First, those of
¹ Quoted by Leyden, Preliminary Dissertation to the "Complaynt of Scotland,"
p. 82.
native growth — being changes in the form of spoken words, and
consequently in their written form, due mostly to Celtic influence;
secondly, those of French origin, arising from the intimate connection
between Scotland and France during the 15th and first
half of the 16th c.; and, thirdly, those of Classical origin. The
first class of changes is that which. belongs most to the natural
history and life of the language, appearing first in the spoken
tongue, and only securing a tardy acknowledgment in the language
of books; the other two, and especially the last-mentioned,
belong more to its culture and artificial development, having been
for the most part introduced into the literary language, whence
they reacted, to some extent, upon the living speech.
The differences of native growth are due mainly to the fact,
that the literary Middle Scotch was not founded upon precisely
the same dialectic type as the written language of the Early
Period. We have seen that the original centre of the "Northin
Inglis" was the ancient province of Bernicia, whence it gradually
spread westward and northward over a large part of the original
Scotia. In the outlying districts, where it came into contact with
earlier tongues, which only gradually died out before it, the language
was, as a matter of course, modified in its pronunciation,
and perhaps even in many of its idioms. On the shores of the
Forth, which formed so long the contested frontier between the
Angles and the Picts — and where, after the cession of Lothian to
the King of Scots, there must have been a considerable admixture
of blood — but still more, to the north of that estuary, where the
blood was to a great extent Celtic, the pronunciation was no
doubt considerably affected. Nevertheless the written language
seems to have been, in early times, the same for the whole of the
area; the words and phrases in the Latin text of the early laws,
and other ancient fragments, agree, even in orthography, with the
language of Cursor Mundi, from the neighbourhood of Durham;
and, as we have seen, the identity was preserved, in all essential
respects, in the earlier part of the 15th c. But after the final
establishment of Scotland as a distinct nationality, and much
more after the decline and extinction of the "langage of the
Northin lede" in England, the written language of Scotland
became more and more conformed to that type of the Northern
speech which was spoken on the shores of the Forth — in Edinburgh,
Linlithgow, Stirling, Dunfermline, and St. Andrews, the
centre of political and ecclesiastical government, of the education,
as well as the commerce of the kingdom; and, as a consequence,
it came more and more to assume characteristics of its own, distinct
from the Old Northern tongue, which had been common to
Southern Scotland and Northern England. The substitution of a
sound of u for the older o, as in blud, buke, for blode. boke, which
was probably owing to Celtic influence,¹ took place, indeed, as
¹ The long Ags. ó has become, in
English oo, as moon, moor, Ags. móna,
mór. The sound of oo in moon, is a
double or compound vocal effect, proearly
as the middle of the 14th c.¹ But it was not till near the
close of the 15th c. that the language assumed the chief features
which it retained during the brilliant period of Scottish literature,
and down to the union of the kingdoms. The most important of
these has already been indicated, in comparing the older extracts
from the Brus, preserved by Wyntown, with the later MS. of
1489, viz., the substitution of the combinations ai ay, ei ey, yi, oi
oy, ui, oui, for the older a, e, i, o, u, ou (Ags. á, é, í, ó, ú). On
examining the history of this change — which has been pronounced
"an entirely independent development of the Scottish orthography,
neither English nor French" — it appears that it arose
from a defective pronunciation of the diphthongs ai, ei, oi, etc.,
whereby the second vowel was practically lost, and the combination
treated as simple long ā, ē, ō, as is to a great extent the case
in Gaelic at the present day. In that language, although the
combinations ai, ei, oi, ui, are called diphthongs, in most cases the
second vowel is not really heard, only influencing the following
consonant so as to change it from the "broad" to the "small"
sound. Thus ait, glad, baile, town, paidir, paternoster, eid, clothe,
ceithir, four, beithir, bear, teisteas, testimony, poit, pot, oibrich, to
work, toiseach, beginning, coinneal, candle, oillt, terror, cuirt, court,
buitseach, wizard, uisge, water, seirbhis, serve, are pronounced
atch, ballay, patcher, aitch, kai'er, bai'er, cheshtshas, potch, obrikh,
toshakh, conyel or cognel, oltch, coortch, bootshakh, ooshkay, sherrevish,
with the first vowel only heard. Even where the second
vowel is audible, it is not with a distinct i sound, as in Eng. ay,
oil, Germ. bei, kaiser, It. mai, lei, lui, suoi, but rather an obscure
duced by simultaneous action of the oral
cavity and of the lips, as shown by Mr.
Melville Bell in his "visible Speech,"
where the composite character of oo
was first pointed out. If the labial
part of the process be removed, by
holding the lips asunder while pronouncing
oo, we obtain the lingual
element alone, viz., the Gaelic sound
represented by ao, as in aon one,
taobh side, laodh calf. This sound
being thus naturally connected with so,
was perhaps the form taken by Ags. ó
in Scotland, and might form an intermediate
step to the sound now given to
u in muin, muir, which, though certainly
labialized like the French eu in some
parts of Scotland, in others is only formed
by "internal rounding." That this produces
something of the same effect, is
shown by Gaelic orthoepists identifying
their ao with the Fr. eu. Thus, Forbes —
New Gaelic Grammar, Edin. 1848, p.7 —
says, "AO has no similar sound in English;
it is like the French eu or eux."
It must be borne in mind, however, that
the spelling u was not confined to Scotland;
in Hampole's "Pricke of Conscience"
and Prose Works we find
buke, luke, as well as boke, loke.
¹ In the isolated words in the Early
Laws, etc., o and u remain exactly as
in Ags.; thus blodi, coke-stole, oþer;
utwere, utboruche, tun, which afterwards
became bludie, cukstull, uthir,
outweir., outbruche, toun. The old
spelling also appears in the interlineary
gloss to a Latin indenture of lease between
the Abbot of Scone and the
Hays of Leys, dated 1312 (see Introd.
to the Brus, by Prof. Cosmo Innes),
in which we find the words fode, other,
comis, forutin, abute, which later
became fude, uther, cumis, forowten,
about; but in the Minutes of the Parliament
of 1389 (Acta Parl. Scot.,
vol. i. p. 210), and Precept to the
Monks of Meuros, of the same year, to
pass their wool free of custom into
England (Liber de Melros, No. 480),
the later spelling appears in full use;
so that its introduction would almost
seem to coincide with the recovery of
Scottish independence.
vocal glide, like the Eng. e in the words drawer, layest, weighed,
sayeth, seest, prayer, and so easily disappearing altogether. The
same pronunciation appears to have been given, in Central and
N.E. Scotland, to the Ags. and French diphthongs, so that such
words as away, rain, slain, eyne, join, choice, rejoice, void (from
Ags. onwæʒ, ræʒen, sleʒen or slæʒen, eagan or eʒen, Fr. joigne,
choix, rejouisse, voide), were pronounced awā-eh, rā-en, slā-en,
ē-en, jō-en, chō-es, rejō-es, vō-ed, or awa', ra'ne, sla'ne, e'ne,
jo'ne, cho'se, rejo'se, vo'd, and by-and-by appear in writing as
simply awe, rane, slane, jone, chose, reiose, voile.¹ But more
usually the original spelling was retained with the altered pronunciation
(shown by such rhymes as bray — Lybia, refuse — dois,
hale — tail, way — tha, sua — tway, etc.); and ay, oi, ei, being now
looked upon merely as ways of expressing long a, o, e, etc., they
began to be extended to all words with long vowels, where there
had been no original diphthong, giving the well-known forms,
baith bayth boyth (both), moist mayst moyst (most), weill, wyif,
thoill, schoyne, oyse (use), rois, clois, soir, moit, schouir, flouir,
muir, buik. Hence the alternative forms mad, made, maid, mayd,
mayde — tas, tase, tais, tays, etc., found often in the same page of
works belonging to the transition period; as also the confusion
between words originally distinct (and still distinct in the dialect
of Southern Scotland and Northern England), such as tha, thai,
thare, thair, made, maid, hale, hail.² This confusion is at times
misleading, as where we read of "the tayl of the wolfe of the
warldis end, the tail of the thre futtit dog of Norrouay, the tail of
Syr Euan Arthours knycht, the tail of the thre weird systirs"
(Compl. of Scot., chap. vi.); where, notwithstanding the context
of dog and wolf, we are to understand not a tail that is wagged,
but a tale that is told.
Among other changes which similarly began to make their
mark on the written language, were the dropping of g and d after
n, and consequent mixing of such distinct forms as etand, etyng,
and even the confusion of both with the past participle etyn.³
The loss of t in pronunciation after another consonant, as in
excep(t), direc(t), appears also, as well as the consequent writing
of a silent t in the same ,position, as in lentht, witht, moutht, tart.
¹ These imperfect diphthongs still
characterize the Scottish dialects; wa',
awa', aa I, maa my, are well known;
but in the central and more northern
districts such words as ay, cry, fire,
are almost eh!, crah', feh-er; and Melville
Bell gives in his "Visible
Speech," p. 94, æh' as the common
Scotch pronunciation of Eng. eye.
² Tha and thai or thay = those, they,
are used indiscriminately by the writers
of the Middle Period, showing that
they had quite lost the feeling for the
distinction between them. It is to be regretted
that Prof. Innes, in editing
Barbour, by whom they are always
carefully distinguished, has printed
them both tha, from not observing
this distinction between early and
more modern usage.
³ The Celtic influence in the forms
lan', han', stan', is suggested by the
Gaelic forms of such words as London,
window, candle, island, Lunuinn,
uinneag, coinneal, eilean. See also the
similar forms in the Barony Forth
dialect, ante p. 28.
The letter l becomes mute after the open vowels a and o, which it
serves only to lengthen, and, having thus become a mere orthoepic
sign, is inserted in words where it has no etymological force, as
chalmer, walter, polke, for older chambir, watyr, pok. Such are
some of the obvious peculiarities which distinguish the orthography
of the Middle Period from that of the earlier writers;
and most of them indicate modifications of pronunciation due to
the contact of the North Anglian with the Celtic in Central
Scotland. Many of them are not adopted by the dialect of the
Southern Counties, which remains at the present day better represented
by the language of Wyntown than by that of Gawain
Douglas, and Lyndesay. On the other hand they form only a part
of the changes which the language underwent in the extreme
North, showing, for example, no specimen of the pronunciation of
wh as f, as in the fat, fan, fite, of Moray and Buchan. Of grammatical
changes, either in inflection or syntax, which can be
attributed to Celtic influence, there are perhaps no traces in Scottish
literature. Even in the modern dialects these are rare,
though they are probably to be seen in the fondness for periphrastic
verbal forms, such as "Ye'll be gaan'," "I'm sayan',"
for You will go, I say; and a certain indirectness in the matter
of tense, thus, "What was ye wantan'?" "I was wantan' to see
you just for a minute," etc., for "What do you want?" "I want
to see you." So "Wad ye be sae quid as — " etc., for "Will you
be so good?" The additions to the vocabulary of the Literary
Scotch of the 16th c. from the Celtic are also scanty, being confined
mainly, though not entirely, to words referring to Celtic
customs and institutions, such as corinoch, bard or baird, Beltein;
add also, bannock or bonnock, capyl or capul (a mare), ker- or car-handed,
left-handed. These words are much more numerous in
the modern dialects, which lie near the Gaelic frontier; see, for
example, the Rev. Walter Gregor's "Dialect of Banffshire, with a
Glossary of Words not in Jamieson," published by the Philological
Society in 1867. In the south of Scotland their number
is not much greater than in ordinary English, in which we find
more or less naturalized crag, brae, cairn, colley, galore, creel,
kerne, gillie, clann, tartan, plaid, philabeg, claymore, pibroch. At
the last word I pause; it is Celtic only in form. When the
Highlander borrowed "the pipes" from his Lowland neighbour —
making them so thoroughly his own that it now seems little short
of heresy to refer to a time when the bagpipe was an English, not
a Scottish instrument — he borrowed along with them the English
names pipe and piper, which appear in Gaelic orthography as
piob, piobair (pronounced peep, peeper, as in French pipe, and
16th c. English). From the latter, by the addition of a Celtic
termination, was formed the abstract noun piobaireachd = piperage,
pipership, piping; as from màighstir we have màighstireachd,
master-ship, mastery. When the Sasunnach, having forgotten
his own pipership, reimported the art from the Gael, he brought
with it the Gaelicised name piobaireachd, softened into pibroch,
where the old English piper is so disguised in the Highland dress
as to pass muster for a genuine Highlander.
The second influence which greatly modified the language of
the Middle Period came from the French League. That famous
Weill keipit ancient alliance,
Maid betuix Scotland and the realme of France,¹
through which the former managed to maintain the national independence
regained in the 14th century, made her, to a great
extent, the pupil of France in learning; art, and polity, during
the two following centuries. Scotchmen completed their education
at the University of Paris, and founded their own universities
upon French models; the entire legal system of the country was
transferred from France; and even the Presbyterian system of
the Reformed Church was drawn up under the supervision of the
great French Reformer. The connection between the two countries
was of the closest nature, leaving its traces in almost every
department of Scottish national life, and in none more so than the
language. In addition to peculiarities of orthography, we have
examples of the French construction being used as the model, contrary
to the usage of the earlier writers. Perhaps one of the most
notable of these instances of imitation is the use, by the writers
of the Middle period, of the full numeral an or ane, instead of its
contracted form, a, alike for article and numeral, and before a
consonant as well as a vowel. This is generally recognized as a
most characteristic Scottish usage, and the common theory has
been to consider it as archaic — that is, to suppose that, while the
English had dropped the n before a consonant by the year 1200,
the Scottish had retained the full form, ane man, ane toune, like
the Anglo-Saxon án man, án tún. But the fact seems to have
been overlooked that ane man, ane tonne, were not Old Scotch;
that the early writers, like those who employed the same dialect
in England, used a and an (oftener written ane) just as we do at
the present day. Such is the case in the old Laws, in Barbour,
Wyntown, Harry the Minstrel, Holland's Howlate, the old poem
of Cockelbie's Sow, The King's Quair, and even in Christis Kirk
of the Grene. The extracts from the old Laws (page 31) fully
exemplify this usage, as do the following: —
Barbour:— For he wald in his chambre be
A weill gret quhile in privaté,
With him a clerk for-owtyn ma.
A king of a gret reawte.
He entryt in ane² narow place
Betuix a louchside and a bra.
¹ Lyndesay — Deploration of the
Deith of Quene Magdalene.
² This curious use of an before n is
common in Barbour, reminding us of
the confusion between áne næddre,
a nadder and an adder; a nere (a kidney)
and an ere; a nest and an est; ane
efete, ane evete, an eft, and a neft or
newt; a natter-cop and an etter-cop; an
ag aud a nag, &c., &c.
the thryd wes ane
That rowyt thaim our delyverly,
That in a nycht and in a day
Cummyn out our the louch ar thai.
Wyntown:— A nycht he (Macbeth) thowcht in hys dremyng,
That syttand he wes besyd Þe kyng
At a sete in huntyng; swa
In-til his leisch had grew-hundys twa.
God of þe Deuyl sayd in a quhile,
As I have herd red the Vangyle,
He is, he sayd, a leare fals.
A yhok of oxyn Makbeth saw fayle.
Harry:— Ane Ersche mantill it war thy kynd to wer,
A Scottis thewtill under thy belt to ber.
But a richt straik Wallace him gat that tyde.
Ane abbot passed, and gaif our this legiance.
For weill he wut thar suld be bot a king
Off this regioun at anys for to ryng.
Without the place ane ald bulwark was maid,
Holland:— Sa come the ruke with a rerd and a rane roch,
A bard out of Ireland with Bannaehadee
Said gluntow guk dynyd dach hala mischy doch,
Raike her a rug of the rost, or scho sail ryive thé.
Brym as a bair
He couth cary the cowpe of the kyngis des,
Syn leve in the sted
Bot a black bun-wed;
He south of a hennis hed
Make a mane mes.
Cockelbie's Sow:— A lunatyk, a sismatyk,
An heretyk, a purs-pyk,
A Lumbard, a Lolard,
An usurar, a bard,
An ypocreit in haly kirk,
A burn-grenge in the dirk.
King's Quair:— Quhare in a lusty plane tuke I my way,
Endlang a ryuer plesand to behold.
And efter this the birdis everichone
Tuke up ane other sang full loud and clere,
And with a voice said, Well is us begone,
That with our makis are togider here.
Christis Kirk:— Ane hasty hensure callit Hary,
Quha wes ane archer heynd,
Tilt up a taikle withouten tary,
That torment sa him teynd.
But in "Peblis to the Play" we find constantly the ane of the
Middle period, which, were we sure of having the original orthography,
would indicate the latter to be a more recent production;
but no MSS. of either exists of earlier date than late in the
16th century, and of course we cannot tell how the spelling was.
treated by the transcribers. The very old poem of Rauf Coilƺear,
which exists only in a printed copy of 1572, and the whole orthography
of which has been assimilated to that of the 16th century,
also of course uses ane. The poems and fables of Henrysoun,¹
who lived till 1478, shew some of them the one, some the other
form. Compare
I say this be Euridice the queue,
Quhilk walkit furth in till a Maij mornyng,
And with a madyn, in a medowe grene,
To tak the dewe, and se the flouris spring ;
Quhar in a schawe, nere by this lady ying,
A busteouß hird callit Arystyus,
Kepand his bestis, lay under a buß. — Orpheus and Eurydice,1. 92.
Than in ane mantill and ane bavar hat,
With cop and clapper, wonder prively,
He opnit ane secreit yett, and out thairat
Convoyit her, that na man suld espy,
Unto ane village, half ane myle thairby. — Test. of Cresseid, 386.
Henrysoun lived just in the transition period: the age and state
of the MSS. would probably shew whether the diversity of usage
is due to this or to subsequent transcription.² The Acts of the
Scottish Parliament from James I. to James V. furnish complete
data for the entrance of this Middle Scotch ane in room of the
older a. Instances of ane before a consonant are extremely rare
before 1475; after this date it becomes more frequent, and the
regular form after 1500.
Now whence was this sudden appearance of ane towards the
end of the 15th century? It is not in accordance with what we
know of the life of languages that a form, which had been obsolete
for at least 300 years, should spontaneously start again into life.
My own impression is that it was introduced in literature and set
speech in imitation of the French, so that the Sc. ane kyng
answered to the French un roi — that is, both one king and a king.
I doubt whether ane kyng was used in the language of common
life; nobody said so from the days of Alexander III. to those of
James III.; nobody has said so in Scotland within living memory.
The tongue of Barbour and Harry is still that of the people, and
we can hardly imagine the two periods, which have all the marks
of continuity, uncomformably severed by one with a different
Another very evident trace of French fashion is found in the
plural form given to certain pronouns and adjectives, as quhilkis,
the quhilkis personnis, the saidis, the for-saidis, uthiris, principallis,
Fr. les-quels, les dits, les sus-dits, les autres, principaux. These
were perhaps first introduced in legal verbiage, but became
quite usual in the writers of the Middle Period.
¹ Edited by D. Laing, Edinburgh,
² Since writing the above, I have looked into the subject, and feel no
doubt that the difference is due to the
dates of the existing copies. The poems
having ane are those taken from MSS.
or printed copies late in the 16 c.
Thay dividit the pray and spuleƺeis, quhilkis war takin fra the
saidis theiffis amang the remanent herdis of that regioun. — Bellenden's
Livy, Cap. II.
Thir sacrificis onely ressavit Romulus of all the uthiris solemniteis,
quhilkis war that time accustomit in the warld. — Ibid.
Cap. III.
The foure gret vertues cardinalis,
I see thame with thé principalis.¹
Lyndesay, The Complaynt.
As in the case of ane, so in that of quhilkis, saidis, &c., the usage
of the 16th century is not that of the present spoken dialects;
whence we may infer that it never became thoroughly naturalized.
But in the very remarkable instance of the Personal Pronouns,
the current usage is, as will be seen in the Grammar, not that of
the English and Teutonic, but that of the French; there being a
special Nominative and Objective, as well as an Indirect case, like
moi, toi, lui, used for both Nominative and Objective in certain
A large accession to the vocabulary of the Scottish writers of
this period was another important result of the league. Many
French words which had entered the more Southern dialects
during the Norman Period, and in their Norman forms, and had
long been thoroughly assimilated to the other elements of the
English language, but which lead not been accepted by the
Northern dialect, were now adopted by the Scottish writers in
their later French form, and form a bizarre and incongruous
element in the language. Such are gloir, memoire (memory),
abilƺement (habillement), arrace (arracher), ane (an ass), assolƺie,
balein (whalebone), barbare, baston (a staff), burdoun (a pilgrim's
staff), cahute, compacience, covatyce, cure (care), debonaire, deray,
disprise, dedeinƺie, enseiƺnie, exerce, feinƺie, fenester, failƺie,
feulƺeis (feuilles, still preserved in fether-fuilƺie or fether-fuillie,
feverfew), galƺeard, garnisoun, gentrice, gouvernaill, gyane,
jerefloure, ische, istablit, laurer, lawte, lammer (l'ambre), mal-eis,
mallewrus (malheureux), mandements, manjory (a banquet,)
matalent (fury), merjolyne (marjoram), moblis or meublis
(furniture), moyen, muralƺeis, nouellis = news, nurice, olƺie or
uilƺie (huile), orlege, parage, paregale, (perfectly equal), pastance
(passe-temps), perfurnis, pyssance, pleinƺie, plesaunce, poune,
powne, (paon, a peacock), pourpoure, prattik, punƺe (a handful,
poignée), railƺeare, randoune, remeid, repaitrit, rewis (rues, streets),
reddoure, roche, rounge (to gnaw), royKing
Iames the first, Roy of this Regioun,
Said David was ane sair sanct to the croun.
Lyndesay, Satyre.
¹ We must therefore qualify Mr.
Morris's statement (Ayenbite of Inwyt,
p. xlv.), "The plural of Adjectives
(mostly of Romance origin) in -es, as
wateres principales, is unknown to the
Northern dialect." It was regularly
used in the Middle Scottish period
salust, sclavis, scripture (a writing-case, éscriptoire), sege (seat),
supplé, succure (sucre), syrurgiane, tailƺeis (taillées), trelƺeis
(curry-combs), velis (calves), viage (journey), vesy, volounte,
bew, as in bew schirris, beaux sieurs, fair sirs —
Lo this is all; bew schirris, haue gude day! — Douglas.
Most of these are obsolete in the modern dialects, or exist only in
a more English form, as glorie, memorie, cair, disdain, gairrison,
suggar, &c. But among French words, or words in a French
form, which have been retained, we may note, gigot, ashet (assiette),
taiss or tasse, fulzie (fouillé — the sweepings and refuse of the
town), glaur (glaire), porte (the gate of a town), gein (guigne — a
black-hearted cherry), grosel (groseille), corbie (corbeau), houlette,
botynes (bottines, buskins), servit, serviot (serviette), drogue,
droguiste, cordiner (cordonnier), tour (turn — wait tyll yer ain toor
cums), gou or gow (gout, an after-taste or peculiar flavour),
malisoun, boule (a ball, a globular body generally, as a sugar-boule,
a butter-boule¹), dour (dur, hard, stubborn), douce (sedate, gentle);
touc o' drum (touche ant. toque, stroke, blow, similarly applied), to
casse, causey (chaussée, the street pavement), pennair (a penholder),
cuinƺie, uilƺie, spuilƺie, dule or duil (Douglas writes the
full deuil), vague (to ramble), vaque (to be vacant), vacance
(vacation), fasch (to trouble — fâcher), faschis (fâcheuse), dam-brod
(the board on which is played the jeu aux dames, draughts),
mouture (miller's fee in kind), sussy (souci — I sussy not), baillie
(still pronounced in the Southern counties with the liquid l—
bailƺea, baylyea, like the Fr. bailli), contraire, ordinaire, extraordinaire,
necessaire; not to speak of those which retain the Fr. u
or ou, as cure, lute, sure, duc, tour (tower), doute, court, course; or
accent the final syllable, like govérn, confórt, reálm, reaúme; or
have a pronunciation founded upon the French spelling, as maintein,
sustein, contein, pertein.² From the same language were
derived the old names of the months; with the French Janvier,
¹ "Have you any bulls here?" asked
an English gentleman of a herd-laddie,
whose cattle blocked the straight path
up a mountain. "Eh?" "I want to
know if you have any bulls?" "Bools — ooh ay!" and plunging his hand into
his breeches pocket, he produced a
neffu' of marbles.
² The common name for a domestic
pig, in the south of Scotland, is guissie.
Seeing that the French gueuset, which
is nearly identical in pronunciation,
means a pig of iron, I have wondered
if the Scotch word could be, in some
indirect way, connected with the
French, and have asked H.I.H. Prince
L. L. Bonaparte, if there are any traces
of gueuset being applied to a living pig
in the French dialects. The Prince
states that gueuset is only used is the
metallurgic sense, but gives the following
interesting note as to forms not
unlike guissie in various French patois:
— "Geuset is a metallurgic word, and
simply the diminutive of gueuse, also
a metallurgic word, which means cast
pig, pig iron. I am not aware that
this word is used for pig (cochon, porceau)
in any of the French dialects,
but I find in them: coutzou in Auvergnat,
gouzi in the patois of Vesoul,
coiço, goré, gorrè, cosso, in other vernaculars.
The French cochon, and the
Spanish cochino, as well as coutzou, and
coiço, are not without a certain resemblance
to your geussie, but the gozein of
the Italian dialect of Parma beats them
Fevrier, Avril, and Juillet, compare the Scotch forms Janevar,
Janevere, Janiveir, Janiveer, Janeuar, Janueir, Januar; Feverer,
Februeir, Februar; Averil, Aperil, Apreyle; Julet, Julƺie, Juilƺie,
Quhar art thov May, with Iune thy syster schene,
Weill bordourit with dasyis of delyte?
And gentle Julet with thy mantyll grene,
Enamilit with rosis reid and quhyte?
Now auld and cauld Ianevar in dispyte,
Reiffis from us all pastyme and plesoure.
Allace! quhat gentyll hart may this indure?
Lyndesay — The Dreme.
If the grass grow in Janiveer
'T will be the worse for 't a' the year.
March said to Averil
I see three hoggs on yonder hill,
And if you'll lend me dayis three,
I'll find a way to gar them dee.
R. Chambers — Popular Rhymes of Scotland.
But the French was not the only foreign source whence the
Scottish writers of this period added to their native vocabulary.
The Latin, from which English writers had already begun to
borrow, was drawn upon in far more wholesale fashion by their
brethren in the north. The circumstances which led to this have
been thus stated by the learned author of "The Scot Abroad":—
"A free access to this great medium for the exchange of thought
(the Latin of the learned world) was one of the compensating
benefits which the Scots derived from the contest with England.
The exclusion of the Scots scholars from English ground only
prompted their aspiring spirits to seek a wider arena of distinction,
and they found it in securing to themselves as an audience the
learned men of all the world. When there arose two distinct
languages, an English and a Scottish, the latter afforded a far too
limited intellectual dominion to satisfy the ambition of Scottish
men of letters; hence they had recourse to Latin." If the
Scottish writer "was to speak to an audience worth collecting, it
must be in Latin. It is not correct to speak of the Latin as a
dead language among Scots scholars . . . they drew in their own
way on the resources of the language used by them, adapted it to
the purposes of a new order of society, and made it the vehicle of
original and striking thoughts." (Vol. II., p. 27-28.) This
familiarity with Latin led them to "adorn," and too often to
overload and embarrass, the vernacular with a profusion of terms
adopted from that language, many of them formed in accordance
with the genius of the French rather than of the English, and
including a very large number which the English has not admitted.
As specimens of these "aureate" but grotesque elements,
with which the poets of the 16th century bristle, may be given
the adjectives, dulce, amene, decore, preclair, illustir, frustir,
celical (heavenly), degest (grave), facund, mansuete, prosper,
humile, innative, redymyte, superne, inerne, eterne, matutine, hodiern,
sempitern, matern, fructuous, meridiane, mellifluate; the nouns,
vult (countenance), flum (torrent, flumen), spelunk (a den), macul
or maikle (stain), habitakle, umbrakle, veir or vere (spring), fuge
(a fleer), lucerne (torch), plagis (zones), imperatrice, genitrice,
gemmel (twin), vilipention, ingyne, inobedience, contemption, distemperance,
mansuetude, pulcritude, celsitude, dompnationis, conjuratiouns,
occisioun (slaughter), penurité; the verbs, proport, prevert,
propyne, descrive, determe, precell, and a series of verbs derived
from the infinitive of the Latin, where the English has adopted a
form from the past participle, and vice versâ, such as promyt,
dispose, propone, depone, promove, expreme, posseid, conqueis,
acqueis, exerce, incluse, perversit. The past participles of such
verbs as ended in t often took no additional it, as statut, institut,
constitut, depaint, creat, deput, or the Latin participle was used
without the case ending, as disjunct, determinat, illuminat, fabricat,
dedicat, insinuat, &c., of which usage traces still remain in the
spoken dialect, as in the phrases, "it was statut and ordainit,"
"the chapel was dedicat," "a suit was institut," "a sheriff
It is surprising, however, how few of these foreign accretions
remained as permanent elements of the language. The case
would doubtless have been different had the language of the
16th century been perpetuated as a literary medium. As it is,
the speech of the people has cast out most of these foreign ingredients,
and remains almost as purely Teutonic as it was in the
13th and 14th centuries; and indeed the Scotchman of the present
day finds Barbour and Hampole, in spite of their more distant
date, nearer to him by centuries than Dunbar and Gawain Douglas,
with all the efforts of the latter to "mak it bride and plane." It
is proper also to add that the prose writers, of whom Scotland
produced several during this period, were in general less given to
the use of these lang-nebbit words than their brethren the makars.
No better specimen of the language of the Middle Period in its
classical purity exists than the vigorous prose of Johnne Bellenden,
or Ballantyne, Archden of Murray. From his "Traductioun" of
Livy, executed for James V. in 1533, I quote the following
"Thir desiris war nocht displesand to Tullius, howbeit Mecius
Fufficius was at this time mair feirs than he was, baith in curage
and hope of victorie. At last, quhen thay had socht on all sidis
how this mater micht be dressit, ane reponabill way was found,
to quhilk fortoun gaif sufficient occasioun to discuss this pley;
for in ilk ane of thir armyis war thre brethir, nocht unlike to
utheris in yeris and strenth; thay quhilkis war in the Romane army
war namit Horacianis, and thir uthir, quhilkis war in the Albane
cumpany, namit Curacianis. Thair is nane uthir opinioun, that is
authorist amang oure anciant faderis, mair illuster and nobill than
is this opinioun; and thocht the said Historie be notabil, yit it is
sum erroure, nocht knawing quhilk of thir twa pepill war callit
Horacianis, and quhilk Curacianis. Ilk opinioun has sufficient
auctoriteis; nochtheles, I find monyest auctoriteis saying, the
Romane brethir war Horacianis; and thairfore, I applaude to
their opinioun.
"The twa princis afore namit tretis with thir sex brethir to
fecht aganis uthir with scharpe and grundin swerdis to the deith,
for defence of their naciounis and pepill; with sic condicioun, that
the empire and liberte sall stand perpetually with the samin
pepill quhare victorie war presentlie fallin. Thir sex brethir
refusit nocht thir condiciouns; and sone eftir they war aggreit
baith of day and place for battal. Yit afore the battal, ane band
was maid betwix Romanis and Albanis, undir thir ferme condiciounis:
Of quhilkis pepill the cieteyanis war victorius, that
samin pepill sall regne with perpetual empire above that uthir,
but ony eftir rebellioun. Mony uthir bandis war roborat betwix
the twa pepill, with uthir condiciounis, howbeit the samin war
maid all to the samin effett. We find all thingis done in this
wise, as we have schawin; for of ony uthir mair ancient band of
confideracioun is na memorie.
"The form of aith maist faithfully corroborat, in manor afore
rehersit, betwix the twa pepill; thir sex brethir, as wes convenit,
tuke their armoure and wappinnis. Than ilk side began to
exhort their cieteyanis and campiounis to schaw their manhede
and vassalage, saying their goddis, their landis, their liberte, and
every uthir thingis pertening to thaim, baith at hame and of feild,
dependit on the chance of their battall, and beheld their fechting
that day. Thir brethir, feirs and ful of enrage, rasit to extreme
jeoperdie of armes, be hortacioun of their native and kindelie
nacioun, come furthe to the campe betwix baith the oistis, quhilkis
stude campit about thaim on every side, and richt pensive in their
mindis; for thocht they war exonerat of all present dangere, thay
war, yit, ful of grete sollicitude and thocht; for their empire wes
set on the fortoun and vertewe of thir fewe campiounis. Baith
the pepill, ereckit sum time in esperance of victorie, and sum
time suspendit betwix hope and drede, beheld the unthankful
"At last, quhen the signe, be blast of trumpat, wes gevin to
jone, thir sex brethir, inflammit with sprete, and curage of baith
the oistis, ruschit, with maist penetrive and awful wapinnis, like
the bront of twa armyis togiddir; for nouthir this nor that side
regardit their propir dommage or slauchter, bot alanerlie tuke
sicht to the public empire, to the public liberte, and public servitude,
following be the chance of thair battall; knawing weill
sic fortoun suld stand perpetualie to thair pepill as they wan that
day. Als sone as thair bricht armoure, be feirs concursioun,
resoundit in the aire, and their schinand swerdis begouth to
glance; incontinent, ane huge trimling invadit all the pepill that
beheld this batall. And, becaus nouthir this nor that oist saw, as
yit, ony signe of victorie appere, baith thair voce wes rank, and
thair sprete solist and dull, quwhen thir brethir war fechtand
togidder hand for hand. Nocht alanerlie apperit the ithand
mocioun of thair bodyis. and weilding of thair doutsum and
dangerus swerdis and dartis, bot als thair rude and wide woundis,
springand with rede stremes of blude, apperit to the sicht of the
"In the mene time, twa of the Romane brethir, woundit and
slane, fell doun, ilk ane abone uthir. All the thre Albane brethir
beand, for the time, woundit cruelly and hurte, the fall and
slauchter of thir twa Romane brethir maid the Albanis to rejose,
with vehement noyis and clamoure. Yit the Romane legiounis
war nocht halelie destitute of curage, howbeit they war pensive
in thair mindis; havand, as than, na esperance bot in the thrid
broder, namit Horaciane, quhilk wes inclusit among the thre
Albane brethir namit Curacianis. This Horaciane hapinnit, as
than, to be haill, but ony stres or hurte of body; and wes of sic
strenth, that, howbeit he micht nocht be equale partie to fecht
aganis all the thre Curacianis atanis, yit he micht haif fochtin
aganis thaim all, ilk ane eftir uthir. And thairfore, to skail
thaim in sindry partis, he began to fle; traisting ilk ane of
thaim, be this way, ay to follow on him, as the hurte or woundis
of thair bodyis micht suffer for the time.
"Now wes the Horaciane fled fra the place quhare he faucht
afore, and lukand behind him, saw all thir thre Curacianis following
on him as fast as thay micht, ilk ane severit ane large space fra
uthir, and ane of thaim nocht far fra him. Incontinent, he
returnit with grete force on this nerrest Curaciane, quhil the
Albanis war criand, with schil noyis, on the remanent Curacianis
to support thair brothir. This Horaciane had slane his fallow,
and enterand with new victorie on the secund Curaciane. Then
the oist of Romanis began to help their campioun, with sic
clamoure as effrayit pepill hes quhen ony gude fortoun fallis abone
thair esperance. This forcy campioun maid him, with grete
diligence, to end this bataill, afore the thrid brothir, quhilk wes
nocht far distant, micht cum to his supporte; and finalie, slew
the second brothir.
"Now, wes nocht bot man for man on athir side, with equale
chance of batall: howbeit, thay nouthir equale in strenth of body
nor esperance of victorie; for this ane deliver and but ony wound
of body, havand double victorie of inemyis, come mair feirsly to
fecht in the thrid bataill, that he had sa recent victorie. That
uthir, ouirset with bleding of his woundis, and fast rink to haif
supportit his brether, and nere discomfist for thair slauchter afore
his ene, enterit in the batall aganis his victorius inemye, and
maid bot smal debait. This Horaciane, rejosing in his minde,
said, 'I haif send twa brethir to hell; and I sal send the thrid,
quhilk is occasioun of our debait, the samin gate: to that fine,
that the Romanis, in times coming, may regne with perpetual
empire above the Albanis.' And incontinent, he straik this thrid
brothir, quhilk micht skarslie bere up his wapinnis, in the
thrappill, and spulyeit him baith of his life and armoure at anis."
The "Complaynt of Scotland" (written 1548), already referred
to, is an extreme specimen of the Frenchified style. We have
read the author's declamation against the use of "lang-tailit
words," and "oncoutht exquisite termis," and his determination
"nocht til hef fardit and lardit this tracteit with exquisite termis,
quhilkis ar nocht dalie usit, but rather to hef usit domestic scottis
langage, maist intelligibil to the vulgare pepill." With which
declaration of principles compare his exordium — "To the excellent
and illustir Marie Queen of Scotlande (the Queen Regent Marie de
Guise), the margareit and perle of princessis. The immortal gloir
that procedis be the rycht lyne of vertu, fra ƺour magnanime auansing
of the public veil of the affligit realme of Scotlande, is abundantly
dilatit athort al cuntreis, throucht the quhilk the precius germe of
ƺour nobilite, bringis nocht furtht alanerly branchis and tendir
leyvis of vertu; bot as veil it bringis furtht salutiffere and hoilsum
frute of honour, quhilk is ane immortal and supernatural medicyne,
to cure & to gar conuallesse al the langorius desolat & affligit pepil,
quhilkis are al-mast disparit of mennis supple, ande reddy to be
venquest & to be cum randrit in the subjection and captiuité of our
mortal ald enemeis, be rason that ther cruel inuasions aperis to be
onremedabil. The special cause of oure afflictione hes procedit of
thre vehement plagis quhilk hes al maist succumbit oure cuntre in
final euertione, that is to saye, the cruel invasions of our ald enemeis,
the vniuersal pestilens and mortalite, that hes occurit mercyles
amang the pepil, and the contentione of diuerse of the thre estaitis
of scotland, throucht the quhilk thre plagis, the vniuersal pepil ar
be cum distitute of iustice policie ande of al verteus bysynes of
body and saul. Ande nou, illustir princes, engendrit of magnanime
genoligie, & discendit of Royal progenituris, ƺour regement ande
gouernyng, ande also ƺour honorabil amplitude of verteouse dignite
incressis daly in the contenual auansing of the deffens of oure cuntre,
quhar for ƺour heroyque vertu is of mair admiratione, nor vas of
valeria the dochter of the prudent consul publicola, or of cloelia,
lucresia, penolope, cornelia, semiramis, thomaris, penthasillie, or of
any vthir verteouse lady that plutarque or bocchas hes discriuit, to
be in perpetual memore. for al thair nobil actis ar nocht to be
comparit to the actis that ƺour prudens garris daly be exsecut, contrar
the cruel woffis of ingland. And nou sen the deceis of oure nobyl
illustir prince Kying iames the fyift, ƺour vmquhile faythtful lord
and hisband, tha said rauisant wolfis of ingland hes intendit ane
oniust weyr be ane sinister inuentit false titil contrar our realme, in
hope to devoir the vniversal floc of oure scottis natione, ande to
extinct oure generatione furtht of rememorance. Ther is na prudent
man that wil iuge that this pistil procedis of assentatione or adulatione,
considerant that we may see perfytlye quhou that ƺour grace
takkis pane to duelle in ane straynge cuntre distitute of iustice
Ande als ƺour grace beand absent fra ƺour only ƺong dochter, our
nobil princes, and rychteous heretoure of Scotland; quha is presentlye
veil tretit in the gouernance of hyr fadir of lau, the maist illustir
potent prince of the maist fertil and pacebil realme, vndir the
machine of the supreme olimp, quhar that ƺour grace mycht remane
& duel amang the nobil princis & princessis of France, quhilkis ar
ƺour natiue frendis of consanguinite and affinite ande ther ƺe mycht
posses abundance of al pleiseirs mast conuenient for your nobilite,
§ 16. We can hardly accept the foregoing as "domestic Scottis
langage, maist intelligibil to the vulgare pepill"; it may, perhaps,
be taken as a specimen of what it was, under French influences,
becoming, when a much more potent influence appeared to
alter the whole complexion of the matter. The Reformation,
which ushered in such a brilliant period in the literature of
England, proved adverse to the independent growth of the language
of Scotland. It was not merely that the effulgence of the
Elizabethan era made contemporary Scottish literature grow dim
in contrast. There was no translation of the Scriptures into the
Northern dialect; for the first forty years of the Reformation
movement, these and other books used by the adherents of the new
faith had to be obtained from England. Compare Lyndesay,
"Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis," l. 1144:-
Quhat buik is that, harlot, into thy hand?
Out! walloway! this is the New Testment,
In Englisch toung, and printit in England!
Herisie! herisie! fire! fire! incontinent.
and "Kitteis Confessioun," l.19:-
Quod he, "Ken ƺe na Heresie?"
"I wait nocht quhat that is," quod sche;
Quod he, "Hard ƺe na Inglis Bukis?"
Quod scho, "My maister on thame lukis:"
Quod he, "The Bischop that sall knaw!"
Moreover, the adherents of the Reformed faith, with the Lords
of the Congregation at their head, were, from the necessities
of the political situation — in opposition to the French or Catholic
party — an English party, in intimate correspondence with
the Protestant leaders in England; and the two causes — the
dependence of Scotland upon England for the Bible, and the
relations of the leaders of the movement with England — soon
produced a marked assimilation to the contemporary English in
their language. This is apparent, even in the writings of Sir
David Lyndesay, especially in his more important works, such as
"The Monarché," and "The Tragedy," where we have constantly
the forms, go, also, quho, quhois, and even one, used like the Scotch
ane.¹ The writings of Knox, renowned as he was for his eloquence
¹ But there is reason to believe that
Lyndesay, like his predecessors, Dunbar
and Gawain Douglas, owed much
of this Anglicism to familiarity with
Chaucer and the other English poets
of his age, and to imitation, conscious
or unconscious, of their language.
in the "Scottis leid," are still more English in form; witness
the following passage, which at once exemplifies his style, and
illustrates this connection between the two dialects:—
"And so by Act of Parliament [March 15th, 1543] it was maid
free to all, man and woman, to reid the Scriptures in thair awin
toung, or in the Engliss toung; and so war all Actes maid in the
contrair abolished. This was no small victorie of Christ Jesus,
feghting against the conjured ennemyes of his verite; not small
conforte to such as befoir war holdin in such bondage, that thei
durst not have red the Lordis Prayer, the Ten Commandimentis,
nor Articules of thare faith in the Engliss toung, but thei should
have bene accused of heresye. Then mycht have bene sein the
Byble lying almaist upoun everie gentilmanis table. The New
Testament was borne about in many manis handes. We grant
that some (allace!) prophaned that blessed wourd; for some that
perchance had never red two sentences in it, had it maist common
in thare hand; they wold chope thare familiares on the cheak with
it, and say, 'This hes lyne hyd under my bed-feitt these ten
yearis.' Otheris wold glorie, 'O how oft have I bein in danger
for this booke; how secreatlie have I stollen fra my wyff at
mydnycht to reid upoun it.' . . . Then ware sett furth werkis in
our awin toung, besydis those that came from England, that did
disclose the pryde, the craft, the tyranny, and abuses of that
Romane Antichrist." — Life and Works of Knox, Wodrow Soc.,
ed. D. Laing.
Notice, who, whose, so, from, such, would, should, hold, told,
these, those, for the Scotch, quha, quhais, sa, fra, sic, wald, suld,
hald, tauld, thir, tha, &c.
Elsewhere, in quoting or applying Scripture texts, the language
of Knox becomes entirely English, even to the Southern verbal
forms in -est, -eth, for the Northern -s:-
"Thow wilt say, 'Whairfoir doith God command us that which
is impossible for us?' I ansuere, 'To mack thee know that thow
art bot evill, and that thair is no remeady to save thee in thine
awin hand; and that thow mayest seak a remeady at some uther;
for the law doith nothing butt command thee.'"
The copies of the Scriptures referred to by Knox were of
course from England; another generation passed, and Knox himself
died before the first edition was printed in Scotland, by
Arbuthnot and Bassendyne, in 1576-79. This was regarded as a
great national work, each parish in the kingdom being required
to contribute £5 toward the expense. In the address of the
General Assembly, upon its completion, they say:— "O what difference
between thir days of light, when almost in every private
house the book of God's law is read and understood in our vulgar
language and the age of darkness, when scarcely in a whole city,
without the cloisters of monks and friers, could the book of God
once be found." A few months afterwards it was enacted in
parliament that each householder worth a certain sum of money
should have in his house a Bible and psalm book in the vulgar
tongue. It is a proof how thoroughly the use of the English
Bible by three generations had familiarized the people of Scotland
with the literary language of the Southern kingdom; that this
"Bible in the vulgar tongue" was the English Geneva version,
without the slightest attempt at Northern adaptation, either in
words or spelling: The parable of the sower, Matthew xiii. 3,
will serve as a specimen:—
"Then he spoke many things to them in parables, saying,
Behold a sower went forth to sowe, (4) And as he sowed some fel
by the wayes side, and the foules came and deuoured them vp;
(5) And some fel vpō stonie grounde, where they had not much
earth, and anone they sprong vp because they had no depe of
earth. (6) And when the sunne rose vp, they were parched, and
for lacke of rooting withred away. (7) And some fel amōg
thornes, & the thornes sprong vp and choked them. (8) Some
again fel in good grounde & broght forth frute one corne an
hundreth folde, some sixtie folde, and another thirtie folde.
(9) He that hath cares to heare, let hī heare."
The same version is quoted in Lyndesay's "Satyre," ed. 1602,
1. 2908, where it is all the more striking from contrast with.the
vernacular by which it is surrounded:—
Luik quhat Sanct Paul wryts vnto Timothie.
Tak, thair, the Buik: lat se gif ƺe can spell.
I never red that. Thairfoir, reid it ƺour sel,
(Gude Counsall sall reid thir wordis on ane Buik)
Fidelis Sermo: si quis Episcopatum desiderat, &c.
That is:-
This is a true saying: If any man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a worthie
worke. A Bishop, therefore, must be vnreproueable, the husband of one wife, &c.
Thir ar the verie words of th' Apostill Paull.
The quotations made by the author of the "Complaynt" seem
to be translations or paraphrases of his own made directly from
the Vulgate, and are of course in Scotch, as are also the Decalogue,
Lord's Prayer, Ordinances of Baptism and of the Lord's Supper,
and other portions prefixed to the "Gude and Godlie Ballatis,"
1578.¹ These, though affected by the English orthography, afford
an idea of what a Scottish version of the Scriptures would have
been, had it been completed:—
"The keyis of heuin will I giue vnto thé, quhat sa euer thow
sal bind vpon the eird, salbe bound also in heuin; and quhat sa
euer thow sall louse vpon the eird, salbe lowsit also in heuin.
Quhais sinnis ƺe forgiue, ar forgiuen vnto them, and quhais sinnis
ƺe retene, ar retenit vnto them." — Matt. xvi.
The metrical version of the Psalms, adopted in 1564-5, was,
¹ Reprinted by David Laing, Edinburgh, 1868
like the Bible, in the literary English; but two black-letter
editions published in Edinburgh used the Scotch orthography.
Comparing William Kethe's Old Hundred, in the English edition,
Edinburgh, 1565, with that in the black letter of about 1578, we
see how closely the latter followed the English:—
ENGLISH, 1565.¹
All people that on earth do dwell
Sing to the Lord with chereful voyce,
Him serve with feare, his praise foorth tel,
Come ye before him and rejoyce.
The Lord, ye knowe, is God in dede,
Without our aide he did us make,
We are his flocke, he doth us fede,
And for his shepe he doth us take.
O enter, then, his gates with praise,
Approche with joye his courtes unto,
Praise, laude, and blesse his Name alwayes,
For it is semely so to do.
For why? the Lord our God is good,
His goodness is for ever sure,
His treuth at all tymes firmely stoode,
And steal from age to age indure.
SCOTCH, 1578.
Al pepill that on eirth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheirfull voce,
Him serve with feir, his praise forth tell,
Come ƺe befoir him and rejoyce.
The Lord, ƺe knaw, is gude indeid,
Without our aide he did us mak,
We ar his folk: he dois us feid,
And for his scheip he dois us tak.
Och! enter then his gaitis with praise,
Approche with joy his courtis unto:
Praise, laude, and blys his Name alwayis,
For it is semelie so to do.
For quhy? the Lord our God is gude,
His mercy is for ever sure:
His trueth at all tymes firmelie stude,
And sall from age to age indure.
Here the English construction is followed word for word, even
to the transference of do dwell, did mak, dois feid, dois tak, in
which the do is, in Southern English dialects, a living part of the
language, forming a habitual tense² (as in the Cornish and Welsh),
not a mere stop-gap to eke out a line or coax a rhyme. In that
dialect it had appeared as early as the date of the Ancren Riwle
(about 1225), where we have, Lif þi luue nis nout for to ƺiuen,
auh wult allegate þet me bugge hire: do seie hwu — If thy love
is not to be given, but thou wilt by all means that it be bought,
do say how! (fol. 110). ƺif þu hauest leaue, cweð he, do sting,
ƺif þu meih — If thou hast leave, quoth he, do sting, if thou
mayest (fol. 161). Dina, Jacobes douhter, eode vt uor to biholden
uncuðe wummen: lo ƺet ne seið hit nouht þet heo biheld weopmen;
auh deð wummen" — Dinah Jacob's daughter geade out for to behold
unco' women: lo yet it says not that she beheld men, but it does
(say) women (fol. 123). But in the old Northern dialect, do say,
he doss us fede, would have meant, make or gar say, he makes us
He sal do rise alle maumentri
And clepe him godd self al myghty.
Dan he sais, neder in strete,
Waitand hors to stang in fete,
To do the rider falle bi the way.
¹ Both of these versions are taken from the Life and Works of Knox, edited by
David Laing for the Wodrow Society.
² Barnes's Dorset Grammar, p. 26.
And in þe temple o Salamon
Þan sal þat traitur sett his tron,
Þat al was feld Lang siþen gan,
He sal do rais it eft o stan.
Circumcise him þar he sal
And goddes sun him do to calle.
Thoru his mighti wille dos þat kyng
Ute of þe erd tre to spring. — Cursor Mundi.
Do wait, and lat him nocht awai. — Dunbar.
But by the makaris of the Middle Period, do was used as a simple
expletive, and extended by them, not only to the present and
past indicative, but to all parts of the verb, as he dois cum, he hes
done cum, he sal do wryte, to do descryve, doand knaw—
Lat workis beir witnes, quhilkis he hes done compyle —
i.e. which he has compiled.
The use of the interrogative quha, who, as a simple relative, for
which the early writers used at, that, and subsequent ones also
quhilk, quhilkis, began to prevail also about this time. In English,
according to Mr. Furnivall (Phil. Soc. Trans. 1865, p. 139-149),
"who was first used as a relative once in Wyclyffe's Bible, then
very frequently by Lord Berners in his "Froissart," and "Arthur of
Little Britain," and then but sparingly till Shakspeare's time and
after." By Barbour, Wyntown, Douglas, and Dunbar, quha is
regularly used for the compound whoever, he who, or as the antecedent,
quha that = he that, he who.
Quha that bakis brede aw nocht for to hyde it. — Leges Burgorum.
Quha that dois deidis of petie
And levis in pece and cheretie
Is haldin a fule, and that full nyce,
And all for cause of Covetyce.
Quha na thing hes can na thing get.
Quha best can rewll wald maist have governance.
In luve to keip allegiance
It war als nyce an ordinance
As quha wald bid ane deid man dance
In sepulture. — Dunbar.
The oblique cases quhais, and quham, were used as relatives
from an early period; but the first instance of the use of the
nominative quha, as a simple relative, that I have met with, is in
"Chrystis Kirk of the Grene" — if indeed it is safe to assume that
the form of that poem is older than its earliest copy preserved in
the Bannatyne MS. of 1568:—
Ane hasty hensure callit Hary,
Quha wes ane archer heynd,
Tilt up a taikle withouten tary,
That torment sa him teynd.
Similar doubt attaches to an instance in Henrysoun's poem of
Orpheus and Eurydice, 1. 548 (Mr. Laing's ed.):—
Schawand to ws, quhat perrell on ilk syd
That thay incur, quhay will trest or confyd
In to this warldis vane prosperitie.
Unfortunately, lines 547-50 are among those wanting in the early
printed ed. of 1508, as well as in the early Asloane MS., being
supplied from the copy in the Bannatyne MS.; so that the date
1568 is again the oldest which we can certainly give to quhay in
the passage in question. We are on firmer ground with a single
example in Lyndesay's "Monarche" (edition of 1552), where quhilk
is the usual relative:—
And in that samyn land, Iwys,
He tuk to wyfe Semeramis,
Quha, as myne author dois discryve,
Was then the lustiest on lyve. — E. E. T. S. ed., 1. 2787.¹
The later editions of Lyndesay's works regularly insert quha
instead of the original quhilk; thus the passage which stands in
the editions of 1538 and 1559 as
Or quho can now the workis cuntrafait
Off Kennedie, with termes aureait?
Or of Dunbar, quhilk language had at large
As maye be sene in tyll his goldin targe?
Complaint of the Papyngo, 1. 16.
appears in the edition of 1582,
Or quha can now the warkis cunterfait
Of Kennedie with termes aureait?
Or of Dunbar, quha language had at large
As may be sene intill his "Goldin Targe."
This alteration of the later editions accounts for the fact that the
"Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis" (first edition extant, 1602) constantly
uses quha as the relative.
In the Acts of the Scots Parliament, this use of quha seems to
commence after 1540, as, "My said lord gouernor & aduocate
being als personaly present quha ar warnit hereof." — Acta Mariae,
12 Mch. 1542. The "Complaynt of Scotland," 1548, also
exhibits this form as well as the older quhilk — "Siclyke that
maist sapient prince and prelat fadir in gode Ihone of Loran, quha
is ƺour fadir broder quhilk be his prudens hes been mediatour
betuix diuers forane princes, to treit pace and concorde in diuerse
cuntreis, quha hes nocht alanerlie vsit hym lyik ane sperutual
pastor, bot as veil he has vsit hym lyik ane vailƺeant captan,"
&c. The same usage is regularly observed by Knox: "he was
committit to the secular judge (for our bischoppis folow Pilat, who
boith did condempne, and also wesche his handis), who condempned
him to the fyre" (vol. i. p. 6). QUHA continued to be so used, in
the written language, during the decaying period of Scottish
literature, and although the usage is unknown to the living
¹ The Editor of Lauder's Office and
Dutie of. Kyngis, printed 1556 (E. E.
T. S. ed., 1864) also notes a single
instance of quha as the simple relative
instead of quhilk, at l. 115 of that
That Kyng that sittis all kyngis above,
Quha heiris and seis all that is wrocht.
dialects of Scotland, we find it in the poets of the Modern Period,
as "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled!"¹
Is there for honest povertie
Wha hangs his head an' a' that?
§ 17. It thus appears that long before the accession of James
VI. to the English throne, there was a marked assimilation in the
literary language of Scotland to that of England. After that event
the Scotch ceased to be used in general literature; Scotchmen who
had anything to say to their fellow-men found a much wider
audience by expressing themselves in the language of England.
For local purposes, however, such as the proceedings of Parliament
and the law courts, municipal records, and similar documents,
the vernacular continued still to be used, although one
characteristic of the orthography disappeared after another, until,
at the union of the Parliaments, only an occasional word connected
with local customs or the technicalities of Scottish law survived to
distinguish the language, to the eye, from the literary English.
The pulpits of the national church and the parish schools seen
also to have preserved the Scotch down at least to the time of the
Commonwealth. In a copy-book and set of school exercises,
written at Selkirk in 1630, which are in my possession,² the
"settings" or texts are all in the native dialect, into which also
the Latin themes are rendered. The former consist of such
couplets as thes :—
Quhair sair calamitie ouersettis ane gentill hart
Quha beiris it pacientlie, he playis ane proudent pairt.
Na plesour is bot pane, as preuis experiens,
Thairfoir let hoip remane, and tak in pacience.
For eftir snaw and sleit, sail cum the somer flouris,
Thay are nocht worthe the sueit, that may not suffer souris.
ƺe sie the stormis blast, garriss cluddis fall owt in rane,
Bot quhone the schour is past, the sky will cleare agane.
Of the language of the courts of justice, after the Union, the following
specimens are taken from the Record of the Jedburgh
Circuit Court, under date April, 1623:—
"Johne Halle, callit þe Cheiff, in Newbigging, and Lancie Hall
thair, ar accusit for airt and pairt of þe thifteous steilling and
resetting of sevin nolt, sax of þem perteining to Isaac Patersoune
in Huronnesclois, four of þem ky, ane ox, and ane stott, and ane
uther ox perteining to Jon Meitfurd thair, furth of þe lands of
¹ "Scots wha hae" is fancy Scotch —
that is, it is merely the English
"Scots who have," spelled as Scotch.
Barbour would have written "Scottis
at hes;" Dunbar or Douglas, "Scottis
quhilkis hes;" and even Henry Charteris,
in the end of the 16th century,
"Scottis quha hes." Compare
Luif justice ye quha hes ane Judges cure.
Lyadesay — Satyre, 1. 1027 Led. 1602).
The vernacular is still "Scots at hæs,"
which Burns apparently considered ungrammatical,
and therefore shaped the
words after an English model. Much
of the contemporary Scotch is of this
character; it is Scotch in spelling,
English in everything else.
² See notice in "Leisure Hour" of
Jan., 1870.
Huronnesclois, about þe first Ladie-day last. Clenges thame of
þe thift, but fyllis thame upone þe ressett of þe said nolt, and
being airt and pairt with John Hall of Heviesyde, being ane
outlaw and fugitive in selling of thame.
"Item quhair Johne Irwine, callit lang Laird Hoddame, his
brother and his spouse ar accusit for airt and pairt of þe thifteous,
steilling, resett and away takin of sevin gaitt furth of þe lands of
Brochtschall, at several tymes, perteining to Elizabeth Hardie,
spous to umquhill David Dalrymple, betwixt Yull and Candlemas
last; and for þe cruell burning of ane barne full of corne, beir,
quheit, and ry, pertaining to Wm Bell in Holmheid, upon þe tent
day of Februar last by past. Clengit of the haill.
"Williame Scott of Burnefute upon the watter of Aill, actit him
as cawtionar, and souertie for Geordie Jonsoune in Eschinsyd, that
he sall compeir befoir his Māties saids Commissionaris the nixt
Justice Court to be haldin be thame and underly his hienes lawis,
under þe pane of fyve hundreth merkis.
"The persounis foirsaid fund guyltie and foull of certain crymis
of thift and utheris contenit in þair particular dittayes, wer, be þe
saidis Commissioners, decernit and condempnit, thay, and ilkane
of þem to be takin to þe place of execution, and there to be hangitt
be þe heid, ay quhill they wer deid, and all their landis, guds and
geir to be escheit and inbrocht to his hienes use, as was pronuncit
in judgement be þe mouth of þe said Johne Junkisoune, dempstar
of þe said Court." — Annals of Wawick, pp. 215-305.
The language of the pulpit in the middle of the 17th century is
exemplified by the following extract from a sermon preached by
Mr. James Row, sometime minister of Strowan, in St. Giles'
Church, Edinburgh, on the occasion of the signing of the "Solemn
League and Covenant," in 1638, which was long famous under
the name of the "Pockmanty Preaching":—
"The Kirk of Scotland was a bony trotting Naig, but then she
trotted sae hard, that never a man durst ryd her, but the Bishops;
wha after they had gotten on her back, corce-langled her, and
hopshaikled her, and when shee becam a bony paceing beast, they
tooke great pleasure to ryde on her. But their cadgeing her up
and downe from Edenbrugh to London, and it may be from Rome
to, gave her sik a hett cott, that we have been these twall months
by gane stirring her up and downe, to keep her frae foundrying.
"Yea, they made not only ane Horse, but ane Ass, of the Kirk
of Scotland. Hou sae? ko ye. What meane ye by this? Ile
tell you hou: they made Balaam's Ass of her. Ye ken well
enough Balaam was ganging ane unluckie gate, and first the
Angel mett him in a broad way, and then the Ass bogled and
startled, but Balaam gote by the Angel, and till her and battand
her sufficiently; that was when Episcopacy came in, and then
they gave the Kirk of Scotland her paiks.
"Afterwards Balaam mett the Angel in a narrow gate, and shee
startled more than before; but Balaam till her againe, and whaked
her soundly; that was when the Fyve Articles of Perth were
brought in.
"The thrid time the Angel mett Balaam in sae strait a gate that
the Ass could not win by; and then it pleased the Lord to open
blind Balaam's eyes, and that is this happy dayes wark. Now
God has opened all our eyes; we were lyk blind Balaam ganging
ane unluckie gate, and ryding post to Rome; and what was goten
behind him upon the Ass, watt ye? Ile tell you, there was a
pockmanty. And what was in it, true ye? but the Book of
Cannons and Common Prayer, and the High Commission; but as
soon as the Ass sies the Angel, shee falls a flinging and a farting,
and oregangs the pockmanty; and it hings by the string on the
one syde, and aff gaes blind Balaam, and he hangs by the hough
on the other syde, and faine would the cairll [hae] been on the
sadle againe, and [h]a[e] been content to leave his pockmanty.
But, beloved, lett not the false swinger gett on againe, for if he
gett on againe, he will be sure to gett his pockmanty also."
Here, it will be observed, not only is the orthography largely
assimilated to the current English, but the words used are a
mixture of the literary tongue with the vernacular. The full
course of the change during the 17th century may be seen by
examining the Acts of the Scots Parliament during that period.
As a few data for the dialect of the Southern counties, I give the
following from the contemporary records of the Burgh of
"A.D. 1640. Whatsomevir person sall commit blud upon
utheris, within the freedom of the brughe, sal pay 5 pundis for
the blud, and 5 pundis for the bludwyte, efter tryal taken and
convict thereof be the Baylyeas, and aucht days in the stockis.
"1660. The haill counsellors being covened within the Tolbuith,
did all with ane voice statute and ordain, that every inhabitant
within the brughe sall have libertie to tur and theik, and sett ane
ladder in his neighbour's close or yaird where they cannot win to
tur and theik (cover with turf and thatch) and sett ladders on
thair awin ground.
"1686. The quhilk day, by appointment of the baylyeas W. P.
and D. H. being ordanit to search the meall markitt did after exact
tryell and search find George Trumbell in Dovshaugh to have
seidie and insufficient meale at the markitt the said day, being
about ane gouping of seids or thereby sifted out of ane pecke of
his fulle sacke, who compeirand came in the baylyea's will for
tenn pounds of fyne, and also for the pryse of the haill meall.
"1700. Wee, John Cochrane, ane old lame tall black man,
with some grey hairs in his head, lame in both elbows, and
having ane cutt in the brow, and James Anderson son to Adam
Anderson, scholemaster in the Canongate of Edinṛ, being about
16 years of age, of ane little stature, wanting ane ey — in respect
that they were apprehended on the 25th inst., being the fair day,
and imprisoned within the tolbuithe for alleat stealing of severall
goods and oy s, which were wanting in the said fair, and that as
the baylyeas has sett us at libertie out of the samen, therefore witt
ye us to have enacted ourselves, that we shall never in tyme
coming hereafter, be seen by night or by day wtin the brughe of
Hawicke and liberties yrof under the pain of being lyable to all
punishments that can be inflicted on us.
"1706. The baylyeas and Towne Counsell did enact that noe
burgess or other inhabitant should, in noe tyme coming heirafter,
att or before the fairs to be holden wtin the said brugh, merke or
sett down meiths for merchands, packmen, or pedders that lives
out of the liberties of the town, until they come themselfs and
take up yr stands the day before the fair, under a penaltie of tenn
pound Scotts and imprysonment dureing the bayleas will and
By such a gradual transition going on during the whole of the
17th century, and most active during its latter half, the written
language became, by 1707, identical with that of England. Here
and there a solitary archaic form survived a few years longer;
thus ane, the article before a consonant, is found lingering till
about 1720; but although in this and other respects the written
language might present Scotticisms, it was no longer in any sense
Scotch. It is not to be supposed, however, that the spoken
language had undergone a similar change, or that the writer of
even the last of the above specimens would have read it, as
it would have been read by a Southern Englishman. The difference
between the two pronunciations was nearly as great as
that between the English and Scotch pronunciation of Latin; at
the present day the reading of English in a country school in
Scotland is very different from the reading of English by a Londoner.
The sounds are meant to be the same, but a very
different conception of their value prevails in the two localities.
§ 18. The Lowland Scotch had now ceased to be used for ordinary
literary purposes, but it still remained as the common tongue
of the people; and in this third period of its history it experienced
a brilliant revival as the vehicle of ballad and lyric
poetry. In still more recent times Galt and Scott have led the
way in its copious use in prose works illustrative of Scottish life
and character — a path in which many successors have followed.
These productions of the third period are not, however, of exactly
the same value as witnesses to the contemporary spoken tongue of
the people, as were the old Scotch laws, the works of Barbour,
Henry, or Dunbar. They are more or less conventional representations.
To a greater or less extent they are almost all contaminated
with the influence of the literary English — the language
which their authors have been educated to write — whose rules of
grammatical inflection and construction they impose upon their
Scotch, to the corruption of the vernacular idiom. I have already
pointed out, p. 71, note — at the risk, perhaps, of being set down
as an unpardonable heretic, that "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace
bled," although composed of Scotch words, is not vernacular
Scotch, any more than "How you carry you?" as a translation of
"Comment vous portez-vous?" is vernacular English. Hundreds
of similar examples might be quoted from modern poets. The
vernacular introduced by Sir Walter Scott in his novels is much
more pure and genuine, though even he has at times been led
astray by unconscious deference to English grammar. Thus,
opening The Antiquary at chap. xxvi., I find Luckie Mucklebackit
saying, "Them that sells the guids, guide the purse; them that
guide the purse, rule the house," where sells is grammatical, but
guide (twice) and rule are Anglicisms, and would be guides, rules,
(geidz, rəulz) in the mouth of a native speaker, as well as in the
classical writers, when the vernacular was still the national literary
tongue. But where Scott and Burns have thus occasionally
Anglicised the native idiom, many other writers have done so systematically,
apparently looking upon the vernacular usage, where it
differs from that of literary English, as "bad grammar," or "ignorant
corruption,"¹ and it is hardly too much to adopt the phrase
of the author of the Cleveland Glossary, and say that their Scotch
is only "ordinary English in masquerade," and of about the same
value philologically as the snuff-shop Highlander is in ethnology.
In the matter of orthography, also, there exists no recognized
standard for the spelling of Modern Scotch, and the literary
productions of this period, in consequence, afford no manner
of insight into the actual pronunciation — that is, into the
living language — which they are supposed to represent. Amid
the general orthographic anarchy, two principal fashions may be
roughly distinguished as dividing the field. In the commoner of
the two, the standard English spelling forms the basis to
which the Scotch is conformed wherever possible. Words peculiarly
Northern, and wanting in the literary English, form, of
course, an exception, as do words of which the Northern form is
very different from the Southern, whether as regards the consonantal
skeleton, as streek for stretch, kirk for church, skart for
scratch, a' for all, or from the characteristic vowels being very
distinct, as sair for sore, wad for would, auld for old, ee for eye;
but in all other cases, where the sounds, though different, are near
to each other, no intimation is given of the dialectical difference.
The result of this treatment is that, to the eye, a piece of Lowland
¹ "Language is a natural production,
living and growing, as much as a tree
or flower; and no natural development
can be called a corruption. The only
corrupters of dialects, that I know of,
are the literary men who 'improve
nature,' by writing them, not as they
are, but according to their notions of
what they ought to be — i.e., in accordance
with "rules of grammar" derived
from other languages with which they
may be acquainted. As though grammar
were anything but a systematic
statement of usage! What would be
thought of the botanist who should
mutilate his specimens of flowers and
plants to improve their symmetry, or
make them fit into pre-arranged artificial
systems, instead of following
nature, and drawing his laws and systems
from her!" — Prince L. L. Bonaparte.

Scotch, so written, looks like literary English with a good many
apostrophes, a small per-centage of words not to be found in the
English Dictionary, and about the same number of idiomatic
phrases and grammatical constructions not recognized by the
literary tongue. To show that this is no fanciful statement, I
turn to Burns's Poems, and analyse two or three of the best known
and most national of his pieces, with the following results:— A
man's a man for a' that, contains 115 different words, of which
18 only do not occur as English. Duncan Gray cam here to
woo, the different words in which number 117, has 30, and Auld
Lang Syne, out of 80 words, has 24 which an English reader
would point out as Scotch. Scots wha hae, with 100 words, has
only 9 not English. The Death of Poor Mailie, an Unco Mournfu'
Tale, consisting of 461 words, has 71, or, including repetitions, 98
words not English, several differing only in the use of an apostrophe
for an elided letter.¹ And yet if a countryman of the
poet were to recite these poems to a Southern audience, it is not too
much to say that not more than three words in a hundred would
be heard as the same as the English words with which they are
identified in spelling. Hence the observation one so frequently
hears from Englishmen — "I can understand Burns's poems quite
well, when I read them; but I cannot follow you when you read
them." They read the words, spelled like their English equivalents,
as English; and three-fourths to nine-tenths of the words
being thus old friends, the context enables them to guess at the
meaning of any new faces. Doubtless, an orthography so largely
English renders Burns, or any other Scottish writer, more widely
intelligible and enjoyable. A Scotchman disregards the spelling,
and reads it in the dialect of his native district (sometimes as
distinct from that of Burns as that is from English); an Englishman
reads according to his conception of Scotch. The merits of
such a spelling for general purposes I do not question, pointing
only to the fact that the Scotch so written is not a witness to the
actual spoken dialects; it does not represent — as it does not
pretend to represent — the amount of difference, but rather to
¹ The following are the words in
question: A man's a man for that —
a', gowd, hamely, hoddin, gie, sae, o',
birkie, ca'd, wha, coof, mak, aboon,
guid, maunna, fa', gree, warld.
Duncan Gray — cam, o', fou, Maggie?,
coost, fu', asklent, unco, skeigh, gart,
abeigh, fleeched, craig, baith, grat, een,
bleer't, blin', spak, lowpin, owre, linn?,
sair, hizzie, gae, heal (=hale), sic,
could-na, smoord, crouse, canty.
Auld Lang Syne — auld, o', long,
syne, tak, twa, hae, braes?, pu'd,
gowans, monie, sin', paidl't, i', burn?,
frae, mornin', till (=to), braid, fiere,
gie, guid-willie, waught, pint-stoup.
Scots wha hae — wha, hae, wi', wham,
aften, o', sae, fa', sodger.
Poor Mailie — thegither, ae, cloot,
coost, owre, warsled, cam, doytin', wi',
glowering, een, near-hand, waes, na,
naething, spak, brak, woefu', muckle,
mair, o', ca', woo', kin', guid, gie, frae,
tods, fend, themsel, tent, teats, ripps,
gaets, wanrestfu, slaps, kail, forbears,
mony, bairns, greet, toop, havins,
winna, yowes, hame, no (=not), rin,
ither, mense-less, neist, yowie, gude,
forgather, ony, blastit, moop, mell,
thysel, lea'e, blessin', baith, upo',
mither, ane, anither, dinna, a', thou-s',
blether, amang.
show the maximum of likeness, between them and the usual
English. To the actual spoken language it bears precisely the
relation that is borne to Chaucer's English by a modernized
version of his writings, using the present English spelling,
except for obsolete words, or where prevented by the rhyme.
The other mode of writing Scotch consists in using the spelling
of the writers of the 15th and 16th centuries, without regard to
the question whether it represents the modern pronunciation, or
suits it better than any other. It is seldom used except when
accompanying an archaic diction, in that species of writing known
as the quasi-antique, as in some of the poems of the Ettrick
Shepherd; and in the absence of any correct notions of philology,
owing to which the language and orthography of far distant
periods have been jumbled together, and a very clumsy imitation
has passed muster as "old Scots," it has been employed to obtain
celebrity for modern ballads by passing them off as ancient compositions
— a species of literary fraud of which the modern period
of Scottish literature presents abundant instances.
§ 19. While neither of these modes of spelling shows the
great difference between the Northern and Southern utterance,
they also fail in sheaving the dialectical differences of pronunciation
which are now found in Scotland. It is customary to speak
of Scotch as one dialect (or language), whereas there are in
Scotland several distinct types, and numerous varieties of the
Northern tongue, differing from each other markedly in pronunciation,
and to some extent also in the vocabulary and grammar.
The dialects of adjacent districts pass into each other
with more or less of gradation, but those of remote districts
(say, for example, Buchan, Teviotdale, and Ayr) are at first
almost unintelligible to each other, and, even after practice has
made them mutually familiar, the misconception of individual
words and phrases leads to ludicrous misunderstandings.¹ Un¹
Once, on a pilgrimage to St. Mary's
Loch and the Grey Mere's Tail, I put
up for the night at the well-known
"Jenny o' Birkhill's," on the top of
the watershed between the streams
which fall into the German Ocean and
those that reach the Irish Sea. Some
"Wast-Cuintrie folk" were staying in
the house at the same time, and in the
morning I was awakened by the shrill
voice of a girl shouting behind my
door, "Mither! mither! — the wain's
walkin'!" My instinctive impulse was
to understand wain as waggon, and the
sentence as, "Mother! — the waggon's
walking, or moving off!" when the
voice of a child in an adjoining room
reminded me of wean — a word not in
ordinary use in our dialect, but familiar
enough in the writings of Burns,
where, however, I did not read wain
but ween, or weeän. The sentence
now became, "Mother! — baby's walking!"
Quite accidentally, I afterwards
found out that what I had heard
as walkin' was wauken — awake — and
that the information conveyed was
neither "the waggon is walking,"
nor "baby is taking its first toddle";
but "Mother! — baby is awake!" or,
as it would have been in Teviotdale,
"Muther! — the bairn's weäken!" I
smiled to think how I had been as
completely tripped up by a simple sentence
in a Scottish dialect, separated
from my own only by a ridge of hills,
as if it had been French or German. —
I have since found that a mistake, the
converse of mine, was made, under less
extenuating circumstances, by Pinkerdoubtedly
the interval of a hundred and fifty or two hundred
years that has elapsed since Scotch was a literary language,
used in the church and taught in the schools, is accountable, in
some degree, for this dialectical diversity; but this could at most
exaggerate existing differences, by giving full play to tendencies
which already existed, and whose causes must be sought in earlier
times and more remote conditions of things.
In examining the actual state of the Lowland Scottish dialects —
which even at the present day barely extend over one half of the
area of Scotland, the Gaelic, so far as actual acreage goes, still
being spoken over the larger half¹ — I have been led to arrange
them in three groups — a North-Eastern, a Central, and a Southern —
which may be further subdivided into eight minor divisions, or
sub-dialects. Of these, the North-Eastern group, embracing the
dialects north of the Tay, seems to fall into three sub-dialects —
those of Caithness, of Moray and Aberdeen, or the country between
the Grampians and Moray Firth, and of Angus, or the district
between the Grampians and the Tay. In the Central group are
the sub-dialects of Lothian and Fife, of Clydesdale, of Galloway
and Carrick, and of the Highland Border, extending from Stirling
and the Forth, between the Ochil, Lomond, and Sidlaw Hills, on
the one side, and the Gaelic frontier on the other, across the Tay,
toward the Braes of Angus. The Southern group is represented
only by the dialect of the Border Counties, extending from the
Tweed to the Solway, and from the Cheviots to the Locher Moss,
or, as the "South" country is described by Lyndesay ("Dreme,"
"Almoist betuix the Mors and Lowh-mabáne."
These divisions, being founded solely upon internal characteristics
of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary, have been
found, quite unexpectedly, to correspond with great political and
ethnical divisions made known to us by history. Thus we see in
the dialect of the Southern Counties (including Annandale, Eskdale,
Teviotdale, and Ettrick Forest) a direct descendant of the
ton, in his "Scottish Ballads" of 1783.
Among the poems given in that collection
is "Christis Kirk of the Grene,"
in which are the lines"Sum
strak with stings, sum gatherit
Sum fled and ill mischevit;
The menstral wan within twa wainis,
That day full Weil he previt,
For he cam hame with unbirst bainis,
Quhair fechtaris wer mischievit."
Wain is glossed by Pinkerton as "a
child"; so that the minstrel found
his safety from the stainis and straiks,
not in crouching between two waggons,
but between two children! — A South
Country friend, whose parents were
natives of Central Scotland, where ea
is still pronounced as ai, as in Shakspeare's
English, and the words pear,
bear, tear, wear, relates how he used,
when a boy, to be puzzled with the
expression, "We played — we played
with Thee," regularly used by his
father in conducting family devotions.
Why there should be so much said
about playing in the family prayers
was a mystery which was only cleared
up on revisiting the paternal home in
latter years, when the expression was
found to be, "We plead with Thee."
¹ For a complete account of the
present area of the Gaelic, as well as
of the dialectical divisions of the Lowland
tongue, see the Appendix.
old Northumbrian, whose annals have already been given. The
dialect of Lothian and the Forth Valley is the same language as
spoken on the Celtic frontier, and as subsequently cultivated at
the Court of Holyrood, Linlithgow, Dunfermline, and Stirling,
and used in those burghs which crowded both sides of the Forth,
and formed the seat of the national life of the Scotland of the
Stuarts. In the dialect of Clydesdale we have the same tongue,
as diffused some centuries later, among a people whose original
language had been British or Welsh, and who continued to be
known as Walenses or Bretts, long after Lothian was recognized
as a province of Saxonia or Engla-land. The dialect of Galloway
and Carrick represents an extension of the Teutonic speech over
an area occupied by the Ersch so late as the 16th century, and
still presenting abundant examples of a Scoto-Irish nomenclature.
The Teutonic tongue of Central Scotland is also a very recent intruder
upon the adjacent Celtic of the Highlands, which, as will
be seen in the sequel, is still retiring parish after parish before it.
The dialects of the North-East are interesting as occupying an
originally Pictish area, to which it is reasonable to attribute some
of their well-marked peculiarities, among the most prominent of
which are the pronunciation of wh as f, and of w, in some positions,
as v, as, faa fuppit the feyte fulpie (who whipped the white
whelpie), the vratch vras'lt wi' the vrycht tyll hys wryst gat a vrang
vranch (the wretch wrestled with the Wright till his wrist got a
wrong wrench). The peculiarly thin and narrow vocalization of
the language north of the Grampians — so different from the broad
and heavy vowels of central Scotland — may be connected with
the fact that a large number of the early Teutonic settlers here
consisted of Flemings, introduced by David I.¹ The Teutonic
¹ Dr. Leyden (Compl. of Scotland,
Edin., 1801, p. 347) attributes the
peculiarities of the North-eastern
dialect to a more recent connection
with the opposite coast of the continent.
"Along the east coast of Scotland
the fishermen are chiefly of
Flemish and Danish origin, and retain
many words of their respective languages.
They seem to have settled in
small colonies, at that later period of
Scotish history when the Scotish
nation was in habits of friendly intercourse
with Denmark and the Low
Countries. The broad Buchan dialect,
as it is termed, is of this origin instead
of Pictish extraction, and is spoken in
its utmost purity by the fishermen of
Fife and Angus, but particularly at
Buckhaven on the Forth, and Davoch
on the Cromarty Firth, where they
seldom intermarry with their neighbours."
The same view he afterwards
maintained, in replying to the strictures
of Pinkerton: — "Strange as
the opinion may be, there is no difficulty
of establishing it, both by an
appeal to historical documents, and by
the traditions of the people. But this
question is connected with the origination
and distinctions of the different
Scotish dialects — subjects which I intended
to have discussed in an additional
dissertation. An attentive examination
of the subject for that purpose
convinced me that there is no foundation
whatever for supposing the Scotish
language to be a dialect of the Icelandic
or Scano-Gothic, but that, on the contrary,
whether we regard the derivation
or the flection of words, it is more
closely allied to the Anglo-Saxon as a
mother tongue than is the English
itself. The English contains more
Danish or Icelandic words than the
Scotish. . . The Border and Western
dialects of the Scotish are almost
purely [Anglo] Saxon in their peculiar
dialect of Caithness, an isolated member of the North-Eastern
group, occupies a little corner of an area that was conquered and
colonised by the Northmen in the tenth century, the inhabitants
of which are, to some extent, of Scandinavian blood. The Norse
possessions extended, at times, far to the South; and Norse
topographical names are found along the east coast, beyond
the confines of the county which was to the Northmen emphatically
the Sutherland, or southern territory, as far as the head of
the Beauly Firth. But, as in the Western Isles, where the blood
is also partly Norse, the Celtic speedily regained its lost ground
in Ross and Sutherland. Hundreds of places with names ending
in -wick, -dale, -boll, -kirk, -land, -buster, or -bster, can be
pointed out, where Gaelic alone has been spoken for centuries.
Even of Caithness itself, fully one half the area is included within
the Gaelic line, and as the latter is now again receding before the
Lowland tongue, it is maintained by some that the entire county
was Celtic in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is certain that the
dialect of the portion which is now Teutonic presents few characteristics
which can be distinctly set down as Scandinavian, but
many which show the influence of the Gaelic. It is essentially
that of the North-eastern coast of Aberdeen and Moray, with f for
wh, but having also other characteristics of Celtic origin, such as
the substitution of the sound of sh for ch — shapel, shumlay, shin,
sheese, shilder — and the elision of initial th in the demonstrative
class of words — the, they, them, then, there, that, &c. — met with
elsewhere in semi-Celtic districts of Scotland and Ireland. (See
suprà pp. 26-27.)
§ 20. The following pages are devoted to the consideration of
the actual characteristics and historical relations of the dialect of
the Southern Counties — of the dales of the Teviot, the Esk, and the
Annan, the Ettrick and the Yarrow. The grammatical characteristics
of this dialect consist in the preservation of inflectional distinctions
which existed in the old Northern dialect of Hampole
and Barbour, but which are no longer known in other parts of
Scotland. In respect to these, the dialect of Lothian, as may be
anticipated, approaches it most closely, and has retained more of
these peculiarities than the more recently introduced dialects of
the North and West. Such is the distinction between meae and
vocables. The [North] eastern dialect
contains numerous Danish and
Flemish words, with a considerable
mixture of Celto-Gaelic."It is much
to be wished that Dr. Leyden had
written the dissertation referred to,
which would have done more for
Scottish philology than all the vagaries
of Pinkerton, Chalmers, and Jamieson.
It is doubtful whether as many words
of sense were written on the subject
during the next half century until
the remarks of Cosmo Innes in the
Introduction to his edition of the Bruce.
I rejoice to learn that the Rev. Walter
Gregor, of Pitsligo, Member of the
Philological Society, and author of the
valuable "Glossary of the Dialect of
Banffshire," published by the Society,
1867, has taken up the question of the
origin and history of the North-eastern
dialect, and promises to give to the
subject an investigation similar to what
is here given to that of the Southern
mair, the former being a plural, the latter a singular, form — meae
bairns, an mair tui gie them (more children, and more to give
them) — corresponding to the old Northern ma, mar, old Southern,
mo, more; but both now merged in the English more, and also
confused in other parts of Scotland as mair. The distinction is
also observed in the most northern counties of England, but I do
not find it mentioned in the Cleveland Glossary. A similar distinction
is made in the two forms aneuwch and aneuw, as in
aneuwch o' waitter, aneuw o' steanes (enough of water, enough of
stones), for which the old Southern writers had ynogh, ynow. In
the dialect of Burns both of these forms, which the old Scottish
writers distinguished, are confounded as een-yuch (palɶotype,¹
inJƎkh). The Northern plural demonstratives thyr and theae,
answering to the Southern these, those, older the, are unknown in
the dialects beyond the Grampians, where we hear thys byooks,
that scheen, for thyr buiks, theae schuin (these books, those shoes),
apparently after the Gaelic usage, in which sin, so, are both
singular and plural — an leabhar so, na leabhraichean so (this
book, these books); a' bhròg sin, na brògan sin (that shoe, those
shoes). A still more important distinction is that between the
gerund, or noun of action, and the participle, distinguished by
the old writers as synging, syngand, and still carefully separated
in pronunciation, as, the bairn was hyngand be the hyngings (dhə
bern wɐs Heqɐn bi dhə Heqinz), or
I've heard o' a liltin' at our yowes milkin'
The lasses a' liltan' afore the break o' day.
(aa•v hærd o ə leltin ɐt uur Jouz melkin
dhə lasiz aa leltɐn əfuu'r dhə brek ə dee.)
In the literary English the form in -ing had begun to be confounded
with that in -end or -inde as early as the 14th century, and
the latter is now quite lost. The other Scottish dialects have also
confounded the two forms since the 16th century, reid'n being
equivalent both to reidand and reiding. The distinction seems
now to be confined to the South of Scotland and most Northern
counties of England — the ancient kingdom of Bernicia.
Other points of the same kind will be noted in dealing with
the grammar. As regards the pronunciation, the most striking
peculiarity of this dialect consists in its using (like the Northern
English counties) the diphthongs, ey, uw, (Pal. ei, Ǝu), for the
simple vowels ee, oo — that is, where a native of the centre, west,
or north-east of Scotland says he, me, see, free, lee, dee, a Borderer
says, hey, mey, sey, frey, ley, dey, which may be compared with
the Dutch hij, mij, zij, vrij, &c. Similarly, for the final oo of the
others, this dialect uses the diphthong uw — yuw, cuw, duw, fuw
¹ A key to the Palæotype equivalents,
added within parentheses to skew the
pronunciation, will be found in the
section of this work dealing -with Pronunciation.

puw, for you, coo, doo, fu', pu'. Both peculiarities are expressed
in the well-known test-sentence, pronounced in Lothian as
Yoo an' mee 'll gyang uwr the duyke an' poo a pee,
which in this dialect is
Yuw an' mey 'll gang owre the deyke an' puw a pey —
i.e., You and I will go over the wall and pull a pea. Connected
with this is the further fact that where the sounds ey and uw occur
in other dialects, this dialect advances a step, and uses aiy, òw;
thus hay, may, clay, ewe, hollow, bowl, which in Edinburgh are
hey, mey, cley, yuw, huw, buwl, are here, haiy, maiy, claiy, yowe,
howe, bòwle, to distinguish them from hey, mey, yuw, huw, meaning
he, me, you, how. In illustration of this peculiarity, Mr. Ellis
(E. E. P., p. 307, note) tells of a school-inspector who, wishing
to get the sound of do out of a Hawick girl, without himself pronouncing
it, and unaware of the local pronunciation, asked her
what she called a pigeon. "A duw," replied she, completely
posing her questioner, who had expected the Central Scottish doo.
This uw comes near to the English ow in how, now, its first
element being the Scotch u in hut, dull; the ey also approaches the
English ī,, y, in my, die, its first element being the vowel in
yet, bless. This dialect also distinguishes in pronunciation
between the pairs, pail, pale; laid, lade; main, mane; maid,
made; sail, sale; beet, beat; feet, feat; heel, heal; peel, peal,
&c., which were still distinct in the English of the 17th century,
but are identified in sound in the modern literary tongue, as well
as in the Central Scottish dialects, in which, as early as 1500, the
two forms tha and thai (theae, thay) had begun to be confounded.
The diphthong oy, which in the centre of Scotland has sunk into
ey or uy, as in the English of the 17th and 18th centuries, and
the American "to strike yle," retains its full round pronunciation
in the Southern counties. Another peculiarity consists in the
pronunciation of the guttural ch, which, instead of being simple,
as in the German lachen, or the Gaelic mach, nochd, clachan,
becomes labialized or palatalized in accordance with the character
of the preceding vowel, producing peculiar combinations;
the labialized form at least is very unusual, and presents considerable
difficulty to the articulative organs of those unaccustomed
to it. The name Reuwch-heuwch-hauwch, (in palæotype, rəkwh-Həkwh-haakwh),
which comes very natural to a Teviotdale mouth,
is a "jaw-breaker" for an Englishman or a Northern Scot.
When viewed in relation to the regular course of phonetic
development, these modified gutturals, as well as the use of ey,
uw, for ee, oo, indicate a maturer or more advanced stage of pronunciation
than the simple sounds which they replace; a still
further development being indicated by the vocalization of the
guttural or its change into f, as in the English eight, plough,
enough. Their evidence thus agrees with the historical fact that
the Lowland tongue has been longer established in the country
south of the Forth than elsewhere in the north-east and west of
Scotland. It is a curious though well-substantiated philological
law, that the transplantation of a language into a new region gives
a check to its growth, and interrupts for a time its normal rate of
development; so that while the same dialect in its original home
continues to grow and change, in its new position it remains for
a longer or shorter period stationary at the stage at which it was
transplanted. The case is somewhat similar to that of the transplantation
of a tree, which takes some time to root itself in the
soil, and accommodate itself to its new position and new circumstances,
during which time there is no growth, and the plant consequently
falls much behind its congeners left in their native soil.
In truth, there are two tendencies observable in the case of a
transplanted language. One is that produced by contact with the
language which it supersedes, and which always. gives something
of itself to the new comer; the other is the conservative tendency,
produced by reaction against the contact, which strives to fix and
crystallize, as it were, the new tongue in its actual state. The
effect of both these influences is well seen in the English of
Ireland, which has borrowed much of its vocal modulation and
other characteristics from the native- Irish which it has supplanted,
but the main characters of which, when compared with
the English of England, are, that it is the English of the 17th century.
As Mr. Ellis has pointed out, whayte, taye, and gon or goŏn
— oo in book — (wheat, tea, gun), are not properly Irish; they are
17th century English — the English of the Tudor and Cromwellian
settlers. The notable instance of the ancient form of English
preserved in Forth and Bargy has already been considered (suprà
page 27). So also, according to the author of the Biglow Papers,
"the New Englander is nearer by a century, not only in habits
and modes of thought, but in language, to the Englishman of the
Commonwealth, than John Bull himself is. A person familiar
with the dialect of certain portions of Massachusetts will not fail
to recognize, in ordinary discourse, many words now noted in
English vocabularies as archaic, the greater part of which were in
common use about the time of the King James translation of the
Bible. Shakspeare stands less in need of a glossary, to most
New Englanders, than to many a native of the old country."
Now, the dialect of the Southern counties of Scotland is, as
we have seen, distinguished by its proneness to develop diphthongs
out of vowels which were originally simple in Anglo-Saxon,
and which remain simple in other Scottish dialects; while,
on the other hand, it retains a series of grammatical distinctions
characteristic of the old North Angle speech, which the others
have dropped, probably in imitation of the Ersch, Pictish, or
British idioms which preceded them. These facts indicate that
the Teutonic speech has in this district come less into peaceful
contact with pre-existent languages, and thus yielded less to their
influence, than the same dialect further west and north, and that,
having been longer established on the soil, it has, in its system of
sounds, received a fuller phonetic development here than elsewhere.
The transition is very marked in passing from Annandale
into Nithsdale, in Dumfriesshire, the yuw and mey, tweae, threy, and
fower of Annandale changing into the yoo, mee, twaa, three, and
fuwr of Galloway. We have already seen (suprà page 17) how
the topographical nomenclature undergoes a similar abrupt
change, as do, indeed, the personal surnames, the Galloway Macs
— like Mac William, Mac Robert, Mac Nichol, Mac Walter, Mac
Adam, Mac George, Mac Quhae, Mac Candlish — being alike
distinct from the Wilsons, Robsons, Nicksons, Watsons, Johnstons,
and Richardsons of the Borders, and the Highland Macs —
as Macdonald, Mackay, Maclean, Macgregor - of the North-west,
and reminding us rather of the Ap Roberts, Ap Jones, Ap Williams,
Ap Adams, Ap Rhys, Ap Richards, of Wales; and we
know that the Ersch was spoken in Galloway down to a very
recent period. The dialectical frontier is much less sharply
marked in passing from Roxburghshire into Lothian — a fact to
be accounted for by the consideration that the dialect of Lothian
and Fife became that of the Scottish Court and seats of learning,
and had, during the reign of the Stuarts, an artificial culture and
consequent ascendency over the other dialects, invading, displacing,
and overlapping them. There is no doubt that the
Southern Counties' dialect originally extended over the whole of
the lower basin of the Tweed south of the Lammer Moors and
Muir-foot Hills; but its most salient characteristics, especially
the diphthongal pronunciation, are now almost confined to Teviotdale,
the vales of the Ettrick and Yarrow, Upper Eskdale and
Annandale; and the Lothian pronunciation extends to Tweedside,
in the towns at least; so that yuw and mey are not now heard in
Galashiels, Melrose, or Kelso, and, even in Jedburgh and Hawick,
they are fast disappearing before railways, telegraphs, and metropolitan
fashions. A correspondent who knows the Border dialect
well,¹ in writing to me on this subject, says:— "The diphthongal
utterance of yuw and mey is of course Teviotdale, Oxnam, Jed Valley,
Bowmount. It is old Jedburgh, but I find it is being pressed
upon by the more pretentious pronunciation. I find I speak
broader than my own bairns, who ask me why I pronounce words
as I do." Another observer² writes, as to the limits of this dialect
on the north-east:— "I think Hawick and Jedburgh are the real
centres of the pronunciation of ee and oo referred to. Lauderdale
(in Berwickshire) is completely Lothian in pronunciation;
Melrose is largely so. Jedburgh is thoroughly Teviotdale, but
Kelso tends more towards the Lauderdale and Merse type of the
Lothian. The change from Jedburgh to Kelso is of course very
gradual; Jedburgh gives the rule for the parishes of Southdean,
Edgarston, Oxnam, Hownam, and, to a great extent, Morebattle
¹ Mr. John Hilson, sen., Jedburgh.
² Mr. James Tait, Editor of the Kelso Chronicle.
and Yetholm, till it gets a tinge of the Northumberland burr.
It is remarkable, however, how well defined are the limits of the
burr, much more so than of any other dialectic form."In the central
valley of Berwickshire ² the Howe of the Merse — ch is curiously
pronounced as sh, as we have also found it in Caithness, reminding
us of the Cambridge MS. of Chaucer (Gg. 4, 27),¹ with its schyn,
schaunce, schaunged, schastite, schosyn, schurch, and the West
Midland Anturs of Arthur (Camden Soc., 1842), with its schayer,
chair, schapelle, chapel, schimnay, "the schaft and the shol, shaturt
to the shin," the chaft (or jaw) and the jowl chattered to the chin.
This dialectical peculiarity, moreover, furnishes a living analogue
to the change of the French ch from its mediæval sound of tch to
the modern sh. Thus the Latin caballus, canto, causa, campus,
became first palatalized into kyaval, kyaute, kyose, kyamp, then,
as in English, softened into cheval, chante, chose, champ (the
old Norman pronunciation), and finally, in modern times, weakened
into sheval, shante, shose, shamp. Compare kirk, kyirky',
cherch, shursh.² The correspondent last quoted thus refers to this
peculiarity:— "The sheese pronunciation seems to be strictly confined
to Chirnside and its neighbourhood; and you have doubtless
heard the phrase, 'There's as guid sheese i' Shirset as was ever
shouwed wi' shafts' — i.e., 'There's as good cheese in Chirnside as
was ever chewed with chafts (jaw-blades)."³ With regard to the
north-western frontier of the Southern Counties' dialect, I have
been favoured with some notes by Mr. George Lewis, in which he
says:— "When I came to Selkirk, twenty-five years ago, the pronunciation
of me, you, see, tea, and all that class of words was, mey,
yuw, sey, tey, almost universally among the natives; but now,
from the influx of strangers, the bringing of people more into
intercourse with each other, and such like causes, the pronunciation
has been greatly modified, as in Galashiels and Melrose, to
which you refer. I should say the railway has had a good deal
to do in effecting this change. As to the vales of Ettrick and
Yarrow, the old dialect remains in them pretty much the same as
it was, although doubtless somewhat modified in consequence of
the change that has taken place among the Selkirk folks — the
process being, however, as may be supposed, very much slower.
These vales, as well as the other country districts of Selkirkshire,
¹ Mr. Furnivall's Temporary Preface
to the Six-text Edition of the Canterbury
Tales, p. 57.
² A story is told of a country school
in the district where the peculiarity
was so disagreeably apparent in the
English reading, that the Presbyterial
Committee, at the close of their annual
"examination," felt it their duty
mildly to call the teacher's attention to
the point. The latter replied, with
considerable agitation, that no one
could be more sensible of the fault
than he was himself; that his efforts
were constantly directed to its eradication;
and that, if still heard, he could
assure the Committee that it was not
for want of continual shecking on his
³ I happened to quote this phrase to
an eminent Scottish scholar, asking
him if he understood it. He "supposed"
it meant, "There's as good
shoes in Shirset as were ever shew'd
(sewed) with shafts — whatever kind of
implements the latter might be"!
must still be included among those using the Teviotdale pronunciation,
although, I should say, not quite so emphatically as
do the people in and around Hawick."
South of the Tweed and Cheviots, a dialect closely akin to that
of Teviotdale and Dumfriesshire extends far into England, over
the whole of the ancient kingdom of Bernicia. The diphthongal
sound in mey and yuw is strongly marked in Tynedale. The distinction
between such forms as maid, made, is made as far south
as Yorkshire; the sound in the latter word, which on the Scottish
side is meade, with a slight glide in the ea, becomes, in Cumberland,
Westmoreland, and Cleveland, meead, or almost m'yaid,
m'yed, m'yad. In the Danish parts of the North of England the
change of the article into t', as t'man, t'titter oohp cô t'udther (the
earlier up call the other), I sah t'yare, an' it ran oohp t' ill, doon
t' olio, an' throo t'og-wol (I saw the hare, and it ran up the hill,
down the hollow, and through the hog-hole), introduces an element
of diversity; but this is not heard in the non-Danish
Northumberland and Northern Cumberland, where the full the, or
at least th', is used.¹ But the long a, which in Scotland is always
broad, so as to be heard by Englishmen generally as aw, is in the
North of England long and slender ah, as in path, ask. Compare
the Scotch gaan' (pal. gaan, gaahn), almost gawn, with the
Northumberland gāhn (pal. gaahn, gææn). The Northumbrian
burr, or r grasséyé, seems to be a compromise between the Northern
trilled r, used in Scotland, and the smooth r of England; the
Northumbrian, endeavouring at once to retain the consonantal
character of the r, and to avoid the tip-tongue-trill, exaggerates
the final English r in air, oar, produced by a gentle and almost
inappreciable tremor of the tongue, into a rough vibration of the
soft palate. The sound is more advanced than the Arabic grhain,
and, in a softer form, is common in French and German. Any one
who will pronounce forcibly the Parisian r in Paris, may produce
the Northumberland burr, or, as it is called at home, the crhoup
(krup). As has been hinted above, the Northern limits of the
burr are very sharply defined, there being no transitional sound
¹ The line dividing the the dialects
on the north from the t', or more
Danish dialects on the south, runs
from Allonby on the Solway eastward
by Aspatria, Brocklebank Fells, Schergham,
and Croglin to Black Law Fells;
south by that range to Cross Fell; east
by the watershed of the South Tyne
and Tees to the county of Durham, and
so on by the northern watershed of
Weardale, as far as Stanhope, after
which it crosses to the south side of
the Wear, and apparently loses itself
in the mining district between the
Wear and Tees, where, on account of
the mixed and fluctuating nature of the
population, no definite line can now be
laid down. But while in Upper Wear-dale,
the article is regularly t', as in
Central Cumberland and Westmoreland;
in and about Wolsingham,
Bishop's Auckland, Durham, and Sunderland,
it is the, as in Northumberland
and North Cumberland, or the
ancient territory of Bernicia. South
of the Tees, "the article t' is of continual,
almost exclusive, occurrence in
Cleveland," as well as in the various
other dialects of Yorkshire and North
Lancashire, formerly included in Deira
or Danish Northumbria.
between it and the Scotch r. From Carham eastwards, the
boundary follows the Tweed, which it leaves, however, to include
the town and liberties of Berwick, which in this, as in other
respects, now adheres to the Southern in preference to its own
side of the Tweed. Along the line of the Cheviots, the Scotch r
has driven the burr a few miles back, perhaps because many of
the farmers and shepherds are of Scottish origin. In the vale of
the Reed we suddenly enter the crhoup country in the neighbourhood
of Otterburn (Otohr-bohrn). In Cumberland, Westmoreland,
and the rest of the North Angle area, the r is now pronounced
as in other parts of England.
The greatest of the phonetic differences between the language
north and south of the Cheviots is the suppression by the latter
of the guttural sounds — a change of such recent date as to have
taken place within living memory. For the record of this interesting
fact we are indebted to the venerable Professor Sedgwick,
who, in a little work full of affectionate memories of his native
North (A Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel, with a
Preface, and Appendix on the Climate, History, and Dialects of
Dent, by Adam Sedgwick, LL.D., Senior Fellow of Trinity
College, and Professor of Geology in the University of Cambridge.
Cambridge, 1868), printed for private circulation, thus describes
this among other changes which have come over the Northern
speech during his long lifetime of eighty years:—
"The suppression of the guttural sounds is, I think, the greatest
of all the modern changes in the spoken language of the Northern
Counties. Every syllable which has a vowel or diphthong followed
by gh was once the symbol of a guttural sound; and I
remember the day when all the old men in the Dales sounded
such words as sigh, night, sight, &c., with a gentle guttural
breathing; and many other words, such as trough, rough, tough,
had their utterance each in a grand sonorous guttural. The former
of these sounds seemed partly to come from the palate, the latter
from the chest. Both were aspirated and articulate, and differed
entirely from the natural and simple vocal sounds of the guttural
vowels â, ô (aa, AA). All the old people who remember the contested
elections of Westmoreland must have heard, in the dales of
that county, the deep guttural thunder in which the name Harry
Brougham was reverberated among the mountains. But we no
longer hear the first syllable of Brougham sounded from the
caverns of the chest — thereby at once reminding us of our grand
Northern ancestry, and of an ancient Fortress, of which Brough
was the written symbol. The sound first fell down to Bruffham,
but that was too vigorous for the nerves of modern ears; and then
fell, lower still, into the monosyllabic broom — an implement of
servile use. We may polish and soften our language by this
smoothing process, yet in so doing we are forgetting the tongue of
our fathers, and, like degenerate children, we are cutting ourselves
off from true sympathy with our great Northern progenitors, and
depriving our spoken language of a goodly part of its variety of
form and grandeur of expression." — pp. 103-4.
Here we have a distinct recognition of the labialized and
palatalized gutturals still existing on the Scottish side of the
Border, where Brough and Brougham are pronounced Bruwch
and Bruwcham. In Cumberland and Westmoreland, since the
suppression of the guttural, ich has fallen into ēē, eych into êy,
auwch into aff, owch into òw, uwch into ūff or ū, euwch into eü,
giving leet, neet, feyte, laff, buwt, Brūff, Broohm, eneawf, for
light, night, fight, laugh, bought, Burgh or Brough, Brougham,
enough. The effect has been to make the close connection between
the dialects north and south of the Border line much less apparent
than it was two generations ago.¹
The foregoing view of the history and fortunes of the Northern
dialect may be summed up as follows:—
1. The language of the Angles of the Northan-hymbra-land
differed ab initio from that of the Saxons of the South — the
tongue of Ælfred and Ælfric — which, following the fortunes
of the monarchs of Wessex, became the standard or "classical"
form of the Anglo-Saxon. The Northern dialect had, both in its
phonology and grammatical inflections, a closer relationship with
the Frisian and Scandinavian branches of the Teutonic family.
2. The original seat of the North Angle dialect was the district
between the Tyne and the Forth, of which Bamborough, near the
Tweed mouth, was the royal centre; thence it extended southwards
and westwards to the Humber and the Irish Sea, and eventually
northwards and westwards, over the ancient Pictland
beyond the Forth, Strath Clyde, and Galloway.
¹ I have written down the modern
South Cumberland and Westmoreland
forms of the following words, having
originally a guttural sound, from the
pronunciation of Mr. John E. Thompson,
a native of the neighbourhood of
Kirkby-Stephen. Along with them I
give the Central Scottish and the
Southern Scottish forms, making a
series which shews the transition from
the pure guttural through the modified
varieties to the vocalized and f sounds
of the North English. For the sake of
greater precision, all are given in Palæotype.
Thigh, high, nigh, drigh (old
Eng.), 1. Centr. Sc. (thii, hikh hii, nii,
drikh); 2. South. Sc. (thei, hekjh hei,
drekjh); 3. S. Cumb. and Westm. (thii,
hii, nii, drii) — light, night, sight, right,
height, 1. (lekht, nekht, sekht, rekht,
hekht; 2. lekjht, nekjht, sekjht, rekjht,
hekjht); 3. (liit, niit, siit, riit, hiit) —
might,fight, weight, weigh. 1. (mekht,
fEkht, wEkht, wii); 2. (mekjht,
fækjht, wækjht, wei); 3. (meeit, feeit,
weeit, weei) — eight, straight, low. 1.
(Ekht ekht aakht, strEkht straakht,
leekh laa); 2. (ækjht aakwht, strækjht
straakwht, leekwh loo); 3. (eeit,
strek, laa) — laugh, draught, taught.
1. (laakh, draakht, taakht); 2. (laakwh,
draakwht, taakwht); 3. laf, draut,
taut) — daughter, bought, sought,
thought, wrought, nought, ought,
drought. 1. dakhtər dokhtər, bokht,
sokht, thokht, rokht, noklit, okht,
druth); 2. (daakwhtər dokwhtər,
bokwht, sokwht, thokwht, w'rokwht,
nokwht, sokwht, druth); 3. (dƎut'r,
bƎut, sƎut, thƎut, rƎwt, nƎut, Ǝut,
drƎut) — cough, trough, slough. 1. (kokh,
trokh, slokh); 2. kokwh, trokwh,
slokwh); 3. (kof, trof, slof) — rough,
through (a flat tomb-stone), Brough,
Brougham, tough, enough. 1. (rƎkh,
thrƎkh, brƎkh, brƎkhəm,tjƎkh,inJƎkh);
2. (rƎkwh, thrƎkwh, brƎkwh, brEkwhəm,
təkwh, anəkwh); 3. (ruf, thruf,
bruf, tuf, bruu'm bruum, əniəf ənjəf)
— plough, though, 1. (plukh pluu pjukh
pjuu, thoo); 2. (pləkwh pləu, thoo); 3. (pluu, dhoo).
3. At the political division of the Northan-hymbra-land between
England and Scotland, the "Inglis of the Northin lede" was still
written as one language from Doncaster to Aberdeen.
4. It is still most typically represented within the ancient
limits of Bernicia — the Forth, the Solway, and the Tyne; the
language south of the Tyne having been greatly affected by the
Norse of the Denalagu, and, in later times, by the literary Midland
English, while that of the West and North-east of Scotland has
been modified by the Gaelic and Cymric dialects which slowly
receded before it.
5. Within this restricted area, the Northern English, having
become in Lothian the language of the Scottish Court and seats
of learning, and received an artificial culture, has changed considerably
from the original type as found in the Early Scottish
writers; while south of the Scottish Border it has lost the original
gutturals, and otherwise yielded to the English of literature,
leaving the speech of the intervening district between the Tweed
and Cheviots, extending north of the Solway as far west as the
vicinity of Ruthwell, as the least changed representative of the
ancient tongue of Cædmon, Cuthbert and Beda, and the Northern
writers of the 13th and 14th centuries.
To the speech of this district, as already stated, the following
phonetic and grammatical observations specially apply. It is,
as spoken in Upper Teviotdale, my native dialect, of which,
therefore, I can speak with perfect confidence, and as to which
I am a competent witness. I have endeavoured to shew, as
fully as possible, its direct relationship to the literary Northern
dialect of the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, the grammatical
forms and phraseology of which it preserves to a great extent
unaltered, and upon which, I think, it is fitted to throw great
light, and correct many misconceptions inseparable from the
estimation of a language or dialect by its literary remains alone.
At the same time the attempt is made to indicate wherein it agrees
with or differs from the other Scottish and North English dialects,
wherein its forms and usages may be taken as typical, and
wherein they are exceptional. Of this, of course, I cannot be a
witness to the same extent; and I cannot hope to escape what
scarcely any writer upon local dialects, so far as I have seen, has yet
escaped — the twin faults of assuming as local or peculiar what is
really general or widespread, and of accepting as generally known,
and therefore passing by, that which is really peculiar, though
familiar to himself. The Anglo-Saxon dialects of England and
Scotland individually must be studied and described much more
minutely than has yet been done before their Comparative Philology,
and the historical relations which it illustrates, can be
satisfactorily discussed. I earnestly desire to see a native student
in each dialectical district of Scotland subject the popular tongue
of his locality to such an investigation as I have attempted to give
to that of the Southern Counties. The possession of so valuable
an instrument for registering the varieties of pronunciation as the
Visible Speech of Mr. A. Melville Bell, to which Mr. Ellis has
adapted his Palæotype and Glossotype,¹ so that the ordinary
Roman alphabet can be used to express all the Visible Speech
symbols (without, of course, indicating their organic formation or
relations to each other, as is pictorially done by Mr. Melville
Bell's great invention), ought to render the treatment of this
department of dialectical study as precise and intelligible as it has
hitherto been vague and unsatisfactory. It is a matter of deep
regret that nine-tenths of what has been written in or on the
dialects is, for philological purposes, positively useless, from the
want of any clear explanation — often of any explanation whatever
— of the values which the writers have attached to the combinations
of letters employed by them. Only those who have gone
into the subject, and endeavoured to learn something as to the
living words thus symbolized by dead letters, can have any idea
of the sort of infatuation which possesses writers, that because
certain letters seem to them the fittest spelling of a particular
sound, the same sound will, without any explanation, be suggested
to their readers by those letters. It cannot too often or too
loudly be repeated that words are combinations of sounds, not
strings of letters, and that to attempt to describe an unknown language
or an unknown dialect by spelling its words in such and such
a manner, without rigidly defining the values attached to the letters,
is as futile as it would be to represent to us a landscape with its
various parts not only uncoloured, but labelled with the names of
their diverse hues and shades in an unknown tongue. With a
conviction of the importance of a full description of the pronunciation,
I have gone into that part of the work at length, explaining
every sound, and elementary combination of sounds, by a
reference to the Visible Speech Alphabet, which, being a natural
standard, the points of which are fixed like the freezing and
boiling points of the thermometer, or the length of a pendulum
beating seconds at sea-level, and can at any time be verified by
actual experiment, is thus fitted to convey across any distance or
lapse of time the precise quality of every phonetic element. Mr.
Ellis's inquiry into the history of Early English Pronunciation
shows how much the restoration of past stages of the language is
aided by what has been already done for the phonology of the existing
dialects; — how much greater would the aid have been if all
the varieties of pronunciation in use were faithfully noted! It
would be of special service to northern philology to have an edition
of Jamieson's Dictionary with the pronunciation marked; or,
rather, what is wanted is a Dictionary founded upon Jamieson's,
¹ The Palæotype is founded upon
the original values of the Roman
letters, and is thus a historical system;
the Glossotype is founded upon modern
literary English analogies, and is especially
intended for writing the English
dialects so as to show their relations to
the standard idiom.
but embracing the Northern dialect as a whole, and not merely
that fragment of it used in Scotland, concerning the character and
relations of which Jamieson did so much to create a false notion,
by calling it the "Scottish Language." Such a Dictionary ought
to be more than a mere register of spellings, which give often
most imperfect ideas of the actual words; it ought to give, after
the various historical modes of writing, the actual pronunciation of
each word in the various dialects. Thus the interrogative pronoun
would appear under the historical forms, hwa, hua, qua, quha, qwha,
quhay, wha, whay, whae, with the modern dialectical forms —
Caithness fhaa, North-eastern faa, fae, Clydesdale whaa, whau,
Lothian whaa, whae, Teviotdale wheae, quheae, Cumb. and Westm.
wheea, Lonsdale whāā, Shields whee or wee, other dialects of North
of England wheya, weya, &c. This result might be attained by a
local worker in each dialectical district taking a copy of Jamieson
and marking all the words which are in use in his dialect, adding
any that are wanting, and noting, in the margin, the local pronunciation
in palæotype, or any other systematic orthography which
could be referred to a natural standard. By this means we
should obtain a Dictionary of the Northern speech worthy of the
name. The dialectical specimens appended to the present work,
which have been written down from the dictation of natives of
different districts, are given as suggestions of what might be done
in this direction, as well as illustrations of the division of the
Scottish dialects proposed above (p. 78).
NOTE. — In the extracts from the Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, given at page
39, I failed to remark that these do not exist in contemporary documents, but in
transcripts made from the originals at a later period, a fact which accounts for the
appearance in these extracts of some Middle-Scottish forms, as speidfull, gait,
meir, peiss, aitis, haif. Contemporary fragments do exist of date 1389 and 1398,
of which, as the oldest known documents in the vernacular, handing down to us
the language as actually written in the days of Barbour, a specimen may be here
Libor de Melros, No. 480, A.D. 1389. — Robert Erle of ffyf & of Menteth, Wardane
& Chambirlayn of Scotland to þe Custumers of Þe Grete Custume of þe
Burows of Edynburgh, hadyntoun, and Dunbarre, greting: ffor-qwhy Þat of gude
memore Dauid kyng qwhilom of Scotland, þat god assoillie, with his chartir vndre
his grete sele has gyvin to Þe Religiouss men þe Abbot & þe Conuent of Meuros, &
to þair successours for euer mare, frely, all þe Custume of all þair wollys, als wele
of Þair awin growing as of þair tendys of þair kyrkes, as it apperis be þe forsaid
Chartir confermyt be our mast souereigne and doubtit Lorde and fadre, our lorde
þe kyng of Scotland Robert þat now ys, wyth his grete Sele: To yow ioyntly and
seuerailly be þe tenour of þis lettre fermely. We bid & commandes, þat þe forsaid
wollys at your Portis — þir lettres sene, þe qwilk lettres yhe delyuer to þaim
again — yhe suffre to be shippit, & frely to passe with outyn ony askyng or takyng
of Custume, or ony obstacle or lettyng in ony point, eftir as þe tenour of þe forsaides
chartir and confirmacioun plenely askis and purportis. In wytnesse here of,
to þis lettre, We haue put our Sele at Edynburgh þe xxvj day of Maij, þe yhere
of god Mill.ccc iiijXX and nyne.
Act of Robert III., 27 January, 1398. — It is ordanyt þat þar be raysit a general
contribucion of ijm pound of þe monay now rynnande (i.e. current), for commoun
nedis of þe kynrike & þe commoun profyte. þat is to say. Þe message & þe treteis
to be send in france & in Ingland, as is befor sayde, To þe qwhilkis to be sped, pe
clergie at pis tyme has grauntit, as it may cum to þair parte, with protestacions
vnderwrytin, at is to say, þat it ryn nocht to þe clergy in preiudice in tyme to
cum, na hurtyng of fredome of haly-kirk, and it be raysit be ministeris of halykirke,
sua þat þe kyngis officeris na na seculeris entirmit þaim in þe raysing of
it. And at þe said contribucyon be raysit of all gudis, catale, & landys, alswele
demayn as oþer landis. Owtane qwhite schepe, Rydin hors, & drawyn oxin.
Alsua þe burges sal pay to þat ilke contribucyon of Þair gudis — alswele beyhond
Þe see as on þis side — & of all other gudis, þe saidis burges makand protestacyon
þat Þai be kepit in þair fredomes, & at þai pay nocht for custume of wol, hydis,
na skynnis, atour þe som þat þai war wont to pay in þe tyme of gude memore
kyng Robert at last deft, And at þai be fre fin all maner of imposicyon set apon
þe saummondis. With Þere protestacions, at þe lach (i.e. law) be haldyn þaim
as is before said, þe thre communiteƺ has grauntit contribucion, & for to resaue
Þe taxt of þe forsaid contribucion, þare sal be at perth þe thursday next efter
paske thre deputis of ilkane of þe thre estatis, for to set apon þe taxt þe yhelde
þat salbe raysit.
Item, it is ordanyt þat þe statute made at Perth in Auril þat last wes, touchande
þe paying of custume of Inglis clath brocht in þe lande, & Scottis clath,
salt, flesche, gresche, buter, hors, & nowte, had out of þe land, sal be payit as it
wes ordanyt in þe forsaid counsail.
IN comparing cognate words in kindred languages or dialects,
the chief differences which present themselves to our notice concern
the vowels; even in idioms which have been long severed
from each other, and have had quite different histories, the consonantal
skeleton of such words is found to remain more or less
identical. We may see this in comparing Hebrew, Arabic, and
Aramaic; Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French; German
and Dutch; Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English.¹ In the
case of dialects so closely related as the various forms of the
Teutonic speech, once written and still spoken in the British
Isles, this obtains, of course, much more strongly; and the
points which distinguish from each other the literary or Standard
English, the English of Dorset, of Norfolk, of Yorkshire, of
Cumberland, the Lowland tongue of Teviotdale, of Ayr, of Fife,
and of Aberdeen, are, not indeed exclusively, but at least, to a
very great extent, vowel differences. The only consonantal element
present in the Lowland Scotch, and wanting in the English,
is the guttural in nicht, lauch (the existence of which, however,
in the Standard English, is a much more recent matter than is
generally supposed). If to this we add a stronger and more
archaic utterance of R, WH, and H; the use of the original K
and SK for the derived CH and SH; the occasional interchange
of S and SH; a different treatment of many consonantal combinations,
by the transposition of their elements, the utterance of
both where the literary English has allowed one to become silent
(as in WR, KN, initial), or the dropping of one where the
literary tongue preserves both (as in MB, ND, NG, PT, KT,
final); and the diverse treatment of the liquid L, — we sum up the
leading differences in the articulate framework of words common
¹ Compare Lat. MoRTua, Ital. MuoRTa,
Span. MueRTa, Portug. MoRTa,
French MoRTe, Germ. HaBBeN Sie
eiN BuCH, Dutch HeBBeN Zij eeN
BoeK, Germ. STeiN, Dutch STeeN,
Frisian STiëN, Dan. STeeN, Swedish
STeN, Icel. STeiNN, Aqs. STáN,
STæN, Old Eng. SToaN, STooN, Eng.
SToNe, dialectically STowN, SToäN,
STooiN, STooaN, STwoNe; STeeaN,
STayaN, STeyaN, STyaN, STeaNe,
STaNe, STehN, STeeN.
to the Scottish and North English dialects with the literary
English. But when we proceed to compare the vowel sounds —
the breath of life by which these same "articulate-skeletons" are
converted into living words — we find on every hand differences
and contrasts. Not only are the vowel sounds in corresponding
words, e.g. in book — buik, stone — steane, would — wald, different
vowels, but the vowel system of the dialect as a whole is not the
English vowel system. The two may run parallel with each
other, — as all vowel systems must do, while human organs of
utterance continue the same, — each may have its a, e, i, o, u, as
the other has, but the sounds naturally or habitually associated
with the symbols a, e, i, o, u in the one, are not those associated
with them by the mouth and ears of a speaker of the other. In
point of fact, there are scarcely any elements phonetically identical
in the two systems; almost every vowel recognized in the one
differs to some extent, either in quantity or quality, from the
nearest vowel sound in the other, and though each distinction
may seem in itself a slight one, their sum is sufficient to give a
very marked character of difference to the language as a whole.
(Compare the effect of a mere quantitative change, as in the
Scotch feit, heil, deip, for the English feet, heel, deep; or an
equally minute change of vowel quality, in the Scotch ceitie,
suffeicient, compared with the English city, sufficient). The practical
effect of this difference is much increased by the fact that
the sounds which are phonetically nearest in the two idioms are
not those which are etymologically most closely related, for here,
as elsewhere, "strangers walk as friends, and friends as strangers."
For example, the nearest Scotch sound to the English long ō, in
stone, bone, home, is the o in store or woa! But the Scotch form
of these words is not therefore stoan, boan, hoam: that is indeed
the Scotch English, the pronunciation with which these words
are usually read as English, — but the Scotch is (in the southern
counties) steane, beane, heame. The Scotch uw and ow in huw,
gowpin, are not far from the English ou, ow, in about, power;
but the Scotch is not therefore abuwt, puwr, or abowt, powr, but
aboot, poor. With similar results we might examine the other
vowel sounds.
Moreover, the effect of accent or vocal stress comes to increase
and exaggerate these differences. I do not here refer to what is
commonly meant by "the Scotch accent," "the French accent,"
etc., i.e. the modulation or intonation of sentences, the general
key of the voice and its inflections. That is indeed a great and
patent distinction, which, although the most volatile and intangible,
is yet the most tenacious and ineradicable characteristic
of a dialect, lingering, and even surviving in full vigour, after
every point of verbal distinction, or mere vowel difference, has
long passed away. "This accent," the author of English Pronunciation
has remarked in an earlier work,¹ "does not lie merely
¹ Essentials of Phonetics, London, 1848, p. 80.
in the pronunciation of individual words, but in the peculiar mode
of intonating whole sentences. A Frenchman, a German, an
Italian and an Englishman, would read a sentence, having precisely
the same meaning, in a totally different succession of tones,
setting it, so to speak, to a different air. There is hardly any
part of a foreign language which is so difficult to acquire, and yet
hardly any in which failure is more likely to excite ridicule . . . .
But in the great majority of cases, the difference is too fine for
symbolisation, and must be left to a loose description, or a mere
indication, as, 'with an Irish brogue, a Scotch drawl or rising
inflection, with an American nasal twang, with a French accent,'
and so on."So little attention has hitherto been given to the
whole subject of vocal modulation, and vocal gymnastics, in connection
with ordinary reading and speech, that such a loose
description as that referred to is still almost all that either
writers or readers are prepared for. But a careful investigation
of the subject by Mr. A. Melville Bell has shown that the
peculiar modulation or "accent" of any language depends
usually upon a simple repetition of the same series of tones with
a variety of pitch, and that the writing of these dialectic tunes is
thus comparatively easy, as will also be their reading, when a
little elementary training in the principles of vocal modulation
shall have become an essential part of ordinary education.1
1 Dialectic tunes depend principally
on relative pitch of elementary vocal
inflexions, distinguished as Simple Rise,
Simple Fall, Compound Rise, Compound
Fall, Rising Double Wave.
These five tones, with two varieties of
pitch, constitute the "gamut of speaking
tones" designed by Mr. A. Melville
Bell. By means of this gamut and
a few modifying signs the author states
that any variety of phraseological melody
may be exhibited to the eye with such
approximate accuracy as to be reproduced
from the writing by those who
have mastered the elements of the
scale. The essential characteristic of
relative pitch is very simply indicated
by placing the five elementary signs
above or below the syllables to which
they refer. In Mr. Melville Bell's most
recent development of the gamut a
further distinction is shewn in connection
with pre-accentual tones, which
affect the expressiveness of the accentual
inflexions by being turned towards,
or from the pitch of the accent. The
following analysis of the gamut has
been tabulated for us by Mr. Bell:—
But, what I now refer to, is the effect of syllabic accent or
emphasis, in sharpening the accented, and dulling, or obscuring,
the unaccented parts of a word, so that the same letters, and even
the same word, have quite a different sound when unaccented from
that which they have when accented. Even in English we are
familiar with this effect of the presence or absence of accent, in
comparing manly and horseman, body and nobody, age and non-age,
dayly and Monday, fullness and nestful, day-school and school-day,
tea and guinea. But in the Scotch dialects the principle
extends much farther, so that all vowels, when final in syllables,
if not under an accent primary or secondary, lose their
own sound, and assume an obscure or neutral quality. While,
therefore, every English long vowel can also occur brief, i.e.
short in an open syllable, as in re-cover, Monday, outlaw, grotto,
cornu-copia, so that we have pairs of long and brief vowels; in
some of the Scotch dialects there seems to be only one, in others,
including that of the Southern counties, two such brief vowels,
into one or other of which all the others fall when unaccented.
On the other hand, every long vowel in Scotch can also be
stopped (that is, abruptly closed by the following consonant, as
in băt-tle, not bā-ttle,) without change of vowel quality, so that
in Scotch we have pairs of long and stopped vowels. But in
English, apparently, none of the long vowels occurs stopped, or
shortened in quantity, without also changing its quality, so that
the 'long' and `stopped,' or 'closed,' vowels do not form
pairs. Thus the a in pat is not the short of the a in pale, nor
of the a in pass, in palm, or in pall. From each and all of
these long a's it differs in quality as well as quantity, while a
long vowel agreeing with it in quality is not used in the Standard
English. In the same way the o in lot is not the short of
the o in lo, nor the oo in book of the oo in boon. But in Scotch
the a in màn is the short of the aa in daar, the o in nòt of the
oa in road, the oo in stook of the oo in stoor. Now, from the
difficulty which people experience in realizing or identifying even
a familiar sound, under conditions of accent or quantity different
from those which they have been accustomed to associate with it,
these two methods of treating short and unaccented vowels result
in a great practical difference in actual speech. Thus, comparing
the Standard English and the Scotch pronunciation of
widow, — English wĭdŏ (wido), Scotch weĭdă (widə), — we observe
not only the different treatment of the final unaccented vowels,
but, in the accented syllable, an English speaker hearing weid
(wid) as distinct from his wid (wid) is apt to identify this
unfamiliar sound with the familiar weed (wiid), and to hear the
Scotch as weeder (wiidah). When, on the other hand, the
difference is one only of quantity, as in reikie (Auld Reekie),
the English ear hearing reĭkie (riki) as distinct from the English
rēēky (riiki) is apt to identify it with ricky (riki), the short i
being the nearest English stopped vowel to the long e. Exactly
in the same way Englishmen are apt to pronounce the French
fini (fini) either finny (fini), as in finish, or fe̅e̅ne̅e̅ (fiinii), the
intermediate French and Scotch true short ee in fee nee (fini)
being a new and hard-to-be-apprehended sound.
Since, as has already been mentioned, every long vowel can
also occur stopped (i.e. short in a closed syllable), without change
of quality; and, since vowels are regularly closed in positions
where they remain long in the Standard English, the following
general rules, as to where a vowel remains long, and where it is
shortened by the following consonant, are important:—
1. A vowel at the end of a monosyllable, or accented final syllable,
is long; as wee, tiny, day; faa, fall; gæ, gave; schui, shoe.
The words a, the, can scarcely be looked upon as exceptions,
for, so far as pronunciation is concerned, they are not independent
words, but mere prefixes, or initial syllables to the words which
they define, and are consequently brief (i.e. short in an open
syllable). The same may be said of possessives and prepositions
like maa, my; tui, to; wui, with; fræ, from; î, in; which have
a long sound only when emphatic, but otherwise are brief, mă, tă,
wă, fră, ă, like a-- in ă-bove, ă-mong.
The above rule also holds good, where such a monosyllable is
followed by s or d, in the process of noun- or verb-inflection, as
faa, faa's, day, days, preae, preaed, preaes.
2. A vowel is also long before the sounds of r, z, v, and th
vocal (dh), however these may be written, as meir, mare; ,fayr,
fair; duose, dose; bleeze, blaze; moove, move; leeve, live; scheave,
shave; braythe, breathe; baythe, bathe; or, when s or d are added
in inflection, as meirs, fayrs, bleez'd, leeves, leeved, braythes, meethes,
bounds. But not when these consonants are followed by another
consonant in a root word, as păirt, hœ̆rt, puŏrt, cuŏrn, feărce;
contrast cāyr, cāyr'd = cared, with caird = card (keer, keerd, kerd).
3. Before all other consonants in monosyllables, and before
consonants generally, in words of two or more syllables, a vowel
is stopped, even when long in English, as heĭt, heat; seĭn, seen;
Leith, feăte fate, baĭt bait, pŏle pole, spuŏrt sport, hŏoss house,
mŭin moon, baĭrn child, faĭther father, wăitter water, buŏrder
border, Jeĭnie Jeanie, sŏber.
Exception to this rule must be marked in writing.
4. But when a polysyllable is derived from a monosyllable it
follows the quantity of its primitive, as druōver from druōve,
which does not rhyme with duōver, to sleep lightly; ruōzie rosy,
does not rhyme with cuŏzie cosy, bayther bather, from baythe,
does not rhyme with faĭther father.
The words long and short are used relatively, and with reference
to the dialect itself. Absolutely, short, or, as it might better be
called, ordinary or natural, quantity in Scotch is longer than
English short quantity, though not quite so long as English long
quantity; but long quantity in Scotch is much longer than long
quantity in English. Thus, when I compare Scotch cheap and
cheep with English cheap, I hear the Scotch short e in cheap
nearly as long as, but the Scotch long e in cheep much longer than,
the English long e in cheap.¹ This greater natural or ordinary
length of the vowels is no doubt a chief cause of that more
leisurely enunciation which is known as the Scotch drawl. It is
to be noted, however, that the distinction between long and short
is much more distinctly preserved in the high' than in the
'low' or open vowels; with æ and à, and to a less degree with
ai and ò, there is a great tendency to lengthen the short vowel
before the mutes, and to pronounce egg, skep, yett, beg, bag, rag,
bad, bog, dog, as ehg, skehp, yeht, behg, baag, raag, baad, boag,
doag (ææg, skææp, Jææt, bææg, baag, raag, baad, boog, doog).
In order to show the exact values of the sounds used in the
Scottish dialect of the Southern counties, and their relation to
the English sounds, I give, by permission of Mr. Melville Bell,
the Universal Table of sounds from his Visible Speech Alphabet,
and place under each symbol the equivalent from the 'Palaeotype'
of Mr. Ellis.² In the subsequent description of the sounds
occurring in this dialect, their palaeotype symbols are given
within parentheses; by means of the table these can be referred
to their Visible Speech equivalents, and, consequently, to their
organic formation.
The spelling used in the work itself is based upon the historical
usage of the Scottish writers, modified so as to adapt it to
the dialect under consideration. In these modifications three
principles have been kept in view. First, to make the spelling
systematic; without indeed representing each sound by one invariable
symbol in all positions, to provide that the same letter, or
combination of letters, should always have the same sound.
Secondly, to represent to the eye the differences patent to the ear
between the Dialect and the Standard English; to spell words in
such a way as at least to suggest that they are not identical in
sound with their English representatives. And, thirdly, as far as
consistent with the other two principles, to use forms for which
a precedent already exists in Scotch usage. Fortunately, the
latter presents considerable variety, so that, in most cases, one or
other of the equivalents of each sound, already or formerly in use,
could be appropriated. The result will be seen in the list and
description of the vowels and diphthongs used in the dialect of
the Southern counties, which follow.
¹ Even in English, quantity differs
greatly in absolute length; for though
the vowel sounds in thief, thieves, cease,
sees, are considered all alike long e,
thieves and sees are certainly pronounced
with a longer vowel than thief and
cease. It would perhaps be most correct
to say that Scotch long quantity is like
that in sees, short quantity nearly like
that in cease.
² The "Visible Speech" and Palaeotype
symbols have been placed diagonally,
so as not to interfere with the
eye taking in the full series of either,
whether horizontally or vertically.
The vowels are named thus: (i) High-front (æ) Low-front-wide;
(o) Mid-back-round; (œ) Mid-front-wide-round. Lengthening is
expressed in Visible Speech by adding the 'holder' † to the symbol
of the sound to be lengthened; in Palaeotype, by doubling the
symbol, thus ſ† (ii), the ee in see. The diphthongs are expressed
by adding the w ʡ, y , or voice glide I; in Palaeotype, by adding
(u, i, ə, ',) thus ʡ, ʗ, , ſI (Ǝu ei, íə i'), the Scotch diphthongs
in lowp, leyke, and breae, respectively.
The nine 'primary' vowels are formed by the simple action of
the tongue and oral cavity, with the lips open, and the pharynx
contracted, only in a less degree than for consonants, (i, e, E), between
the front of the tongue and the palate, with a 'high' or
narrow, a 'middle' or natural, and a 'low' or wide aperture respectively;
(æ, Ǝ, œ), between the back of the tongue and back
palate, with the same three widths of aperture; the 'mixed' series
(Y, ə, əh,) by a simultaneous pronunciation of the 'front' and
'back' vowels just described, conformative apertures being formed
both at back and front, with an arching of the tongue between. These
nine conformations of the mouth are shown in the preceding diagram
of Lingual positions. The nine 'Wide' vowels are the primary
vowels, with the pharyngal cavity naturally relaxed or widened
during their utterance. The 'Round' vowels are the nine primaries,
with the lips 'rounded' or pouted during their pronunciation, as
shown in the diagram of Labial positions. The "Wide-round"
vowels are the nine primaries, with pharynx widened, and lips
rounded at same time. Thus the ee in feet (i), when widened, becomes
the i in fit (i); when rounded, the German ü in übel (I);
when both widened and rounded, the French u in une (y).
The consonants are thus named: C (kh) back, Ω (s) front-mixed,
(n) point-nasal-voice, ɜ (v) lip-divided-voice, (b) lip-sltut-voice.
The breath' consonants are formed by the expulsion of non-vocal
breath through the " conformative aperture; " the ` voice'
consonants by the expulsion of vocal breath through the same;
thus, the sounds of T and D differ only in the fact that the one is
formed by simple breath , the other by voice voice.¹ The 'primary'
consonants are formed by central apertures between the back of the
tongue, arched surface of the tongue, or tip of the tongue, and
adjacent part of the palate, or between the lips. In the 'Divided'
consonants the same apertures are divided by a central contact of
the parts, the breath escaping on each side. In the 'Shut' consonants,
or mutes, the apertures are entirely closed, and forcibly
opened by the stream of breath. In the ' Nasals' the apertures are
kept closed, and the breath or voice directed through the nose.
The 'Mixed' series are produced by a simultaneous formation of
two modifying apertures. Thus, in blowing to cool, we form the
¹ A third series formed by whispered
voice, like the German final D in kind
and the Gaelic B and D in bard, and
thus appearing to lie between T and
D, P and B, etc., is not here considered.

primary 'lip' consonant Ɔ (denoted in palaeotype by ph, and
forming a letter in several West African languages), the breath
being modified only by the round aperture of the lips. By dividing
the aperture, artificially with a slip of card, or naturally, by
touching the upper teeth with the centre of the lower lip, we
produce the 'Lip-divided' ɜ, or ordinary F. Shutting the lips
entirely, and forcibly opening them by expulsion of breath, we form
the 'lip-shut' , or common P. Substituting voice for mere
breath, P becomes B, . Retaining the lips shut, and directing
the voice through the nose, we have the 'lip-nasal' , or M. If,
while forming the primary lip consonant (ph) as before, we simultaneously
contract the back of the oral cavity, we produce the
lip-mixed' , or WH. Contracting the back cavity still more,
and proportionally opening the labial one, we make the 'back-mixed'
, or Southern Scottish guttural in lauwch. Taking off
the labial action entirely, we have the 'back-primary,' or ordinary
guttural C, in Gaelic clachan, German ach! Opening the back
cavity also, and allowing the breath to escape without any oral
modification, we have the ordinary aspirate O, or H.
By means of the 'outer' and 'inner' , position symbols, consonantal
varieties are expressed: thus (kj), is the 'forward' k
in card, sky; (gj), the 'forward' g in guard, and Northern
Scotch gang or gyaug. The palatalized or forward variety of the
guttural (kjh), as in German ich, and Southern Scottish neycht,
fæycht, is similarly expressed by .
No one language possesses all the vocal elements represented in
the table; a selection from their number, comprising usually from
one third to a half of the vowels, and from one half to five-eighths of
the consonants, with a few of the glides, forms the "phonetic
system" of any particular language or dialect, which it strives to
embody in its alphabet. Not only do different languages differ in
the elements which they thus select from the great natural scale,
but the same language varies in different stages of its history,
altogether losing sounds which it once possessed, and adopting
new sounds formerly unknown. Thus, to compare the consonants
(which are least affected in this way), we find that modern English
uses, among others, four elements which German does not use, viz.,
those represented by (th, dh, wh, w) in thin, then, whey, way, while
German makes use, among others, of five which English refuses,
viz. (kh, kwh, gh, gwh, bh), in ach! auch, tag, auge, wo. The
sounds which one idiom thus refuses, it replaces by others of the
same class; German replaces the 'lip-mixed-voice' (w) in
English way by the 'lip-primary-voice' (bh) in German weg.
English replaces the 'back-primary' (kh) in German brach by
the 'back-shut' (k) in English broke.
A full understanding of these changes, so important to the comparative
philologist, can only be gained through the medium of
"Visible Speech," without which, also, precision in explaining
dialectical varieties of sound would be quite hopeless.
The following constitute the simple sounds, or vowel scale of this
The six vowels, 1, 4, 6, 7; 9, 11, in peer, payr, pær, paar, poar,
poor ; leid, laid, læd, làd, clòd, lood, in Palaeotype (piir, peer,
pæær, paar, poor, puur ; lid, led, læd, lad, klod, lud), meaning
peer, pare, pair, par, pore, power or pour; lead, laid, led, lad,
clod, loud, — are the simple or primitive elements of the scale.
They appear to represent the six simple vowels of the Teutonic
languages, Anglo-saxon wín, rén, sǽl, hál, hól, scúr ; German
sieh, weh, ähre, saal, kohl, buhn ; Moeso-Gothic spillan, etan,
bairan, swaran, fotus, tunthus ; Danish i, e, æ, a, o, u, etc. The
original simple vowels of the Roman alphabet seem to have been
only five, and in adapting the Roman letters to the various Teutonic
idioms we find that No. 6 has been variously represented by
ai, æ, a, ä, indicating its position between e and a. In the modern
idioms, however, the distinction between Nos. 4 and 6, or 6 and 7,
has been greatly lost. Thus Modern German confuses e and ä,
while English uses short a for both a and æ of the Anglo-saxon;
man and fat, for Ags. man and fæt.
¹ The semicolons separate closed,
long, and brief; or unaccented open,
vowels. The words are Leith; Keir,
creep, wee (tiny); belong; ate, fishes,
cantie, worried; wade; there, wo;
Tait; Ayr, faith, way; hill, first;
silver, do not; men, had; gate, far,
have; man, past; blow, land, Faa;
burr, ground, cut; Rob (Bob), scon
(griddle-cake), door, road, wo! (to stop
a horse); boat; bore, close, froth;
doubt; stour (dust in motion), shoo!
(to drive away birds, etc., by calling
sh!) suit; poor, do.
1. "High Front" vowel (Pal. i), English e, ee, ea, ei, etc., in
me, see, feet, mete, field, mean, be-fore; French, î, i, in gîte, fini;
Italian i in vino, Lunedì, fisso; German ie, i, in sieh, mir, mit.
This vowel is in English long and brief. For the stopped sound,
is substituted No. 2, the "High Front Wide" (i) in pit, tin. In
Scotch it is found long, brief, and stopped. Long, final in wee,
yee (wii, ii); medial, before r, z, th (dh), v, as weir, leeze, meethes
deeve (wiir, liiz, miidhz, diiv). Brief in prefixes, as be-lang, de-mein,
re-găird (bi-laq•, di-min•, ri-gerd•). Stopped, before other
consonants, as seik, feit, deip, lein, feist (sik, fit, dip, lin, fist),
French sique, fitte, dippe, line, fiste, which must be carefully distinguished
alike from the English seek, feet, deep, lean, feast
(siik, fiit, diip, liin, fiist), to which they correspond in meaning,
and the English sick, fit, dip, linn, fist (sik, fit, dip, lin, fist).
The historical Scotch spelling ei is adopted for this sound when
medial; deip will thus be distinguished alike from deep and dip
(Pal. dip, diip, dip). When final, ee is used; and the same
symbolisation may be used for the medial sound when long,
except before r, where ei will naturally be pronounced long, thus,
meir, keek, sweep, cheep (miir, kiik, swiip, tshiip) as distinct from
cheip cheap (tship). When brief e is used, as be-lang, wad-ye?
(bilaq•, wad•i).
This vowel rarely occurs final in the Southern Scottish dialect;
the final long ee of English and other Scottish dialects being
replaced by the diphthong ey (Pal. ei), as me, sea, bee, Southern
Scottish mey, sey, bey.
2. "High Front Wide" (Pal. i). In deference to the opinions
of Mr. Ellis and Mr. Melville Bell, I identify the unaccented ie, i,
in bònnie, măirriet, fyttit, lassis, lassies, with the English short
i, y, in many, married, benefit, Harris, mercies. My own appreciation
of the sound would lead me to refer it rather to the short of
No. 1, the French i in fini, and the Scotch ei in feit. At least
when the sound is emphasised or artificially prolonged, it seems
to become pure ee, as cun-tree in singing, which is different from
the English coun-try; and I think the Southern Scotch sound
must at least be considered a closer or less 'wide' variety of (i)
than the English i in it. The terminations -y, -it, -es, in the more
northern Scottish dialects, present an opener or lower sound than
this, and if this is identified with the English i in it, must be
considered as ai or y (e, e). Compare the Lothian kyntrae lasses
(kyntre lasez) with Teviotdale cuintrie lassis (kəntri lasiz).
The Southern Counties' sound I represent by ie final, i medial;
the opener sound of other dialects by ae final, e or y medial.
Historically, we find both kyntrae and cuntrie, fyschis and fyschys,
graythit and graythyt.
3. "High Front Wide," with Voice Glide; the second element
tending to become the "Mid mixed wide," and "Mid front wide"
vowels (Pal. i', íə, íe). This, the ea, eae, in leade, breae, is a very
difficult sound to analyse. When pronounced leisurely, however,
the main element will generally be recognized as the long of the
English i, heard in singing bit to a long note bi-i-i-t, this sound
gliding or opening at the end into the e in yet, Scotch y in byt, or
perhaps the "Mid-mixed" vowel in the second syllable of real,
which occupies a mid position between the Scotch y in myll (mel)
and u in mull (mƎl). I often hear the identical sound in English
when the word real (rii•əl) is carelessly pronounced, as (riəl, ri'l).
When rapidly pronounced, especially in a closed syllable, as
beat, teape, the glide is scarcely heard, and the two sounds seem
to mix into an impure ee or close ai. Etymologically, indeed,
the sound is an ā, which in English partly remains ā, partly has
become ē, while in Scotch it takes the intermediate, as English
hale, heal (=heel), Scotch heale. In North English dialects this
sound is written eea or eya, as steean, steyan, and is more distinctly
diphthongal, the second element, which is brief and fugacious in
Southern Scotch, being there dwelt on equally with the first
element, or even receiving the chief accent. Both forms appear
to be described in Barnes's Dorset Grammar (p. 12), illustrated by
bēd and meäd. In Scotch, when this ea is initial, or preceded by
h, it develops into yeh (Je), the first element (i) becoming the
consonant y, the second being then distinctly heard as the e in
yet (Pal. e) and accented. So in Norse we have jarl for the
Ags. eorl, jord for the Ags. eorðe, Swedish stjern, tjenare, hjerta,
German Stern, Diener, Hertz. In this dialect both forms are in
use, ea being the older, yeh, the newer, thus: —
This development confirms the primitive sound, as (i') the
development being (i', íə, íe, ie, ié, Je). It is here written eae
final, ea medial. The initial ea, hea, developing into yeh, hyeh
are written eä, heä, thus eäne, which may be read eane or yen,
both pronunciations being common. It might be thought better to
refer this sound to the diphthongs. As, however, it is no more
diphthongal than the Southern English ai in wait, where the a
glides into a closer sound, just as here the (i) glides into an
opener, and a Scotchman is no more conscious than the Southern
Englishman is of uttering a double sound; and as the sound is
in many respects treated as a simple one, it is here classed among
the simple vowels. By means of it the Southern Scotch is enabled
to distinguish in sound between numerous pairs of words
sounded alike in English in ee, or in ai, thus:—
where, note that the ei and ai are short closed vowels (i, e),
though long in English.
This distinction is not known in the Central Scotch dialects,
where sail and sale are pronounced alike, with a close variety of
ai, or even (i).¹ But in the English of 1685, Cooper distinguished
between the two sounds, main mane, hail hale, maid made, tail
tale. (See Mr. Ellis's Early English Pronunciation, p. 71.)
4. "Mid Front" (Pal. e). This vowel is perhaps an opener
variety of (e) than the English vowel in sail, say, or the French
in jai été aidé, approaching to (E);² but its chief difference from
the former lies in the fact that it is a uniform sound, not gliding
¹ In Caithness a distinction is made,
quite different from the above. See Appendix.

² As pronounced in the South of
Scotland, it is certainly opener than
the French or English ai (e). But it
is nearer to this (e) than to any other
of the six front vowels. A long and
careful observation of the sounds of
English and Scottish dialects, and collation
with those of the Standard
English, has convinced me that, in
order to shew their precise values and
relations, it would be necessary to make
a more minute division of the vowel
scale, as suggested by Mr. Melville
Bell, at page 16 of his "Visible Speech."
The number of possible shades of vowel sound, for example, between the 'high'
and 'low' of any series is infinite,
forming a regular and insensible gradation
from (i) to (E), (u) to (A), etc.
Mr. Bell has considered the discrimination
of three points, a 'high,' 'low,'
and 'mid,' as practically sufficient,
which is of course amply the case for
any one language or dialect. But he
has also pointed out the means of indicating
a greater refinement by recognizing
a closer or higher, and an opener
or lower, variety of each position, thus
making nine instead of three intervals.
For the English and Scottish dialects
it would be convenient to adopt this
division, so far as concerns the 'mid'
vowels, the precise degree of openness
or closing into ee, like the English, — at least the English of the
south; thus, English day>ee, Scotch day-ay. This vowel is not
recognized as stopped in English, the vowel in wait, main, being
as long as in way, may. In Scotch it occurs long and stopped, as
in wayr, baythe, wāy, wait, tail (Pal. weer, beedh, wee, wet, tel),
the two last words being carefully distinguished fron the English
wait, tail (weet, teel, or weeit, teeil), and wet, tell, but pronounced
like the French été.
In the central dialects this vowel is pronounced much more
closely, i.e. nearer to ee, so as to be almost like our No. 3. Thus
way, day, are, in Edinburgh, nearly weae, deae, perhaps (wii, dii)
— but see the note below. In the North-east this is still more
remarkable, and a Southern ear would undoubtedly set down the
pronunciation of Jacob, compare, stane, as Jeecub, compeer, steen.
5. "Mid Front Wide" (Pal. e). The Scotch i or y, in fyll,
pyt, is a very different sound from the English i in fill, pit, to
which it answers etymologically. As generally pronounced it
appears to be identical with the English e in bless, yes, yet, as
pronounced in London and the South of England, but not as
heard from educated English speakers in the North, where (E) is
used.¹ In some parts of Scotland, I believe that the "high
given to which is very fluctuating. We might provisionally indicate these varieties
in palaeotype, thus:
The Eng. ai in wait being then (e) the
South Sc. would be (è); the close sound
common in Edinburgh would be (é).
The S. Sc. sound in breae would probably
be rather (é') than (i'), as we are
obliged to make it when using only the
three vowels. The Sc. y in hyll, byt
(see No. 4) would probably be (é)
rather than (e), explaining how the
diphthong ey seems closer than aiy,
which it ought not to be if y in byt were
the exact 'wide' of ai in bait. In the
round vowels also, the very close o used
in Edinburgh, which, compared with
my o, seems almost (u), would probably
be (ó), and the South Sc. uo (see
No. 10) might be (ó') rather than (u').
It need scarcely be said that no single
language or dialect does ever, in practical
use, distinguish such fine shades; few idioms even find the three positions
distinct enough; none certainly distinguish
the six sounds formed by the
'primaries' and 'wides' of any series
(except as accidental varieties due to
the character of the following consonant,
or to presence or absence of
accent — never to distinguish words).
It is only in comparing different languages
or dialects that we find the
exact quality given to particular vowels
in one, intermediate between certain
vowels in another, the one set of sounds
grouping themselves, so to say, alongside
of and around, but not quite coinciding
with, the other set.
¹ These words, bless, yes, yet, are
pronounced almost identically in Sc.
and Eng.; but while in Eng. they
rhyme with mess, Bess, pet, set, in Sc.
mixed" and "mid mixed" vowels are used instead, and towards
the west and centre, the "mid front" takes its place, hyll, myll,
mylk, being pronounced hull, mull, mulk (hƎl, mƎr, mƎlk), as in
the well-known snuff-mull (snƎf-mƎl).¹ In all parts of Scotland i
is gutturalized into u after w, thus, wull, wut, Wulliam, wun,
quhun, instead of wyll, wyt, Wylliam, wyn, quhyn, the English will,
wit, William, win, whin. In English w has a similar effect upon a,
seen in comparing an, ant with wan, want (æn, ænt, wAn, wAnt).
This vowel never occurs long in the Southern Scotch dialect, for
it does not occur at the end of a syllable under the accent, and
before r its effect is to make the trill stronger, instead of being
itself lengthened, as in byrr, fyrr (be.r, fe.r), etc.
I consider this also as the brief vowel in the Southern Counties'
dialect, used for all the English brief vowels except (ĭ). Perhaps
the kindred "mid mixed" vowels (ə, ah) would seem to some ears
more entitled to this place, and, in truth, the sounds of all are so
near that, when brief and unaccented, it is extremely difficult to
distinguish them; but in emphasising and prolonging the final
vowel in such words as America, dynna, weido, the sound I hear is
the same as that in hyll, bynd. (In the more northern Scottish
they find rhymes in miss, this, pit, sit,
having indeed been written with i or y
by the Scottish writers: yhis, yhit,
blissin' (bless being thus confounded
with bliss). Eng. set and Sc. sit both
rhyming to yet, seems to prove the
identity of Sc. short i with Eng. short
e, though there may be a shade of
difference in openness, as stated in last
¹ Many years ago I read some remarks,
by a southern critic, on the
pulpit oratory of the late Dr. Chalmers,
in which the pronunciation of that
divine was given as "Let hum that is
fulthy be fulthy stull." With my
Scotch value of u, I read the words
italicised, as (HƎm, fƎlthi, stƎl), and
knowing that this was not the pronunciation
of Dr. Chalmers, I resented the
caricature as a libel upon my native
tongue. Acquaintance with Southern
English habits of utterance has since
shewn me that the London critic attached
a different meaning to his spelling
from that which I did, and only
intended to give the Sc. pronunciation,
as (Həm, fəlthi, stəl), which he perhaps
heard. Even if the sound really given
were (hem, felthi, stel), with a "Scotch
accent," it would be so far from the
Eng. (Him, filthi, stil) as to seem to a
Londoner more like his hum, fulthy,
stall, than anything else. In the same
way, when Englishmen mean to represent
broad Scotch vernacular, they write
the Scotch pronunciation of man as
mon. Scotchmen, with their Continental
idea of short o, seeing this spelling,
read mon as (mon) or (mon), and
laugh at it as a pitiful caricature of their
utterance, due either to Cockney ignorance
or to a desire to cast ridicule
upon the Scotch. But the English
writer has no idea of suggesting the
sounds of (mon) or (mon), which he
would probably express by morn, moan;
what he means is (mən), as in his own
on, the Sc. a that he hears, being so
much broader than his a in man, or
indeed any Eng. short a, that he appreciates
it only as a "Scotch variety" of
(mən), and writes it mon. The truth is
people's habits of hearing get into
grooves, as well as their habits of utterance,
so that neither hears sounds exactly
as the other gives them, but as
sounds in his own groove, more or
less near them; and attaching as they
do still more distinct values to the
letters, the result is that the sound,
after being, first, not quite accurately
heard and described, and, secondly, still
more inaccurately realized in the description,
comes back to the speaker
with an appearance, at which he kicks,
as a wretched travesty.
dialects a much closer sound is used in such terminations. In
the Lothians it is nearly ay or eae, usually written ae; and the
Teviotdale dynna, Munda, banna, vdila, nearly equal to the
Cockney Benner, Munder, banner, vailer, are, in the Lothians,
dynnae, Munda, bannae, vailae, nearly = dennay, Munday, banney,
vailay. Further north the sound sinks almost into ie, as dynnie,
Mundie, bonnie, vailie.)
The letter y has been used from the earliest periods to express
a (broader?) variety of the i sound; thus, Ags. hym, syttan, for
him, sittan. In the Scottish writers it was very common, thus
Gawain Douglas: dynlis, fyl1, gymp, gyrd, myrk, mynt, pyt, gwyk
(quick), ryng, rym, ryvere, sylly, tyll, etc. There is, therefore, a
good historical basis for adopting it to express this sound regularly
when stopped. At the end of a word a is used, as in the
closely allied English sound, in manna, sofa. When brief and
indistinct in the middle of a word, e is used, as in the English
latter, latest, mallet; also, to prevent confusion, after y initial in
yes, yet, or yen the developed form of eäne. In both of these
positions, i, y were used by the older Scottish writers, thus, nevyr,
wattir, heruyst, devyl, eityn, hevin, drevin, yhit, yhis, yhistyrday, or
ƺit, ƺis, ƺistyrday, ƺystirday.
6. "Low Front Wide" (Pal. æ). The English short a in man,
pat, lad (as pronounced in the south), is the sound given in this
dialect to e, in men, pet, led, viz., mæn, pæt, læd. In Anglo-saxon
the sound was often written in the same way, as græs or gærs,
grass, Sc. gærse or græss; Ags. læsse, less, Sc. læss; Ags. bærn,
a barn, Sc. bærn. The sound does not occur long in the Standard
English, but is very common in the West of England, where
Bath, basket, ask, are pronounced (bææth, bææskot, ææsk), and in
Ireland, where the letter A is commonly called (ææ). In the
Southern Scotch it is long, as in fǣrr, yǣtt, pǣth, hǣ = far, gate,
path, have; stopped, as in hært, mæn, kæn, æsch, wæsch, læss, bæst
= heart, men, ken, ash, wash, less, best. The Scotch writers
commonly used e for this sound, writing gerse, bern, hes, hed,
hert, wesch, hesp, peth, heruyst, etc; in this work, following the
example of the Anglo-saxon, and other languages, as well as Mr.
Ellis's system of Palaeotype, it is written æ, and so distingushed
from the English e in men, met, yet, already considered. In most
of the other Scottish dialects this sound is replaced by the "low
front" vowel without the widening, (E), the sound also given in
the North of England to e in met, men. Thus, in the centre of
Scotland, the words far, gate, path, have, heart, men, ken, ash,
wash, hasp, better, best, would be pronounced (fEEr, JEEt, pEEth,
HEE, HErt, mEn, kEn, Esh, wEsh, hESp, bEter, bEst), with the
French and Italian open è in aperto, bête, mère; German mähre.
Using the narrower sound, the central Scots consider the pronunciation
of the Borderers very 'braid,' and reproach them with
calling Pen-chrise-pen (a hill in Teviotdale) Pan-chrise pan,
whereas they really say Pæn-chrise pæn.
7. "Low Back Wide" (Pal. a). The Scotch a, long in faa, waar,
laand, short in màn, wàd, and well illustrated in the line —
A màn's a màn for a' thàt
(ə manz ə man for aa dhat)
varies considerably in different dialects, and even in different
individual speakers of the same dialect. Upon the whole, the
value here given, which is that of the German a in mahnen, man,
may be considered as the average one, although it is not uncommon
to hear it narrowed into the "mid back wide," the
English vowel in father, the French in matte, canne, the Italian in
mono, gatto. Still more common is the tendency, known also in
South Germany, and especially in Austria, to labialize the sound,
and pronounce it as the "low mixed round " or "low mixed wide
round" (ah, ɔh) sounds so near to the English aw, o, in law,
lawn, lot (lAA, lAAn, lɔt) that Englishmen rarely distinguish
between them, and therefore accuse the Scotch of saying cawnie
maun, or connie mon, for cannie man. In reality, the Scotch a,
when most broadly pronounced, is only equal to the common
Cockney pass, ask, demand (pahs, aahsk, demaahnd), and I have
heard a London broker pronounce demand drafts with an a, which,
for broadness, I have never heard bettered in the North. As
a rule the broader or labialized sound will be heard when the
vowel is long, as in glaar, baand, waa (glaar, baand, waa) or
(glaahr, baahnd, waah), the narrower in a closed syllable, as
màn, hàt, wànt (man, hat, want) or (man, hat, want), less frequently
(mahn, haht, wahnt).
It is notable that the Anglo-Saxon used both á and ǣ (in
different dialects ?) for its long a, thus: stán, sár, stǽn, sǽr.
From the former, by a series of successive steps, comes the
English stone, sore, from the latter, by a different series, the
Scotch steane, sair. The long open a seems to have demanded
too wide an opening of the mouth for the northern nations, and
consequently the original stán (staan) became, on the one side,
labialized into stoan, on the other, palatalized into stǽn. By a
further narrowing of the sound we have the English stone, the
Scotch stane. In some of the Scottish dialects we have steane,
and even steen; and in the English we are not without indications
that the slide is still progressing, and that the London and
Kentish stown will at length end in stoon, just as the Anglo-Saxon
stól, dóm, bóc, Old English stole, dome, boke, are the modern
English stool, doom, book. When the process is complete we
shall have the curious phenomenon of a sound starting as the
openest possible (aa), and ending as the closest possible ee, oo.
The other Teutonic tongues have mostly, like the Scotch, followed
the series of front vowels, German stein, Dutch steen, Swedish
sten, etc.
8. "Mid Back" (Pal. Ǝ). The Scotch vowel u in gun is an
opener or more 'back' vowel than the corresponding (South)
English sound, variously identified as (ə, ɐ). The Scotch sound
is indeed often pronounced still opener, as the "low back" (ɶ), and
this is probably the older sound of the two. This vowel presents
many points of connection with No. 5, the corresponding "front
vowel," like which it is never lengthened, but before r increases
the trill of that consonant, as burr, furr. As already remarked, it
takes the place of that vowel in the central districts of Scotland,
as mulk, hull, for mylk, hyll, and after w, as wut for wit. In the
north-east the two vowels are curiously confused, as "he gyan's
tull's myther," for till his mother; "hum an' his twaa syns," him
and his two sons. We have this only as a stopped vowel.
9. "Mid Back Wide Round " (Pal. o). The French o in mot,
bonne, Italian o aperto in coda, amò, English o in glory, according
to the most approved pronunciation, as distinguished, on the one
hand, from glow-ry, on the other from glaw-ry, both of which are
also current. This o, common also in provincial English, as hoam
(Hoom), for home, is the 'wide' of the long English o in bone, no.
It is also a uniform simple sound, and not a diphthong or quasi-diphthong,
like the o of the South of England, which begins with
o, but tapers off into oo, thus nō>oo, rō>ood (Pal. noou, rooud),
while the Scotch sound is nō-ō, rō-ōd (noo, rood). Compare what
is said of ai, No. 4. If the English vowel be pronounced pure
without the terminal oo, into which it glides, it will be nearly the
Scotch o, the difference between the "mid back round" (o) and
"mid back wide round" (o) not being great. This vowel occurs
long in noa, doar, loard. God is also pronounced in the same way,
Goad (noo, door, loord, good); short, but unchanged in quality,
in lot, doll, scon, which must be carefully distinguished alike from
the long lōte, dōle, scōne, and the English lot, doll, sconn, where
the o represents, not the short quantity of long o, which English
has not, but the short 'wide ' sound of au or aw in laud, law. As
a series of such sounds we may compare the English naught, not,
note, and the Scotch not and nuote (nAAt, nət, noot nooŭt, not,
not núƎt.
10. "High Back Mid Round" gliding into "Mid Back" (Pal.
uƎ). This vowel bears precisely the same relation to oo (u) and o
that ea does to ee (i) and ai. When pronounced leisurely the main
element will be heard to be the same as the English 'wide' oo (u)
in book, poor, but this sound opens and glides toward the u in
gun. When rapidly pronounced, however, the effect of the glide
is scarcely felt, and we seen to hear only a very close o, almost
falling into oo, and nearly, if not quite, identical with the Italian
o chiuso, representing a short Latin u, as dolce, rompe, somma.
Etymologically the Scotch sound is an o on its passage to oo, and
it serves to distinguish pairs of words, some of which are confounded
in English.
boar. buore, to bore. foar, for. fuore, fore.
sole, only. suole, sole of a shoe. roam. Ruome, or Room, Rome.
In the north of England, and also in Wessex, this sound
regularly developes into wo; as Cumberland Jwohn, lword, mwornin
rwose, cworn, bworn; Dorset bwoth, bwoil, spwoil, pwoint, from
which it would appear that the second element is the one on
which the voice dwells, whereas in the Teviotdale Juohn, luord,
muornin, cuorn, buorn, etc., it is the first. When initial, however,
or preceded by h, as in the kindred case of eä, the Scotch sound
developes into wu or hwu = whu, thus:—
With this we may compare the development of the English
one into its modern pronunciation wun (for uöne), like the provincial
wuts for oats, (uötes). So in Scotland oor, our, often
becomes wor, wur, wer, and conversely week often becomes ouk,
i.e. ook. (See further, under W.) Though a diphthong, or quasi-diphthong,
this is always treated as a simple sound, just as the
English o in home, which begins in o and glides into oo in the
south, is treated as a simple vowel. It is long in dūōse, būōre,
fruo froth, stopped in buot, cuot, suod, English boat, coat, sod.
When subject to development into wu it is here written uö, huö,
as huöle (Húəl or HwƎl).
11. "High Back Round" (Pal. u), English oo in moon, French
ou long in rôute, short in doute, Italian uno, German Kuhn, blut,
gut. This vowel, when stopped in English, becomes (u), as in
book, bull, full. In Scotch, as in French and North English,
it remains unchanged in quality when stopped; doot (Fr. doute),
pool (Fr. boule), making true pairs with door stubborn, booze to
bouze. The Scotch words derived from French thus retain the
true sound of the French ou. Before a consonant this vowel also
represents the Anglo-Saxon ú, which, in English, has developed
into ou or ow, as toon, oot, doon, schoor; Anglo-Saxon tún, út, dún,
scúr; English town, out, down, shower. In most of the Scotch
dialects the Anglo-Saxon sound is also retained when final; but
in the Southern Counties' dialect it has, when final, become uw
(Ǝu); thus, Ags. cú, Scotch dialects generally coo, S. Conn. cow,
Eng. cow. So the Central Scotch soo, doo, hoo, yoo, foo, noo, are
in the South, suw, duw, huw, yuw, fuw, nuw; duel, cruel, gruel,
in Southern Counties, duwel, cruwel, gruwel. This change is
exactly parallel to the substitution of ey, for ee, noticed under
No. 1; in both cases the Southern Scotch sound is about half way
between the original Ags. and Fr. í, ú, and their modern English
representatives ī and ow.
12. The "Mid front round" vowel (Pal. ə), which, following
the usual spelling, is here represented by ui, has very different
values in different Scottish dialects, ranging almost from the
French eu in peu to the German provincial ü. in übel, and the
English ee in Dee; a common form in the north being also the
"high mixed wide," identified by Mr. Ellis with the Welsh u,
and almost the Slavonic y. Thus Aberdeenshire muin, ruit, tuip,
are (myn, ryt, typ), that is, nearly min, rit, tip; puir, dui, are undistinguishable
from peer, dee. The Southern Counties' ui is one of
the openest, being equal to the French eu in peu, nearly the German
ö in löcke. It is long in dui, puir, bruise, stopped in buit,
cuit, fuil, duin. This vowel seems to be eminently a restless and
unsettled one, and in almost all languages gradually gravitates to
rest in ēē. Thus the Greek v, Latin y, and Anglo-Saxon y have
long ceased to be distinguished from i ( = ēē), and in German
eebel for übel, like English evil for Anglo-Saxon yfel, is quite
By diphthongs are here meant combinations of vowel sounds,
which may or may not be expressed -by combinations of vowel
The Scotch dialects are peculiarly rich in diphthongs. In the
Southern Counties' dialect almost every simple vowel combines
with ee and oo, so as to form a diphthong of the y series, and
another of the w series. There are in fact five of each series, or ten
in all. This contrasts with the literary English, in which the only
recognized diphthongs of the y series are ī, oi, in fine, eider, cry,
boy, boil (fəin, əid•ɹ, krəi, bɔi, bɔil), and the only ones of the w
series ow, in vow, out (vəu, əut), and ew, which latter has in the
Standard English lost its original character of (iu) and developed
into yoo, just as the Scotch and north English eä (iə) developes
into yeh.
In the English diphthongs ī, oi, ow, the first element seems
long; at least, in comparison with the Scotch diphthongs, where
the first element may almost be said to be stopped by the following.
This is a difference which, apart altogether from the difference
of vowels, distinguishes the Scotch diphthongs generally
from the English. In the English diphthongs of the y series also
the second element seems to be the i in it (i) rather than ee (i).
This may, however, only be owing to the indistinctness of the
second element. In the diphthongs of the Scottish Southern
Counties' dialect, however, the second element is very distinctly
ee, and is less overshadowed by the preponderance of the first
element than in English. But in the central Scottish dialects the
second element is a much opener sound, apparently ae, ay, or even
the simple voice glide. Thus ay, in Teviotdale ǽ-ie or ǽ-ee becomes
ǽ-ai, æ-eh, or almost æ'; 1 by, Tev. bà-ee becomes baa-ăi,
¹ It is in dialects where ay is reduced
to æ', and where one is ae (ee or ii) not eäe,
yeh, as in the south, that the following
dialogue, intended at once to show the
brevity of Scotch words, and laconism of
Scotch manners 'tells' best:- Old woman
entering woollendraper's shop, and
seizing between finger and thumb a
piece of cloth, to which she administers a
vigorous pinch, loquitur, "Oo?" Sales-

man, "Æ', 'oo!" Customer (gives
cloth a stretch), "Aa 'oo?" Salesbaa-eh,
or almost baa'; fire, Tev. fai-yer, becomes feh-air, or
almost feh-er, feh'r. This widening and final evanescence of the
second element is particularly marked in the Yorkshire dialects,
where lītle, bīzen, shīve, become simply lāh'tle, bāh'zen, shāh've ;
about, now, down, abaah't, naah', daah'n. The words I and my
(ai, mai), contracted in most parts of Scotland to (a, ma), illustrate
the same tendency.
The following are the diphthongs in the Southern Scotch:-
The Y series.
1. aiy (Pal. ei). This diphthong is = aí-ee, and comes very
near to the pronunciation of lay, Main, in the South of England,
lāee, ,māeen, from which it differs chiefly in the greater distinctness
of the second element, and abbreviation of the first.
It occurs final in aiy always, claiy clay, haiy hay, gaiy considerably,
Maiy, the month and female name, staiy stay, quhaiy
whey, which, in other Scottish dialects, are pronounced with ey;
cley, hey; or uy, cluy, huy, etc. In the dialect of the Southern
Counties this is also sounded instead of the next diphthong
before all the voice consonants, liquids, and nasals; thus weyde,
deyve, meyle, feyne, are pronounced waiyde, daiyve, maiyle, faiyne
(weid, deiv, meil, fein). This is especially marked before r,
which, besides, forms a syllable of itself; thus, feyre, teyre, heyre,
cheyre, i.e. chair, are pronounced faiyer, haiyer, taiyer, chaiyer
(feiər, Heiər, teiər, tsheiər). I am not sure indeed whether we
ought not to consider the Southern Counties' pronunciation of i
before a breath consonant, e.g. in white, pipe, nice, as theoretically
aiy (ei) rather than ey (ei). Practically, the sound is so short
that it is almost impossible to catch the difference between (peip)
and (peip). Unless when comparing one dialect with another it
will be safe enough to write weyde, meyne, feyre, peype, for all
the shades of the medial vowel; but when final we must in
man, "Æ', aa 'oo!" Customer (drawing
out a length of the fabric, with a
searching glance), "Aa ae'oo?" Salesman,
"Æ', aa ae'oo!'' (Pal. ææ', aa
ee uu.) Translation: "Wool ?" "Ay,
wool! " "All wool? " "Ay, all wool! "
"All one wool? " (i.e. of one fleece)
"Ay, all one wool!"
this dialect write Maiy or Maye, haiy or haye, for May, hay, etc.,
to distinguish them from mey, hey, i.e. me, he.
2. ey (Pal. ei). Composed of the y in hyll, or e in yet, and ee.
As a rule it represents the long English ī before a consonant, e.g.
pipe, fire, time, mine; Scotch peype, feyre, teyme, meyne; and in
some dialects final ay, as clay, hay, way, Lothian cley, hey, wey.
In the dialect of the Border counties it is used as the substitute
of the final long ee, ē, in English and other Scottish dialects; thus the English see, me, he, we, pea, bee, free, etc., and the
central Scottish dee, flee, lee, thee, i.e. die, fly, lie, thigh, are in
Roxburgh, Selkirk, and Dumfries-shires, sey, mey, hey, wey, pey,
bey, frey, dey, fley, ley, they. This is exemplified in the characteristic
sentence. "Yuw an' mey 'll -gàng ōwre the deyke an'
puw a pey," which in central Scotch is "Yoo an' mee' ll gyang
uwr the duyke an' poo a pee." As pronounced in the south ey is
(ei), but as we advance north the first element seems to become
the "mid back" u, especially before voice consonants, liquids and
nasals, so weyves, meyle, beyde become wuyves, muyle, buyde (wƎivz,
mƎil, bƎid). We may say therefore that the central Scottish ee
answers to the southern ey, and the central ey to the southern aiy,
when final; before a consonant the central ey inclines to uy, the
southern to aiy. So Teviotdale a gaiy waiyde sey, Lothian.a gey
wuyde see, a pretty wide sea; Teviotdale naiyne dey'd i' Maiy,
Lothian nuyne dee'd ae Mey, nine died in May. The most
accurate analysis would probably be as follows:—
In the use of these two diphthongs, and a kindred usage with
regard to oo, uw, ōw, with the distinction between ea and ai, uo
and o, lie the chief differences between the Southern Counties'
Scotch — "the language of yuw and mey" — and that of central
3. The diphthong æy (Pal. æi) = ǽ-ee, and closely akin to a
common Cockney pronunciation of I, mine, is heard in æye, yes,
also in the combined words hæ-ye, mæ-ye, gæ-ye, fræ-ye (hæi, mæi,
gæi, fræi), have you, may you, gave you, from you, which are
pronounced as monosyllables. Otherwise it is rare, and confined
to the guttural combinations æycht, fæycht, pæych, eight, fight,
Pech or Pict. In central Scotland, however, this diphthong, or
rather æ-ai, æ', is used for ey before r, as fæ-air or fæ'r for
feyre, fire.
4. ӯ (Pal. ai). Composed of aá-ee = the German ai, ay, in
Kaiser, May, nearly as in the Italian daino, laido; French païen,
faïence; English ai in Isaiah, Shang-haï; though sometimes labialized
in the first element (əhi), and then confounded by Englishmen
with their oi, just as they confound a labialized pronunciation of
man with mon. It is used as the equivalent of English final y
in many words, as crye, frye, drye, w'rye, applye. It occurs
medial in syze, fyve, five, now used for the older feyfe, which is
nearly obsolete. So also in trӯal, dӯal, denӯal, dӯemont, i.e. diamond,
trӯkle, treacle (Old Eng. tryakle), lӯon, and such words.
It is not originally found other than at the end of a syllable; but
in a Scotch pronunciation of English is commonly put for the
English long ī, to which it is the nearest Scotch sound. Thus,
in country schools, tӯme, gӯle, pӯpe (taim, gail, paip), will be
heard instead of the vernacular teyme, geyle, peype, the readers
fancying that they pronounce the English time, guile, pipe (təim,
gəil, pəip). Others, who have learned that this is "too broad," give
tæyme, gæyle, pæype, the next closer diphthong. This diphthong
may be conveniently written ye or ӯ instead of the analytical form
aaÿ, when to do so will lead to no ambiguity, thus fӯve, lӯon, lӯe.
5. The diphthong oy (Pal. oi) = óa-ee, differs from the English
oy, oi, in that the first element in the latter is the aw in law, or o
in lot, whereas, in Scotch, it is the oa in road, or even the close
uo in cuole; as English, boy (bɔi); Scotch, boa-y, buo-y, and even
boo-y. the latter of which has been shewn by Mr. Ellis to be the
old English pronunciation. In the central and north-east districts
of Scotland this diphthong, when medial, is pronounced exactly
like No. 2 in the same dialects, boil, point, quoit, becoming buyl,
puynt. kuyte, or beyle, peynt, keyte. So a collier is in Dalkeith
called a keyler, i.e. coiller (compare Rauf Coilƺear), which rhymes
with teyler, tailor. In Roxb. the two words are far apart, cuollier
and teallier, with liquid ll, Old Sc. coilƺear, tailƺeour. This substitution
of ey, uy, for oy, was all but universal in English a
century ago. The borderers who laugh at the peynts and jeynings
of their northern neighbours, pride themselves upon their well--
rounded oy, although a false etymology confounds one word, beyle,
i.e. a boil, with beyle, bile.
The W series.
1. The diphthong òw, owe (Pal. ou) differs but little from
the long o in no, road, as pronounced in the south of England,
nóoo, rōood, the terminal oo being more distinct. In the Southern
Scottish dialect it occurs final in howe, a hollow, knowe, a knoll,
growe, yowe, a ewe, etc., which, in the other Scottish dialects, have
the next diphthong, huw, knuw, yuw. So also it is used in this
dialect for the uw of the other Scots before a voice consonant,
liquid or nasal, especially l and r, as buwl, gluwr, fuwr; Teviotdale
bowle, glowre, fowre. Compare the similar dialectical relations
of aiy and ey.
2. The diphthong uw (Pal. Ǝu) has as its first element the
Scotch u in dull, and thus differs from the English, the analysis
of which is (əu), or, according to Mr. Melville Bell, (au). In
the Southern Counties' dialect it occurs medial, as in huwt! tut! and final, as in yuw you, cuw cow, duw dove, suw sow, thruw
through, buw, to bend, which in other Scottish dialects are yoo,
coo, doo, soo, throo, boo, etc. As already stated, the Southern
Counties' bowe, a bow to shoot with, lowe a flame, rowe to roll,
powe a poll, howe, grove, etc., are elsewhere buw, luw, ruw, puw,
huw, gruw. So that the Lothian boo is in Teviotdale buw, the
Lothian buw in Teviotdale bowe. Roxb. Huwt man! Caa yuw
the cuw owre the bruw o' the knowe, quhair yee sey the gærss
growe. Fowre bowles fuw o' neuw mylk thræ the cow. Lothian.
Hoot man! Caa yoo the coo uwr the broo ae the knuw, whar yee
see the gyrse grow. Fuwr buwls foo ae nyoo mylk fae the
coo. The Southern Counties' distinction between buw, to bend,
and bowe, to shoot with, is exactly that of Sir T. Smith, in
1568 (as quoted by Mr. Ellis), "Early English Pronunciation,"
Part I., p. 151, who gives "bow, βoὺ , flectere, βωυ, arcus, a
bowle, βωυλ, vas in quo lac servatur."
3. The diphthong auw (Pal. au — aau) is like the Italian au in
aura. It occurs in sauwl or sòwl, soul (Ags. sawul), auwlt, and
in Latin and Greek derivatives, like auwdience, auwditor, tauwtologie,
pauwper, this being the Scotch pronunciation of audio,
τaτa. It is also heard in combination with the guttural in the
Southern Counties' pronunciation of lauwch, sauwch, where the
northern Scots say laach, saach.
4. The diphthong æw (Pal. æu) = ǽ-oo, occurs in to mæw, like
a cat, to wæw, like a kitten. The mew of the cat is very variously
imitated in different dialects; in Aberdeenshire the sound is held
to be mee-ów or mi-úw (miƎŭ), French miauler.
5. The diphthong euw occurs very frequently, representing the
Ags. eaw in feawa, deaw; iw in hiw; eow in hreow, greow.
Many shades of difference prevail in its pronunciation, thus,
eé-oo, í-oo, eá-oo, uí-oo, ái-oo (Pal. iu, iu, i'u, əu, eu). I choose
euw as the most convenient general symbolization, though I have
usually heard uiw, i.e.vowel No. 12, followed by oo in the south
of Scotland. It very seldom occurs before a consonant, in which
position the simple ui is its representative, thus, luit, fruit, duik,
cuik; lute, fruit, duke, cook (Fr. lûte, flûte, duc). So in the
English of the 16th century the French u was the regular sound
of the long English u, whence the modern sound you has been
developed by a process which must have been like dû, dû'w, dû-oo,
dí-oo, dioo, dyoo. The southern Scottish diphthong represents an
early stage of the transition, while the original sound remains
pretty nearly in duik, tuin. In the Lothian dialect this diphthong
has become like the English ew = yoo, or after r oo, as nyoo, fyoo,
lyooch, roo, rool; Tev. neuw, feuw, leuwch, reuw, reuwle (nəu, fəu,
ləkwh, rən, rəul), i.e. new, few, laughed, rue, rule.
The consonants are used with their recognized English powers.
But SCH and QUH represent Sh and Wh. The former is
merely a point of taste, recommended by the old Scotch orthography.
The latter is something more: Wh has in most parts of
England so degenerated as not to be distinguished from W, and
the pairs when wen, whale wail, while wile, are pronounced in the
south exactly alike, teste the Dean of Canterbury's "Queen's
English." We require a spelling to show that the corresponding
Scotch words must not be so treated. Moreover, the Scotch sound
is originally, and as still pronounced in the Southern Counties
by old people, a strongly aspirated one, being really a labialized
guttural, the 'back-mixed' consonant of Visible Speech, represented
by Mr. Ellis, in his Palaeotype, by (kwh). With many
speakers, however, this strong pronunciation now falls into the
'lip mixed' or true Wh.
CH has always been used for the guttural by the Scotch
writers. It would have been more convenient to use ch for the
sound in church only, and express the guttural by GH; but this
would be dangerous, as gh is in English so commonly changed
into f, into a diphthong, or lost altogether, that it is desirable to
use some other constant symbol to represent to the eye the difference
between the Scotch light, eneuch, lauch, dowchter, and the
English light, enough, laugh, daughter.
The guttural, which in most of the Scottish dialects is pronounced
quite simple, as in German ach! lacht, buch, is, in the
dialect of the Southern Counties, labialized or palatalized in
accordance with the character of the preceding vowel, the vowel
being at the same time made to glide into the modified guttural,
so as almost to form with it a sort of diphthong. Thus, after
back vowels, the guttural or 'back' consonant (kh) becomes the
labialized guttural or 'back-mixed' (kwh), formed by a simultaneous
utterance of ch and w, as in quh above. After front
vowels the guttural becomes changed into the palatalized variety
(kjh, kh), which may be approximately described as a strongly
aspirated utterance of the initial sound in human, Hugh, being
really a simultaneous utterance of ch and y consonant. The
result is that the Southern Counties' pronunciation of -ach, -och,
-uch, is something like that of the diphthongs auw, òw, uw, with a
guttural aspiration given to the second element, while that of
-ich, -ech, resembles the diphthongs ey, æy, with the last element
aspirated instead of simply vocalized. Advantage may be taken
of this likeness to symbolize the sounds by means of a preceding
w or y, though it is of course to be borne in mind that owch,
æych, are not ow+ch, æy+ch, but ow, æy mixed with ch (o kwh,
æ kjh). After the extreme lingual and labial sounds ee and oo,
the guttural remains simple. The series will thus be:—

The words deawch, leawch = dough, low, are the only examples
of -eawch. Elsewhere they are daigh, laigh, or deagh, leagh. The
sound -euwch is in the other dialects sometimes -yooch, sometimes
-yuch. Leuwch = laughed, Old Eng. lough, is in Edinburgh
lyooch, but teuwch = tough is tyuch, almost tshuch (tJƎkh, tJƎkh,
tshƎkh). These compound gutturals, which form one of the
peculiarities of this dialect, are also heard in Germany; the
palatalized form being the sound in night, recht, as heard in
North Germany (nikht, rEkht), which, however, in some parts, as
in Switzerland, is kept quite hard (nykht, rEkht), and in others,
as on the Danube, sinks almost into sh (nisht, rEsht). The labialized
form is usually heard in auch (aukwh). Historically, they
are interesting, as representing a stage of phonetic development,
through which the English gh must have passed before becoming
entirely vocalized, or advancing into f, as in eight, rough, Ags.
eahta, rúh (e'khtɐ, rukh), the stages through which the former
must have passed, being pure guttural, palatalized guttural, pure
palatal or whispered y, vocal y making a diphthong with preceding
e (e'kht, ekjht, eJht, eJT, ee'jt or eeit), the latter making
successively the pure guttural, labialized guttural, gutturalized
labial, pure labial, divided labial (rukh, rukwh, ruwh, ruph, ruf,
rəf). The dates at which these changes were made of course
varied in different districts; for the standard or literary English
Mr. Ellis (who has minutely investigated the question) has shewn
that the guttural was still heard in taught, night, fight, etc., in the
16th century, that in the beginning of the 17th it had become yh,
wh, and by the end of that century was "now by disuse lost
among us" (E. E. P., p. 209-414). In Cursor Mundi we have
though spelled as thof in the 13th or 14th century, but this was an
exceptional word, for in the northern counties of England, the
rejection of the guttural has taken place within living memory.
(See antè, p. 87).
CH in chin. As the guttural never occurs initially no ambiguity
can arise from using CH with the power of (tsh) at the
beginning of words, as in cheild, chaamer, chairge. But in other
positions this sound must be distinguished by writing tch, as is
already done for orthographical reasons in many Ags. words, as
watch, ditch, wretched, potch, hutch, as well as in a few of French
origin, as butcher, where the t is an expedient which must be
extended to rytch, beseitch, poatcher, etc. Already the recognized
Scotch pootch, English pouch, Ritchie for Richard, etc., show a
recognition of the want of some means to keep these words
distinct from the guttural which would be suggested by pooch,
richie. Even initially we find tch in the writers of the 16th
century, tchyre and tcheir (compare the modern chaiyer, cheyre),
being used by Lyndesay (Satyre, 1942, 1953) for chair.
H is in Sc. very strongly pronounced, almost with somewhat
of guttural effect, as seems to have been the case in Ags.: compare
ʒenóh, eahta, burh, boht, with enouch, eycht, bruch, bocht.
The abuse of h, by dropping it where it exists, and intercalating
it where it has no existence, is unknown in Scotch.
When mute it is totally dropped, as in ostler, eirb, ayr = herb,
heir. It remains in hyt = it (Ags. hyt); and the O. Eng. hus = us
appears as huz, the only word which has taken a prosthetic h.
R is in Scotch always a consonant, and in all positions trilled
sharply with the point of the tongue, and never smoothly buzzed
or burred, or converted into a mere glide as in English, nor rolled
with the whole length of the tongue as in Irish, nor roughly burred
with the pharynx as in Northumberland, in France and Germany.
Even the initial English r, in road, rung, is softer and more gliding
than the Scotch, which is used with equal sharpness before or
after a vowel, as in rare, roar, rayther, roarer. In the south of
England its subsidence after a vowel into a mere glide renders it
impossible to distinguish, in the utterance of some speakers,
between law, lore; lord, laud; gutta, gutter; Emma, hemmer.
Hence, when these words are used with a following vowel, a
hiatus is avoided by saying draw-r-ing, Sarah-r-Anne, Maida-r'ill,
idea-r of things, law-r of England, phrases which even
educated men are not ashamed, or not conscious, of uttering. No
such liberties are allowable with the Scotch r, which is always
truly consonantal.
Notes on the other Consonants.
B is usually dropped in pronunciation after M in the accented
or any following syllable. As the b was in many cases of French
or English insertion, the Scotch forms thus return nearer to the
original Latin and Gothic. Lamb, dumb, limb, thumb, thimble,
tremble, rumble, tumble, number, timber, chamber, clamber,
Campbell, Dumbie-dykes, Cumber-trees, Turnbull (originally
Trumbal, Trum-bald), are pronounced làm, dum, lym, thoom (Ags.
þuma), thymle, trymle (Lat. tremulo), rumle, tumle, noomer or nummer
(Lat. numerus), tymmer (Dutch timmer), chaamer (Lat.
camera), claamer, Caamle, Dummie-deyks, Cummer-treys, Trumle.
Humble is in Old and Middle Scotch humyl, humile, but the b now
begins to be sounded, as it is in member, November, December,
Scotch Dezember.
C in the Scotch writers = either K or S, as in caice, case. It
must in this dialect be considered as = s before æ, unless we
follow the example of the writers of the Middle period, who substituted
s, in such cases as dissayve, ressayve, consait = deceive,
receive, conceit. Before ea, which in this dialect replaces a, it
must be written k, as in keave, keane, keace, skeale, skeame = cave,
cane, case, scale, scheme, which is only an extension of what has
already been done in kaim, kail, Kate, kirk, Kirsty, kae, kye, kirn,
kist, skuil, for comb, cole, Catherine, church, Christy, caw, Ags. cý,
plural of cú, churn, chest or cist, school, and is exemplified in the
English kitchen, as compared with cook and cocina.
D is dropped after n in the Scottish dialects generally. In the
Southern Counties it is usually preserved, except between n and l,
as in handle, candle, spindle, trundle, foundling, pronounced
hànle, cànle, spynnle, trynnle, funlin. In bundle the d is heard. It
is also dropped in thunner, gayner = thunder, gander; in an' =and ;
and one or two verbal forms, ban', bun', gran', grun', wan', wun', meaning
bound, ground, wound, past tense, and past participle. It is
also mute in the termination of the present participle, eitand,
syngand, standand, pronounced eitan, syngan, stànnan. Except the
participles aand, owing, and wulland or wullant, willing, with one or
two which are only used adjectively, ythand or eydant, persevering,
and farrand or farrant, favouring, savouring, seeming (aald-farrant,
savouring of age). Otherwise d is pronounced; as in aald, caald,
laand, staand, Hielands or Hielants.
There has been a confusion between d and the voiced th (dh),
as in then from an early period, traces of which still survive in
the English murder murther, burden burthen, wedder wether, Bethlehem
Bedlam. In the Early and Middle Scotch d or dd was
always writen before r, as fadir, modyr, brodyr, gader, togiddyr,
fedder, hidir, furder, weddir, uddir, the d being pronounced I
believe, neither as in dare nor in there, but with an intermediate
sound, the front or dental d (formed by touching the teeth with
the tip of the tongue), still used in the same words in the
northern English counties (where it is sometimes written dth, as
fadther), and a familiar sound in southern and oriental languages.
In the modern dialect of the Southern Counties this d has become
th, as in English: faither, muther, bruther, gæther, thegether, etc.
The th even extends to several words which in English retain
dd, viz. adder, bladder, ladder, peddar or pedlar, fodder, udder,
which are æther, blæther, læther¹ (and thus confounded with
leather), pæther, fòther, uther. In a few words the change is not
complete; bòther, fathom, worthy, are often bòdder, fadom, wurdie,
while shoulder, powder, pewter, solder, generally shoodder, poodder,
puidder, sòwder, are sometimes shoother, poother,-puither, sòwther
or saather. The proper names Bedrule (a parish in Roxb.) and
¹ As illustrating the wide diffusion
of such forms, we find in Barnes's Dorset
Grammar (p. 16) that, in that dialect,
ladder and bladder are laðer, blaðer,
just as in Scotland.
Stoddart, are often Bæthrool and Stothart, while Mather is often
Mayder, and southernwood generally sudron-wud.
F of the Old Scotch, still retained in the more northern dialects,
is in the south often v; not only in plurals, as weyves thieves, for
wyffis, theiffis, but in some singulars, as neive, caave, for neif, calf
or chaff, and sometimes staave, scheive, for staff, sheaf. Grave is
graaf (older) and greave. Compare English love, reeve, glove,
with Ags. lufu, refa, glofa.
G, having often its hard sound before e and i, as geape, geir,
geade, gie, gytt, the soft sound should be expressed by J initially,
as in the old jebat, jeroflouris, jimp, for gibbet, gillieflowers,
gimp. In Scotch the g often remains hard when it has become
soft in English, as in bryg, ryg, sægg = bridge, ridge, sedge; gyre = gin.
K is still pronounced before N by old people, as k'neyfe,
k'nowe, k'neycht; but the habit of suppressing it in the English
taught at school has led the rising generation to drop it also in the
vernacular. In the north-east of Scotland it remains in regular use.
K or hard C of the Anglo-Saxon is, as is well-known, preserved
in the northern dialect, where the southern has developed the
palatalized form of CH. Thus we have kyrk, kyrn, cairl, kyst,
kaisart, caak, kink-cough, byrk, theik, thàk, puock, steik, pyck,
streik, nyck, breiks, stynk, beseik, larick,, raaks, ylk, quhylk, syc,
gowd-spink, corresponding to the English church, churn, churl,
chest, chizzard, chalk, chincough, birch, thatch, pouch, stitch, pitch,
stretch, niche or notch, breeches, stench, beseech, larch, reach, each,
which, such, gold-finch. Similarly, SK is in a few words used for
SH, as in skyrl, skrynk, skelf skleff, scunner, skreych, shreik,
skældreake, skayr = shrill, shrink, shelf, Germ. schleif flat, shun,
shriek, sheldrake, share; and SKL often occurs initially for SL,
as in sklate, sklender, sklander, sclye, slclidders, sklænt, skleyce,
English slate, slender, slander, slide, sliders, slant, slice. In the
older writers we find also sklave = slave.
L is very variously treated in Scotch. After a it is usually
elided, not only before K and M, as in stalk, balm, but also when
final, or before other consonants, as all, fall, alum, alms, malt,
fault, salt, halse, als, pronounced aa, faa, aam, aamus, maat, faat,
saat, haass, aass. So with the guttural sauwch, fauwch, tauwch =
English sallow, fallow, tallow. This pronunciation is found at
the beginning of the 16th century.
Compare —
Sum man musand with the wa,
Luikis as he mycht nocht do with à.
Dunbar — Of Solicitors at Court.
And haistelie, or euer ƺe know,
ƺe sal be plagit, ane and aw.
Lauder — Office, 204.
Defy the warld, fenƺeit and fals,
With gall in hart, and hunyit hals :
Off quhais subchettis sour is the sals.-
Dunbar — Of Content.
where the rhyme sals = sauce, gives also faass and haass. So
regular was this elision of l after a, with lengthening of the
vowel, that the combination al became a mere orthoepic device to
express the long and broad a; and an intrusive l is thus found in
words where it has no etymological raison d'être, as walter, chalmer,
bald, awalk, walkin = water, chamber, bad, awake, waken.
Hay now the day dallis (= days!),
Hay Christ on us callis!
The spelling chalmer is a history in itself; showing, first, that
when the French chambre was introduced, it was naturalized by
dropping the b, as has been pointed out under that letter;
secondly, that to indicate the length of the vowel the Scotch
intrusive l was inserted. Now for the sound:
And than scho passit vnto hir Chalmer
And fand hir madinms, sweit as Lammer-Sleipand
full sound.
Lyndesay—Sq. Meldrum, 1007.
Lammer = l'ambre, having also become Scotticised. The two
forms of the family name Chambers and Chalmers are alike pronounced
Chaamers in Scotch.
When the spelling was aul, corresponding to English ol, the l
is sounded, as in auld, bauld, could, sauld, hauld (noun) pronounced
aald, baald, etc. Hauld (verb) and wald = English hold,
would, are hàd, wàd.
After o, L is also often dropped, making the diphthong owe:
powe, knowe, rowe, bowe, howe, cowt, yowk = English poll, knoll,
roll, boll, hollow, colt, yolk. So folk in some dialects fouk, in
others fuok; soldier, sodger, suodger. Here also the l became a
phonetic device in some words, as nolt, neat-cattle, oxen, Ags.
nyten. In many words l is sounded after o, as bolt, doll.
L is also often suppressed after u, as wool, 'ōō, pulpit, poopet,
bulk, book, culm, coom, moult, moot, foulmarten, foomart, suld =
should, sŭid or sood, shoulder, shooder, full, foo, S. Scotch fuw.
The spellings beaulte, pulder, occur in Middle Scotch for beauty,
powder = powder.
After e and i, L is pronounced, the only exception occurring
to me being Melrose, which is called by country folk Meuross,
-Meuwress. When followed by M the latter has a syllabic effect,
as elm, helm, film; pron. ell'm, hell'm, fill'm, where the m is as
syllabic as in solemn, rhythm, or Scotch boddum.¹
Terminal -LE, -EL, -EN, used to be pronounced with a connecting
vowel, as in sadyll, tabyll, bummill, abill, writtyn, eityn,
but the l and n are now usually uttered without the vowel, as in
English; saiddle, teable, bummle, eäble, w'rytt'n, eit'n.
¹ It is possible that this rolling of
the L may be of Gaelic origin; in that
language the combinations lm, lb, lg,
rm, rb, rg, are pronounced as if with a
short ŭ between them, thus, alm, calm,
sgealb, bálg, àrm, òrm, earb, make alum,
calum, sketlubp, bpalugk, arrum orrum,
The liquid L and N of the Romance languages (Fr. mouillé,
regne, Ital. egli, degni, Span. calle, ñoño, Portug. filho, minha),
existed in the older Scottish, being represented by lƺ, nƺ. Thus
bailƺe, artailƺie, capercailƺie, mylƺeoun, spulƺie, tailƺeour, coilƺear;
fenƺeit, dedeinƺie, Spanƺe, cuinƺie, gaberlunƺie, etc., corresponding
to the French bailli, artiller, million, espouille, teilleur, feigne,
dedaigne, Espaigne, coigne. In the modern dialects generally these
sounds have become obsolete, and simple l, n, or lie, nie, are used
instead, thus, baillie, caper-caillie, spuillie, teyler, keyler, Spain,
cuinie. But in the Southern Counties the original sound is
retained in many words, as bail-yea, tail-yer, cuol-yer, fever-fuillyea.
The ƺ having been erroneously represented by Z by the
early printers, this letter is retained in many proper names,
having originally the liquid n or l, as Menzies, Drummelzier,
Mackenzie, Dalziel, Cockenzie, and is pronounced as a z by those
who are ignorant of its origin; although natives say correctly
Drummel-yer, Dal-yell, Cocken-yie or Cocken-nie, etc.
NG in the middle of a word always retains its simple final
sound, as in sing, long. In English, on the contrary, it usually
takes an additional g in pronunciation, as sing-gle, long-ger,
fing-ger, hung-gry, young-gest, Eng-glish, which in Scotland and
North England are syng-'l, lang-er, fyng-er, hung-rie, yung--
est, Ing-lish. The Standard English has the simple sound in
verbal derivatives, as sing-er, sing-est, sing-ing; in the North it
is universal, the combination ng-g being utterly unknown. The
Southern English seem fond of ng-g (compare the vulgar any--
thing-g or any-thingk), and we sometimes hear long-g, song-g, sing--
ging. So in Germany Wohnung is in some parts bhoh-noong,
in others, bhoh-noongk. The Northern dialect has, doubtless,
always had the same pronunciation. In the 16th century we
find Ang-us, not Ang-gus:
For his supporte tharefor he brocht amang us,
Furth of Ingland, the nobyll Erle of Angus.
Lyndesay — Tragedie, 132.
Comparing this with what has been said as to MB and ND, we
may lay it down as a principle, that the Northern tongue has a
repugnance to the combination of the nasals M, N, NG with their
cognate mutes, B, D, and G.
NG is in Scotch replaced by N before TH, as in lenth, strenth,
spellings found in the Northern dialect since the 13th century.
The termination -ing is also pronounced -in (in Southern Counties
-ein), as dealin', schyllin', mornin'. This also is found at an early
period in Scotch, thus:
þocht a man mycht nocht have space to ask mercy, þarfor suld he nocht dyspare,
fore that ware mare ekyne (i.e. eking) of sorow to hyme. — Craft of Deyng, 90.
Be this men suld leif all thair kyn
And wyth thair Wyffis mak dwellyn.
Lyndesay — Monarché, 779.
So we find garden, children, Latin, spelled garding, childryng,
Laiting, pointing to the same pronunciation of -ing as -in or -ein,
these words being now gairdein, chyldrein, laitein.
In to that gardyng of plesance,
Twa treis grew—mast tyll auance.
Ibid., 739.
Beildingis, gardyngis, and plesant parkis.
Ibid., 1928.
In the older stages of the language ng was often written for
Latin gn, thus, sing, ryng, impung, propung, conding, maling, benyng,
prengnant, etc. Vestiges of this substitution of the nasal for the
liquid n are still found in the spoken dialect, as in condyng,
benyng, and the verb ryng, rang, rung, to reign, tyrannize.
For weill he wut thar suld be bot a king
Off this regioun at anys for to ryng.
Blind Harry — Wallace.
As QUH is often found QWH, so QU is found written QW, as
Qwyk, qwyt, qwene.
R, being truly consonantal, has not the same gliding effect
before consonants as in English. This is especially noticeable
before L, and less so before M and N. The combination RL is
quite hard; thus such words as curl, dirl, world, earl, are pronounced
cur'l, dyr'l, wor'lt, yer'l, just as cuddle, fiddle, waddle,
are cud'l, fid'l, wad'1, in English. The L is as much a distinct
syllable in cur'l, dir'l, as it is in squirrel, barrel, coral. In arm,
harm, worm, barn, turn, the same semivocal transition is heard,
though less distinctly; but in districts towards the Celtic frontier,
arm, harm, term, warm, worm, are distinctly airem, hairem,
terem, warem. wurem. The. combination SHR is always pronounced
with a slight vocal effect between, thus, shrub, shrew =
shĕrúb, shĕreúw. Or the difficulty is got over by other means,
as shriek, shrill = skreych, schyll.
The interchange between the forms R°S and °RS seen in comparing
some English words with their Ags. originals, as gærs,
grass, cors, cross, is largely represented in Modern Scotch. Thus:
The same transpositions are seen, not only in comparing old
with modern English, but in comparing the different English
dialects; thus in Devonshire we have urn, urd, purty, gurt = run,
red, pretty, great; in Dorset claps, crips, haps, waps, ax, for clasp,
crisp, hasp, wasp, ask. Ax, Ags. acsian, acsode, which is also the
Scotch, is much more widely used than its corruption ask, used
in the Standard English.
Prein (Ags. preon), thryssle, sprecklet = English pin, thistle,
S has the hissing or buzzing sound, generally as in the cognate
English words, but plural nouns; which change the 'hiss' into
the 'buzz' in English, retain the 'hiss' in Scotch. Thus English
house, houses (Həus, Həuzyz), Scotch (Hus, husiz), as contrasted
with the verb (Huuziz) — he houses his cattle. The terminational
s in plural nouns and such words as his, is, was, has, has now the
z sound, but so late as the 16th century had still the hiss or s
sound, being often written iss, haiss, wass, and regularly rhyming
with words which have still the ss sound.
My will and final sentence is (= iss)
Ilk ane of ʓow vthers kiss.
Of al thing sal be, and was,
As gud dissert, will, or trespass.
Richt dulefulliye doung down amang the asse,
Bot, as Dauid did slay the gret Gollyasse
Or Holopharne be Judeth killit wasse.
In English also wise has the z sound ; but in Scotch the ss sound,
as in nice, mice. Compare—
Quhat is vertew and quhat is vyce,
And quha is fule, and quha is wyß.
Ratis Raving, 2062.
An interchange between the sounds of S and SH is frequent.
Initially, the SH is used for the S sound, in sew, cinders =
scheuw, schunders. But in the 16th century we find also the
forms schir, scherve, schervice, pschalm, scherene = sir, serve,
service, psalm, syren. This was undoubtedly of Celtic origin ; in
Gaelic, s is always pronounced sh in connection with the 'small'
vowels e, i, the very word serve being adopted in Gaelic as seirbhis
= sherrevish.
This pronunciation of s as sh before e explains the abnormal
derivation of the pronoun she from the Ags. feminine demonstrative
seó. Seó on the Celtic frontier would, as a matter of course,
become scho, a form which arose in the Northern dialect, and
travelled south, till as scheo, sche, she, it was adopted also into the
midland and southern dialects, displacing the original feminine
pronoun heo. There is consequently no need to assume (as some
writers do) a form sco, sko,¹ as the origin of scho, any more than we
¹ I mean a form pronounced sko; the
spelling sco is of course found in Cursor
Mundi, and in a late portion of the
Saxon Chronicle of northern character
(after 1100), where it seems to have
been the orthographical device for the
sound of sh, sho having already supplanted
have a right to suppose forms like skir, skervice, skew, as the
origin of the Scotch schir, schervice, shew = sew.
Medially, the words vessel, vassal, officer, assiette, gusset, and in
some parts of Scotland Alsander = Alexander, Jackson, Russell,
are pronounced veschel, vaschal, offischer (spellings found in the
15th and 16th centuries, so also braschelets, courticians), aschet,
guischet; Elshander, Jackshon, Ruschel (compare Eng: bushel
from O. Fr. boissel). A similar change of the z sound into that
of zh or French J occurs in Fraser, poison, pronounced Frazher,
poyzhon, though puzzen is also in use. In all these instances the
Celtic influence is obvious.
Finally, the words farce, hoarse, hearse, hare-sel = hare--
(lipped), scarce, grilse, mince, pincers, notice, rinse, cleanse,
grease, are usually farsch (so spelled in 1554), hairsch, hearsch,
hearsehel, scairsch (so spelled in 16th c.), gylsch, mynsch,
pynschers, notisch, reinge, clenge (so always spelled in Sc.
writers), creisch (in old Acts of Parliament, gresche).
On the other hand, a southern sh is represented by a northern
s, in sal, suld = shall, should, and Lyndesay gives us the spelling
cedull for schedule, this being a recognized English pronunciation.
In sal, singularly enough, the northern tongue agrees with the
Germanic, the southern with the Scandinavian languages. Thus,
German soll, sollte, Dutch zou, zoude; but Danish skal, skulde.
The same change of SK into S, instead of SH, is seen in the
words ash or ashes (Ags. asce), wish (Ags. wiscian), bush (Ital.
bosco, Fr. bois), and busk; in Sc. ass, wuss, buss.
Think, man, thow art bot erd and ass,
And as thow com, so sal thow pass.
So the old national names, Scottis, Inqlis, Frence, Dence, Wallys =
Scottish, English, French, Danish, Welsh, of which Scots alone
now retains the simple s sound. Erse seems always to have had
the sh sound on account of the preceding R: Erisch, Irische, Ersch.
S followed by u, which has in English become SH in sugar,
sure, retains in Scotch the s sound, protected by the following
a being either the French eu, or the u in dull, thus, suggar,
suir, suit. With these may be classed the whole series of words
ending in -sure, such as leisure, measure, treasure, pleasure, which
retain in Scotch the simple z sound of s, layser, mesur, træsur,
pleisur. Similarly in the terminations -ture, -duce, there is in the
north no tendency to the pronunciation -chure, jure, as in nature,
creature, picture, posture, verdure; naytur, creatur, pyctur, postur,
verdur, with hard T and D, as they were still pronounced in the
English of the 17th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries we
find the French verbs nourisse, fleuriss, perisse, etc., adopted
with the French ending, as nureiss, fleuriss, pereis. Whatever
the sound then was, it is now sh in all this class of words.
T is usually rejected between S and L, S and N, F and N, as
in whistle, castle, thistle, wrestle, casten, moisten, soften, pronounced
quhussle, cassle, thryssle, warsle, cuissen, moyssen. Final
T is always dropped after the other mutes, K and P, in such
words as direct, directed, director, exact, compact, act, fact, detract,
deject, strict, defunct, apt, corrupt, corrupted, tempt, tempted, exempt,
empty, Pict or Pecht, which are pronouned direk, direkkit,
direkkar, exack, compack, ack, fack, detrak, dejeck, strik, defunk; ap,
corrup, corruppit, temp, tempit, exemp, empie, Pik, or Pech. (In
the Standard English, on the contrary, it is the p which is mute
in -mpt, thus temt, exemt.) In the middle of words, as in Scripture,
doctor, factor, rapture, the t is sounded. This dropping of
final t was common in the Middle Scotch, being often indicated
by the spelling, as direkkit, stupefak, corruppit; at other times
by the rhyme, as where detractit rhymes with lakit, act with
mak. In other cases we find a t tacked on by false analogy,
where it had never been pronounced, as in taxt, campt, lact =
lack. To the habit of thus writing t, either where it was no
longer sounded, or where it had never been so, and not to any
peculiarity of pronunciation, must, I think, be referred the spelling
tht, as in moutht, witht, treutht, lentht, montht, so common
in the Middle period. That the combination was pronounced as
a simple th appears alike from its rhyming with words so spelled,
and from the fact that the spellings mouth, moutht, zenyth, zenytht,
with, witht, are found promiscuously on the same page of early
books and MSS. From the resemblance between c and t in many
MSS., and the further fact that both combinations cht and th were
indicated by the same contraction, thus, wt, bayt, blyt, not, myt = with, bayth, blyth, nocht, mycht, the two were often confused by
copyists and early printers, giving such erroneous forms as wycht,
baycht, blycht, notht, myth, mytht, for the above words. The
"Complaynt of Scotlande," printed 1548, is full of such errata, as
is also the edition of Lyndesay's Works, published in France, the
error being one to which foreign printers or copyists would
be especially liable. In "Ratis Raving," a volume of Scotch
prose and verse, published by the E. E. T. Society, 1870, we also
come continually upon such clerical errors or erroneous expansions
of contractions, as moucht, blycht, worcht, for mouth, blyth,
worth. In some words the combination cht seems to have sunk
into ch, and afterwards into a mere vowel, thus, thocht, nocht
(adv.) are now thô and nô (thoo, noo), and aucht or ocht, in
quhea's aucht it? is often (aa, oo): quhea's â'd? (kwhii'z aad).
TH, as in English, represents two sounds, the breath sound as
in thin, and the voice sound as in then, written by orthoepists dh.
The latter sound (dh) occurs initially only in the demonstrative
the and second pers. pro. thou, and their derivatives, viz., the, that,
this, those, these, they, them, their, theirs, there, then, than, thence,
thither, therefore, though; thou, thee, thy, thine. In Scotch the list is
the, thàt. thys, thae, thyr, thay, thaim, thair, thairs, theare, thàn,
thăn (thine, thider, for-thy, antiquated), thou and thonder, variants
of yon and yonder; and the forms of the second pronouns, thow, thy,
thyne, thee, which are obsolete in the spoken dialects, but read as
(dhƎu, dhai, dhain dhii). But though, in Sc. thô, formerly thocht,
has the breath sound as in thin. With in English (widh) is in
Scotch wuth; and the same sound is retained in plural words like
mouths, truths (muths, trəths), which in English take the voice
sound (məudhz, truudhz). The confusion between the voiced
sound and D in the middle of words, as bedder or bother, has been
considered under the letter D. For the voiced sound initially,
and even medially, the old Ags. thorn-letter þ was retained. But
in the hand-writing of scribes this came gradually to be confused
in form with the character for vowel y, end was in consequence
printed as y by the first printers, whose founts of types — all of
foreign manufacture — contained no letter for the English þ. In
some of the MSS. we find the true y distiguished from this thorn
y by being dotted, ẏ. But this was by no means general, and, in
consequence, the words given above appear in old books as ye, yat,
yis, ya, yir, yai, yaim, yair, yairs, yare, yan, yine, yider, foryi,
yow, yi, yine, ye; and we also find oyer, nouyer, quheyer, and
less commonly broyer, for other, nouther, quhether, brother,
While the character y had thus come into use to express the
sound of voiced th, the sound of y consonant had similarly intruded
upon the character proper to z. The Ags. g, of which the
form was ʓ, had in certain positions a guttural sound, like ch in.
licht. After the Norman Conquest the Ags. character was retained
to express this sound, while the Roman g was used for the sounds
in gage. The guttural sound became successively weakened
into the initial whispered y heard in hue, Hugh, and the simple
y consonant as in you; and although occasionally written yh, as
in the Royal MS. of Wyntoun (yhit, yhew, yhe, yhisterday), its
regular form in Scotch was ,ƺ a modification of the original Ags.
ʓ or g. But the letter z having come to have the same form in
MS., the two letters were identified, just as it happened with the
thorn and the vowel y, so that early printers used ʓ or z alike for
both, printing ʓe, ʓellow, ʓeal, ʓenith; ƺe., ƺellow, ƺeal, ƺenith, or
ze, zellow, zeal, zenith. Whence it happens that in turning to a
printed book of the 16th century, we find z used, not only for z,
but for y consonant; and y, in its turn, used not only for y vowel,
but also for the voice sound of th, as in the. In Scottish handwriting
and on tombstones, etc., the compendium of y for th was
still in use two generations ago; and the use of z for y has
fastened itself permanently upon some proper names and other
words, such as Cockcenzie, Dalziel, Menzies, Mackenzie, Drummelzier,
gaberlunzie, etc., where people who affect to be correct
speakers, pronounce it as if it were a real z, and doubtless this
habit will eventually drive out the genuine pronunciation, for
already in Edinburgh it is 'proper' to ca11 Cockenƺie Cocicenzie,
and 'vulgar' to say Cockennyie.
V is often expressed by F in the older Scotch orthography, as
haif, leif preif, moif, have, leave, prove, move. As in Ags., the F
was probably pronounced as V, which letter, or rather U, was
often used instead, as haue, leaue, preue, moue, move. But in
plurals such as wyiffis, theiffis, as already mentioned, the f had its
own sound.
An original V is very frequently elided in Scotch after a vowel
or a liquid. Thus we have pree, lea'e (Burns), een, eend, een,
eenin', yestreen, se'enight, e'er, ne'er, Innerleithen, Stein, Steinson,
Te'iot, (teiət), Lennox, Stirling, etc., for preve or preif, prove, try,
leave, even, evened, i.e. straightened, eve, evening, yester-even, seven-night,
ever, never, Inverleithen, Stephen, Stevenson, Teviot, Levenax,
Striveling. Leis-me or leeze-me represents the old leif is me, dear
to me is,—
"O leeze me on my spinnin' wheel! O leeze me on my rock and reel!"
as lesum, leful, represents leif-sum, leif-ful. Have, give, gave, given,
have become hae, gi'e, ga'e, gi'en = hæ, gee, gæ, geen; and,
like the latter, unthriven, riven, driven, are often unthre'en, re'en,
dre'en. The 16th century spelling was reuyn, dreuyn, but like
heuyn, euyl, deuyl (now yll, deil), the pronunciation was monosyllabic.

Gaif nocht thy makar thé fre wyll
To tak the gude and leif the euyll?
Lyndesay, Mon. 969.
The tre to knave baith gude and euyll,
Quhilk be perswatioun of the Deuyll, etc. l. 746.
Both pronunciations nevir and ne'er were known in the 16th
century. Compare James the Sixth's "Reulis and Cautelis of
Scottis Poesie." Chap. VI.: "As in Flyting and Inuectiues, ƺour
wordis to be cuttit short. . . . sic as thir,-
Iis neir cair
I sail neuer cair,
gif ƺour subiect were of loue or tragedies. Because in thame,
ƺour wordis man be drawin lang, quhilkis in Flyting man be
short." Further examples are seen in loe, loesome, doo (S. Sc.
duw), aboon, owre, for love, dove, aboven, over; sel, twall, ser, hairst
for self or selue, tuelf twelve, serve, heruest; braw, saw, and in Old
Sc. (also Old Eng.) waw, for brave, salve, wave; saver, sawrless,
sairless, for savour, savourless, insipid; weel-favr'd = well-favoured.
In Gaelic we find a similar elision of the bh or v, and mh or
nasalized v. Compare ionar = inver; thalla — thalamh; cumhach,
coimhleabach, pronounced coilepach.
W is still commonly pronounced before R by country folk in
the Southern Counties, and I suppose by old people in many
parts of Scotland, a slight pause, or scheva as it is called in
Hebrew, being interposed, as with SH'R, thus, w'rang, w'richt,
w'rist, w'ryte, w'ren. In the north-eastern dialects the w is replaced
by v, as wh is by f, thus, vrang, vrycht, vryst, vreet, vran.
Between twenty and thirty years ago I used to hear lisp pronounced
by Old Teviotdale villagers as w'lisp, like the Ags.
wlispian, and as in Barbour, where we read of Sir James Douglas:
And in spek wlispit he sum deill,
Bot that sat hym rycht wondre weill.
This pronunciation is now, I fear, quite gone, and that of WR is
rapidly following it. Two other of the numerous Ags. words in
WL came clown some distance in the Northern tongue; namely,
wlatsom, loathsome, hateful, found in Hampole, etc., and wlonk, a
gay lady, a belle. The alliteration of Dunbar's "Tua marryit
women and the Wedo" shows that in wlonk the W was pronounced
in the 16th century.
And of thir fair Wlonkes, with tua Weddit War with lordis,
Ane was ane Wedo, I Wist, Wantoun of laitis.
The Wedo to the tothir Wlonk Warpit thir Wordis.
From a pronunciation of Wlonke as Vlonke, like Vreet for Wreyte,
we are said to derive the word flunkey.
The northern speech both in England and Scotland has a
tendency to drop initial W and Y before the cognate vowel
sounds of oo and ee, thus, woos wool, woollen, wolf, ye, year, yield,
are pronounced 'oo, 'oo', 'oollin, 'oolf, 'ee, 'eer, 'eild. And in reading
English, would, wood, woman, womb, are (or were) similarly
pronounced 'ood, 'ood, 'ooman, 'oom,¹ the vernacular saving the w
by changing the following vowel, wad, wud, wumman, weame, sometimes
also woff, wuff, for wolf. Week, in Age. wuce, and hence in
Old Sc. wouk, is similarly made into 'ouk = ook; but this is old
fashioned, and weik is now the common form in the south of
Scotland at least. The Danish uge, ulv, urt, I, aar, week, wolf,
wort, ye, year, present the same peculiarity, of which traces are
already found in the Gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels in the
10th century.
As week and ouk are alternative forms, so we often becomes
oo in Central Scotland, — "Oo nô ken nochts aboot it," We
don't know anything about it, and, per contra, our = oor, is often
expanded in the south to wur, wer; and the prefix un- used to
be regularly written wan = wun, as wanrestfu', wanricht, wanluck,
wanthryft, etc., but this pronunciation is now disappearing.
Wan- (Age. wana, want, lack, deficiency,) was probably the older
form of un-, for which it was still used in some words in Ags., as
wan-hál un-hale, wan-hælð un-health, wan-hýdig un-heedy, wan--
spédig unspeedy, corresponding to the Scandinavian vanheil, van--
heilsa, vanhyggja, etc. The Old Norse had the two forms van-and
ú, which appear in the modern tongues as van and u or o ;
¹ I can remember the time when pronunciation
of the combinations, woo, ye,
presented considerable difficulties to me,
as we know they do to Germans and
Frenchmen, who often never get be.
yond 'oo, 'ee.
O.N. vanmâttr ; Danish, Swedish, vanmagt, unmight, weakness.
O.N. ú-rettr, Dan. uret, Sw. orätt, unright, wrong. The contraction
of ye, yer = your into 'ee, 'eer, seems to belong to the
Southern Scotch ; in other dialects the y is saved by altering the
vowel yă, yăr or yeh, yer. These fluctuations in the value of W
and Y are due to the intermediate position of the w and y glides
between consonants and vowels, and the consequent facility with
which they pass into either class of sounds ; they are intimately
connected with the development of close o and é into wu and ye,
as in English one, wun, and Scotch ane, yen, already considered
under the vowel sounds ea and uo.
The vowels and diphthongs already described represent the
sounds heard in those syllables which are under an accent primary
or secondary ; in other positions the vowel sounds are
dulled or obscured to such an extent that they lose their original
quality, and fall into the obscure ě described under No. 5, or the
short ĭ, No. 2. This is especially the case in open syllables
following the accent, in which position all vowel sounds, except
Nos. 1 and 2, sink into an obscure ě or ă sound, as heard in
English bounded, in sofa, or the London pronunciation of er final
in manner, grocer, which has already been referred to as a dulled
form of the mid front wide, or perhaps more correctly the mid--
mixed vowel. This is the final sound heard in this dialect in the
words sofa, America, India, widow, window, shadow, sparrow,
borrow, sorrow, Chatto, Minto, Yarrow, yellow, fellow, hero,
stucco, potato, tobacco, value, sinew, nephew, Andrew, sirrah,
Pharaoh, Laidlaw, Boonraw, Wooflaw, Greenhaugh, Headshaugh,
Linthaugh-lee, Todshaw-hill, Moray, Monday, railway, sheriff,
can-nocht, wald-nocht, bannock, haddock, back-fu', hand-fu', sorrow-fu',
paddo', Islay, baillie or bailƺea, Kedƺie, etc., etc., where
the diverse final vowels shown in the spelling have all alike sunk
into this obscure, colourless ě or ă, thus (sofə, Ǝmi'r•ikə, Endiə,
widə, wƎndə, shadə, sparə, borə, sorə, Tshatə, Mentə, Jarə, Jalə,
falə, Hiərə, stukə, pətatə, baakə, velə, senə, ni'fə, Andrə, serə, Faarə,
Ledlə, Bənre, Wuflə, Grinə, Hidshə, Len•tə-lei, Tod•shə-hel, Morə,
MƎndə, rəlwa, sherə, kanə, wadnə, banə, Hadə, bakfə, Haandfə,
sor əfə, padə, Eilə, bíəl•Jə, Kíəd•Jə). The proper treatment of
these final vowels is one of the most difficult problems connected
with a systematised orthography. Are we to continue to spell
the words weido, wundo, sparrow, yallow, Monanday, handfu', etc.,
leaving it to the reader to find out that the o, ow, ay, u, ue, etc.,
are not to be pronounced as, o, ow, ay, u, ue, but as this obscure ě,
or are we to discard the historical spelling and write the words
as actually pronounced? When we examine the usage of other
languages, we find that it has been the rule to indicate this
obscuring of unaccented vowels (which is a regular phonetic law,
seen in operation in all languages in which we can compare a
later with an earlier stage of growth,) by a corresponding change
in the spelling. In Early English, when the Anglo-saxon lufu,
wudu, cildru, æʓru, eálo, feó, haǽlo, þreo, gerefa, mona, blostma,
Beda, hara, oxa, assa, drincan; ʒeclypod, lufode, heofon, lufiʒe,
had come to have their final syllable obscured in the same way as
the Scotch weido, nephew, etc., they were so written, luve, wude,
childre, eƺre, ale, fee, hele, three, reve, mone, blosme, Bede, hare,
oxe, asse, drinken, ycleped, luved, heven, luve, without regard to
the original vowel which the e represented. In Anglo-saxon
itself, an e had replaced other original vowels, as sylle for syllu,
syllo, eáʒe, tunʒe, eáre, sealfe, for the Old Gothic augo, tungo,
auso, salbo. In the modern Teutonic languages we see the same
adaptation of spelling to the changed sound, even where the
English has preserved the historical vowels, as in German schatte,
sorge, wittwe, neffe, for shadow, sorrow, widow, nephew; Danish
vindue, padde, window, paddo' (frog). So when the French had
similarly dulled the unaccented vowel of the Latin homo, cornu,
tonitru, porta, tenebras, amo, ama, amant, dicunt, dicant, ego, it
did not continue to write the original vowels, but spelt homme,
corne, tonnerre, porte, ténèbres, aime, aime, aiment, disent, disent,
je, where, as in English, the e has at length become quite silent.
In other languages the method has been adopted of writing the
original vowels distinguished by certain marks to show that
they have no longer their own sounds, — that, though etymologically
a, o, u, they are, practically and phonetically, an obscure ě.
The language in which the most systematic attempt. has been
made (it cannot yet be said successfully) to make spelling do two
things, — at once tell the etymology, and the actual living word, —
is the Rumanian of Moldo-Wallachia, in which, according to one
system of writing, a sound like the English e in the, faces, is
variously written â, ê, î, ô, û,, and another vowel, near to the
English u, in but, focus, takes the forms ả, ẻ, ỉ, ỏ, ủ,, according as
they represent, or are derived from, a Latin a, e, i, o, u, respectively.
This is as though we were in modern English to write
the words hare, eye, ended, fee, shame, verse, as harâ, eyê, endôd,
feô, shamû, versû, to shew that we knew that they were once
hara, eáʒe, endod, feo, sceamu, versus, a concession to the etymological
principle which the most rigid believer in "historical
spelling" is hardly prepared for.
The chief difficulty in writing Scotch arises from the want of a
vowel to substitute. E is no longer admissible on account of the
habit of regarding a final e as naturally silent. A seems most
suitable alike from its preserving the form of the proper names, as
in Bella, India, Africa; being known with this power, as in gala,
sofa, among, Armadale; and being already used for the very
purpose when we write canna, dinna, wadna, for the older can--
nocht, do-nocht, wald-nocht; bacca, shirra, banna, for tobacco,
sheriff bannock; or when we contract proper names, as Isla, Jura,
Rona, for Islay, Juray, Ronay, Greena for Greenhaugh, Lintalee
for Linthaughlee.
It seems, therefore, desirable to extend the spelling in a to as
many cases as possible; but when for any reason the etymological
spelling is retained, it might be marked with ˘, thus, weida,
Andra, hadda, vaila, railwa, or weidŏ, Andrŏ, haddŏ, vailŭ, railwăy;
the ˘ being conventionally understood to mean that the original
sound of the vowel is quite lost, and that even in drawling or
prolonging the sound, we only hear the sound of e in yet, next,
wanted. To write weido, shado, Monanday, Andrew or Andro,
awfu', waefu', is quite deceptive, and misleads an English or
Foreign reader; for in English the final vowels in widow, shadow,
Monday, Andrew, awful, woful, are, though unaccented, clearly
and distinctly o, ay, ew, u, whereas in Scotch, even when artificially
accented, drawled, or sung to a long note, there is no
vestige of the vowel which is shewn in the writing, but only of
this obscure e. The same obscure vowel-sound is also given to
a number of subordinate words and particles, including the, a, an,
an' and, ăt relative, thăn conjunction (dhə, ə, ən, ən, ət, dhən); and to the words, i' in, o' of, at, to, wi' with, fræ from, thàn then,
may, mæn or maun must, had, nor, they they, me, when unaccented
(ə, ə, ət, tə, wə, frə thrə, dhən, mə, mən, Həd, nər, dhə,
mə); when emphatic they become (en en•ə, oo of, at, təə, wəə
wƎth, frææ thrææ, dhan, mææw, mæn man, Hæd, noor, dhee, mei).
It is besides the sound given to the unaccented a- prefix in open
syllables, as in a-mang, a-buin, a-yont, a-neuwch, a-neuw (əmaq•,
əbən, əJont•, ənəkwh•, ənəu•). When followed by two consonants
a more decidedly back vowel is used, nearer to à, probably (ɐ)
or (Ǝ), as in admyt, asklænt (ɐdmet•, ɐsklænt•); and the same
sound is taken by the words quhan when, was, waar were, can,
wad, would, I, my, als—as, as—as, when unemphatic, (kwhɐn,
wɐz, wɐr, kɐn, wɐd, ɐ, mɐ, ɐsɐz), which under the stress are
(kwhan, waz, waar, kan, wad, aa, maa, as—az).
The other unaccented vowel is the brief ĭ (No. 2), which I
have already said I think closer than the English i in pity, comfit,
and, before a consonant at least, undistinguishable from the
accented short ei in feit, Leith, or French i in petite, visiter.
This i generally represents the English i, y, in unaccented
syllables, as in merit, charitable, carry, carried; Scotch mearit,
chæritable, cairrie, cairriet. In polysyllables there seems to be a
kind of harmonic law preventing the recurrence of this brief i in
two or more successive syllables. In words where it would so
come naturally, the recurrence is avoided by changing one i into
the other brief vowel (ə), thus qualify, charitable (kwalifei, tshær•-
itəbl), with i, but quality, charity (kwal•əti, tshær•əti), where the
i is changed into ĕ, ă to avoid the combination ĭtĭ. So in polĕcie
policy, prophĕcie, as compared with poleice, propheit, muitĕnie,
mutiny, muitinous.
The terminations -ABLE, -IBLE, are alike (əb'l), as in visible,
feasable (vii zəb'l, fii'z•əb'l). So -ability, -ibility, (əbíl•əti).
-AC, -ACK = (ək); but -IC = (ik, ik), as in stomach, music
(stam•ək, məə•zik).
-ACE, -ASE, -ES = (əs), but -ICE, -IS, in old or French words =
(is, is), as in palace, Forbes, notice, haggis (pel•əs, for•bəs,
not•is, Hag•is). Only in a few words, mostly of recent introduction,
is -is = (-əs), poultice (pƎltəs).
-ACY, -ASY, -ICY, -ESY, -ISY = (əsi), as prelacy, policy, phrenesy
(prii'l•əsi, pol•əsi, fren•əsi).
-AGE, -IAGE, -EGE = (idzh, idzh): manage, marriage, college
(man•idzh, mer•idzh, kol•idzh). In cabbage, porridge, the
consonantal ending loses its vocality, becoming (kab•itsh,
poritsh). So -ager, as bondager (bon•didzhər).
-AN, -AIN, -EN, -ON = (ən), but -IN, ING, in old words = (in, in),
hallan, certain, baron, garten = garter; Latin, a singing, a
being (Hal•ən, sær•tən, baa•rən, ger•tən, let•in, seq•in, bei•in); so
verbal -ing always. With the termination -ity added, humanity,
divinity (Həmen•əti, dəvin•əti). But -iny, as well as
-any, becomes (əni); mutiny like harmony (mət•əni, her•məni).
The words garden, children, linen, woollen, flannen = flannel,
have the close termination (ger•din, tshel•drin, len in, ul in,
flan•in). They were usually written yn, ing, by the old
writers, gardyng, childryng, lyning, etc.; not being original
Scotch words, the Scotch writers seem to have looked upon
them as collective forms from garth, childer, lint, wool, like
housing, clethyng, sheeting, from house, claith, sheet, and to
have written and pronounced them accordingly. The participial
-AND is (-ən) or (-ɐn), syttand, beand, cummand
(set•ən, bei•ən, kƎm•ən) or (set•ɐn, bei•ɐn, kƎm•ɐn). -EN of
the past participle and of causative verbs, now usually ('n)
without connecting vowel, as written, stooden, holden, open,
weaken, whiten (w'ret•'n, stəd•'n, Had'n, op•'n, wee•k'n,
-ANCE, -ENCE = (əns); ANCY, -ENCY (ənsi) owerance, impudence,
sapience, (ou•rəns, empid•ens, sap•iəns).
-ANT, -ENT = (ənt): callant, parent (kal•ənt, paa•rənt).
-AR, -ER, -OR (ər); -ar was in the Scottish writers the most usual
form of the termination of the agent, as in baxtar, tailƺear,
coilƺear; it was also used in comparatives as erar rather,
hiear higher; in other words, the common spelling was -yr,
ir, as in fadyr, modyr, neuyr, wattir. The modern pronunciation
of all these forms is (ər). -ary, -ery, -ory, are (əri), as
history (Hes•təri).
-ARD, -ART = (ərd, ərt), as coward, guisart (kƎw•ərd, gei•zərt).
-ATE, -AT, ET = (ət), but -IT, -ITE, in old words, especially of
French origin = (it, it), as merit, Jacobite (mi'rit, dzhak•-
əbit). In words of recent introduction -it has the opener
sound (ət), pulpit, vomit, rabbit, hermit — for the native armeit
now obsolete — (pup•ət, vom•ət, rab•ət, hær•mət). -ATY, -ITY,
always (əti) rarity (ree•rəti).
-ER, -ESS, -EST = (ər, əs, əst), father, rather, countess, weakest
(fedh•ər, redh•ər, cun•təs, wee•kəst).
-FUL — (fə) mouthfu', thochtfu' (muth•fə, thokwht•fə).
-FY, in the pronunciation of older people (fi, fi), but with the
more modernized (fei) or (fɐi); terrify, older (tær•əfi),
newer (tær•ifɐi).
-HOOD, in its old form, -hede, heid (hid), as manhede, maydinheid
(man•Hid, mee•dənhid), but now often -huid (-Həd).
-ID = (id, id), rapid (rapid), but in some more recent words (əd),
as vivid, tepid (viiv•əd, tip•əd).
-IFE = (if), as wakerife, cauldrife (wi'k•rif, kaald•rif).
ION = (iən, Jən), communion (komən•iən).
-ISH, -ISCH = (ish, ish), parish, finish (per•ish, fin•ish).
-IVE = (iv), olive (ol•iv).
-IZE, -ISE, when under the accent (iiz), baptize, civilise (baptiiz•,
ciivəliiz•), otherwise (iz, iz), exercise noun (ek•sərsiz), verb
-LE, -AL, -EL, -IL, -YL, in its older form (əl), but now more generally
('l) as in English table (teei•b'1). So handle, moral, barrel,
devil (han•'l, mor•'l, bar•'l, diiv'l); the last word contracted
deil (dil).
-LESS = (ləs) thowless (thou•ləs).
-LENTH = (lənth) foot-length (fet•lənth).
-LY = (li) sometimes purposely accented and made (lai), trew-ly
-MAN, when carefully pronounced, has more decidedly a back
vowel (mɐn, mƎn), but is perhaps oftener confused with
-men, as (mən). In English also no difference is heard in
ordinary pronunciation between boatman and boatmen.
-MENT = (mənt) judgment (dzhədzh•mənt).
-MONY = (məni), or under secondary accent (mƎni), harmony, agrimony
(Her•məni, ag•rimƎni).
-MOST = (məst), boonmest, hindmest (bən•məst, Hen•məst).
-NESS (nəs), as sweetness (swit•nəs).
-OUS, US (əs) as almous, alms (aa•məs). -IOUS, -EOUS (iəs, Jəs),
but in several words made -uous (uəs, wəs), as righteous,
piteous, richtwis, pituous (rekjht•wəs, pit•uəs, pit•wəs).
-SHIP (shəp), friendship (frind•shəp); a few words retain an older
form in -skip (skəp), as huswifskip, ayrskip (HƎz•iskəp, eer•-
skəp), housewifeship, heirship.
-SIVE, in Eng. always (siv), is in Sc. often (ziv, ziv), as decisive
-SOME (sƎm) or (səm), tiresome (tei•ərsƎm).
-TION, -CION, -SION, -TIENCE, -CIENCE. Down to the middle of the
16th century this termination was dissyllabic = (si-on•),
When James VI. wrote his Reulis and Cautelis (Edin. 1585),
it had become reduced to a monosyllable in ordinary practice,
but the dissyllabic pronunciation was retained at the end of
a line in verse: "There is a kynde of indifferent wordis, asweill
as of syllabis, the nature quhairof is, that gif ƺe place
thame in the begynning of a lyne, they are shorter be a fute,
nor they are, gif ƺe place thame hinmest in the lyne, as
Sen patience I man haue perforce,
I liue in hope with patience.
ƺe se there are bot aucht fete in ather of baith thir lynes
aboue written. The cause quhairof is, that patience in the first
lyne is bot of twa fete (pææs•Jens), and in the last lyne of
thrie (pææ-si-ens.), in respect it is the hinmest word of that
lyne."¹ Examples of the same usage abound in the so-called
Scottish version of the Psalms in metre, as"A
man was famous, and was held
in estima-ti-on,
According as he lifted up
his axe thick trees upon."
But although the traditional pronunciation -a-shi-on, a-shience,
is retained liturgically in singing, the termination has
become as in Eng. (shən shɐn, shəns) in actual use. With
regard to the preceding vowel, I have heard (a) from old
people in Galatians (galaa•shənz), but a is now usually ai,
as in Eng., thus, nation, national (nee•shən, nee•shənəl);-assion, -ashion, are (ashən); -ession, -ition, -otion, -ution
(æ•shən, i•shən, oo•shən, ə•shən). The voice consonant is
heard in -esion, -ision, -osion, -usion (ii zhən, ii•zhen, oo•zhən,
əə•zhən); but occasion is usually pronounced as if written
occaition (okee•shən), and transition in Eng. (trænsi•zhɐn) is
in Sc. usually (tranzi•shən). Patience is usually made (pee•-
shənz), as if it were the plural of pation, which may be the
cause of its being used as a plural noun, thus, monie
paytience, owre feuw paytience.
-TIOUS, -CIOUS, which in England are also monosyllabic, still make
two syllables (shi-əs) in Sc., as in precious (pree•shiəs), like
glorious (gloo•riəs). The same is the case with all such forms
as -teous, -geous, -gious, as in plenteous (plen•tiəs), and
Dominie Sampson's pro-di-gi-ous! (pro-di•-dzhi-əs).
-TIAL, -CIAL = (shiəl, shJəl), official (ofi•shiəl); with -ity (shial•-
əti), partiality (parshial•əti).
-TY (ti), -TILY (təli), canty, cantily (kan•ti, kan•təli). The noun
ending -ty still survives as -tith in several words, bountith,
poortith, daintith, (bun•təth, pəər•təth, den•təth).
-URE (ər), the preceding consonant being unchanged, thus, nature,
leisure, measure (nee•tər, lee•zər, mez•ər).
-WARD (wƎrt, wɐrt), doonwart (dun•wɐrt).
-WISE, -WAYS (wez, wez) likewise, side-wise, or side-ways (leik•wəz
lek•wəz, seid-wəz).
¹ Works of James I. in Arber's English Reprints, No. 19, p. 61.
It has already been stated that the liturgical language of Scotland
— the language of the Scriptures and devotion — has been,
since the Reformation, more or less the literary English. Since
the union of the kingdoms — in most parts of Scotland, since the
Commonwealth — English has been the only language taught at
school, and, for ordinary purposes, used in writing. But while
there has been one written standard for Scotchmen and Englishmen,
in actual pronunciation this English of Scotland has been,
and still is, greatly different from the English of Southern England.
To say that it is English read or spoken with northern
instead of southern vowels, with the northern trilled r instead
of the vocalized r of the south, and with northern habits of
quantity and accent, would not be to state the exact difference
between the two modes of utterance; it would be more correct to
say that it is English read with a northern conception of the
southern vowels, sometimes identifying them with the corresponding
northern vowels, at other times discriminating between them
and exaggerating the difference. Thus him, his, with (Him, Hiz,
widh) are distinguished from the Sc. hym, hyz,wuth, but pronounced
(Him, hiz, with); book, both, stone, full (buk, booth, stoon, ful)
are distinguished from the native buik, baith, stane, full or fou,
but made (buk, both, ston, ful). In many respects this pronunciation
represents a more archaic stage of English, and many words
doubtless retain the traditional sounds with which they were
introduced into Scotland in the 16th or 17th century. As a
specimen I give the Hundredth Psalm (of which two 16th century
forms have already been given, page 68,) as it was read in school,
and from the pulpit, within my own recollection, and may still
be heard in any cottage in Teviotdale. For the sake of comparison
I give (also in palaeotype) the standard Southern English pronunciation,
as written for me by Mr. Ellis;¹ and, to shew how
this English of Scotland differs from the vernacular pronunciation
of Scotch, the Scotch forms of the words are also added. The specimen
probably shews the extreme of the difference between the
English of Scotland, as still existing, and the Standard English;
in the pronunciation of individuals every variety of approximation
from this to the Southern English pronunciation will of
course be heard, in proportion to the intercourse they have had
with those who use the standard idiom, not merely as a liturgical,
but as a living tongue.
¹ I have ventured to differ from Mr.
Ellis's transcription only so far as to
write the long ā and ō (eei, oou) as
they are always pronounced in the
south, and as I seem to hear them from
Mr. Ellis himself, although he considers
them theoretically as only (ee, oo).
Standard Eng. 1 AAl pii•p'l dhæt ɔn ɹth duu dwel,
Eng. of Scot. 2 aal pii•p'l dhat on ærth du dwæl,
Scotch. 3 aa fu'k ət on Jerth dez dwal,
1 siq tu dhy Lɔɹd widh tshiiɹ•ful vɔis.
2 siq tu dhə Loord with tshiir•ful vois.
3 seq tə dhə Luu'rd wə tshiir•fə vois.
1 Him sɹv widh mɹth, Hiz preeiz fooɹth tel,
2 Him særv with merth, Hiz preez forth tæl,
3 Hem sæær wə merth, Həz preez fƎrth tæl,
1 kəm Ji bifooɹ Him ænd ridzhɔis•.
2 kƎm ii bifoor Him ænd ridzhois•.
3 kƎm ii əfuu'r əm ən ridzhoiz•.
1 noou dhæt dhy Lɔɹd iz Gɔd indiid•;
2 noo dhat dhə Loord iz Good indid•;
3 kæn ət dhə Luu'rd əz Good əndid•;
1 widhəut• əuɹ eeid, Hi did əs meeik:
2 withƎut• Ǝur ed Hi dəd Ǝs meek:
3 wəthut• uur Hælp Hei dəd əs mìək:
1 wii aaɹ Hiz flɔk, Hi dəth əs fiid,
2 wi aar Hiz flok, Hi doth Ǝs fid,
3 wei er Hez Her s'l, Hei dez əs fid,
1 ænd fɔɹ Hiz shiip Hi dəth əs teeik.
2 ænd foor Hiz ship Hi doth Ǝs teek.
3 ən foor Hez ship Hei dez əs tíək.
1 oou! en•tɹ dhen Hiz geeits widh preeiz,
2 oo! æntər dhæn Hiz geets with preez,
3 oo! kƎm en dhən ɐt əz Jææts wə preez,
1 ɐprooutsh• widh dzhɔi Hiz kooɹts əntuu•:
2 ɐprotsh• with dzhoi Hiz korts Ǝntuu•:
3 gaq forət wə dzhoi Həz kurts təə:
1 preeiz, lAAd, ænd bles Hiz neeim AAlweeiz•,
2 preez, laad, ənd bles Hiz- nem aalweez•,
3 preez, laud, ən bles əz niem ei,
1 fɔɹ it iz siim•li soou tu duu
2 for it iz sim•li soo tu duu
3 for et ez far•ənt sii' tə dəə
1 fɔɹ whəi? dhy Lɔɹd, əuɹ Gɔd, iz gud,
2 for whai? dhə Loord Ǝur Good iz gud,
3 for kwhai? dhə Luu'rd uur Good ez gəd,
1 Hiz gud•nys iz fɔɹ ev•ɹ shuuɹ
2 Hiz gud•nəs iz for evər shəur
3 Hez gəd•nəs ez for evər səər
1 Hiz truuth æt AAl təimz fɹm•li stud
2 Hiz trəuth at aal taimz ferm•li; stud
3 Hez trəth ət aa teimz ferm•li stəd
1 ænd shæl frɔm eeidzh tu eeidzh endiuuɹ
2 ænd shal from edzh to edzh əndəur
3 ən sal fræ iədzh to iədzh əndəər
The third line is, of course, not given as idiomatic Scotch, but
merely as shewing the vernacular forms of the words. An idiomatic
version would alter the entire order of the words and mode
of expression in some lines, rejecting altogether the do, did, doth;
and in the Southern Scotch might be something like this — (to
disregard the metrical form): "Aa fuok ăt leeves (dwàlls,
wònns), ònna the yerth, syng tui the Luord, wui a cheerfŭ voyce.
Sær 'ym wui myrth, tæll furth 'yz prayse, cum ye afuore 'ym, ăn
rejoyse! Kæn ye, the Luord yz Gôd yn trowth; hey meade us,
wuthoot ònie hælp o' oors: wey're hyz hyrsel ăt hey feids, ăn
hey teakes us for 'yz stheip. O cum yn, thăn, at 'yz yǣtts wui
prayse, gàng fòrrat tui 'yz coorts wui joye: aiy prayse, an' lauwd,
an' blyss 'yz neame, for yt's fàrrant tui dui seae. Quhat fòr? the
Luord oor Gôd's guid; hez guidness is suir for aiy: hyz truith
stuid sycker ăt aa teymes, ăn yt 'll læst fræ eage tui eage."
As a part of the great series of phonetic changes by which the
modern Teutonic tongues have come to differ so widely from their
ancient sources, and from each other, the Laut-verschiebung or
systematic vowel-change from Anglo-Saxon to Modern Scotch, and
the different forms which the same original vowels have assumed
in Southern English and Modern Scotch, possess interest for
every student of language. This interest is in no way dependent
upon the literary or commercial importance, the culture or the
diffusion of the idioms to which it attaches; the most isolated and
unimportant dialect may, and often does, illustrate these laws of
phonetic growth better than the most cultivated and widely-used
The Anglo-Saxon vowel groups are represented with considerable
regularity in the Southern Scottish dialect, the chief exception
being in connection with the ʓ and h of the older tongue,
and the guttural or vocal diphthongs which represent them in the
Scotch, and with the modifications produced by the letter r, which
generally affects the quantity of the preceding vowel, although it
does not so often alter its quality as in the Standard English.
The following table shews the written forms assumed by the chief
Ags. vowel combinations in the Early and Middle Scotch, and
their spoken forms in the modern dialect of the Southern Counties.
For the sake of brevity, a closed syllable, caused by a following
consonant, is indicated by a turned period; thus a• indicates a in
a closed syllable, or a followed by a consonant; ar• means ar
followed by a consonant or final; æ••, æ followed by two consonants.
An open syllable is indicated by a hyphen, thus a-means
a at the end of a syllable. The same original vowel
assumes different values in the modern dialects according as it
occurs in an open or a closed syllable.
While, as shown by the first and fourth columns of the following
table, the old vowels and combinations are represented in this
dialect with considerable regularity, so that, given the modern
Scotch representative of one Ags. word, we can with tolerable
safety fix that of all words containing the same original vowels,
the correspondence between the dialect and modern literary
English is much less regular and harmonious. This arises largely
from the chaotic state of modern English spelling, in consequence
of the partial alterations which it has undergone, sometimes in
obedience to a phonetic, at other times to an etymological feeling;
also from the loss in English of the sound of gh and the various
forms which have replaced it, as in plough, enough, Ags. ploh, ʓenoh,
S. Sc. pleuwch, eneuwch; and from the Eng. vocalisation of final
r, and the great disturbance in the vowel system caused thereby.
It is also partly due to the different treatment which words of
French and Classical origin have received in English and Scotch,
from which it often comes that the same Eng. vowel has one
representative in Sc. when of Ags. origin, and another form when
of French origin, as in rain, strain, complain, S. Sc. rain, strein,
complein (ren, strin, komplin•), play, pray, S. Sc. play, preae
(plee, priiə) rose pret. of rise, rose the flower, S. Sc. rayse, ruose
(reez, ruu'z). A detailed account of the Southern Scottish equivalents
of the chief vowel combinations in modern English follows
on page 144.
a• man, sang a man, sang 1
a(r•) earl, warnian a carle, warn 2
a- na-ma, ha-tian a name, hate 3
a-(r) ha-ra, fa-ran a hare, fare 4
aʓ, ah lag, laga, lage, lab awch, aw Inch, lawch, law 5
ah dab, lab aw law 6
á gá, stán a ga, stane 7
á(r) sár, máre a sure, mare 8
áʓ ágen aw awen 9
áh, áh• áh, áht aw, awch• aw, awcht 10
áw bláwan, cráw aw blaw, craw 11
æ• fæt (fatu), stæf (stafas) a fat, staf 12
æ•• æfter, blæddre, æse e eftir, bleddyr, esch 13
æʓ dæʓ, fæʓen, fæʓer ay day, fayn, fayr 14
ǽ rǽde,ǽl, fǽr, blǽse e redo, ale, fere, blese 15
„ final e, ee se, see 16
ǽʓ mæʓden, sǽʓde ay, ai maydin, sayd, said 17
„ final clǽʓ, æʓ(hwær) ay clay, ay 18
e• men, betst e men, best 19
e- be-re, be-te, fe-dan e bore, fede 20
é fét, hér, gléd e fete, her, glede 21
e final he, me, ʓe, þe e he, me, ƺe, þe 22
eʓ weʓ, heʓ ay way, hay 23
ea eald, sealt, steal a, alde, salt, sal 24
ea(r) beam, fearn, cear a barn, care 25
eá eác, eást, breád e eke, est, brede 20
eáʓ eáge ey, ee ey 27
eah• eoh• eahta, feohtan ey, eych eycht, feycht fecht 28
eáh háah eyeh, ey heych, hey 29
eaw deaw, feáw, heawan ew dew, few, hew 30
eo(r) heorte, steorra, feor e hert, stern, fer 31
eó deóp, þeóf, deór e, depe, thef, dere 32
eó final, eóʓ seó, beó, fleóh, treów, e se, be, fle, tre, fle 33
eóh, eow fleóge
eów bleów, hreówan ew, eu blew, rew, reu 34
i• y• him, hym, brycg, blind i, y him, hym, brig, bryg 35
i- y- hider, biten i, y hider, bitten, bytten 36
í- ý- wíf, brýd i, y, ij wif, wyf, wijf 37
iʓ dríg, drígde y dry, dryit 38
iʓ maniʓ, moniʓ y, i mony, moni 39
ih niht, syhð igh, ych night, nycht, sicht 40
íw híw, níwe ew, eu hew, new, neu 41
o• hlot, bolt, hors o lot, bolt, hors 42
ol bolster o bolstyr 43
o(r•) horn, sceort o horn, schort 44
o- þo-lede, to-ren o tholyd, toryn, torn 45
oʓ- boga ow bow 46
oh sohte ogh, owch soght, sowcht 47
ow stow ow stow 48
ó óþer, bóc, dó o (13th c.) othir, boke, do
u (later) vthyr, buke, do 49
óh hó, hoh, dohtor owch howch, dowclityr 50
ów grówan, grówen ow grow, growyn 51
u full, sunes, cuman u (ow) ful, sunnis (sownnys), cum 52
ú út, tún u (13th c.) ut, tun 53
ow (later) owt, town
ú final cú, nú u (13th c.) ku, nu 54
ow (later) kow, now
úh rúh uch, owch ruch, rowch 55
úg drúgoð' ow drowth 56
„ búgan, súg owch, ow bow, sowch 57
1 a man, sang à màn, sàng
2 a, ai carle, wairn ai cairl, wairn
3 a, ai, ay name, hayt ea neame, heate
4 ay hayr, fayr ay hayr, fayr
5 awch, aw, au lawch, law, lau aa laa
6 aw law eawch deawch, leawch
7 a, ay ga, gay ea geae, steane
8 ai, ay sair, mayr ay sayr, mayr
9 aw, ai awin, ain auw, ay auwn, ayn
10 aw, auch aw, audit aa, auwch aa, auwcht
11 aw, au blaw, blau aa blaa, craa
12 a fat, staff à fàt, stàff
13 e eftir, bleddir, esch æ æfter, blæther, æsch
14 ay, ai day, fain, fayr ai, ay day, fain, fayr
15 ei, ey reid, feir, bleize ei, ee reid, eil, feir, bleeze
16 e, ey se, sey ey sey
17 ay, ai maydin, said ai, ay mayden, said
18 ay clay, ay aiy claiy, aiy
19 e men, best æ mæn, bæst
20 ei, ey beir, feid ei, ee beir, feid
21 ei, ey feit, heir, gleyd ei, ee feit, heir, gleid
22 e he, me, ƺe, þe ey, ee, e hey, mey, yee, thĕ
23 ay, (a) way (wa), hay aiy wary, haiy
24 al, au auld, salt saut, sall aa, a aald, saat, sàl
25 a, ay bairn, cair cayr ai, ay bairn, fairn, cayr
26 ei eik, eist, breid ei eik, eist, breid
27 ey, e ey, é ey ey
28 auch, ech aucht, fecht æych æycht, fæycht
29 ey, ie, e hie, hé, hich, heych eych, ey heych, hey
30 ew, eu dew, deu euw deuw, feuw, heuw
31 e hert, stern, fern æ hært, stærn, færr
32 ei deip, theif, deir ei, ee deip, theif, deir
33 e, ey se, be, fley, tre trey ey sey, bey, fley, trey
34 ew, eu blew, bleu euw bleuw, reuw
35 i, y him, hym, etc. y hym, bryg, blynd
36 i, y hider, bytten y hyther, bytten
37 y, yi wyff, wyif ey or aiy weyfe, breyde
38 y dry, dryit ȳ drye, dryed
39 y, ie, e mony, monie, mone ie monie
40 ich, ych nicht, nycht eych neycht, seycht
41 ew, eu hew, neu euw heuw, neuw
42 o lot, bolt, hors ò lòt, bòlt, hòrse
43 ol, ow bolstyr bowstyr òwe bòwster
44 o (oi) horn, schoirt uo huorn, schuort
45 o, oi, oy thoillyt, thoyll uo thuoled, tuorn
46 ow bow owe bowe
47 och socht owch sowcht
48 ow, stow owe stowe
49 u, ui, uy uthir, buke buik, du'd ui (uther), buik, dui
50 ouch, och houch, dochtir owch howch, dowchter
51 ow grow, growin owe growe, gròwn
52 u (o) full, sunnis sonnis, cum u fuw, suns, cum
53 ou (ow) out, toun oo oot, toon
54 ou (ow) cow, nou uw cuw, nuw
55 ouch rouch uwch ruwch
56 ou drouth oo drooth
57 ow, owch bow, sowch, sow uw buw, suw
English A short, or A, AU, long and
slender, in -ass, -ast, -ant, -aunt, is
in Scotch usually a short, as màn,
bàttle, pàss, àss ashes, pàst, làst adj.
càs'le, ànt, ànt aunt, chànt, hànt
haunt, vànt vaunt, dànt daunt. Any,
many, are in Scotch onie, monie.
But when the English A in -ass, -ast,
-ash, represents an Ags. æ, the S. Sc. is
usually æ, as mæss the mass, glæss,
gærs or græss, læst to last, fæs'n fasten,
æsch ash-tree, wæsch wash, thræsch,
hæv, hæs, hæd.
Before nch the Sc. sound is ai, as
branch, haunch, stanch, Sc. brainsch,
hainsch, stainsch.
English A, short or long in -and, is in
Sc. aa long: laand, baand, staand,
haand, graand, command, demaand,
waand. But pret. of verbs short, as
fànd, gràn'.
Eng. A, broad in -al, -all, -aw, -au,
usually long aa in Sc.: wall, ball,
walk, called, law, malt, hawk, salt:
Sc. waa, baa, waak; caa'd, laa, maat,
haak, saat.
But au, aw, from classical source are
in Sc. auw (au, aau), audience, autograph,
pauper, laud, laudanum, Sc.
auwdicnce, auwtograph, pauwper,
lauwd, lauwd'num.
Eng. AR, representing an Ags. eor, is
in Sc. æ long or short, thus, far,
dark, darn, smart, starve, star, farm,
bark, as a dog, carve, farthing, representing
the Ags. feor, deorc,
deorn, smeort, steorf, steorra, feorm,
beorcan, feorðing, are in Sc. fæ̆rr,
dæ̆rk, dæ̆rn, smæ̆rt, stæ̆rve, stæ̆rn,
fæ̆rm, bæ̆rk, cærve, fæ̆rdin. So særk,
sark, skirt, hærk hark. Spark, mark,
are spæ̆rk, mæ̆rk, though having ea
in Ags. Tar is also tær.
Eng. AR, representing an Ags. ear, is
in Sc. ai (e, ee), thus, arm, harm,
sharp, park, ark, yard, narrow, swarm,
ward, warn, warp, the Ags. earm,
hearm, scearp, pearroc, earc, geard,
nearw, swearm, weard, wearn, wearp,
are in Sc. airm, hairrn, schairp, pairk,
airk, yāīrd, nairra, swairm, waird,
wairn. wairp.
Eng. AR, from classical and recent
sources, is also ai, as in art, cart,
part, dart, card, charter, scarce,
Charley, market, Martinmas, garter,
charge, large, carry, marry, army,
alarm, harmony, garden, yarn, bard,
carl, Sc. airt, cairt, pairt, dairt, caird,
chairter, scairsh, Chairlie, mairket,
Mairtinmess, gairten, chairge, lairge,
cairrie, mairrie, airmie, alairm, hair-menie,
gairdin, yairn, baird, cairl.
AR in a few words is àr, aar: bar,
par, war, hard, farce, warm, warran'
warrant, barrel, marl, snarl, barley,
garlic, lar' (laar) lard.
Eng. A long with its name sound, before
a consonant and e mute, is in
the S. Sc. dialect ea, in the others
a close variety of ai (e or i); tale,
face, mane, state, save, paste, paling,
taken, waken, S. Sc. teale, feace,
meane, steate, seave, peaste, pealin,
teane, weaken.
α If the consonant be r or ng the
opener ai, ay is used, and fare, care,
hare, ware, range, change, manger,
angel, danger, are fayr, cayr, hayr,
ways, rainge, chainge, mainger,
aingel, dainger. So ladle, Sc, laidle.
So with z, v, (dh) • Craze, wave,
bathe, crayze, wayve, baythe.
β Blaze, mare, hazel, take ee, bleeze,
meir, heezel.
γ Dare takes aa, daar.
δ Scare, cradle, trade, take æ, skær,
cræddle, træd.
Eng. AI is in Sc. ai, ay: air, fair,
hair raise, faith; bait, wait, hail,
sail, pain. Sc. ayr, fayr, hayr, rage,
fayth; with short vowel băĭt, wăĭt,
hăĭl, săĭl, păĭn. Chain, strain, maintain,
con-tain, and complain, take ei,
chein, streind, mentein, contein,
Fail, again, take ea, feale, ageane.
Chair takes the diphthong ey or aiy,
cheyre, chaiyer.
Eng. AY is usually ay: say, fray, gray,
day, lay, play, etc.
But the following take the diphthong
aiy: aye, clay, gay, hay, May,,
stay, way; Sc. aiy, claiy, gaiy, haiy,
Maiy, stay, waiy. Ay! makes æy!
Eng. AUGH is in S. Sc. auwch (in
Central dialects aach); laugh, haugh,
haughty, laughter; Sc. lauwch,
hauwch, hauwchtie, lauwchter.
Laughter, Ags. dóhtor, is generally
Eng. E long, followed by a consonant
and e mute, and EE medial, are in
Sc. ee, ei, as in here, seethe, freeze,
deer, complete, seek, seen, beet, peel;
Sc. heer, seethe, freeze, deer; with a
short vowel, compleit, seik, sein, beit,
peil (komplit•, sik, sin, bit, pil).
Where is quhayr, there is theare, so
also some words of French origin in
e-e, as sincere, theme, scene, scheme,
revere; Sc. synceare, theame, sceane,
skeame, reveare.
Eng. E, EA, .EE final (in most of the
Sc. dialects ee), in S. Sc. ey diphthong,
as be, he, me, we, sea, tea,
pea, see, tree, bee, knee, flee, free;
S. Sc. bey, hey, mey, wey, sey, tey,
pey, sey, trey, bey, k'ney, fley, frey.
Eng. E in an open syllable under the
accent, in words of classical origin,
is regularly eae. Most of these words
have in French é acute, with which
they were originally pronounced, also,
in Scotch, and probably in English;
in modern English they have become
either ē, in me, (ii) or è in yet (e).
The S. Scottish sound is the acute
é in its passage into Eng. ee. Thus
heathen, Venus, second, deceive, were
once haythen, Vaynus, saicond, desayve;
they are now in Eng. heethen,
Veenus, sĕcond, deceeve; in the dialect
of Southern Scotland heathen,
Veanus, seacond, deceave (Hiəthən,
viənəs, siəkənt, disiiəv.
So in deist, deity (dii•əti) désert,
dexterity, element, elephant (i'lifənt),
emery, ephemera (i'fíəm•ərə), equal
equi-, female, feminine (fí'm•ənin),
genial, genius (dzhi'n•əs), generous,
heretic, hero, idea (idii'), ingenious,
memory, merit, penetrate, penitent,
period (píər•iad), petrel, real (ríəl),
schedule (in Lyndesay, cedull), secret,
series, serious, seraph, segment, several,
skeleton (skiəlitən), superior, telegraph,
venerable, veteran, etc.
In proper names: Eve, Ephraim,
Hebrew, Hebron, Enoch, Ephesus,
Herod, Cæsar, Euphémia, Phémie,
Telfer (Fr. Taillefer).
With Latin or Greek prefixes:
desert, depute, decent, delicate, decimal,
decorate, dedicate, etc., eminent,
elevate, educate, elegant, elegy, egotist,
edict, epoch, etc., epicure, epitaph,
epic, etc.; present, preface, president,
prelacy, prejudice, etc.; recent, recreant,
reprobate, refuge, regal, rebel,
regiment, reconcile (ri kənsil•), record,
regular, relish, revolution, etc.; secret,
separate, secretary, second, senate,
several, sepulchre, etc. Unaccented,
the prefixes are as in English, se-cede,
de-sert, re-pent. When followed by
two consonants the sound is æ, as
desperate, destitute, dæsperet, dæstituit.
In benefit, precious, discretion, the
sound is ai, bainefeit, praishius, dyscrayshen.

Eng. E short (e), in a closed syllable,
is regularly represented by æ (Pal.
æ), in other dialects (E) the French
ê circumflex, as bed, egg, best, let,
pen, hem, pet, settle, restless, send,
less, sell, pest, vent, direct, rest,
pellet, scent, tent, venture, test, mend,
text; S. Sc. bæd, ægg, bæst, læt,
pæn, hæm, pæt, sættle, ræstless,
sænd, læss, sæll, pæst, vænt, deræck,
ræst, pællet, sænt, tænt, vænter, tæst,
mænd, tæxt.
α The following have y (the South
English e in yet), bless, yes, yet,
chest, stench,get; Sc. blyss, yys, yyt
(Old Sc. yhis, yhit), kyst, stynk,
gytt or geate.
β These have ei (i): well bene, wet, v.
and n. jet, red, spread, next, stretch,
quest, arrest, lest, rest (to be restive
as a horse), crest. Sc. weill, weit, jeit,
reid, spreid, neixt or neist, streik,
queist, arreist, leist, reist, creist,
γ The following have à (a), wet, adj.
well (fons), wedge, west, wed, wedding,
web, welt, wealth, wretch,
when, then, wedder, weapon. Sc. wàt,
wàll, wàdge, wàst, wàd, wàddein,
wàb or wòb, wàlt, wàlth, w'ràtch,
quhàn, thàn, wàther, wàppen.
δ The following have ai (e), them,
welcome, wench, quench, French,
Welsh, hench, tench, wrench, vengeance,
avenge, Benjamin, plenty,
question; thaim, wailcum, wainsch,
quainsch, frainsch, Wailsh, hainsch,
tainsch, w'rainsch, vaingence, avainge,
Bainjamein, plaintie (or
plæntie), quaistein.
Eng. ER final, or in a closed syllable,
is generally ær; as stern, concern,
prefer, err, deter, certain, serpent,
serve, divert, merle, Merlin, yerk,
nerve, mercy. Sc. stern, conzærn,
prefær, ærr, detær, eærten, særpent,
særr, devært, mærl, Mærlein, yærk,
nærv, mærcie.
α In a number of words from the
French it is ear, as in herb, perch,
term, terse, verse, pert, exert, insert,
insertion, disconcert, desért, sergeant,
assert. Sc. earb (Compl. of Scot.
eirb), pearch, tearm, tearse, vearse,
peart, exeart, ynseart, ynseartion, dysconceart,
dezeart, seargent, asseart.
β In clerk, merchant, alert, and when
rep. an Ags. ea, as fern, it is ai; Sc.
clairk, mairchant, alairt, fairn.
γ In her it is y; Sc. hyr.
Eng. EA before R, Z, V, without succeeding
consonant, is in Sc. ee long;
hear, clear, dear, tear, wear, bear,
pear, please, tease, leave, weave,
heave, teazle. Sc. heer, cleer, deer,
teer, weer, beer, peer, pleeze, teeze,
leeve, weeve, heave, teezlo.
Eng. EA before R, with a following
consonant, is in Sc. ea; earl, earth,
beard, learn, search, pearl, hearse;
Sc. (iər'l, iərth, biərd), etc. Heart,
hearth, hearken, take æ; hært, hærth,
Eng. EA before other consonants is in
Sc. ei; bead, head, dead, lead (v. and
n.), peace, breast, feast, beast, least,
mean, lean, speak, eat, peat, heap,
meal flour, seal, bleach, leaf, deaf,
read pres. t., spread, pleasure. Sc.
beid, heid, deid, leid, peice, breist,
feist, beist, leist, mein, lein, speik,
eit, peit, heip, meil, seil, bleitch, leif,
deif, reid, spreid, pleisur.
α The following have ea: threat
(thriət), death, deal, heal, meal re-past;
wean; and several words of
French origin, as beat, feat, seat,
real, heathen, pheasant (fiəzən),
creature, feature (fiətər), theatre,
reason, season, treason (triəz•n).
β The following have ay, ai: weak,
breathe, breath, neat, endeavour,
weasel. Sc. wayk, braythe, braith,
nait, endaiver, wayzel.
γ These have y: great, break, measure,
heavy. Sc. gryt, bryk, myzzer,
δ These have æ: health, leather,
feather, heather, knead, tread, treadle,
leaven, breakfast, treasure, the preterites
read, spread. Sc. hælth,
læther, fæther, hæther, næd, træd,
træddle, læven, brækfest, træsur,
ræd, spræd.
ε These have à: wealth, weather. Sc.
wàlth, wàther.
ζ One has the diphthong ȳ (ai), treacle,
Old Eng. triacle, Sc. trȳkle (traik'l),
Gaw. Douglas, tryakill.
Eng. EI, EY are in Sc. usually ai, ay:
either, neither, their, they, survey,
vein, veil, heir, leisure. Sc. aither,
naither, thayr, thay, survay, vain,
vail, ayr, layser, Old Fr. laysir.
α In several French words it is ea:
conceive, conceit, deceive, receive,
receipt, etc., seisin or sasine. Sc.
conceive (Douglas consayve), conceat,
deceave, receive, receat, seasin.
β Rein, takes ei, rein or reind (rin).
γ Key takes the diphthong ey, key (kei).
EIGH is in Sc. ey, eych, æych: weigh,
wey; height, sleight, heycht, sleycht;
eight, weight, æycht, wæycht.
EU, EW, in Sc. euw (əw), feud, feu,
few, new, yew, hewn, Ewen, Europe,
S. Sc. feuwd, feuw, feuw, neuw,
yeuw, heuwn, Euwen, Euwrope
I short in a stopped syllable (or before
R) is regularly represented by y, as
hill, sit, middle, thistle, first, fir,
firm, dirt, third. Sc. hyll, syt, myddle,
thrys'le, fyrst, fyrr, fyrm, dyrt,
thyrd. A preceding w changes the
sound to u, as will, wit, window,
wisp, witness, whin, whip. Sc. wull,
wut, wunda, wusp, wutness, whun,
whup. In wing, wicked, whig,
swink, swill, the y sound remains.
Swim is soom.
I short, in words of French and classical
extraction, but also in many of
Ags. origin, is represented by ĕi, eē,
as city, civil, cylinder, pill, sick,
wick, wig, critic, pity, split, drip,
jig, rig, drill, skill, whim, pin,
whisht, finish, guinea, pinion, Britain,
the terminations -ition, -itious,
-ician; Sc. cĕitie (siti), ceevel (sii•v'1),
ceilender, peil, seik, weik, weig,
creitic, peitie, spleit, dreip, jeig, reig,
dreill, skeil, quheim, prein, quheisht,
feinish (finish), geinie, peinien, Breiten
(britən), poseition, suspeicius
I, with its long or name sound, in Ags.
words, however expressed in spelling,
is in a closed syllable,usually expressed
by ey (ei) before a voice consonant,
liquid or nasal, inclining in the
Southern Counties to aiy, aye (ei),
in the centre of Scotland to uy (Ǝi).
Pipe, write, dyke, mice, wife, hide,
rise, wives, blithe, mile, wine, rhyme,
fire. Sc. peype (peip), w'reyte,
deyke, meyce, weyfe, heyde (heid,
hƎid), reyse, weyves, bleythe, meyle,
weyne, rhyme, feyre (feier).
But the words bind, blind, find, hind,
adj. behind, grind, wind, which have
long i in Southern English, have a
short vowel in the dialects north of the
Humber; they are in Scotch bynd,
blynd, fynd, hynt, ahynt, grynd, wund.
Like, likely, are often lyk, lyklie.
In most words of French or Classical
origin this long I is in Sc. represented
by ee, ei (ii, i), polite, site, cite, type,
oblige, chastise, baptize, civilize, advertise,
-went, friar, briar, miser, library,
invite; malign, benign, condign. Sc.
(polit•, sit, sit, tip, oblidzh, tshɐstiiz•,
bɐptiiz, siivəliiz•, advərtiiz•, -mənt,
friir, briir, mii•zər, lib•rəri, ənvit•; mɐleq•, bineq•, kondeq•.
I long (however written), when final,
or in an open syllable, is represented
by the diphthong ȳ (ai, ɔi), as lie,
jacere, tie, pie, vie, by of place, buy, cry,
dye, dry, fry, ply, pry, rye, shy, sty,
spy, sky, try, wry, and their inflections
or compounds, lies, tied, fried,
etc.; dial, dyer, trial, phial, denial,
crier, defiant, giant, lion, riot, pliant,
etc.; also in the words, five, size;
sigh is seych or sȳe. Sc. lye (lai),
tye, pye, etc.; lȳes, tȳed, frȳed, etc.;
dy-al, (dai-ai), dy-er, try-al, etc.; fȳve, sȳze (faiv, saiz).
In lie mentri, die, thigh, eye, fly, by
of the agent, the Southern dialect has
ey (ei), the others ee (ii). S. C. ley, dey,
they, ey, fley, bey, Central lee, dee,
thee, ee, flee, bee. High is in the S. C.
heych, hey or hȳe, in Central Sc. hych,
or hee; highland, heelant or heelan'.
IGH is regularly eych (ekjh), in other
dialects ych (ekh), as neycht, reycht.
Fight is fæycht, fècht. High, thigh,
and sigh (see above).
IE medial in Sc. ee, ei: pier, grieve,
thief; chief, field, friend, fiend. Sc.
peer, grieve, theif, cheif, feild,
freind (frind), feind or feint (fint).
Before R and another consonant it is
ea: pierce, fierce. Sc. pearce, fearce.
Eng. O, OA, OE, representing Ags. á,
is in Sc. replaced by ea (usual orthography
ae, a-e): so, go, wo, who,
two, toe, sloe, bone, stone, broad,
load, toad, one, none, no, ghost, cloth,
whole, foam (Ags. swá, gá, hwá,
twá, bán). Sc. seae, gene, weae,
quheae, tweae, teae, sleae, beane,
steane, breade, leade, teade, eane,
neane, neae, gheast, cleath, heale,
α When followed by r, and in verbal
preterites the vowel is ai: more,
sore, lord; wrote, road, shone, rose
Ags. már, wrát, etc.). Sc. mayr,
sayr, layrd; wrait, raid, schain, rayse.
β Spoke, broke (Ags. spæc, bræc) are
spàk, bràk.
Eng. O, OA, OE, representing Ags. ó,
u, is in Sc. ui (ə): to, do, ado,
done, board, hoard, ford, broth, shoe,
bore, swore, shore did shear, whore,
smother, love, above, oven. Ags.
tó, dó, dón, hórd, swór, etc. Sc.
tui, dui, adui, duin, bruid, huird,
fuird, brui, schui, buir, swuir, schui,
huir, smuir, luive, abuin, uin. So
in coral, doleful, move, prove, Home,
Scone. Sc. cuiral, duilfŭ, muive,
pruive, huim, skuin.
α These have in Sc. u (Ǝ): brother,
come, comely, monger, mongrel,
monk, monkey, month, mother, other,
poppy (Ags. pópig), rob, robber,
sloven, some, son, sponge, tongue,
ton, woman, won, wont, wonder,
word, worm, worn, worry, worsted,
wort, and sometimes wolf; and in
the following, not of Ags. origin: colour, company, donkey, dromedary,
forage, form a bench, front, lodge,
money, pommel. Sc. bruther, cum,
cumlie, mung-er, mung-rel, munk,
monkey, munth, muther, uther,
puppy, rub, rubber, sluwen, sum,
sun, spunge, tung, tun, wuman, wun,
wunt, wunder, wurd, wurm, wurn,
wurrie, wurset, wurt, wuff or 'oolf,
culler, cumpanie, dunkie, drumedary,
furrige, furm, frunt, ludge, munnie,
β These have y: dozen, honey, onion,
cover. Sc. dyzzen, hynnie, yngun,
kĕver rhyming with Eng. ever.
γ Bosom has uo, buosem.
Eng. O before ng (rep. Ags. ang), is in
Sc. à: long, song, strong, wrong,
throng, among. Sc. làng, stràng,
w'ràng, thràng, amàng. Tongs and
thong, older tàngs, thwang hwang,
now oftener taings, hwaing or taiyngs,
hwaiyng. So the proper name
Laing for Lang.
Eng. OA, or O followed by a consonant
and e mute, from other sources
(i.e. Ags. open o not ó, or classical o)
is most commonly uo: coat, coal,
roast, toast, drone, hone, John, hope,
sole of the foot, vote, bank-note,
close adj., close vb., rose flower, dose,
suppose, compose, drove n. S.Sc. cuot,
euole, ruost, tuost, druone, huone,
Juone, huope, suole, vuote, nuote,
cluoss; with long vowel cluoze, ruoze,
duoze, suppuoze, compuoze, druove.
α But a large number of words, including
almost all those of recent adoption,
have the open ò, oa: boast,
clove, coax, coach, coast, code, coke,
cone, cope, cove, croak, crone, float,
grove, hose, host, joke, loam, oath,
ode, pole, pope, post, probe, prose,
quote, road, roam, roan, rogue, rove,
scope, slope, sloth, soak, stroke, toll,
tone, troth, vogue, yoke, de-pone.
Sc. bòst, cloave, etc.
β In hoe, pony, the diphthong ow is
used: howe (French houe) pòwny.
Eng. O, open medial, has usually the
open ò or oa: broken, bother, Colony,
covet, crocus, promise, Roman, soda,
sofa, modern, etc. Sc. bròken, bòther,
or bòdder, etc.
It is difficult to say whether, in this
position, o is long or short; it seems to
have a kind of medial quantity which
may be lengthened or shortened, according
to the feeling of the speaker.
The close sound uo is found in body,
bodice, bogle, closet, covey, crozier,
frozen, monument, positive, posy,
rosin, soldier, story, open, stoic. Sc.
buodie, buodice, būōgle or bōōgle,
cluoset, cuovie, cruozier, fruozen, muoniment,
puosetive, puosie, ruoset, suodger,
stuorie, uopen, stuoic (stuu'ik).
Eng. O shut (ɔ), is in Sc. usually o
short: bottom, bottle, box, cod, doll,
fodder, fox, goblet, honour, post,
rotten, bolt, toss, ostler, flog, clock.
Sc. bòddum, bòttle, bòx, etc.
The close uo occurs in bog, bonny,
cog, cost, cot, folk, frost, lost, sop, sod.
Sc. buog, buonnie, cuog, cuost, cuot,
fuok, fruost, luost, suop, suod.
Eng. O followed by r has the close uo
in the following words: bore, fore,
score, snore, born, corn, horn, forlorn,
morn, -ing, scorn, shorn, Lorn,
torn, thorn, border, cord, lord, sword,
force, forge, fortune, north, port,
porter, report, portion, portly, portent,
short, sort, sport, storm, George,
story. Sc. buore, fuore, scuore, buorn,
buorder, etc.
In almost all other words the open ò
oa, is used: or, for, core, gore, store,
order, corner, cornet, corporal, corpse,
cork, roar, oar, boar, scorpion, sea--
shore, soar, snort, stork, torment, form,
world, tory, sorrow, borrow, horrid,
sorry, etc. Sc. (foor, koor, goor, ordər,
kornər), etc.
Work, worse, worst, and sometimes
world, take à: wàrk, waar, warst, warld.
Eng. OLL final, OL medial, is in Sc.
usually the diphthong òw (ou): boll,
hollow, knoll, poll, roll, colt, yolk,
golf, solder. Sc. bowe, howe, knowe,
powe, rowe, cowt, yowk, gowf, sowder.
Folk, soldier, are in S. Sc. fuok,
suodger. Doll, toll, poll, stroll, bolt,
have short ò: dòll, tòll, etc.
Eng. OLD is aald: bold, cold, fold,
hold, sold, told. Sc. baald, caald,
faald, haald, scald or sæld, taald or
tæld. Scold is scoald; gold in Central
Sc. gowd, in Southern Counties more
commonly goold.
Eng. OI, OY, is in S. Sc. oy (oi): boil,
spoil, oil, employ. Sc. boyl, spoyl,
oyl, employ. (See page 116.)
Eng. OO is in Sc. ui, French eu (ə):
stool, soon, door, floor, doom, moon,
book, took, stood, blood, good, flood.
Sc. stuil, suin, duir, fluir, duim,
muin, buik, tuik, stuid, bluid, guid,
The following have oo: woo, wool,
cuckoo, boon, ooze, groove, loop, room,
With u: wood, Sc.wud. With y:
foot, Sc. fyt; in some dialects fut;
16th century fute, fuit. With uo:
brooch, Sc. bruotch. With ow: loose,
Sc. lòwse vb., lowss adj. With oy:
choose, S. Sc. choyse; French choisir.
Eng. OU, OW, representing Ags. ú or
French ou, eu, are in Sc. oo: our,
pour, hour, sour, power, flower,
flour, tower, bower; out, mouse,
soup, about, sound, brown, drown,
crowd, house. Sc. oor, poor, oor,
soor, poor, floor, floor, toor, boor; with short oo, oot (ut), mooss, soop,
aboot, soond, broon, droon, crood,
α When final the sound is in South Sc.
uw (Ǝu), in other dialects oo, as in
you, cow, now, a sow, to bow; S. Sc.
yuw, cuw, nuw, suw, buw; also in
open syllables, as, bow-el, trow-el,
tow-el, cow-ard, gru-el; S. Sc. buwel,
truwel, tuwel, cuward, gruwel; Central
Sc. booel, tooel, trooel, etc.
β The past participles bound, found,
ground, wound, take short u (Ǝ), as
do also ground, hound, pound, mount,
mountebank, mountain, fount, fountain,
ounce, pounce, flounce, poultice,
cloud, touch, trouble, couple,
scourge, bourn, mourn, journal, journey,
flourish, nourish, Southernwood,
young, younker, although some of
these have an older form in oo, or a
newer in ow: Sc. bun', fund, grun',
wun'; grund, hund hoond, pund,
funt, funten, munt, munten, also
pownd, etc., muntibank, unce, punce,
flunce, also pownce, flounce, pultess,
clud, tutch, truble, cuple, scurge,
burn, murn, jurnal, jurnie, flurish,
nurish. Bound, to spring, to limit,
and its derivatives boundary, boun'-
tree, or elder, etc., to found, founded,
etc., to wound, wounded, follow the
usual rule boond, foond, 'oond, and
are thus distinguished from the participles
of bind, find, wind.
γ In the following the Sc. has ui:
sprout, country, cousin, should, could.
Sc. spruit, cuintrie, cuisin, suid, cuid.
δ Would, Ags, walde, is in Sc. wald,
Eng. OW, OU, representing an Ags.
oʓa, ow, is in Sc. òw (ou); bow, to
shoot with, glow, grow, row a mêlée,
remigere, stow, tow, trow, bowl,
growl, jowl, prowl, soul, troul, four,
fourth, fourteen, glower, flown, grown.
Sc. bowe, glowe, growe, rowe, stowe,
towe, trowe, bowle, growle, jowle,
prowls, sowle (also sauwl, saal),
trowle, fowre, fowrt, fowrtein, glowre,
flòwn, gròwn. Dower makes towcher.
Eng. OW, representing Ags. aw, is in
Sc. long aa, usually written aw, au;
blow, crow, know, low, row a rank
or line, mow, show, slow, snow, sow,
strow, throw, as well as in their
p. ples. blown, mown, sown, etc. Sc.
blaa, craa, knaa, laa, maa, raa, schaa,
slaa, snaa, saa, straa, blaa'n, maa'n,
saa'n. Low often retains a guttural
form laigh, leawgh. Own (Ags. áʓen)
is older auwn, aan, later ayn; the
verb is auwn, owner, auwner.
Eng. OUGH is in Sc. usually owch
(okwh): hough, trough, bought,
brought, thought, etc Sc. howch,
trowch, bowcht, browcht, thowcht.
α These have euwch (əkwh): plough n.
enough sing. tough, clough. Sc.
pleuwch, aneuwch, teuwch, cleuwch.
Plough vb., and enough, enow, pl.,
drop the guttural pleuw, aneuw.
Bough was formerly beuwch, beuw,
rhyming in 16th century with plough;
I think it is now bowe, but the word
is little used.
β These have uwch (Ǝkwh): rough,
swough, brough, through (a flat tombstone,
Ags. þruh, a stone coffin,)
Sc. ruwch, suwch, bruwch, thruwch.
γ Dough, Ags. dáh, makes daigh,
deawch; through, which appears
very early in the Sc. writers as
throw, is now thruw, throo; though,
in Middle Sc. thocht, is thô, as the
Mid. Sc. nocht is nô.
Eng. U in a closed syllable is in Sc. u
(Ǝ): but, bush, push, dull, bull, pull,
full, much, fur, curl, turn, bulwark,
bushel, cushion, pudding. Sc. but,
bush (not boosh), push, dull, bull (not
booll), pull, full (also puw, fuw),
muckle, furr, currl, turrn, bullwark,
busehel, cuschen, puddin (not poodin).
α The following have ui: bluster, cud,
cutler, duck, fluster, fusty, gum (of
the teeth), gusset, gutter, huddle,
hull (a shell or covering), judge, just,
rubbish, ruth, stutter, truth, tup.
Sc. bluister, cuid, cuitler, duik,
fluister, fuisty, guim, guischet, guitter,
huiddle, huill, juidge, joust, ruibbish,
ruith, stuit, truith, tuip; also
proper names, as Guthrie, Hutton,
Bunyan, Tully. Sc. Guithrie, etc.
β The following have short oo: butcher,
suck, pulpit, thumb, bulk, culm,
fuller, pussie, cuckoo, bulge, plum.
Sc. bootcher, sook, poopet, thoom,
book, coon, fooller, poossie, coo-kóo,
boolge, ploom.
γ These have short y (e): buzz, church,
churn, nut, put, run, snub. Sc.
byzz, kyrk, kyrn, nyt, pyt, ryn, snyb.
In more northern dialects this vowel
is taken by several other words,
muckle, huzzie = housewife, etc., being
there mickel, hizzie.
δ These have long o: blur, drug. Sc.
bloar, droag; Fr. drogue.
ε Rush takes æ: ræsch — "Green grow
the rushes, O!" (grin grou dhə
ræshiz oo!)
Eng. U long, before a consonant and e
mute, is in Sc. ui: cure, sure, endure,
use, refuse, Bruce, Bute, lute, tune,
mule, consume, scruple, yule. Sc. cuir,
suir, enduir, uise, vb. uiss no., refuise;
with short vowel, Bruiss, Buit, luit,
tuin, muil, consuim, scruiple, yuil;
rule, (Ags. riwle) is reuwl.
This Scotch ui is usually said to be
the same as the French u. It may
have been so in the 16th century, but
is certainly not now. Prince L. L.
Bonaparte "has not heard the true
French u in any part of Scotland; the
sound so described is either the Fr. eu,
or something between eu and u." In
the Southern Counties ui is simply the
French eu in peu.
Eng. U long in an open syllable, and
UE final, are in Sc. euw (əu): fuel,
blue, due, rue, imbue. Sc. feuwel,
bleuw, deuw, reuw, embeuw. So
Hugh, Sc. Heuw. But in an open
syllable it is often uw, as jewel, duel,
gruel, cruel, truant, S. Sc. juwel,
duwel, gruwcl, cruwel, truwan(d).
Eng. UI is in Sc. ui (ə): fruit, recruit,
build, built, bruise. Sc. (frət, rikrət,
bəld, bəlt, brəəz). In guild,
guilt, quit, etc., where the u belongs
to the consonant, the sound is of
course y, gyld, gylt, quyt. Juice is
usually joyce.
Of the eight or nine plural forms used in Anglo-saxon, the
Lowland Scotch preserves four: plurals in s, plurals in n,
plurals in the Umlaut or modified vowel, and plurals the
same as the singular. In one word we have a vestige of a
fifth form in -er. The form in s, confined in Anglo-saxon,
semi-Saxon, and Old Southern English to masculine nouns
ending in a consonant, now embraces the vast majority of all
As early as the date of the Lindisfarne and Rushworth glosses,
the Northumbrian shewed a tendency to extend the s plural to
nouns of all genders and declensions¹ By 1250 this tendency
was quite established in the northern tongue, the plural forms in
Cursor Mundi and Hampole being almost identical with those of
the living northern dialects, while the contemporary southern
dialects continued to exhibit the utmost variety of forms, with a
marked predilection for those in -en. It is due apparently to the
early preponderance of the northern dialect that s and not n is the
common English termination of the plural at the present day.
This plural, representing the Ags. -as, Lind. and Rush. -as,
-es, Ormulum -ess, Cursor Mundi and Hampole, -es, -s (sometimes
-is, -ys), was regularly formed by the Scottish writers
down to the 17th century in -is or -ys (rarely -es and -s). The
modern dialects retain the connecting vowel only where the
¹ See instances cited by Dr. R. Morris, Introduction to "Early English
Homilies," pp. lv, lvi.
pronunciation demands it, viz., after the sibilant sounds of -s,
-z, -sh, and zh (however these may be written).
In all other cases -s only is used :
NOTE 1. — E mute at the end of a word is elided before -is,
retained (mute) before -s. 2. The final s has its own hissing
sound after a breath consonant; the z or buzzing sound after a
voice-consonant or vowel. The z sound is alone used in the
termination -is, which differs in its vowel from the Eng. -es,
being pronounced more like the Eng. -is, in his, or rather the
French -ise, in bise, dise. Examples: treys, æggs, fyschis (treiz,
ægz, fesh•iz fesh•iz). In the centre of Scotland the opener -yz
seems to be the sound, lassyz, fysch-yz (las•ez, fesh•ez).
3. The -as, -es, -ys, -is, originally, of course, formed a distinct
syllable in all nouns; although, even in Ags., an increase in the
number of syllables was often avoided by ejecting a preceding
short vowel, as in engel, fugol, heofon, æcer, fædor, deofol,
inflected eng-las, fug-las, heof-nas, æc-ras, fæd-ras, deof-lu, genitive
deof-les. If Cursor Mundi can be taken as exemplifying the
contemporary usage of northern speech, it would appear that in
the 13th century the termination was still pronounced as a distinct
syllable in monosyllables, although the connecting vowel was
already suppressed in longer words.¹ Thus (printing the -s -es or
-is in Italics, where it does not make a separate syllable):-
Als it war dint-es on a steþi,
Þat smyth-es smitt-es in a smeþey.
Þarfor sal þai pined be
With þaa pines sex and thre.
Firend band-es es þe nind.
Nine orders of angels þai forsok
Quan þai þam to þe warlau tok.
¹I say, If, etc. The testimony of
Cursor Mundi is complete as to the
fact that the e was dropped in words of
two or more syllables, not as to its
preservation in monosyllables. The
pronunciation dint-es, smyth-es, might
be an archaism retained in poetry, as
we shall presently see it was in the
Scottish poets of the 16th century.
Felle draguns and tad-es bath.
Nathyng sal I fene you neu,
Bot þat I find in bok-es treu:
Þir clerk-es tell-es þat er wise,
at he o Ju-us king sal rise,
And o þe kind man clep-es dane.
Ur maisters tell-es o þis chaunce.
Wind-es on ilk side sal rise,
þe devels ute sal be fordriven.
O nedders bath and of draguns.
In the following century, at least, the evidence of Hampole's
Pricke of Conscience (1320-1350) shews that, even in monosyllables,
the termination had already sunk into simple s in pronunciation,
although, according to the lax northern use of e mute,
es was commonly retained in writing. Compare with the above:-
And als smyths strykes on yren fast,
Swa þat it brekes and brestes at last,
Right swa þe devels sal ay ding
On þe sinfulle, with-outen styntyng.
Na clathes þai salle have to gang in,
Ne na beddes to lyg in bot vermyn;
Als I haf herd som grete clerkes telle.
Þe planetes and þe sternes ilkane
Sal shyne brighter þan ever þai shane;
þe son sal be, as som clerkes demes,
Seven sythe brighter þan now it semes.
Þir wordes by þam may be sayd here.
For in this world liggis twa ways.
Þe saules at to purgatory most wende;
Whilk sauls in purgatory duffles.
Þe sevend day byggyns doun sal falle,
And Bret castels and tours with-alle;
Ne cragges ne roches sal nan þan be.
And als kynges and qwenes coroúned be,
With corounes dight with ryche perré.
This pronunciation also appears in Scottish poets from the middle
of the 15th century, i.e. in popular poems, short metres, satirical,
humorous and lyrical pieces.
Henrysoun:— Hir slevis suld be of esperance,
To keip hir fra dispair ;
Hir gluvis of the gud governance
To hyd hir fyngaris fair.
"Rowll's Cursing:"-
Blak be thair hour, blak be thair part,
For fyve fat geiss of Sir John Rowlis,
With caponis, hennis, and uther fowlis,
Resettaris and the privy steilaris:
And he that saulis saisis and dammis,
Beteich the deuill thair guttis and gammis,
Thair toung, thair teith, their handis, thair feit,
And all thair body haill compleit.
Dunbar, A General Satire:-
Sa mony lordis — sa mony natural fulis
That bettır accordis, to play thaim at the trulis
Nor se the dulis that commouns dois sustene;
New tane frae sculis, sa mony anis¹ and mulis,
Within this land was never herd nor sene.
The Flyting:— Ersch Katherane, with thy polk breik and rilling,
Thow and thy quene, as gredy gleddis, ye gang
with polkis to mylne, and beggis baith meill and schilling;
Thair is but lyse and lang nailis yow amang
Fowll heggirbald, for hennis thus will ye hang,
Thow hes ane perrellus face to play with lambis ;
Ane thowsand kiddis, wer thay in faldis full strang,
Thy lymmerful lake weld flé theme and their dammis.
Christie Kirk of the Grene:—
With forks and flails thay lent grit flappis,
And flang togidder lyk friggis;
With bougars of barnis thay beft blew kappis,
Quhyle thay of bernis maid briggis;
The reird rais rudely with the rapps
Quhen rungis wer layd on riggis ;
The wyffis cam furth with cryis and clappis,
Lo quhair my lyking ligs,
Quo thay,
At Christis kirk of the Grene.
But while this was doubtless the pronunciation of prose and
living speech (which thus, in some parts at least of the northern
area, agreed, as early as 1340, with that of the present day), we
find an entirely different usage in sustained poetry, such as the
Brus, Wyntown's Cronykil, Douglas's Eneid, the Kings Quair, the
chief poems of Dunbar, etc. An examination of the metres of
these poets shews that, in the early period of Scottish literature,
the -is or -ys (pronounced as in abb-ess, or German kind-es),
formed a distinct syllable in monosyllables and words accented
on the final syllable, and even in dissyllables not finally accented,
where it could be done without increasing the length of the
word (i.e. by dropping a preceding short vowel as in Anglo--
Saxon). Thus: feld-ys, best-ys, day-is, fa-yss, knycht-ys, sown-yss,
aspéct-is, honoúr-is, palƺeown-is = fields, beasts, days, foes, knights,
sons, aspects, honours, pavilions; while fadyr, modyr, dochtyr,
wappyn, tabyl, hevyn, saddill, mastyr, wondir, takyn, mayor, baron,
made fad-rys, mod-rys, docht-rys, wap-rys, tab-lis, sad-lys, mast-rys,
wond-ris, tak-nys, ma-rys, bar-nys, indicating this as the pronunciation
even when the vowel was retained in writing, as
baronys, wappynys. Where the preceding vowel could not be
suppressed, as in husbandis, raginentis, the termination was probably
treated as -s only; at least, no additional syllable was
recognized. Words ending in a sibilant have of course always
made a syllable of the -is, palacis, escarmouschis; though in some
words the plural was the same as the singular: vers, burges,
¹ anis, Fr. ânes, asses.
burgeis (see on page 92), benefyiss. These rules apply also to the
possessive singular, which in all cases followed the analogy of
the plural; and partly to the -is of the present tense of verbs,
although the process of contraction commenced earlier with the
latter than with nouns (the inflection being of much less significance
in the verb); so that even in the Early period there was
an option of pronouncing the verbal -is either as -is or -s.
Barbour, 1375. For luff is off sa mekill mycht,
at it all payn-ys mak-is lycht.
Till arm-ys, swyth! and makys ʓow ʓar,
Her at oure hand our fay-is ar
Knicht-is þat wicht and hardy war,
Undyr horss feit defoulyt þar!
Þe king Robert wyst he was þar
And quhat-kyn chiftanys with him war.
Þir angr-ys may I ne mar drey.
Þan ma-yss clerk-is questioun
Quhen þai fall in disputacioun.
Fredom mayss man to haiff liking.
Þay sped þaim intyll hy to ride,
Þe ta part to þair pailyown-is
The tothyr part went in þe town is.
Wyntown, 1410. Of his gud ded-is and manheid
Gret gest-is, I heard say, ar made;
But sa mony, I trow nowcht,
As he intil his day-is wroucht.
All þir land-ys, as þai ly,
I have ourhalyd hastily.
Of lord-is þat mast mychty wes,
Þaire eldast barn-ys and þare ayr-is
Of erl-ys, baron-ys, and of mar-ye: (bar'n-ys?)
Sown-yss sex and dowchtr-ys twa
Of þir sownn-ys, thre of þa.
Men and women, nobl-is grete
And of þai; schypp-ys mastr-ys thre
Happenyd at anis to drownyd be.
Yhit is þare odyr Autor-ys sere, (Autor's or Aut'rys.)
þat tell-is part of þis matere.
Þan (1116) Trent and Tamys war sa schalde,
þat a barne of twelf yhere awlde
Mycht wayd oure þame, and na spate,
Þat mycht mak þaire kney-is wate.
James I., 1420.- This is to seyne, that present in that place,
Me thocht I saw of every nacion,
Loueris that endit [had] thaire lyf-is space.
In lov-is service mony a mylion,
Of quho-is chanc-is maid is mencion
In diverse buk-is, quho thame list to se,
And therefore here thaire nam-ys lat I be,
Harry the Minstrel, 1460:—¹
Born Scott-is men baid still in to the field,
Kest wappynys thaim, and on thar kne-is kneild,
With petouss voice thai cryt apon Wallace,
For Godd-is saik to tak thaim in his grace.
Henrysoun, 1470:— In his passage amang the planetis all,
He herd a hevynly melody and sound,
Passing all instrumént-is musicall
Causid be mowyng of the sper-is round.
Merser :— Heirfoir I pray in term-ys schort,
Chryst keip thir bird-is bricht in bowris,
Fra fall luvaris and thair resort ;
Sic perell lyis in paramouris.
In the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century, the -is,
although still generally making an independent syllable in monosyllables,
or after a final accent, had quite sunk into -s in other
words of two or more syllables. Even in writing, s alone began
to appear. Monosyllables ending in a vowel or diphthong made an
additional syllable or not, of the inflectional -is, at the pleasure of
the poet. So kyng-is, bour-is, hour-is; but faderis, wappinis, were
= faders, wappyns, no longer fad-rys, wapp-nys. Treis, seyis,
dayis, were optionally tre-is, sey-is, day-is or trees, seys, days.
Lancelot of the Laik, 1490:—
He saw the knycht-is semblyng her and thare,
The sted-is rynnyng with the sadillis bare;
His spur-is goith in to the sted-is syde,
Þat was full swyft, and lykit not to byd(e). 2951.
Dunbar, 1500:—
Celestial fowl-is in the air,
Sing with your nott-is upon hicht,
In firth-is and in forestis fair
Be mirthful now at all your micht.
Full angel-like thir bird-is sang thair houris,
Within thair courtyns grene, in to thair bouris,
Apparalit quhite and red wyth blom-es suete;
Anamalit was the felde wyth all colouris,
The perly dropp-is schuke in siluir schouris,
Quhill all in balme did branch and lev-is fleete.
Douglas, 1513:—
The batellis and the man I will descryve,
Fra Troy-is bound-is first that fugitive.
And eke the faderis, pric-is of Albá
Come, and the walleris of gret Rome alsua.
The Grek-is chiftanis irkit of the were.
Cauchit and blaw wide quhare all seyis about.
Abufe the sey-is lift-is furth his hede.
¹ The usage of Harry is far from
uniform; being, according to his own
account, an uneducated "bureil man"
or rustic, he often mixes the poetic
measure with the style of vulgar speech.
This pronunciation of the -is was, I suppose, like that of the
French e mute in poetry or solemn oration, or of the English -ed,
in passèd, lovèd, carrièd, the echo of an older utterance, conventionally
retained in that poetic style apparently referred to by
"I pass to poetis, to compyle
In hich heroick staitlie style,
Quhais Muse surmatches myne.¹
Its co-existence with that of ordinary speech was no doubt a
great boon to 'Makaris' distressed by a redundant or deficient
syllable, for, in conjunction with the laxity of accentuation which
prevailed in words of French or classical origin, it enabled them,
e.g. to call themselves pó-ets in two syllables or po-ét-is in three. By
the middle of the 16th century the prose pronunciation had so far
made way, that even in sustained poetry, the retention or dropping
of the connecting vowel was quite optional, giving the poet the
same power of choice as is the case in modern German with final
e and the terminations -es, -est, -et, -ete. Thus in contiguous lines
of the first book of Lyndesay's Dialog of the Monarché (written
1553-4) we find—
Nor tell quhen thay had Sonn-is two,
Cayn and Abell, and no mo. l. 1145
Nor of thare murnyng nor thare mone,
Quhen thay, but Sonnis, wer left allone. 1149
Wyld beist-is did to thame repair,
So did the Fowl-is of the air. 807
And brocht be Diuyne prouience,
All beistis and byrdis tyll his presence. 731
Heiryng the byrd-is armoneis
Taistyng the fructis of diverse treis. 827
Quhow fruct-is indeficient
Ay alyke rype and redolent. 847
Had Sanct Jerome bene borne in tyll Argyle
In to Yrische toung his bukis had done compyle. 627
Quhairfore I wald all buk-is necessare
For our faith war in tyll our toung vulgare. 600
Of Languagis the first Diuersytie
Wes maid he Godd-is Maledictioun. 588
Quhy brak thow Goddis Commandiment
Quhow mycht thy forfalt he excusit
That Goddis commandiment refusit. 966-72
Still later in the century the syllabic pronunciation of the -is
became quite obsolete, even in long measures, and the "hich
heroick staitlie style" became entirely conformed to the usage of
ordinary speech, which is also followed by the poets of the modern
period. In the "Reulis and Cautelis to be observit and eschewit
in Scottis Poesie," of King James VI. (Edinb., 1585, republished
¹ The Cherrie and the Slae. — Stanza 6.
in Edward Arber's English Reprints, 1869), the plural has the
modern pronunciation in all the specimens of poetry quoted; even
in the verse "Heroicall " the termination is no longer syllabic.
It is further noteworthy that, though in his prose the royal author
still writes -is, in verse the writes -s only. Thus in "a quadrain
of Alexandrin Verse:"
To ignorants obdurde, quhair wilful errour lyis,
Nor ƺit to curious folks, quhilks carping doffs deiect thee,
Nor ƺit to learned men, quha thinks thame onelie wyis,
Bot to the docile bairns of knawledge I direct thee.
But in prose :
"ƺe aucht alwayis to note, that as in thir forsaidis, or the lyke wordis, it
rymis in the hinmest lang syllabe in the lyne, althoucht there be vther short
syllabis behind it, sa is the hinmest lang syllabe the hinmest fute, suppose there
be vther short syllabis behind it, quhilkis are eatin vp in the pronounceing, and
na wayis comptit as feit."
The reason of this was, that in prose the termination had long
been pronounced as -s only, and would be so read, as a matter of
course, by every one; but in verse this pronunciation was still
comparatively new, so that it was needful to mark it by the
spelling. For a similar reason we often see in modern English
poetry such spellings as these (which were still commoner a
century ago): pass'd, past, toss'd, tost, fetch'd, fetcht, sooth'd, pain'd,
curst, blest, mixt, vext, not meaning that these words are to be
pronounced differently from passed, tossed, fetched, soothed, pained,
cursed, blessed, mixed, vexed, but that they are to be pronounced
in the prose way, and not pass-ed, toss-ed, fetch-ed, sooth-ed, pain-ed,
curs-ed, blessed, mix-ed, vex-ed, as they used to be, and still
occasionally are, in verse. In prose the contracted spelling is not
considered requisite since no one would think of pronouncing
In Scottish prose the spelling -is long survived the pronunciation.
In the dialect of Teviotdale the Annals of Hawick shew it
in full use in 1600; by 1640 forms in -es and -s become equally
frequent, the same document shewing personnis, personnes, and
persons, utheris and uthers, mindes and minds, quhilkis and quhilks;
the forms in -is finally disappear about 1660.
A few nouns in f change into the corresponding voice-consonant
v before -s (or rather z) of the plural. This usage
seems to be recent, for it extends only to a few of the words
which undergo the change in English. In the south of
Scotland, Leaf, theif, kneyfe, leyfe, weyfe, usually make the,
plural lēıves, thēıves kneȳves, lēyves, wēyves; but hàff, leafe
(loaf), schælf, ælf, make hàffs, leafes, etc. In the Sc. writers
of the 16th century, as in the earlier dialect of Hampole and
Cursor Mundi, f is usually retained in the plural, as wyffis,
theiffis, lyiffis; in the more northern dialects of Scotland also,
e.g. in Aberdeenshire, leifs, theifs, kneyfs, weyfs, leyfs, are
still the regular forms.
Of the analogous change of s and th into their voice sounds, z
and dh, in the plural, recognized in the English pronunciation of
houses, mouths, truths, etc. (hənzyz, məudhz, truudhz), I do not
find any traces in the Scottish dialects.
Beist has pl. beiss; clease (or claise), clothes, seem to be similarly
formed from cleath, claith, cloth. There are traces of this
pronunciation as early as the 15th century. In "Ratis Raving,"
l.2780, we find the rhyme—
He honoris na man for richés,
For honore is nocht gevyne for claithis,—
where richesse requires claiss for the rhyme, as the pronunciation
of claithis. The modern form would be —
For honore ys nocht gi'en for claise.
The same forms are found all over the northern area; thus, in
the Cleveland dialect, beeäs, cleeäs (the latter being pronounced
nearly as in South of Scotland). In South Lancashire (Midl. Dia.)
we find clooäs (with which compare Cockney close) ; the South
English dialects get over the difficult combination beasts by pronouncing
beast-es, heard alike in London and in Devonshire.
Ee (South Sc. ey) eye, makes ein (Cumberl., Westmorel., etc.
een); schui, shoe, makes schuin. To which may be added oxen or
owssen, for which, however, nowt, sing. and pl., is more commonly
used in this dialect.
It is interesting to note that the same three words, eghen or
eyen, schon or schoyn, and oxyn, were the only plurals in -n
retained by the northern dialect in the 13th century,² while
nearly 200 such forms existed in the southern dialect a century
later, including, e.g. eyen, scheon, oxen, applen, gloven, bellen, unclen,
tungen, etc.,² of which Dorsetshire still presents us with cheesen,
housen, pleäcen, vurzen,³ and the authorised version of the Bible
with hosen.
His haire moutes, his eghen rynnes,
His eres waxes deef, and hard to here.—Hampole, P. of C. 780.
His eyn with his hand closit he,
For to dey with mar honeste.—Barbour.
Na schoyne þai had
But as þai þaim of hyd-ys mad.—Barbour.
Þai sayd Mackduff, of Fyfe þe Thayne,
Þat ilk yhoke of oxyn aucht,
Þat he saw fayle in to þe draucht.—Wyntown.
¹ Dr. R. Morris, Grammatical Introduction
to Hampole's Prickce of
² Dr. R. Morris, Grammatical Introduction
to the Ayenbite of Inwyt.
³ Rev. W. Barnes, Grammar & Glossary
of the Dorsetshire Dialect, p. 19.
The only vestige of this class is supplied by the word
childer (Ags. cildru, German, kinder), used by all the northern
writers from Hampole and Barbour to Lyndesay, Lauder,
and the Complaynt of Scotland.
Maysters some tyme uses the wand,
Þat has childer to lere undir þair hand.— P. of C., l.5881.
To wemen ƺeit we do bot litill ill
Na ƺong childir we lik for to spill.—Henry, Wallace.
He (Ascanius) taucht the auld Latinis to hant sic play,
The samyn gise as he, ane child, now wrocht,
And uthir Troiane childer with him brocht;
The Albanis taucht thair childer the samyn way,
And mychty Rome sine efter mony ane day.-
Gaw. Doug. Eneid.
Mony auld men maid childer-les,
And mony childer fatherless.—Lyndesay, Mon. 1909.
Than I beheld the scheip-hirdis wyuis and ther childir that brocht there
mornyng bracfast to the scheip hirdis.—Compl. of Sc., p. 65.
This word is still in common use in the north of England and
many parts of Scotland; but the synonym bairn, bairns, being
generally used in the south of Scotland cheyld, chylder, have
become nearly obsolete. Cheild, a young man, a lad, has plural
The forms in the modern idiom corresponding to the Ags. man.
men; fót, fét; cú, cý; are the following:— man, men mæn;
wumman, weimen (in Southern Scotch wuimein); guiss, geiss
tuith, teith; fuit, fute, usually fyt, feit; bruther, breither; looss,
leyss; mooss, meyss; coo (S. Sc. cuw), kye.
These are, I believe, all the Umlaut forms that the northern
dialect has possessed since the 13th century. See geiss, teith, and
feit, in "Roull's Cursing," ante p. 152.
Brether, Ags. bréðer is used as the plural of brother by all the
northern writers. Thus:
Hampole :— Suthly I say yhow, swa yhe wroght,
Þat ilka tyme when yhe did oght,
Until ane of þe lest þat yhe myght se,
Of my brether, yhe did til me.
Barbour :— For twa brether war in that land,
That war the hardiest of hand,
That war in til all that cuntré.
Wyntown:— Þe thryd part off þe land alsua,
As banysyd wyth hys breþyr twa.
Schortly to say þe lawchful twa
Breþire forsuke wyth hym to ga.
And þat traytour he suld sla,
Þat banysyd him and his Bredyr twa
Dunbar:— Sen he hes al my brether tane,
He will not let me live alane,
On forss I maun his neist prey be;
Timor mortis conturbat me!
Lyndesay :— Brether in armes, adew in generall!
For me, I wait, ʓour hartis bene full soir.
Cham leuch to se his Father sa,
Quhowbeit his Brether wer rycht wa.
Thou repreifis and accusis me of the faltis that my tua brethir committis
daly; my tua brethir, nobillis and clergie, ar mair cruel contrar me nor is my
ald enemes of Ingland.— Compl. of Scot., p. 191.
Quod he, my bredir, be ʓe nocht in your vit lyik childir.—Ib. p. 46.
This word is now nearly obsolete¹ in the Southern Counties,
bruthers being the common form. In the Annals of Hawick, anno
1622, p. 204, we have "Thomas Lytle in Scheill and James and
Christie Lytles his brether." Brether is still common in many
parts of Scotland. Mr. R. Giffen informs me that he has heard it
used by old people in Strathavon; another friend reports it from
Perth; the Rev. W. Ross gives it as the common form in Caithness;
and Mr. John Addison, replying to a query in the Athenæum, says:
"this word is in every-day use among the common people in 'the
kingdom' of Fife as the plural of brother. In the town it has in
some degree given place to brithers; but in the country it still
holds its own." The general pronunciation is breether, but in
Caithness brĕther, as in brethren. The singular ought analogically
to be pronounced bruither, according to the usual equivalent of
the Ags. ó. Compare tóð, gós, Sc. tuith, guiss. The pronunciation
of the Middle Period was probably bruither and muither,
whence the brither and mither of Central Scotland, like the modern
fit, fytt, for Middle Scotch fute, fuit.
Names of' animals neuter in Anglo-saxon for which there
existed distinct sexual names besides—
Sing. hòrse nowt (neat-cattle) scheip deer gayt (goat) greyce (pig).
Pl. hòrse nowt scheip deer gayt greyce.
Ags. hors nyten sceáp deór geát
To this class also belongs properly sweyne, swine, which, in
most of the Northern dialects, is used both as singular and plural
like the Ags. swín; but in this dialect the original feminine suw,
soo, older sowch, sow, is used for the singular, with sweyne as its
plural. Gayte or gaitt, goat, goats, is used by the northern
writers down to the 17th century at least:
¹ The Rev. J. Pillans informs me of its use in Annandale within his memory.
His angels þan . . . . .
Sal first departe þe gude fra þe ille,
Als þe hird þe shepe dus fra þe gayte.-
Hampole, Pr. of Con.
In the Record of the Jedburgh Circuit of 1622 (Annals of
Hawick, p. 246), two of the border thieves then brought to "Jethart
justice," "wes accusit for ye thifteous steilling of tuentie scheip,
and fyve auld gaitt, with yair kiddis, forth of ye lands of Cruiks,
thrie ƺeir syne or yrby." In two other instances we find gaitt
among the booty carried off, the chief part consisting, however,
of nolt, ky, stottis (bullocks), oxin, hors, meiris, naigis, scheip, yowis
(ewes), and lammis, a fine series of northern plurals. Since gayte
have disappeared before Cheviot sheep from the Border hills, the
word has also disappeared from current speech, and the English
goat, goats, have taken its place.¹ According to 'D. C.' in the
Athenæum, 27th Feb. 1869: "gaitt is in familiar use in the north--
east of Perthshire, where the rhyme is current:
Wha's gaitt are thae,
Doun in yon green?
What gie thay?
Milk and whey, etc."
To this class also may be added fysch and fool, fowl, which had
originally plurals in -s, but of which the singular has passed from
a collective into a plural signification.
Most nouns of time, space, quantity, weight, measure, and
number, remain unchanged in the plural when used collectively,
or with a numeral that already indicates plurality.²
Such are
Of Time.—Yeir, munth.
Of Space.—Ynsch, fytt, æll, meyle, eacre, yerd, peartch.
¹ A number of the original northern
words in a have of late become obsolete
before the southern forms in o. In
addition to gayte, bait, bail., neis, air,
rair, slaw, have more or less yielded to
boat, boar, nose, oar, roar, slow. This
was one of the chief points introduced
by the Anglicising writers of the 16th
century: Knox, Lyndesay, and Dunbar,
have almost always one, tone, more,
so, for ane, tane, mare, sa, etc. Several
northern forms in u are also disappearing
before southern forms in o, oo, such
as dure, door, muive, move, pruive, prove.
² In connection with the difference
between plurals collective, and plurals
distributive, I have known a second or
double plural to be formed from such
words as schuin, feit, kye. An old lady
met a company of muddy-booted lads
at the door with the injunction, "Nuw,
screape yer feits weil, an' pyt off aa o'
yer schuins i' the passage!" With all
diffidence, as became one of the culprits,
I ventured to remark upon the oddness
of such a form as schuins, but was
rather testily told: "Gin ye had them
tui clean, ye wad ken the difference
atween ae bodie's schuin an' aa o' yer
schuins." The argument of course
admitted of no reply, but I have often
thought of the words as illustrating
the numerous southern double plurals
calver-en, lamber-en, eyr-en, etc., of
which children, brethren, and kine
(sing. child, brother, cow; pl child-er,
brother, ky; double pl. child-er-en,
brether-en, ky-en, ky-ne,) have come
down into modern English. Did the
original plurals — still preserved in the
northern dialect, childer, brether, ky —
come to be used collectively for the
offspring or members of a single family,
the herd of a single owner, so that a
Of Weight. — Pund, unce, steane, tun, leade, hunder-wæycht.
Of Measure. — Mutchkyn, peynt, quart, gallon, bushel, haf-fou',
bowe, sæck, leade, chappin, fyrkin, and such compounds as
haandfu', næffu', canfu', cairtfu', haands-breith, etc.
Of Number. — Pærr, dyzzen, scuore, hander, thoosant, myllion,
sæt, cupple, heid. Examples: Syx munth aald, six months' old;
twàll yeir aald, twelve years' old; the fæck o' tæn yeir, the space
of ten years; fyve æll o' reape, five ells of rope; toontie meyle o'
geate, twenty miles' walk; tweae bowe o' meil, two bolls of meal;
a hunder thoosant.
But when used severally, or not preceded by a numeral,
they are made plural in the usual way. Thus:
Hey baid away for yeirs, he remained away for years; hey hæs
eacres on eacres, as s' warran' ye, a thoosant eacre, he has acre
upon acre, I warrant you a thousand acres; huw muonie meyle
said hey? threy meyle an' a byttock; æye, threy lang meyles, an' the
byttock as guid as onie tweae o' them, how many miles said he?
three miles and a bit; ay, three long miles, and the bit as good
as any two of them. Aa saa hunders hyngan' aboot, I saw
hundreds hanging about. Huw muonie dyzzen hæ-ye? Aa dynna
coont be dyzzens. How many dozen have you? I don't count by
dozens. The' waar seiven cupple kyrkit, an' thay cum oot be
couples. There were seven couples churched, and they came out
by couples.
The same distinction has prevailed from the earliest appearance
of northern literature in the 13th century.
As in English several nouns are naturally plural. Such are
taings, or taiyngs, tongs, scheirs, scissors, breiks, breeches.
Collective nouns being in Scotch usually construed as plural,
several preparations of food, considered as collective nouns, are
spoken of as thay, thaim, monie, meae, or feuw. Such are bruose,
pòrritch, sowens, keale, bròth, cruds. The collective idea seems to
arise from viewing them as containing the collected meals or
portions of many individuals.
Examples. Thyr pòrritch 'll bey ower caald, yf ye dynna teake
them suin. Huw dui-ye leyke theae bròth, yr-n' thaay værra
feyne? Aa've ower feuw bruose.
In common with the other modern representatives of the
Anglo-saxon, the Lowland Scotch retains the case-inflections
of the ancient tongue only in the Genitive or Possessive Case.
second plural inflection became necessary
to express the brethren and children
of many families, the ky-en of
many owners, or as my old friend
would have expressed it, "aa o' thair
kyes?" All the words so inflected
seem to be the names of animals or
objects naturally found in groups; and
in modern English we restrict brothers,
which replaces bether, to those of one
family, using brethren for those who
call each other brother, though of
different families.
The Possessive Singular. — As in the case of the nominative
plural, the termination (-es) originally peculiar to masculine
and neuter nouns of the complex order, was extended, first,
by the northern, and, afterwards, by the other dialects to
nouns of all genders. The change, although begun in the
10th century,¹ does not seem to have been completed quite so
early as the corresponding extension of the plural s, for in
Hampole, Barbour, and other writers, down even to the
"Complaynt of Scotland," 1548, we still find examples of
genitives, originally in e-, -en, or the umlaut, which have
lost these inflections without as yet adopting the termination
-s, and thus appear in their simple, uninflected form. Thus,
in Hampole, we have fader house, modes line, þe son rysyng,
þe hert rote, an eghe twynkelyng, til helle ground, helle pyne,
þi endyng day, in saul dede, representin the Ags. fæder,
móder, sunnan, heortan, eáʓan, hellan, endunʓe, sawle; although
it is proper to add that the same forms are occasionally
found where both the Ags. and modern language entitle us
to expect a genitive in -s, as in man son, hefd hare, ur laverd
witherwines, our lord's adversaries.
In Barbour we have:—
Modreyt his systir son him slew,
And gud men als ma þan inew.
Wynton :— þan he
Banysyd his Broder barnys thre.
As þai wald þame redy mak,
For þair fadyre dede to tak
Lyndesay:— to speik with any other
Except that kyng, quhilk was his mother brother.
ƺour vmquhile fadir broder Antonius duc of Calabre, loran, and of bar.
Siclyike that maist sapient prince ande prelat fadir in gode, ihone of loran, quha
is ʓour fadir broder.
ƺoung Iunius Brutus was sistir sone to tarquinus.
Here systir, fadyre, mother, represent the Ags. genitives sweoster, fæder, moder.
But the usual ending of the possessive in Scotch was the
same as that of the plural number, -is. The i is now elided
and its place indicated by the apostrophe, as man's, weyfe's,
schyp's, for the older mannis, wyffiis, schyppis, and Ags. mannes,
wífes, scipes.
Though omitted in spelling, the i must still be pronouced
after s, sh, z, and zh sounds (see formation of plural). Thus
lass's, juidge's, fysch's, are pronounced lassiz, juidgiz, fyschiz,
just like the plural.
¹ Dr. R. Morris, Introduction to the
"Early English Homilies," lv. lvii.
cites nedles, saules, helles, costunges
witigunges, broðres, fadores, modres,
from the Lindisfarne Gospels.
The Possessive Plural in Ags. ended in -a, -ra, -na, but this
termination has disappeared in the modern dialects, which
have replaced it by a new form in 's, after the analogy of the
singular.¹ In the literary English this appears in full only
where s is not already the plural ending, as in men, sheep,
mice, poss. men's, sheep's, mice's; when the plural ends in s,
euphony requires the second s to be omitted and its place
indicated by the apostrophe alone, thus, boys' for boys's. But
in our dialect this euphonic contraction does not take place,
and thus the possessive plural, as well as the singular, is
regularly formed by adding 's to the nominative. Thus, the
kye's huorns, cow's horns, the meyce's huoles, mice's holes, the
bairns's clease, the children's clothes, the færmers's kye, farmers'
cows, the doags's lugs, dogs' ears. As in the singular the
apostrophe must be pronounced as a connecting vowel after s
sounds; men's, kye's = (mænz, kaiz), but bairns's, doags's,
meyce's = (bernziz, doogziz, meisiz).
The history of the possessive plural, and the first appearance of
forms in s seem to deserve further investigation. In the Southern
dialect of 1340, the "Ayenbite of Inwyt " makes this case in -ene
(Ags. -ena), and this or its contraction -en remained as the
southern possessive plural till near the end of the 14th century.
The West Midland dialect of the 14th century also retained some
vestiges of a genitive plural in -en, but such forms had long
before disappeared from the Northern dialect. As to the modern
substitute, in plurals not formed in s, Hampole has mens —
Þe fire mens bodys to ashes sal brin;
Mens sons and doghters unchastyede.
alle mens knawyng; till all mens sight
But also simply mensal
dede men banes be sett togyder:
thurgh messes, and rightwis men prayers:
In the case of s-plurals we find —
Man here es nathyng elles
Bot wormes fode þat þai wald have.
Compare the Southern —
"Huet is man bot velthe and a zechvol of donge, wermene mete."-—
Ayenbite, p. 216.
¹ A relic of the genitive plural in -er,
Age. -ra, survived to the 16th century
in the phrases aller-best, aller-last, allermaist,
best, last, most, of all. Ags.
eálra-betst, omnium optimus. Already
in Hampole we find aller strengthened
into alder alþer, and latterly we find
that the true origin of the expression
was entirely lost, so that it is expanded
into all thare, all yair; thus, Lyndesay
"Deploratioun of Quene Magdalene,"
Edition of 1568:
The greit Maister of houshold all thare
Paris edition of 1558:-
The greit maister of howshold all yaír
where read aller-last, last of all, Ags.
Þai sal turne þurgh Goddes myght
Þe fadirs hertes until þe sons right.
Þe boke of Apostels werkes
Þe Hebriens bokes = some bokes of þe Ebriens.
Aboven al þat er paens goddes calde
that is
"aboven the goddes alle
Þat the paens þair goddes sal calle."
In the Scottish writers plurals not in --s are used as possessives
without any additional inflection, down to a late period:
Knychtis þat wicht and hardy war,
Undyr horss feit defoulyt þair.—Barbour.
The childer ayris of the fyrst wyff.—Leges Burgorum.
Gif the pure commontis that lyis vitht in the Inglis men handis be nocht
of ane qualitie to defend or resist there enemeis. — Compl. of Scot. 1548.
But elsewhere we find also mennis. Plurals in -is, -s, were used
as possessives without any change of form.
The preist of peblis speris ane question, quhy that burges ayris thryuis
nocht to the thrid ayr? — Compl. of Scot.
The Grekis chiftanys irkit of the weir. — Douglas.
In which there is nothing but the context to distinguish the
possessive plural from the nominative plural, or indeed from the
possessive singular. Was it simply the nominative plural placed
in juxtaposition to the object possessed, as in dede men banes, my
fader hous? Is the modern English boys' really an euphonic contraction
for boys's, or is it simply the nominative placed in juxtaposition
with a diacritical mark to distinguish it to the eye?
Concerning the modern Scotch boys's, doags's, there can be no
doubt, and it is significant that the northern dialect, which first
gave us this genitive plural in s, pushes its application to the
fullest extent.
The Norman French possessive (of, o') is also used in Scotch,
especially with inferior animals and things; as the held o'
the beist; the tail of a lyon. With persons it seems to be
used in a ludicrous or derogatory sense, as ranking them
with the inferior animals; as look at the ein o' the buodie!
look at the eyes of the creature!
Instead of either Saxon or Norman possessive, the two
nouns are often placed in juxtaposition in their simple state.
This form is especially used with inanimate objects, as the
hyll-heid, the trey-ruit, the trey-tòp, the doar-back, the
doar-key, the hoose-ænd, the toon-geate, the hoose-seyde, a
clock-feace, a burn-seyde, a maad-neúk, a cuot-tail, a cuot--
sleive. Sometimes also with animals when dead, as a scheip--
heid, a caave-skyn. Aa saa a cuw heid at the doar, would
mean the head of a dead cow; aa saa a cuw's held, might be
the head of a living cow looking out.
This form of the possessive is very common in Hampole; as
already mentioned, it is found with nouns which had not originally
an s in the genitive, but is not confined to them, numerous
nouns occurring now with and now without the s quite arbitrarily.
Proper names scarcely ever take an s. Examples:
haly kirk fas, holy church's foes, also, haly kirkes tresor; an
egge yholke, also the yholke of the egge, man saul, mans lyfe,
the dede hand, the hand of death, þe dede thraw, til a hors bak a
mykel lade, a hefd hare (a hair of the head), man son (the son of
man), þe rich man saule, Antecrist móder lend (Antichrist's
mother's loins), Lazar saule, Lazar fynger ende, Abraham bosom,
"als byfel in .Noe and Loth days."¹
The 's is often separated from its noun by a word or clause, as
in "Thamson the Myller's cairt; Rob o' the Toor's kye; the
màn-wui-the-quheyte-cuot's horse; thàt's the màn-ăt-ye-mæt--
yesterday's dowchter. Connected with this is the development
of the -s into his, in formal language. Robert Laidlaw, quhilom
of Haviesyde, his Executors."
These present few peculiarities of form, being either
simple or derivative with such terminations as -ie, -rie, -lie,
-le, -sum, -rif, -fŭ, -less, -isch, as haandie, handy, clever;
sleiprie sleepy, bairnlie childish, bruckle brittle, weaesum
mournful, weakerif wakeful, cayrfŭ carefull, heidless headless,
fayrisch pretty fair.
Of the derivative forms those in -ie (Eng. -y, Ags.iʓ
German -ig, -ich,) are the most frequent, being formed from
almost all nouns simple or compound, as well as verbs, with
the idea of possessing, characterised by, as wuddie woody,
haandie handy, adroit, fouthie copious, having fouth or fullness,
yll-wullie malevolent, fuore-thowchtie, having forethought,
thuole-muidie patient, synkie sloughy. In one word,
-rie, represents the English -y, sleiprie sleepy. Compare the
German schläf-rig, Dutch slape-rig.
The termination -le has the power of inclined to, given to,
as bruckle, liable to break, forgettle, apt to forget, smyttle, apt
¹ This is still a characteristic of
the dialect of the Northern English
counties. "One peculiarity of our dialect
is that we have no Genitive, or
rather, possessive case, especially in
proper names. A servant would speak
of 'Mr. Atkinson boots;' a boy would
say, 'that is John book;' a man
would write on the fly-leaf of a book,
"John Smith book." In short, I never
remember hearing 's from an uneducated
Cumbrian." — Rev. J. Hetherington
in letter to Mr. Ellis, on Cumberland
Dialect. So with the pronoun it: "it
lifted it head, and opened it mouth.
to smytt (Danish smitte, Sw. smitta, to infect), infectious,
contagious. Compare Ags. ét-ol, drinc-ol, spréc-ol, given to
eating, drinking, speaking, edax, bibax, loquax. We have
also East-le and Wast-le, lying to the East and West respectively.
The town of Hawick is divided by the northward-running
Slitrig into two parts, known as Eastle-the--
waitter and Wastle-the-waitter, commonly contracted into
Eis'la-waitter and Was'la-waitter, or simply Eis'la and Was'la.
Adjectives in -sum are distinct from those in -fu. Thus a
weaesum stuorie is a mournful story, one that would make
the hearer weae or sorry, a weaefu feace is a face already wo--
begone. So feirsum terrific, aasum producing awe, gruwsum,
such as to make one groose or shudder (German grausam),
teyresum tiresome.
Adjectives in -less are the opposite of those in -fŭ, -sum,
or -ie, as cayr-fŭ, cayr-less, thowchtsum, thowchtless, haandie,
haandless handless, gauche.
The termination -isch forms diminutives from other adjectives,
as guidisch, yungisch, aaldisch. Also adjectives from
nouns, as fuilisch.
The termination -en, for which the Southern English dialects
have so great a predilection, is all but obsolete in the north,
where the simple noun form is used instead; as quheit breid,
wheaten bread, a wud han'l, a wooden handle. The present
tendency of the literary English is to imitate the Northern dialects
in rejecting the termination -en. Thus, leathern, silken, hempen,
waxen, oaken, birchen, beechen, ashen, brazen, leaden, golden, are
disappearing before the simple forms leather, silk, hemp, wax, oak,
birch, etc. Dorsetshire, on the other hand (southern dialect),
retains many old forms, such as hornen, peäpern, stwonen, elemen,
The comparative and superlative are formed by adding -er
and -est (pronounced as in hyr, kyst), or in long words by
prefixing mayr, meast.
The following are irregularly compared :-

¹ Ilk opinioun has sufficient auctoriteis, nochtheless, I find monyest auctoriteis
sayand, the Romane brethir war Horacianis.—Bellenden, Livy.
Several adverbs and nouns of place are compared and
used adjectively :—
Hynder is only used in the expression hynder-end, the last end,
the close, death. "Ye măn beyde an' sey the hynder-ænd," you
must stay and see the close. End alone is used for either extremity,
the beginning or end. "Thay gang oot-bye fræ the fuore--
ænd ŏ symmer tui the hynt-ænd ŏ hærst," they go in the open
air from the beginning of summer to the end of harvest; "the
bàck-ænd," the fall of the year, the period between harvest and
winter; "ye'll fynd the neame ăt the fuore-ænd ŏ the buik," you
will find the name at the beginning of the book.
Eister and Wàster, written Easter and Wester, are used in distinguishing
hamlets or farms of the same name, as Easter Essenside,
Wester Middle, Wester-kirk.
The Superlative absolute is formed by værra (older veray,
verra), real, truly, exceedingly; "hey's a værra guid maister;"
"schui was real guid tui the puir," she was exceedingly good to
the poor; "yt's real weill duin," it is exceedingly well done, es
ist recht wohl gethan. Sayr is used when a degree of pity or
regret is expressed, as "the waa was sayr bròken doon," the wall
¹ And farrest from the heuin Impyre
The erth, the watter, air, and fyre.-
Lyndesay, Monarché, 697.
² And wan before the formest schyp in hy.
Dowglas, Eneid. 133, 13.
³ ƺe aucht alwayis to note that as in thir foirsaidis, it rymes in the hinmest lang
syllabe in the lyne, sa is the hinmest lang syllabe the hinmest fute. —
James VI., Reulis and Cautelis.
 Munitius was verra glaid of this ansuer. — Compl. of Scot., fol. 134.
was very much broken down, die Mauer war sehr umgebrochen;
"quhow! but hey's says altert!" alas! he is greatly changed,
ach! doch ist er sehr verandert! Sayr has not assumed quite so
wide an application as German sehr, Dutch zeer, but has a more
general sense than English sore. With a nearly similar force
uncŏ (Ags. uncúð, unknown, unfamiliar, strange, uncommon,) is
used: "It's unco caald the-day," it is exceedingly cold to-day.
Unco somewhat insinuates the idea of too, too much, more than
was expected, or is wished.
Than., after the Comparative Degree, is expressed indifferently
by several words :
1. By nor, perhaps the commonest form still in use, as well as
with the writers of the Middle Period.
Munitius the maister of the hors men was verra proud in hym self, and
alse in his weyrs, he was mair furius nor prudent.—Compl. of Scot.
Na personne sall bruick the office of Balliaric langer nor the space of twa
yeír together.—Burgh Rec. of Hawick, Anno. 1669.
The older form of nor was na; thus in the Craft of Deyng, l.112
He opnyt na mare his mouth na the lam dois quhen his throt is wnder
the knyf.
2. By thăn, the form always used by Hampole, and commonly
by the early Scottish writers down to Gawain Douglas.
3. By as (ǝz), like the German als, a very common construction
in the Southern Counties, of which instances are also found in
the 16th century:
Ane verteous captain can nocht exsecut ane mair vailƺeant act as quhen
he purchessis pace and coucordo.—Compl. of Scot.
There can nocht be ane mair vehement perplexite as quhen ane person
beand in prosperite, syne dechays in miserabil adversite.—lbid.
4. By be, bey, "hey's yunger be onie ŏ thaim." This curious
form appears to be as old as the Gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels,
where one of the renderings of magis illis is mare bi him. Compare
Gawain Douglas:
an fer greter wonder
And mare dredful to cativis be sic hunder;
i.e. than a hundred such.
A very emphatic comparative is formed by using the positive
with be, bey— "yung be yuw "—young to a degree by or
beyond you, or young beside you, by comparison with you, decidedly
younger than you. This may have led to the use of be
with the comparative, as in yunger be thaim.'
Baad is apparently a word of recent adoption, the true opposite
1 In a company of Scotchmen, recently,
I referred to the proverb,
"Better weir schuin than sheets," and,
without calling attention to the conjunction,
heard it given "than sheets,"
"nor sheets," "as sheets," and "be
sheets," by different members of the
company, without any one perceiving
the diversity, until I called attention
to it.
of guid being yll (Ags. yfel. Sc. writers generally euyll, but pronounced
yll. See ante p. 130). Thus:
Þat day sal alle men byfor hym be,
Bathe guile and ille, mare and less.—Hampole, l. 6123.
Wa till yhow þat says with will,
Þat ille es gud, and gud es ill!—Ibid. l. 1612.
Efter as his deid was gud or ill
Hym self to deme sail be his will.—Ratis Raving, 1354.
Yll is still generally used in the sense of bad, as "hey's an yll
loon;" "yt's an yll wund ăt blaas neaebuodie guid."
Away, away, ye ill womyne
An ill deide met ye dee! — Ettrick Shepherd — Witch of Fife.
Also in the sense of hard or difficult, as "yll tui beyde," hard to
bear; "yll to meake oot," difficult to decipher. To be yll aboot a
thing is to be vexed or grieved about it; "thay're uncŏ yll aboot
luossin' the lyttle eane; " to be yll at, is to be dipleased with,
opposed to: "hyr freinds war yll at hyr mairriein' hym;" to be
yll ŏn is to be hard upon; "schui was seae yll ònna the làssie, ăt
schui ràn away, an' wàdna beyde wui'r." Bad and yll are used
indifferently in reference to health: "hey's værra baad," or
"værra yll." "Aa heir ye've bein baadlie," that is, rather ill.
Muckle and lyttle are used to express size, as magnus, parrus, as
well as adverbially, and to express quantity, like the English
much, little, and French beaucoup, peu. Thus, a muckle waitter,
a large river; a lyttle burnie, a small streamlet; muckle waitter,
much water; lyttle wut, little wit; "hey eits lyttle, but hey
drynks ower muckle," he eats little, but drinks too much; "ye
mænna weale, but teak lyttle and muckle as thay cum," you
must not choose, but take small and large as they come. The
Norse bygg, bulky, is now used as almost synonymous with
muckle in speaking of size; at an earlier period it was used in
the sense of wealthy. Thus Hampole
Now er we ryche, now er we pur,
Now haf we our litil, now pas we mesur,
Now er we bigg, now er we bare,
Now er we hale, now seke and sare.-
Where MS. additional 1305, translates bigg by riche. The bygg
hoose, in north of Scotland, the myckle hoose, is the mansion house,
or residence of the laird.
The Comparative and Superlative of muckle are now used
almost exclusively as adverbs, or to express quantity, like the
English more and most; as mayr rain, measte sænse. At an
earlier period they were used also to express size, as major,
maximus. Thus Hampole:
Hampole:— Ilk man þat here lyves, mare and lesse.
Of the mare world yhit wil I mare say.
Þe mare world es þis world brade
And þe les es man for quham it es made.
Gawain Douglas:— Heruest to rendir his frutis maíst and leist.
But though we still say "hey was the mayr fuil tui gang," the
greater fool to go, "the measte pairt o' the siller," bygger and
byggest regularly replace mair and measte, as adjectives.
In comparing modern English with the ancient forms of the
language, we observe a curious slide or displacement in meaning,
which has befallen the adjectives of size. In Anglo-saxon mycil
and lytil were = magnus and parvus. In English (and partly in
Scotch) mycil (much, muckle) has lost this sense, and become =
multùm. Lytil has also taken the meaning of parùm, but without
altogether abandoning its adjective sense of parvus. In the sense
of the Ags. mycil, the English now uses the Ags. great, and Latin
large, while the Scotch uses, in part at least, the Norse bygg.
Similarly for lytil, modern English uses (partially at least) small,
Ags. smæl. Now great and smæl in Ags. meant thick (i.e. having
girth, that is girtness, gritness, or greatness), and thin or slender
respectively. This is the sense in which gryt and smaa are still
used in Scotch, as "grytt stycks an' smaa stycks," "Lang smaa
fyng-ers." Thic and thyn in Ags. meant dense and sparse, and so
they are still used in Scotch, as "the road was thyck o' fuok."
This curious displacement may be thus exhibited:
Anglo-saxon mycil, lytil = English great, small
" great, smæl = " thick, thin
" thyc, thyn = " dens, sparse
The lapse of meaning is most complete with the "big-enders,"
mycil, great, thyc, for we still hear of "a thin meeting," though no
longer "a thick meeting;" "small seeds," though not "great
seeds;" "little men," but not 'much' or "muchel men." In
Scotch it is only mycil that has changed its meaning in part, and
being supplied by bygg, it has not occasioned the successive slides
of meaning which we see in English.
The true opposite of bygg is wee, as in the school-boy play--
Aa wairn ye aa, beath grytt and smaa,
Beath bygg an' wee, amang ye aa!
So, "wait a wee," wait a little; a wean or wee-ane, that is, a little
one, a child. The different senses in which these adjectives are
used is shewn in the phrase "a bygg smaa faimilie," i.e. a large
family of little children.
For the sake of intensity are used muckle bygg, grytt muckle,
lyttle wee, as "a muckle bygg man," a very tall or stout man;
"a lyttle wee aald mannie," a diminutive old man; "the Quene
Dido astonyst ane litill we."—Gawain Douglas.
Grytt is used idiomatically in the sense of friendly, intimate
(prov. Eng. thick), as "the tweasum war værra grytt," the two
were very intimate friends; "hey wad fain bey grytt wui's," he
would fain be on friendly terms with us.¹
¹ In this sense chief is used in the west and north of Scotland, they war aa
verra cheif, all very intimate.
Meae (conventional spelling mae) may be viewed as the plural
of mayr, being applied to a greater number of things, while mayr
is used of a greater quantity of one thing. This distinction, now
lost in English, as well as in the more northern parts of Scotland,
existed in all the ancient forms of the language (Ags. má
and máre; Old North. Eng. and Scotch ma and mar, mare; Old
Mid. and South. Eng. mo, moe and mor, more). Thus:
South. & Mid.:— Þe mo þe myryer, so god me blesse,
In honour more and neuer the lesse.-
West Midl. Allit. Poems A.
He knew of hem mo legendes and mo lives
Than ben of goode wives in the Bible.
He spake more harm than herte may bethinke,
And therewithall he knew of mo proverbes,
Than in this world there growen gras or herbes. — Chaucer.
The greter richesses that a man hath, the mo dispendours he hath.-
Ibid. Meliboeus.
Ac more zeneƺeþ þe ilke þet dispendeþ þane zonday and þe festes ine zenne.
Huervore þer byeþ zeuen, ne mo, ne les. — Ayenbite of Inwyt.
Northern:— þe ma þat gaders to that place. (heaven)
þe mare þair joy es and solace.
And þe foner þat þider (to hell) commes for syn
þe les payn þai have þat duelles þar-in,
And ay þe ma saules þat þider wendes
þe mare þair payn es, þat never endes. — Hampole, 3728.
With na doutsum takinnis ma than twa.
I have herde oft be ma na clerkis
To idill folkis full licht bene lukand werkis;
To ʓou my Lord, quhat is thare mare to say?
Ressaue ʓour work desyrit mony ane day. — Gawain Douglas.
Modern Scotch:— Meae bairns and mayr tui gie them.
The mayr siller, the meae cairs.
These are Definite and Indefinite; the former including the
Numerals strictly so called, Cardinal and Ordinal, of which
the following are the forms in the Southern Scotch.¹
¹ The following forms occur in different
dialects, No. 2 meaning Lothian
and Fife, 3 Angus, 4 Aberdeen and
Moray, 5 Galloway, 6 Clydesdale, 8
Caithness: One, 2 (Jen, en) 3, 4 (in) 8
(ein); Two, 2 (twee, twaah) 3, 4 (twaa)
5, 6 (twɔɔh); Three other dialects (thrii);
Four, 4 (fƎuər), other dialects (fƎur,
fœur); Five, other dialects (faa'v, fah'v,
faaəv); Six, 2 (seks, saks), 6 (saks), 4
(saks); Seven, 4 (seiv‧n); Eight, 2
(EEkht, eekht), 4 (akht), 6 (aakht);
Nine, 4 (nEin); Ten, other dialects
(tEn, tEEn); Eleven, 4 (əleiv‧n); Twelve,
2 (twEl), 4 (twal); Twenty, other dialects
(twynti, twinti); Hundred, other
dialects (HEnər, HŒnər); Thousand,
other dialects (thuuz‧n, thuuzən). A
hundred thousand pound, Roxb. (ə
HƎndər thuuzənt pound), Buchan (ə
HŒnər thuuz•n pƎuən).
Eäne and its negative neane are absolute forms, used without a
noun; before a noun the forms eäe and neae are used; thus, "hey
hæs eäe bairn leevan', only eäne," he has one child alive, only
one; "aa've neae friends, neane avaa," I have no friends, none at
all; "yt's mayr as eäe-buodie's wàrk," it is more than one
person's work.
Modern English retains the distinction in no and none; Old
English had it also in o and one; thus in Chaucer:
He moste as well sayn o word as an other.
O flesh they ben, and o flesh as I gesse
Hath but on herte in wele and in distresse.
Ovides art, and bourdes many on
And alts thise were bounden in o volume.
¹ An old northern form of eighth was
aghtend, achtande; Frisian achtenda,
achtanda; Old Norse attende. In the
Scotch writers it appeared as auchtand,
auchten; thus Gawain Douglas:
Unto Enee geuis the auchten buke
Baith fallowschip and armoure, quha
list luke.
But this form must have even then
been growing obsolete, as elsewhere
we find,
Bot quhen I saw nane vthir bute,
I sprent spedily on fute,
And vnder an tre rute,
Begouth this aucht buke.
Auchten, as an old form of aucht,
seems to have been in the mind of
the writer of Sweet Willie and Fair
Annie, one of the pseudo antiques of
the Sir Patrick Spens order, where
we read:
The firsten bower that he cam till,
The lasten bower that he cam till —
the coined forms, firsten and lasten
being evidently intended to be palmed
off as "Old Scots."
Scotch, eae wurd, eae flæsch, eae hart, eae volum. See further as
to ane, eane, and their connection with an, a, among the demonstrative
In counting we say "eane, tweae, threy," etc., but "eae buik,
tweae buiks, threy buiks," etc. In the case of 21, 31, 41, etc., we
must say "eane-an-toontie kȳe, eane an thærtie staaks." Toontie--
eane kȳe, or toontie-eae kye are not used.
The Multiple numbers are syngle, dooble, or tweae-faald, threy--
faald, etc.; also tweaesum, threysum, fowersum, etc.; thus, "a
syngle or a dooble hædge," "a dooble schayr," "a threyfaald
dainger." But in describing an object composed of several distinct
parts, the other form is used, as "a tweaesum plæt," a plait of
two; "a threysum cuord," a triple cord; "a fowersum bunsch o'
cherries, a fyvesum cluster o' nytts" (nuts), etc. Tweaesum and
threysum are used absolutely in speaking of persons in company,
to express their close and undivided companionship; as "the
tweaesum geade thair ways," the two friends went their way;
"the threysum laid thair heids thegyther," the three confederates
took counsel together; "they're a bonnie tweaesum!" they are a
pretty couple! said in irony. These forms are found in the
Scottish writers from the earliest period:
(The bate) sa litill wes that it
Mycht our the watter bot thresurn flyt.—Barbour.
He wes bot auchtsum in his rout
For of danger he had no dout.-
Lindesay — Sq. Meldrum, 1225.
Thir cur coffeis that sailis oure sone
And thretty-sum about ane pak.-
Lyndesay — Pedder Knavis, 26.
The Fractional Numbers are a hàff, a thyrd pairt, a quarter, a
fowrt pairt, etc. We say, "hàff an ynsch," "hàff a pund;" also
"a hàff-ynsch, a hàff-pund;" a quàrter of a pund, the fowrt of a
glass, an æycht o' an ynsch."
Distributively, eane-be-eane, tweae-be-tweae, are used. "Thay
cam oot eane-be-eane," they came out one by one; "thay geade
yont the toon-geate tweae-be-tweae," or "tweae-an'-tweae," or
"tweae in a raa," or "tweae-man-rank," they went along the
street of the town two by two.
Are sum, onie, aa, heale, beath, aneuch, aneuw, syc, uther,
anuther, eane-anuther, thet-eane, thet-uther.
Aa and heale are used almost synonymously in the singular,
as "aa the toon," or "the heale toon," the whole town; "aa the
road heäme," or "the heale road heäme," all the way home.
Before nouns plural aa is more common, as "aa the bairns, aa the
chylder," all the children.
Beath is often used redundantly with tweae, as "the faither an'
sun war theare beath the tweae o' them," the father and son were
both there. The pleonasm is very old, thus:
Hampole:— Bot bathe þa twa þe saules has
Þat fra hethen to purgatory gas.
Alit. Poems:— Byndez byhynde at his bak boþe two his handez.
Chaucer: And sompne hem to the chapitre bothe two.
Gawain Douglas:—
Bot Venus, with ane sop of myst, baith tway
And with ane dirk clud, closit round about.
And to the tempill furth ƺede thay, baith tway.
Compare the Italian ambidue, the French tous-les-deux, and the
word both itself, Ags. bu-tu, ba-twa, formed from ba = both, and
twa two.
Aneuwch (sing.) is used for quantity, aneuw (plural) for number.
Aneuwch o' syller bryngs aneuw o' freinds, enough of money brings
enough of friends; Ye've aneuw o' pootches, yf ye'd aneuwch tui
fyll them, you have enough of pockets if you had enough to fill
them with. Observe that the construction in Scotch is as in
French and Latin, assez de lait, satis lactis, aneuwch o' mylk,
rather than as in Teutonic, milch genug, milk enough. The distinction
between aneuwch and anew was observed by the old
Scottish writers, and partly in the Southern dialect.
Gawain Douglas:—
"Clere takynnis ynew"
Aneuch of this — us nedis preich na mare.
Barbour :— Modreyt his syster son him slew
And gud men als ma then inew
For he had a fair cumpany
And gold ynewch for to dispend.
Harry:— Till hym thar socht may feechtaris than anew.
Chaucer :—Though so were, that thou haddest slaine of hem two or three, yet
dwellen there enow to wreken his deth, and to slee thy persone.
In all the place saw he not a frere
Of other folk he saw ynow in wo.
Have thou ynough — what thar thee rekke or care
How merily that other folkes fare.
It is ynough, and farewell, have good day.
Syc is followed by as: "syc as yuw suid hàd yeir tung," such
as you ought to keep silence. Also, without it, as "aa wuss aa
hæd syc," I wish I had such; "thay're duist syc an' seae wui
thaim ye hae," they are just such and so (such-like) as those you
have. In comparing one object with another, syccan, syc'na
(apparently derived from syc-kyn, anciently, swilk-kyn) is used;
"gie's syc'n-a-eane as ye hae," give me such a one as you have;
"syc'n-a-eane," or "syc'n-a-leyke-eane tælld hym," such a one
told him; "syc, nonsense!" such nonsense! "yt's duist syc'n
nonsense as ye of'n heir," it is simply such nonsense as you
often hear.
In thet-eane, thet-uther (W. and N. Scotch ither) we have the
old neuter article thæt, Ags. þæt án, þæt óther. The true analysis
of the expression having been forgotten after the northern dialect
came to use the for the article in all genders and cases, it was
commonly written the tane, the tother. The southern writers who
retained that, thet, as the article for a longer period, divided the
words rightly that one, that other.
Chaucer:— That on of hem spake thus unto that other,
Thou wotest wel thou art my sworen brother.
Knight of La Tour:— "And thus that one doughter discouered her to that other,
and that one counsailed," etc. Chap. lv.
Alit. Poems:— In þat on oure pes watz mad at ene
In þat oþer is noʓt bot pes to glene. A. 952.
Hampole:— Þe tan es gastly, invisile and clene
Þe tother es bodyly, and may be sene.
Þe tan es heghe, and þe tother lawe.
Þe ta right frely he graunted me,
And þe tother til himself held he.
Gawain Douglas:— "the tane borne of Epiria
And the tothir was of Archadia."
The ta part feirs and fell with birnand ene
The tother part lamed clynschis, and makis hir byde.¹
Modern Scotch:— Sætt doon thet-eae fytt, an' pytt up thet-uther. Thet-eane's
raither lànger thăn thet-uther.
The loss of the true idea of the combination led, in course of
time, to such anomalies as the use of thet-uther before plural
nouns, as "hey leykes thyr bætter as thet-uther eanes,' he likes
these better than the others, and even to the use of ta and
tuther severed from the; as Gawain Douglas, 118-15, "the Qwene
stands, her ta fute bare," i.e. one of her feet. Modern Scotch,
"hey's hys muther's t-eae ey," alter oculus, i.e. as much to her as
one of her eyes, said of a child foolishly doated upon.
The Scotch tane, tuther, must not be confounded in origin with
the provincial English t'one, t'other, for the one, the other, like
t'master, for the master. English, "Show me t'other hand," i.e.
t(he) other hand; Scotch, Shaw me the-tuther hand,' i.e. thæt--
uther hand. A similar error was made by the northern writers,
in analysing another as a nothir, making nother, like tother, a
separate word: "a nothir thyng I sall thé tell," "na nothir man
wald cum him by."
Ane nother wyse that bell sall now be roung. — Douglas.
If this had kept its ground as fully as tother, we should have had
exact equivalents of the Latin alter and alius.
¹ Correctly, Dame naturis menstralis on that uthyr parte.
Other is used elliptically in Scotch, where English requires
each other; thus, 'thay're verra leyke uther; thay strák uther,
an' tuir uther's clease.' Examples of this usage occur from the
earliest period:
Þus sal ilka saul oþer se
For nan of þam may feled be. — Hampole.
The twa princis tretis with this sex brethir to fecht aganis uthir.-
Bellenden, Livy.
DISTRIBUTIVES. Ylk each, yvverie every. Ylk (Ags. ælc) before
a consonant generally becomes ylka, (the appended a being
originally the article ilk a, ilk ane, O.S.E. ich a, each a. — Compare
such a, many a, etc.), "ylka bleade o' gærss kæps yts ayn
dràp o' deuw," each blade of grass catches its own drop of dew;
"Cum heir, ylk-eane (pr. ylk-yén or ýlkein) o'ye," come hither,
each one of you. An Ylka-day, or yvverie-day, is a week-day,
in opposition to the "Sab'tha day." "Hey cam yn hys ylka--
day clease," Ilk, ilka, are used as far south as Cleveland and
Another Ylk, ilk (Ags. ylc, same), to be distinguished from ylk,
each, is regularly used by the Scotch writers :
Þai sall ansuer to þam on south half Forth, at that ilke terme, and that
ilke stedde.—Assisæ Willelmi.
In the modern tongue this word appears to be known only in
titles, such as "Gledstanes of that ilk," "Langlands of that ilk,"
etc., meaning Gledstanes of the same, i.e. Gledstanes of Gledstanes,
Langlands of Langlands.
Aither and Naither are conjunctions, but not adjectives in the
modern dialect. 'Neither of you shall go' would be expressed
"neane o' the tweae o' ye maan gang;" 'Either of them will do,'
"onie o' the tweae o' them'll dui."
The Scotch possesses several words, adjectives, adverbs, or
nouns, to express indefinite number and quality, as a wheen,
a pyckle, a byt, a vast, a lot, a heip, a hàntle, the fæck. Most
of these are common to all the dialects north of the Humber.
A quhein or wheen, whun, whon (Ags. hwæne. hwene, hwon, little,
few; Gawain Douglas, quheyn; Barbour, quhone, quhoyne,) is a
small number, a few; gie's a quhein aipples, give me a few apples;
a quhein càllants, a few boys.¹
¹ Callant, the South Scottish for boy,
is strictly a Modern word, unknown to
the writers of the Early and Middle
Periods. It seems to be one of those
words which have spread inland from
the fisher-folk of the East Coast, of
Flemish origin (p. 79), being, not the
French gallant, as Jamieson suggests,
but the Flemish and Dutch kalant,
calant, a customer, from the French
chaland, a word which the latest French
etymologists are unable to trace further.
In Flemish it signifies not only a customer
in the proper sense, but is also
used in the slang sense of a customer,
a fellow, a chap, a blade, a boy, as
when we say, "a queer customer," "a
Western boy," "a jolly boy." From
this, by a natural transition, comes the
Scottish sense of "young chap," a
lad, a boy, in the strict meaning of
these words, although the earlier use
of the word is familiar in "Hawick
Thocht thai war quheyn, thai war worthy,
And full of gret chewalry. — Barbour.
Of mony wourdis schortlie ane quhene sall I
Declare. Thole me, I pray the,
Thir wourdis quheyn of wecht til the to say.—Gawain Douglas.
Compare the Old Northern fone, which bears apparently the
same relation to hwon, quhone, as the N. E. Scotch fat, fan, do to
what, quhat, when, quhan.
And for to life here a fon dayse. — Hampole.
Scotch: An' for tui leive heir a quhone or quhein days.
What quhein is to number, pyckle (W. and N. Sc. puckle,
literally, a grain, compare a barley pickle,) is to quantity, and byt
\to size: "Gie the beist a pyckle eates," give the horse some oats;
"Hey's onlie a byt bairn," he is only a mere child. Luoke and
hayr are used for quantities less than a pyckle: "Hæ ye a luoke
meil 'at ye coed spair? Have you a small quantity of meal to
spare? "Ay naa! lass, aa hæna a hayr i' the hoose."
All these words may be diminished by prefixing wee, or enlarged
by gaye, guid; "Gie them a wee quhein meae;" "Syc a
wee pyckle!" "a wee byt laddie;" "Thay've a gaye byt færm,
an' thay growe a gaye pyckle eates, an' a guid quhein tattoes,
an' aa s' warran ye, thay're wurth a gaye byt syller."
A hantle is a good many, a considerable number or quantity: "The' war a hàntle o' fuok: at the meitin';" "hey spak a hantle
o' nònsense;" "ther's a hàntle o' fuok i' yoor way o' thynkin'."
Hankle, the dialectical form used in Angus, is considered by Dr.
Jamieson as the original form; but the word seems rather to be
hand-tal, a hand-tale or number, like han' la' quheyle from hand--
lang-while, a hand's-length of time, a span, as "Aa cànna gytt
hym tui syt styli a hànla-quheyle, an' hys tung never dyz devaal,"
I cannot get him to sit still for any space of time, and his tongue
never makes a pause. The full form occurs in the Townley
I may not syt at my note
A hand-lang while.
In older English and Anglo-saxon we have hand-while, as in the
(West Midland) Romance of the Destruction of Troy:
I hope it shall happon in a hond-while.
Herkinys now a hond qwhile of a hegh cas!
Fæck (Ags. fæc, space, amount,) is used for space, quantity, the
greater part, the bulk: "Quhat fæck o' fuok wàd ther bey theare?"
The fæck o' a hunder, aa daar-say." "Ys ther onie fæck o' waitter
i' the lowch?" "Hey hæs bein away the fæck o' twàll yeir."
"Hæs hey duin onie fæck o' wàrk the-day?"
A lot, a heip, a vàst, are used for an indefinitely large number:
"Quhat a lòt o' fuok cumman' alàng the road!" "He hæ's a heip
o' freinds eae pleace ăn anuther." "Ther's a vast o' thyngs eane
wad leyke, yf eane cood gytt them."¹
The Demonstrative or Distinguishing Adjectives are an (a),
the, thys, that, and thon or yon. The two first are usually
called Articles, the remainder Demonstrative Pronouns. As
the primary use of all is the same, viz., to qualify or define
Nouns, rather than to replace them, they are properly classed
as Adjectives.
An (a) is used to individualize or indicate a noun, not already
under consideration.
The is used to indicate or identify a noun which is already
under consideration.
When several objects are under consideration
Thys is used to identify the object nearest to the speaker.
That is used to identify the object nearest to the person spoken to.
Thon or Yon is used to identify an object remote from both.
So in Spanish there are three demonstratives, este thys, ese that,
aquello thon. The Anglo-saxon, like the modern Teutonic languages,
was poor in these distinctive words, having only this and
that (the latter of which also did duty for the). Although the
northern demonstratives are all from Teutonic roots, their use is
by no means Teutonic, and is probably imitated from the Celtic,
where the distinction is a triple one. The Gaelic an duine so, an
duine sinn, an duine ud, correspond exactly to the Lowland Scotch
thys man, that man, thon man.
Thys and that have distinct plural forms, thon or yon is
alike in both numbers:
Singular. thys that then or yon.
Plural. thyr (thir) theae (thae) thon or yon.
An, a, is the unaccented farm of the numeral ane, eane, Ags. án,
æn, one, which, at a later date, became, like the Norman un, used
also as the indefinite article. In this signification it was lightly
pronounced ăn, ă, but as a numeral was strongly pronounced,
appearing in the Old Southern English as oon, one, oo, o, according
to the regular transliteration of the Ags. broad á. (Compare
bone, stone, from bán, stán.) In the Northern dialect the more
slender æn has given birth to such forms as ane, æne, eane, eean,
yen, yan,² and in the existing Lowland Scotch and North English
¹ Compare the Cleveland "He can still bide a vast, thof he's bodden a deal in
his day."
² "Ten things an' yan Bobby, ten things an yan
Five an five for Betty Banks, an yan for Betty's man."
"Bobby Banks' Bodderment" — Cumberland Dialect.
Few words in the language present
such a variety of dialectical forms as
one; in the Northern dialects they
range from yan over the whole series
dialects these strong forms are taken by the numeral, while the
the article is simply ăn, ă (ən, ə). In the early Northern writers,
both in England and Scotland, there was no distinction in writing
between the numeral and the article, the numeral being an, later
ane, when standing alone or before a vowel, a before a consonant;
the article also an, ane, before a vowel, a before a consonant.
The pronunciation of the latter was no doubt less emphatic than
that of the numeral. Thus in Hampole:
May be understanden ma warldes þan ane;
An es þis dale whar we ar wonnand.
Þe body and saule bytwene þam twa
Makes bot a man and na ma.
God in a substance and being.
An eghe twynkelyng — an egge yholke.
See examples from the early Scottish writers at pp. 55-6.
But in the Scottish writers of the Middle period the single form
an, usually written ane, was used in all positions for numeral and
article alike. Thus:
As thay bene in ane substance knyt all thre,
Thre persouns regnis in ane Deite;
Flambe, hete; and licht ben in ane fire we se.
. . . ane mekle fare altare,
Nere quham thare grew an rycht auld lanrer tre,
Bowand toward the altere ane litill we.—Douglas, Eneid.
He was ane Munƺeoun for ane Dame,
Meik in Chalmer, lyk ane Lame,
Bot in the feild ane Campioun,
Rampand lyke ane wyld Lyoun. — Lyndesay, Sq. Meldrum.
I have already given, in the Historical Introduction, reasons for
believing that this use of ane was a literary mannerism of the
Middle Scotch; and it may be added that the analogy of ane was
not extended to its compounds nane and tane, which were still
contracted into na and the ta, before a consonant, as in the early
writers, and the modern dialects. We find ane man, ane kyng,
but not nane man, nane kyng, or the tane man, the tane kyng, only
na man, na kyng, the ta man, the to kyng. See instances on p. 176.
The use of ane continued in Scottish writings down to the
beginning of last century; it disappears from the Burgh Records
of front vowels to e in been, and in the
Southern from wan over the entire
range of back and back round vowels,
to oo in foot, and u in fun, while, to
increase the variety, an initial glide
has developed in the Southern dialects
into w, in the northern into y. The
steps by which the Ags. án has reached
these diverse extremities may be tabulated
It is worthy of notice that the conventional
spelling, both in English and
Scotch, represents an early middle pronunciation,
being that which was in
use about the introduction of printing,
but which the existing pronunciation
wun and yen has passed many stages
of Hawick about 1728. In striking contrast with this single
form, the existing Lowl. Sc. and N. Eng. dialects, like the old
Southern English, have four; in the Southern Counties' Scotch,
eäne, eäe, numeral, ăn, ă, article. But while the Old English
oo, o, was used only before a consonant, the Scotch ae, eae, is used
before all nouns, eäne being a strictly absolute form, used without
a noun. The following table shows these curious dialectical and
historical varieties of usage with regard to án and its compounds:
Thys and that are the neuter forms of the Ags. demonstratives
þis or þys, and þæt, of which the latter was likewise used as the
Definite Article, and as the Relative. The is the uninflected stem
of the same word, which at an early period in the Northern
dialect, and later in the Southern, supplanted the various inflected
genders and cases, when used as the simple article. While Cursor
Mundi and Hampole used the, this, and that, exactly according to
modern practice, the contemporary Southern dialect had twelve
inflected forms of this, and no less than fifteen of the or that, a
striking instance of the earlier date and more rapid rate at which
the grammatical revolution was carried through in the north. In
the phrase the tane, the tother = thet-ane, thet-other, Ags. þæt
án, þæt óþer, we have, as already remarked, an instance of the
retention, in a disguised form, of the old neuter article thæt, thet.
Thae (South Sc. theae) represents þá or þǽ, the plural of þæt,
Semi-Saxon and Old Southern and Midland English tho, Old
North. Eng. and Scotch tha, thaa, another form of which is thay,
English they, O. E. thei, O. N. Eng. thai, the pronoun of the third
person plural. Þa was in Anglo-saxon a demonstrative = illi,
isti, those, the; but already in the Lindisfarne Glosses we find it
used as the equivalent of hia, hea (South Saxon hig, hí), the
plural of the third personal pronoun. Some time between the
date of these Glosses and the end of the 12th century, the proper
pronoun went entirely out of use, leaving þa in its place, which
was split into two forms þa (tha, thaa, thae,) demonstrative, and
þai (thai, thay,) the pronoun, a distinction still retained by the
Scottish and Northern English dialects. Thus:
Cursor Mundi: If þai suld for þaa feluns prai
It war gain godd and gret derai.
Hampole:— Ay when þai on þa paynes thoght
Barbour:— Thomas Randell was ane of þa
Þat for his lyff become þair man;
Of othyr þat war takyn þan,
Sum þai ransownyt, sum þai slew
And sum þai hangyt, and sum þai drew.
The Erle Jhone wes ane of þa, etc,
Gawain Douglas:— —his expert mate Sibylla
Taucht him thay war bot vode gaistis all tha,
Bot ony bodyis.
Modern Scotch:— Dynna teake theae, thay wunna weir weill.
Dont take those, they will not wear well.
So in the Cleveland dialect:-
Wheea's theea tweea bairns, sa' thee? Whuh! they belongs me.
Scotch:— Quheae's theae tweae bairns, say-ye? With! thay belang mey.
As early as 1230, the Ormulum shows the northern distinction
between tha and thay, which Orrmin wrote þa and þeʓʓ:
Þeʓʓ haffden sere fettles þær, att tatt bridaless sæte,
And twafald oþerr þrefald met, þa fettles alle tokenn ;
And Crist badd þatt þeʓʓ sholden gan, and fillenn þeʓʓre fettless.
Wiþþ waterr, and þeʓʓ geden till, and didenn þatt he seʓʓde.
The Southern dialect was much slower in adopting the Northern
pronouns; the Ayenbite, 1340, has still the old forms, Nom. hy,
heo, Gen. her, Acc. hem. Chaucer, 1360-1400, has adopted the
Northern Nom. they, but retains Southern her and hem in the
oblique cases. The vernacular of the south of England has still
in the 19th century hem, 'em, in the objective, although it has
long used they and their, in the other cases.
In addition to þa, þaa, Cursor Mundi and Hampole have also,
especially as the antecedent of the relative, þas, þaas, the Midland
þos, thos, those.
Cursor Mundi:— Þaas oþer sall ha farehed nan.
Hampole:— Þas þat þe world serves and loves,
Serves þe devel, as þe buk proves.
But this form of the demonstrative has long disappeared from the
Scottish dialects, where the latter sentence would be thaim 'at the
warld sers an' luives, etc.
In the earliest or Anglo-saxon period, þá and þás, were distinct
and contrasted forms, þá being the plural of that, þás the plural of
this = these. The Lindisfarne and Rushworth glosses, and the
Rituale, shew that the Old Northumbrian was in this respect identical
with the classical Anglo-saxon. The same distinction was
retained between þá and þás in the Semi-Saxon period and
Southern dialect, where the forms were regularly transliterated
into þo, þos, and the latter, in course of time, transformed into
þeos, þues, þes, and, finally, þese, þise, forms in which the kinship
to the singular þes, þis, was more obvious. Thus the Ancren
Riwle has þeo illi, þeos hi; the Ayenbite þo, þeo, illi, þeos, þise,
hi; Chaucer þo illi, þise hi.
In the Northern and Midland dialects, where the inflexional
power of -s as a plural formative was more generally recognized,
the distinction of meaning between þa, þo, and þas, þos, was lost
sight of between 1100 and 1230, and at the latter date both forms
were used synonymously as the plural of that. So in the examples
quoted from Cursor Mundi and Hampole for the Northern
dialect.¹ For the West Midland see the Early English Alliterative
Poems, edited by Mr. (now Dr.) Morris, in which the value
of þo and þose, is absolutely identical. This having thus lost its
original plural, new forms made their appearance to supply it, the
Northern dialect adopting þir (thir, thier, ther, thur, thoor, thor),
and the Midland forming a direct plural þise from the singular
þis, in the same way as al, som, other, his, good, yvel, formed
plurals alle, some, othere, hise, gode, yvele, in the Midland dialect.
(See Chaucer and Wiclyff.²)
Of the two plurals for that, which now (13th & 14th centuries)
existed in the Northern and Midland dialects, only one was
eventually retained by each. In the Northern dialect the surviving
form was þa (tha, thae), the other form þas, thas, being
absent from the Scottish writers, and totally unknown to the
living Scottish dialects (and I believe also to those parts of the
North of England which still retain the true Northern speech).
In the Midland dialect, on the other hand, þos (those) was triumphant,
þo, tho, being gradually eliminated, perhaps because the
former was more distinctly plural, and more distinct from the
third personal pronoun thai and article the.
The literary English being, in it main features, of Midland
origin, acknowledges the Midland Demonstratives þise and þos,
these, those, both of which we see re really plurals of this; thos
being the original, þise, a newer form introduced after thos had
passed over to the plural of that. These and those have not, however,
been cordially welcomed by the popular speech either in
the North or South; the Dorsetshire peasant does not say "I
think those houses better than these," but "I think them housen
better than theäsem," from Ags. þǽm and þisum, dat. plurals. In
the Northern dialect the Scotch has retained thir and the, thae, as
its plural demonstratives. In the North of England, although
the influence of the Standard English has been gradually driving
¹ An examination of Cursor Mundi
and the Pricke of Conscience leads to
the conclusion that tha was used before
a plural noun, but thas when not
followed by a noun, as when antecedent
to a relative, in which case the s might
serve more distinctly to indicate the
plural. A similar usage occurs in South
Scottish vernacular, where thir is often
made thirs when not followed by a noun.
² Dr. Morris (Allit. Poems, p. xxvii.)
questions the plural value of the final e
in thise. I think it was certainly
looked upon as the sign of the plural
in the Midland dialect, but there might
be a Southern thise, these, theose, from
theos. The relations of the different
forms to one another are very perplexing.

the old dialect northward, so that thir and tha are not now, as in
Richard the Hermit's time, heard in the neighbourhood of Doncaster,
we meet with them as thor and theea in the dialect of
Cleveland in the North Riding, and in Cumberland and Westmorland,
thur (sound of u in full), thor, are in regular use as the
plural of this. But tha, thae, is not now used in the two Western
Counties, which supply its place by them: "I'll gie-tha thur (in
my hand) for them (in yours);" "Thur's mi aan, them's mi
fadther's, an' yon's laal Jacup's." In South Lancashire we find
these forms displaced by the Midland these, thooas; and in the
Barnsley dialect of Yorkshire thease seems also to replace the
Northern thir. In Scotland thir and thae have, curiously enough,
not penetrated beyond the Grampians, the North-eastern Scotch
using thys and that in the plural as well as the singular: "thys
beuks an' that pens." (See antè, p. 81.)
Where the literary English uses those as the antecedent of the
relative, the Lowland Scotch uses the third personal pronoun, in
the plural as well as in the singular, as thaim ăt dyd it, those who
did it; hym at said seae, he who said so.
These changes may be tabulated thus :
Thir (S. C. Scotch thyr (P. dher), West and Central thur (dhər),
Cumberland thūr (dhuur), Westmoreland thoor, thor (dhuur,
dhoor); Cursor Mundi and Hampole, þir, þer, þier, þere; Hampole's
Prose Works, þire,) is the northern plural of this.
Hampole:— Bathe þer worldes I dar wele say
Sal faile atte the last and pass away.
Þir takens, er tald efter the lettre here,
Bot þe exposicion may be in othir manere.
Þere twa may be taken, bathe wele and wa.
All þier benefice hald in mind.
Hampole's Prose Works. "In all thire, I soghte Ihesu, bot I fand hym
noghte, ffor he lett me wyete by his grace þat he ne is fundene in þe lande
of softly lyfande." p. 4.
"He lufes God þat kepis thire commandementes for lufe." p. 11.
Gawain Douglas:— "Vyrgil in thir VI forsaid bukis, follouis the maist
excellent Greik poet Homer.
Juno inflammit musing on thir casis nyse.
James I.:— To danss thir Damysells them dicht,
Thir Lasses licht of Laits.
Lancelot of the Laik:—
Bot yhe and ek thir vthere ladice may,
If that yhow lykith, to the knycht gar say
The mesag.
Lindesay:— Quhen thir nouellis dois into Ingland spreid,
Of Londoun, than, the lustie ladies cleir
Will, for my saik, mak dule and drerie cheir.
Roxburgshire. — Quhat dui-ye thynk o' thyr? Yt's noa easie geattin'
ænd-ways i' thyr dærk days. Aa've a hyvvie haand-fu wui aa thyr bairns
aboot us. Aa've meade it aa, wui thyr tæn fyng-ers.
Cumberland. — "I coontit ower t' things i' t' basket till they began to shap
theirsels intil oa maks o' barnish sangs i' my heid, and I fūnd mysel creùnan'
away at sec bits o' rhymes as thūrr."-
I'se flayt to beyde here i' thūrr lang neeghts.
Westmorland. —
"Mapp'm they hev neea Ryshes doon i' thoor laa pleases,"
I'le gee thah thor books if thoo'll gee-mah them. I'le swap thor for them."
Northumberland. — An' she says, Thor six measurs he gov us; for he says
tiv us, Divent gan away empy to thaw muthor o' law. — Ruth iii. 17, Bonapartean
When thir is used absolutely, without a noun following, it
generally becomes thirs: "Thirs is meyne." I find this also in
the Northumbrian version of Ruth, by J. P. Robson, quoted above:
"Noo, thor's is the fem'lies o' Pharez: Pharez gat Hezron, etc.
—Ruth iv. 18.
The true origin of thir is somewhat obscure. Most etymologists
refer it to the Norse þær, þæir, the, those; others derive it from
the-here, like thilk, from the ylk, The history of the Northern
dialect presents us with a blank at the period of its introduction,
and the only certain data in connection with it are these:—
1. Thir is totally unknown to the older Northumbrian writings,
the Lindisfarne and Rushworth glosses, and the Ritual, in which
hæc is always expressed by þas, as in the West Saxon.
2. Thir is in regular use for hæc in the Northern writers from
the reappearance of Northern literature in the end of the 12th
century, þas being either obsolete or = þa, illa.
3. Thir is now the word for hæc in Scotland, and the Northern
counties of England.
The difficulty in deducing thir from the Norse þær arises chiefly
from the fact that the latter word did not mean hæc but illa, being
indeed the simple equivalent of the Ags. þa, the plural of that and
the. I am informed, however, by the Rev. J. C. Atkinson, author
of the Cleveland Glossary, that the use of thor is rather lax in
Yorkshire, and that in the strongly Danish district of Cleveland
it is used, not for these, but for those, being synonymous with
thae, while the old Northern thas, under the form of thease,
retains its earliest meaning of these, with which thors or thoāse
is also identical in use.¹ It is probable, therefore, that the distinction
between these words was originally not so clearly defined
as now, and that it was only gradually that thir came to
have its use as the opposite of thae. As regards the derivation
from the-here, which exactly suits the sense of thir, we have the
analogy of thilk, from the-ilk, and the example of the Latin hic-ce,
the French ce-ci, celui-ci, ceux-ci, and the vulgar English this-here,
that-'ere. It is urged on the other hand that the Northern
dialect was averse to such compound forms, and that we have no
early examples of any tendency to say the-here men, or tha-here
men. Apart from either derivation we have the fact that the
Kentish dialect of the 14th century, in the Ayenbite and Shoreham's
Poems, used therne, thirne, for thisne, acc. masc. of this.
The exact details of the origin and diffusion of thir, between the
beginning of the 12th and end of 13th century, have still to be
Yon, the Mœso-Gothic jain-s, German jen-er, is not found as a
pronoun or adjective in Anglo-saxon,² but occurs as an adverbial
root in ƺeonel, beƺeondan, etc. It is constantly used in Scotch, in
referring to things remote in place or time, where the English
would generally use that, which in Scotch is used for things
nearer to the person addressed; thus, "yon or thon's a graand
hoose ower the waitter," "D'ye meynd yon wunter quhan the
snaa lay seae lang onna the grand;" "Aa tælld ye thon teyme
as mæt ye;" "thon was a særmon wurth heirin' last weik;"
"Thys is meyne, that's yoors, but quhae's auwcht thon?" "Quhae
was yon ye brocht wi'ye yesterday?"
Thon is probably a corruption of yon, developed by analogy of
thys, that, to render it more significantly demonstrative. It is in
regular use in all parts of Scotland, in Northumberland, about
Shields, and as far south as Teesdale.
I have not found yon in Hampole; it is common in the Scottish
writers of all periods.
¹ This use of the demonstratives in
the Cleveland dialect, as given by Mr.
Atkinson, is very curious, showing as it
does four forms, theea, thor, theäse,
thors or thoäse, of which the two in -s
are used as plurals of this, and the two
without-s as plurals of that. Theea
and theäse are undoubtedly the Northern
forms of the Ags. þá, þás, retaining
their original values of illa, hæc. Tho(r),
thoäse, or tho(r)s, may be the Midland
forms of the same, þo, þos. Or þor
may be the Norse þœr, retaining its
original meaning of those. In the Lonsdale
Glossary, prepared by the late Mr.
Peacock, and edited by Mr. Atkinson,
we also find "thoer, thore, pronoun,
these, those," but I suspect that when
used definitely, or in contrast, it should
be these only, as it is in Scotland, in
Northumberland, Cumberland, and
² While this is passing through the
press, Mr. Henry Sweet, of the Philological
Society, has shown that the
Demonstrative ʓeon existed in the older
Ags., though apparently afterwards lost
in the standard idiom. In the contemporary
MS. of King Alfred's translation
of Gregory's Pastoral he finds
(p. 443) " Aria and gong to ʓeonre
byriʓ," Reyse an' gang to yon toun.
Douglas:— "To ƺone place ar thay cumyn, thow may take hede,
Quhare now risis ƺone large wall-is stout
Of new Cartage with hie towr-is about."
My chyld cleith the with ƺone kend childis vissage.
Burns:— I'm wae to think upo' yon den
Even for your sake.
Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord
Wha struts an' stares an' a' that.
Lancelot of the Laik:—
Who is he ƺone? who may he be, ƺhone knycht,
So still that hovis, and steris not his ren. 2828.
I am not aware of the literary occurrence of thon, except in
representations of the popular dialect of quite recent date. But its
use over the whole area of ancient Bernicia, from the Tees to the
Clyde and the Grampians, leads to the conclusion that it must
have arisen before the division of the province between England
and Scotland. How, otherwise, should it be common to the pit--
men of the Tyne, the fishers of Montrose, and the shepherds of
Ettrick and Annandale?
Pronouns are classed as Personal, Possessive, Interrogative,
and Relative; in each class there are Compound Pronouns, and
many adjectives are used pronominally.
The usage of the Personal Pronouns in the current Scottish
dialects differs essentially from that of the Standard English,
being in most respects identical with the French. There is
a direct or proper Nominative, and a direct Objective, as well
as an indirect case, used like the French moi, toi, lui, eux, for
both Nominative and Objective in certain positions. But
while in French this indirect case or dative is in its history
and derivation distinct from the direct accusative, the indirect
case in Scotch is, viewed etymologically, really the
objective of the English (the dative or accusative of the
Anglo-saxon), while the direct Objective is a contracted or
mutilated form.
The Ags. ic, Old South. Eng. ich, remained in the Scottish
writers of the 14th century as ik before a vowel or h, but the k
was dropped before a consonant. Thus:
Barbour :— Betuix a louch-side and a bra,
That wes sa strait Ik underta.
But thair fayis war ma then thai
Be fifteen hundyr, Ik herd say.
I count nocht my liff a stra
Thir angrys may I ne mar dreg.
But ik has, I believe, long been obsolete, and I, originally pronounced
ĭ, as in ik, first became diphthongal, as in cry, lie (Pal.
ai), and was then reduced to the first half of the diphthong (a).
In all the Scottish, and most of the North English dialects, I,
when unaccented, is now ă or ĕh (ɐ, ə), as in the first syllable of
about, among. In some of the Scotch dialects it is, when emphasized,
(ai) or (áe), but in the Southern Counties there is no
trace of the diphthong, and the emphatic form is simply aa (aa),
which may be compared with the Northumbrian aw, the Yorkshire
ah, and Lancashire aw.
"Sally, hinny, sit aside us; lang maw bairn, aw canna last,
Beukt aw's for the dowley lonnin'; thoo may see aw's sinkan' fast." —
Poems in Newcastle Dialect. By J. P. Robson.
The true Objective Singular mă (formed from mik, as ă from
ik,) is now almost obsolete, except among old people, the plural
us being regularly used instead, just as in the second person you is
used for thee. Where an old person would say "hey tælld-mă,
gi'-mă," the present generation say, "hey tælld-us, gie 's or
gie 'z" in the singular as in the plural. The same usage prevails
over the English part of Bernicia.
"An she says tiv him, What for sud thoo teayk a likin tiv us, an' teayk
sec notish on us, kennin' thit aw's a straingur?"-
Ruth. ii. 10. Northumberland Dialect.
Huz is, perhaps, the only Scotch word which aspirates an
originally simple vowel; and this is not a modern corruption like
the Cockney "hair of the hatmosphere," but an ancient form:
compare the Paternoster of the 13th century, given by Mr. Ellis
(Early Eng. Pron. p. 442):
Vre bred þat lastes ai
gyue it hus þis hilke dai,
and vre misdedis þu forgyue hus
als we forgyue þaim þat misdon hus.
As in Dutch and Flemish the second person singular pronoun
has quite disappeared from the spoken dialect. Even in prayer I
have heard an old shepherd say "Ye war oor Faither, aathoa
wey hæd forseaken ye," but as a rule English is the liturgical
language even among the illiterate, and thou, thy, thee, of course
The objective of ye is yŭh, or yĕh, in most of the Scotch
dialects, but in that of the Southern Counties it sinks into simple
ye, or rather (y not being sounded before e) 'ee: pyt it òn-yeh.
Tev. pyt it ón-'ee = onie.
The diphthongal sound of hey, wey, is scarcely perceptible
when unaccented, in which case they shrink into hĭ, wĭ (Hi,Wi),
as schui, thay, do into schŭh or schĕh, thĕh (shǝ, dhǝ).
The h of hym, hyr, hyt, is not heard when unemphatic; in such
a case yt is used before the verb, it after, as yt fæll doon, dyd-it
faa? emphatic hyt £æll doon, dyd hyt faa? The euphonic change
of it, 't, into 'd after a voiced letter has been recognized since the
middle of the 15th century, at least. Thus:
"Ratis Raving":—
Ill neuer na seruand to thar lord
He sal thé neuer luf the better for'd. 3534.
An' he it hyd(e) and heil and hald
He is a theif rycht as he stald = staw'd, stole it.
Ibid. 3446.
To knaw the cours of þi ƺouthed,
And of the mydys, and of thin eild
As thow has felt, and mar sal feild (=feel it).
That neuer man may preif one thé
A taynt of falsat of his gud
Þow art wndone, and (= if) ewer þow dud (= dui it).
Ibid. 3218.
Dunbar, "Complaint to the King":—
Fenƺeing the feiris of ane lord
And he ane strummell, I stand ford = for it.
Lyndesay, "Satyre," 2095:—
Heir is ane coird baith great and lang,
Quhilk hangit Jonnye Armistrang,
Of gude hemp, soft and sound;
Gude halie peopill, I stand for'd
Quha ever beis hangit with this cord
Neidis never to be dround.
"Gude and Godlie Ballatis," p. 124:—
Then suld we outher do or die,
Or ellis our lyfe we suld lay for it (for'd)
And euer to liue in cheritie
Be Christ Jesus, quhilk is our Lord.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT FORMS.—The Nominative Direct is used
when it immediately accompanies the verb, or is separated from
it only by the qualifying adverb. It is used either with or without
Aa was theare. Dyd ye heir? Ye suin cam back. Dyd thay
dui seae? Yt was aboot fower o'clock. Waar-n' yee theare?
The Indirect form is used for the Nominative—
1. When the Verb is not expressed, as in answer to a question.
(So in French.)
2. When the Nominative is separated from the Verb by a Relative
or Relative clause, a numeral or a substantive. (So in French.)
3. As the second Nominative (predicate) after the verb to be, etc.
(So in French.)
4. When the Nominative is repeated for the sake of emphasis, the
added nominative being put in the indirect case. (So in
5. When two or more Nominatives form the subject of the same
verb. (So in French.)
6. With a participle as the absolute case.
Examples: 1. Quheae was heir? Mey (Fr. moi). 2. Mey, 'at
hæs bein theare (Fr. moi, qui ai été là). Thaim 'at hæs, aye
geates mair. Yuw tweae was theare. Huz laddies ran æfter
them. Yuw eänes kæns aa aboot it. 3. It was yuw (C'était toi).
It wasna mey. That's hym. Yt's thaim 'at sood cum fyrst. 4.
Mey, aa canna gang (Fr. moi, je ne puis aller). Yuw! yee're
aye ahynt. Schui's noa tui lyppen tui, hyr. 5. Yuw an' mey 'll
gang ower the feild (Fr. toi et moi, nous irons, etc.). Thaim an
huz dyd værra weill thegyther. 6. Hym beyin' seae hungrie.
Mey cummin' yn, stoppit the dyn.
The Objective Direct is used when an Objective (or two Objectives
in different relations, not separated by conjunctions,) occurs
after a verb or preposition, without emphasis. In pronunciation
this form of the Objective is scarcely a separate word, but an
enclitic syllable or letter added to the verb or preposition. Some
monosyllabic prepositions and verbs blend with these pronouns
into a simple sound. Such are tui, fræ or thræ, yn, on, o', wi', gie,
gæ, hæ, thus:
The Objective Indirect is used when the Object is from the
sense put under emphasis, or when two or more objects, coupled
by a conjunction, are governed by the same verb or preposition.

Objective Direct. Gi'ma or gie's yer haand. Tæll ma or tæll-us
aa aboot-it. Hey hat-ma or hat-us ower the heid. That was
sair ageane-ye. Aa saa-ye beath. Dyd-ye heir-'ym? Hæ-ye
hærd-it? Wad-ye kæn'd, yf ye saa 'd. Pyt the lyd on't. Ther's
neathyng yn't. Dynna bey seae hard on'ym. Gie'r hyr deuws.
Læt'yr gang. Bryng-us a quhein peirs. Aa'll gi'ye sum. Hey
follo't-them. Schui brocht-them tui-them. Hey tuik-them fræ-them.
Objective Indirect. Gie méy yer haand. Tæll méy aa aboot it.
Yt was sair ageane yúw — that. Aa saa yúw-tweae. Dyd ye heir
hým? Hæ-ye hærd hýt? Wad-ye kæn hýt, yf ye saa'd? Pyt
the lyd onna hýt? Dynna bey hard onna hým? Læt hýr gang.
Bryng húz sum peirs. Aa' 'll gie yúw a quhein. Hey follŏ't
thaím. Hey tuik thaím thræ-them. Hey tuik-them thræ thaím.
Thay're tui yúw and méy. Aa mæt hým an' hýr. Aa want yuweänes
After the verbs give, tell, send, bring, sell, etc., in such sentences
as "Give them to me," "He told it to them," the order of the
pronouns is reversed in Scotch, that expressing the Dative relation
being put first without a preposition, thus: gie mey them, hey
tæld-them't. The same position is maintained with nouns, Hey gæ
the dreyver them, wey browcht-them wurd, they bowcht ther faither
a hoose.
In the case of two pronouns, they may be both direct, both
indirect, or one of each form, according to the sense regulating
the emphasis or stress of the voice. Thus, he gave it to you =
hey gæ-ye'd; he gave it to YOU = hey gæ yuw'd; he gave IT to
you = he gæ-ye hyt; he gave IT to YOU = hey gæ yuw hyt. So
he gives it to the man = hey gies the man 'd; he gives IT to the
man = hey gies the man hyt.
From which it appears that a pronoun may be added enclitically
to another pronoun or a noun, as well as to a verb.
Gie mey'd, gie yuw'd, gie hym'd, gie hyr'd, gie huz't, gie
thaim'd. So gie the man'd, gie the bairn't, gie the burd it, give it
to the man, the child, the bird.
When both pronouns are unemphatic, they are both enclitic,
gi'ma't, gi'ye'd, gīe'm't, gie'r't, gie'd-it, gie's't, gie-them't
give it to me, it to you, it to him, it to her, it to it, it to us, it to them
tæll-ma't, tæll-ye't, tæll'ym't, tæll'yr't, tæll-us't, tæll-them't
tell it me, it to you, it to him, it to her, it to us, it to them
Eäne (yen) Eng. one, Fr. on, is an indefinite personal pronoun.
Its objective is eäne, but in a reflective sentence eane'ssæl. "Eäne
leykes tui sey that;" "yt dyz eäne muckle guid;" "Wad eäne
hurt eane's-sæl?"
Instead of eăne, a buodie (i.e. persona, a person,) is often used,
e.g. "A buodie leykes tui sey that;" "yt dyz a buodie muckle
guid;" "wad a buodie hurt thersel, yf thay fæll owre theare?"
the plural pronoun being used with buodie to signify the generalness
of the idea, and indefiniteness in gender.
These are of two classes, those used Adjectively, and those
used Absolutely.
The Adjective Possessives are maa, yoor (or yuwr), hys, hyr
(hyts), oor, thayr; when not accented pronounced mă, yer or
'eer, 'yz, 'yr, 'yts, oor or wer, ther; as my father, mă faither,
MY father, māā faither; your daughter, yer or 'eir dowchter;
YOUR daughter, yoor or yuwr dowchter.
The Absolute Possessives are meyne, yoors or yuwrs, hys,
hyrs (hyts), oors, thayrs.
Maa bears the same relation to my that aa does to I; it is the
first element of the diphthong, which is still (maai, maae, maaə,
maa') in some of the dialects. Maa or my has been formed from
mine, Ags. mín, in the same way as ae, nae, from ane, nane,
i.e. by dropping the final n, first before a consonant, and at length
before all nouns, leaving mine as an absolute form only, used
without a noun. In the case of the other pronouns the adjective
form is the original, from which the absolute is formed by adding s.¹
These forms arose in the Northern dialect, and the tendency to
carry the analogy farther is shewn by the form meynes, often
heard in South Scottish vernacular, "aa'll gi'ye yoors, quhan ye
bryng mey meynes;" "meynes is the bæst æfter aa." Had not
the distinction between my and mine come into existence, mine
and mines would analogically have been the English forms. We
see a similar extension of analogy in some of the Midland English
dialects, which have adopted the n distinction, and formed ourn,
yourn, hisn, hern, theirn, which in use and form bear the same
relation to our, your, his, that mine and thine do to my and thy,
though having of course a very different history.
The word hyts is, as in English, of very recent formation, and
but little used. Instead of yts heid, yts han'le, yts ayn, are generally
used the heid o'd, the han'le o'd, the ayn o'd, or ayn o't. The
Northern English likewise eschews its: "it heead, it han'le,
leeak at it een," Sc. "luik at the ein o't."
The simple Interrogatives are Quheae (Central dialects
quhae, quha, N.E. faa, North Eng. wheea,) and quhat. In
¹ See Dr. Morris's Introduction to
the Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. liv., giving
the quotation from Cursor .Mundi:-
A man of thair gains an of ur,
If urs may him win in stur,
That thai be urs and thair airs;
If they win urs that we be thairs.
Whence it appears that urs and thairs
were originally double possessives =
of ur, of thair.
asking the precise person or thing of several, quhulk or
quhylk, which?
The Possessive of quheae is quhease (whase, quhas). The
Objective, in poetry and in all the old writers, quham, wham,
is in the spoken tongue of the present day, the same as the
Quheae yr yee? Quheae d'ye sey? Quhat's yon cumand?
Quhat dyz hey say? Quhulk wull ye teake? Quhulk's yer
freind? Quhease schuin waar thay? Aa kæn-na quheae yee
bey. Deir kæns aa quhat hey said.
When quhat and quhulk are used adjectively before a noun
they usually become quhat'n, quhulken. "Quhat'n clease wull ye
pytt on the day?" With the article added quhat'n a, quhulk'n a,
are equivalent to the German Was für ein? "Quhat'n a noyse is
that?" Was für ein Lärm ist das? "Quhulk'n a cuintrieman
mæ hey bey?" Was für ein Landsmann sei er? "Quhat 'n a fuil
was yee tui heid them?" How were you such a fool as to mind them?
Quhat'n is probably derived from the old quhat-kyn, what-kin.
Hampole:— What-kyn thyng may fouler be
Þan a mans carion es to se.
Alex. Scot (about 1660):-
Quhattane ane glaikit fule am I
To slay myself with melancoly?
The Possessive quhease is seldom used, except before a noun,
as "quhease beiss ys you?" Whose beasts are those? In other
positions, a curious phrase is substituted, the etymology of which
is difficult to trace. Instead of Whose is that? we find in Scotch
and Northern English, Quheae's auwcht thàt? or quheae's owcht
that? (Aberdeen, Faa's aicht that? Cleveland, Wheea's aught
that), or more commonly, quheae's aa that? or quheae's ŏ that?
Perhaps the full phrase is quheae is awcht o' that? Who is
possessed of that? Who is the owner of that? awcht being the
past participle of the Ags. verb agan, ahan, to have, to possess,
(Mæso-Gothic aihan. Greek ἔχ-ειυ). Whatever the etymology,
this is the ordinary phrase used to express sentences beginning
with Whose and the verb to be. "Quheae's auwcht that doag?
Quheae's aa thyr duiks? Quheae was auwcht (or aa) the syller
'at ye fand? Quheae was aa thys hoose afuore yee bowcht it?
Aa dynna kæn quheae cood bey auwcht it (or aa'd); quheae'll
bey auwcht them (or aa them) a hunder yeir æfter thys?" We
cannot say, Aa'm auwcht it, or hey's auwcht-it, but only yt's meyne,
or yt belangs tui mey, etc. Auwcht can only be used with the
Interrogative and Relative, and some Indefinite pronouns, as
thaim at's auwcht it, those whose it is; ther maun bey sumbodie
auwcht it, it must belong to somebody. So with neaebodie, oniebodie,
Quhulk being properly an adjective has eäne usually added,
when used without a noun; "Quhulk eäne wull ye hæ? Quhulk
eaves dui ye mein?"
Quhat is used in exclamation, as "Quhat a breycht stærn!"
The Preposition governing the Interrogative is always placed
at the end of the sentence or clause, "Quheae wull ye gie them
tui? Quhat yr ye thynkand aboot? Quhulk eäne wad hey bey
bæst pleis't wui?"
The simple Relative of the Scottish and Northern English
dialects is ăt, "the man ăt was heir, thaim ăt said seae, yuw
ăt dyd it, the burd (ăt) ye schòt." (The word is never
accented, but pronounced like the syllable at or et, in carat,
garret, mallet.)
As to the origin of ăt see p. 96. Whencesoever derived, we
find it in the Northern dialect from the 13th century; at first, as
it appears, most commonly for the conjunction that. As the
relative we find it only once in Hampole, but in later writers, as
in the Scottish poets of the Early period, it is more commonly
used than that as the relative, and it is now everywhere in use in
the popular language, from the Humber to the Pentland Firth.
Hampole (conj.):—
Swa wald God at it suld be.
* * * na difference bot at the tane
Has ende, and the tother has nane.
(rel.) Namli of þat at him f'el to know.
Þat might meke his herte and make it law.
Barbour:— And at he boune wes in all thing
To tak with him the gud and ille.
"yon folk"
Schapis thaim to do, with slycht,
That at thai drede to do with mycht.
Fra at the Brwce to dede war brocht.
Henry:— Befor the tyme at King Edward it fand.
He drew a suerde at helpit him at neid.
Nane wes tharin at gret defens couth ma,
Bot women fast sar wepand in to wa.
Craft of Deyng:—
He gaif to the maist synare maist mercy and grace, as to Petyr at denyd
hyme, to Paul at persewit hyme, to Matho the okerar, etc.
Ratis Raving:—
Here efter followis þe consail and teiching at the wyss man gaif his sone.
That ay, quhen at thai one it luke,
Thay pray for hyme that maid the buk.
Gawain Douglas:—
At thare bene mony goddis, I will not say.
Bot at sic thinges are possibill this I schewe.
Thare renƺeis and thetis at thaym areistis.
Douglas was almost the last Scottish writer who used at; for
in the 16th century it went entirely out of use in literature, being
replaced by quhilk, quhilkis, probably owing to the influence of
French fashion. I do not remember to have met with a single
instance of the relative at in Lyndesay, Lauder, or the Complaynt
of Scotland, a very remarkable circumstance when we think how
regularly it was used by the writers of the 15th century, and that
it is the common form in actual use at the present day.
In the modern dialects of the North of England we find it
represented under the various forms at, 'at, ut, et, all indicating
the same sound (ət) or (ɐt), thus:
Lancashire. — "Aw'd say, for thoose ut wanten mayte, let's groo it for 'em
for thoose ut wanten clooas, let's wayve th' cloth, an' mak 'em; for thoose;
ut wanten foyer, let's get cooals for'em.'' — Bundle o' Feats.
Barnsley. — "Them at's nivver reight but when they're at t' top a t' tree, or
wants ta be goin ovver t' head a ivvry boddy at's abaaht em."—
T' Bairnsla Foaks Annual, 1866.
Cleveland. — "Is there nought at Ah can dee? Nowght at Ah can tell.
Ah said at Ah wad, an' Ah ded." — Cleveland Glossary.
Westmorland. — "I sum meear owms theear wes o maks a things et ivver
ya cud neeam, things et thae sed hed leev't lang afooar t' world wes meead."
"Jonny Shippard" at the British Museum.
High Furness:—It's oa a heeap o' māpment
Ut say, 'at this or that,
Sūd put things off i' thissan—
Thow toaks thow knā 'sn't what!
Cumberland. — "He said iv his oan mak' o' toke, 'at he dudn't want to
hinder wark, but he wad give anybody 'at ken't t' fells weel, a matter o' five
shillin' to gā wid him, an' carry two 1ā1 bags." — Joe and the Geologist.
If iv'ry teàl 'at 's tell't be true, thy stwory's neà lee.
Roxburgh:— Yf ylka teale 'at 's tæll'd bey treuw, yer stuorie's neae ley.
Lothian:— Gin ilkae taele at's tèll't bee troo, yer storie's nae lee.
The Interrogative quheae, quha, who, is not used as a relative
in the spoken Scotch, as it is in modern English. For its use by
Scottish writers since the middle of the 16th century see pp. 69-70.
The living Northern dialects follow the old Teutonic usage of
identifying the relative, not with the interrogative but with
the demonstrative.¹
¹ The original relative form of the
Aryan languages ya as distinguished
from the interrogative ka (qua, hwa).
and the demonstrative ta (tha, sa, ha),
seems to have disappeared at a very
early period, leaving its place to be
supplied in the Teutonic, Hellenic, and
Celtic branches by the demonstrative,
and in the Italic, Slavonic, and Iranic,
by the interrogative. The original
Teutonic relative was the same as the
demonstrative, or a contraction or modification
of it, as Mœso-Gothic thata,
thatei, Anglo-saxon þæt, þe, Old Norse
þat, er (for þer); in the modern German,
Dutch, etc., welcher, welk, which,
is used in addition to the demonstrative.
Such was also the case in Middle
English, as shewn in the authorized
version of the Bible, where the two
usual relatives are that and which—
"him that cometh unto me," "Our
father which art in heaven," The use
of who is rare, and confined chiefly to
the oblique cases — "whose I am, and
whom I serve." Since that time, howQuhulle
(quhilk), so commonly used as a simple relative in the
Middle Scottish writers, is used in the spoken dialect as a Compound
Relative, when the antecedent is a sentence or clause:
"Hey said 'at hey mæt us onna the muir, quhulk wasna the case."
But a common substitution for this is to resolve the Relative into
a conjunction and demonstrative, "and that," or "but that."
When the Relative is used in the Possessive Case (whose) it is
necessary to express it by the conjunction at (that) and the possessive
pronoun belonging to the antecedent; thus, "the man ăt
hys weyfe's deid" the man whose wife is dead, "the wumman ăt
yee kæm hyr sun" the woman whose son you know, "the doag ăt
yts læg was run ower "the dog whose leg was run over.
The same primitive form of the relative is used in Hebrew, as
the tree that its seed is on it, i.e. the tree whose seed
is on it; the man that the cup is found
in his hand; every man and woman
that their heart hath inclined them, i.e. whose heart;
Blessed is the people that their God is Jehovah, i.e.
whose God. Numerous instances of the same usage occur in
Anglo-saxon. Thus from the Elene: Se God ðe ðis his beacen
wæs, the God that this was his sign, i.e. whose sign this was. In
the Pastoral: se bið eac eallenʓa healede, call his mod bið
aflowen to ʓæʓlbærnesse, he is also altogether hernious, (or rather
hydrocelous), that his (i.e. whose) whole mind is addicted to
A good example from the Early Scotch is afforded by the Act
of Parliament of James II., 19th Oct., 1456:
Item it is ordanyt at ilk man, þat his (i.e. whose) gudis extendis to
xxtj merckis, be bodyn at þe lest with ane Jak with slevis to þe hande, or
ellis a payr of splentis, a sellat or a prikit hatt, a suerde and a buclare, a
bow and a schaif of arrowis.
The same construction is used in Welsh, and in many other
For inferior animals and inanimate objects, hyts being but little
in use, o't, o'd, is used, as "the hoose 'at the ænd o't fæll," "the
scheip at the tail o't was cuttit off."
ever, the use of who as a simple relative
has become more and more common,
until it has quite supplanted which
when applied to persons. This peculiarity,
which distinguishes English from
the other Teutonic tongues, is no doubt
owing to its more intimate connection
with French and the other Romance
languages, in which the same word qui
has represented both relative and interrogative
from the earliest period.
¹ Mr. H. Sweet, who kindly found
me the above examples, remarks: "In
Anglo-saxon the same analytical construction
is also found in the other
cases, of which the following is a good
instance, showing at the same time
how loosely and diffusely the relative
pronoun is often expressed. Hit is wen
ðæt se ne mæʓe oðerra monna seylda
ofaðuean, se se-ðe hine ðonne ʓiet his
aʓena on heriʓeað, it may be imagined
that he cannot absolve the sins of other
men, he he-that him his own (sins) even
yet assail, i.e. he whose own still assail
him. I think the Ags. generally shirks
the possessive construction of the relative
altogether. The more usual construction
of the last example would be
ðone ðe his; or less usual, simply þe
or þone his."
With a noun in the objective the hyt or 't may be omitted; as,
"the hoose ăt ye sey the ænd o'; the scheip ăt aa buistit the heid
o'; the trey, ăt he sæld the fruit o', 's deid." The form of the
sentence may also be changed; thus instead of the man ăt hys
cuot's tuorn," may be said, the man ăt hæs hys cuot tuorn, or, the
man wui the tuorn coat. The styck át the heid o't's broken, or,
the styck át hæs the heid o't broken, or the styck wui the heid o't
broken. Sometimes the personal pronoun is repeated for the
sake of distinction, as, "the aald màn, hym át hys læg was
broken, cam hyrplan, oot."
When the Relative is used in the Objective case, the Preposition
or Verb by which it is governed always follows it, "The
man 'at ye gæ'd tui," the man to whom you gave it.
An ellipsis of the Relative is extremely common, especially
when it is the object of a verb or preposition, or a nominative in
sentences beginning with there is, there was, etc. "The deyke
('at) ye built, the fuok hey mæt, the pleace ye cam fræ, an'
the geate ye cam be." "Tiler's monie eäne duis that;" "the'
war a lot o' fuok cam tui sey quhat hey dyd;" "they'll bey
plaintie 'll lyssen tyll 'ym;" "Aa baid a ling quheyle, but the'
war neaebodie cam." "Aa kænn'd a man geade oft theare." The
Northern writers generally, but especially those of Scotland,
used such elliptical phrases constantly:
Cursor Mundi:- Bot a point es þar þam pines mare
Þan elles al þair oþer fare.
Gawain Douglas:-
Syne perdoun me sat sa fer in my lycht.
Ane sang "The schip salis our the salt fame,
Wil bring this merchandis and my lemane hame."
Compound Personal Pronouns are formed by adding sel
(sæ1), sels (sæls) to the Possessives: Ma-sel, yoor-sel or yer-sel,
hys-sel, hyr-sel, yts-sel or the sel o't, oor-sel or oor-sels, yoor-sel,
or -sels, thair-sel or -sels.
In the plural there is a double form: oor-sel, yoor-sel,
thair-sel, are used when the idea is collective: oor-sels, yoor--
sels, thair-sels, when the idea is segregate. Thus, "Wey'll
dui'd oorsel; Ye maun keip thyr be thair-sel." But "Gang
away yeir tweae sels; wey'll speik it ower amang oor-sels;
yt hæs bein eäne o' yeir-sels." In the third person neuter,
"the burd hurt the sel o't; trye yf yt can staand the sel o'd;
aa fand that eäne lyeand be the sel o'd," antiq. the selvin.
The contraction sel, sell, for self, selue, or selven, is met with
already in the end of the 15th century:
Thairfoir I red that thow excuse thy sell,.
And rype thy mynd how every thyng befell.
He that hes gold and greit richess,
And may be into mirryness,
And dois glaidness fra him expell,
And levis into wretchitness
He wirkis sorrow to him sell. — Dunbar.
Tak thair the Buik; lat se gif ƺe can spell.
I neuir red that: thairfoir read it ƺour sel.—Lyndesay.
Gawain Douglas has usually selvin, seluyn:
Quhat helpis thus thy seluyn to torment?
Not that oure toung is in the selvin skant,
But for that I the fouth of langage want.
Sel, it is to be observed, is treated as a noun, hence, the sel o'd,
the self of it, hys-sel, thair-sel, not him-sel, them-sel, and the emphatic
form hys ayn sel, or hys værra ayn sel. From sel is formed
the adjective sellie, sællie, selfish. Self occurs in sælf-saim, "hey
was sein theare the sælf-saim nicht."
Compound Possessives add ayn (aan, awn, awen) to the
simple form: maa ayn, hys ayn, our ayn, etc. In the first
person we often hear măn-ayn or myn-ayn, a relic of the
old min-aƺen or min-awen. The n is sometimes by a false
analogy extended to the other persons, as oor-n-ayn. (Compare
nothir for other.) For hyts-ayn is generally used the
ayn o't.
Compound Interrogatives and Relatives are such as quheae--
ever, quhease-ever, quhat-ever, quhulk-ever, and quhat used for
that which, "hæ-ye geatten quhat ye wàntit ?"
Adjectives used as Pronouns. Most of the Demonstrative and
Numeral adjectives can be used as pronouns, i.e. to represent a
noun as well as to qualify one. But in Scotch it is common to
add eäne, eanes, in reference to objects, thyng in reference to
quantities of stuff, as thys eane, that eane, thon eane, thyr eanes (or
thyrs), yon eanes, ylk eane (ylk yen or ylkin), sum eanes; thys--
thyng, that-thyng, aa-thyng, sum-thyng, onie-thyng, neae-thyng.
"Ye're aither aa-thyng or neae-thyng wui hym." Eane and
thyng are in the same way added to ordinary adjectives, which
would in English generally stand alone, as "aa'll bye a quhein
nytts yf thay're guid-eanes. Thay're unco smaa-eanes. Aa dynna
leyke scat butter, hæ-ye neae fræsch-thyng? Wey'll hæ sum
neuw-thyng ynn the-muorn. Aa've sum mair peaper, but yt's noa
syc guid-thyng as that," Eng. not so good as that. "Wad ye
leyke sum black ynk, or sum bleuw-thyng?" In this application
-thyng has not an independent accent, but is added to the preceding
adjective, as in no-thing, any-thing; eane also is pronounced
like the termination -yan or -ion, e.g. "hæd hey a black
horse or a dun-eäne," where the last two words rhyme with
The compounds sumbuodie, oniebuodie, neabuodie, aabuodie,
yvvrie-buodie, are used with a plural pronoun to express their
indefiniteness in gender, as "sumbuodie hæs læft ther fytt-mærks
ahynt them; Yt's værra sældum 'at oniebuodie fynds ther way
As in the other Teutonic languages and dialects the leading
features of the Verb depend upon the form taken by the
Past Tense and Past Participle, in accordance with which two
main divisions are made, the Strong Verbs, or consonantal
stems, and the Weak Verbs, originally derivative, and ending
in a vowel termination.
In the Old Scotch the Past Tense and Past Participle were
formed by adding it, yt, to all verbs of this class. In the
modern dialects this full form undergoes certain euphonic
changes in accordance with the character of the preceding
letter or syllable. In the Southern Counties the usage is as
1. The full form is retained only by Verbs ending in a "shut
consonant" (k, t, p, g, d, b), as lyck lyckit, teaste teastit,
slyp slyppit, rug ruggit, bænd bændit, rub rubbit, bonnet
bonnetit, plaid plaidit, profit profitit, scollop scollopit.
2. After any other consonant, except a liquid or nasal, the
vowel is elided and -t retained, as suwch suwch't, graith
graith't, snuff snuff"t, baaithe baaith't, deive deiv't, pàss
pass't, leace leace't, ax ax't, bryz bryz't, fysch fysch't,
fætch fætcht, juidge juidge't.
1. So also with a liquid or nasal, preceded by another consonant,
as airm airm't, turn turn't, dyrl dyrl't, lys'n lys'n't, wars'le
wars'l't, ættle intend, ættle't.
2. This rule moreover includes all words of more than one
syllable unaccented on the last, except such as fall under Rule I.,
as honour honour't, wunder wunder't, plainish plainish't, hærken
hærken't, wurrie wurriet, follò, follò't, mairrie mairriet.
3. After a liquid, a nasal, or a vowel, in a monosyllable or
accented syllable, the connecting vowel is elided and -t
becomes -d, as tæll tæll'd, smuir smuir'd, deim deim'd,
steane steaned, belang belangd, dey deyed, staye stayed,
rowe rowed, woo wooed, trye tryed, entail entail'd, mentein
In the more Northern Scottish dialects t is retained in these
verbs; thus, tèll tèlt, kyll kylt, dee dēēt, trye try't, stey or stuy
stuy't; anciently spelt deyit, stayit, kyllit, belangit, etc.; but as
early as the 15th century the pronunciation was the same as that
now used in the Southern Counties. Compare such rhymes as
the following, where begylyt is of course to be read begyled:
Thai leif furth as the bestys wyld
Till courss of eild have thaim begylyt. — Ratis Raving, 2310.
In the 16th century the -d was also written—
Als I pray to the Rude
That Martin Luther that fals loun,
Black Bullinger, and Melancthoun,
Had been smorde in their cude. — Lyndesay — Satyre, 2070.
Heir, quhat our Pastouris that' may spend,
Me neidis nocht schaw; sen it is kend—
Geue thay godds wourd hes weill declaird,
I saye thare leueings ar weill waird.
Lauder — The 0ffice, 327.
Where these are written instead of smurit, declarit, warit, kennit
or kent.
The deviations from these rules may be classed under the
following heads:
1. A change of quantity, in the long vowel being stopped by the
consonant added (in a few much-used words only) say, săid
(for sāy'd), lay lăid, geae geade (for ge̅̅a̅ed), hǣ, hæ̆d.
2. A slight change in vowel quality, as dui, dyd (for dui'd), schui
schod, heir hærd or hàrd, tæll tæll'd or taald.
3. A transposition of consonants, as burn brunt, wurk wrocht.
4. An elision of t or d of the stem before t or d of the termination,
with or without modification of the vowel, as sænd, sænt¹ (for
sændit, sænd't), meit mæt, spreid spræd.
But many verbs contracted in the literary English remain full
in Scotch, as bænd, bændit. Others develop a new strong form,
as Eng. let, let, let, Scotch læt, luit, luitten. so sæt, suit, suitten;
put, Scotch pyt, pàt, putten.²
5. A modification of the consonant (and vowel) before -t, as leive,
læft, bryng, browcht (for brought), wurk, w'rocht (for wurkt,
w'rukt); thynk thowcht, bye bowcht, catch caucht, cleik or
clutch claucht, meake made (Ags. macod).
¹ In older Scotch the past tense of send was send; Anglo-saxon he sende.
Chryst efter his glorious Ascentionn,
Tyll his Disciplis send the Haly Spreit. — Lyndesay.
² This is as old, at least, as the 16th century:
Thay lute the leiges pray to stocks and stanes
And paintit papers (ăt) vats nocht quhat thay mein. —
Alex Scot — New Year's Gift to Queen Mary.
Witht in the quhilk he pat five thousand fut men and horse men.-
Complaynt of Scotland, fol. 133 (138) b.
I met Gude Counsall be the way
Quha pat me in ane fellon fray. — Lyndesay's Satyre, l. 686.
To this section belong those peculiar stems, which, originally
strong pasts, have adopted a present signification and developed a
new past: wyll or wull wad, sall suid, can cuid, mæ meycht, daar
durst, dow dowcht, aa aucht or owcht, wait or wàt wust. Many of
these serve as auxiliaries, among which see their full conjugation.
These form the Past Tense by strengthening or modifying
the stem vowel. The Past Participle ends in -en, but this
termination is dropped whenever a nasal (m, n, or ng) is
found in the preceding syllable.¹ Thus beyte, bait, bytten ;
but clym, clam, clum (for clumben); fynd, fand, fund (for
funden); ryng, rang, rung (for rungen). In drynk we may
thus drop the -en and make drunk, or we may expel the n of
the stem, and retain the termination, drukk-en (compare the
Norse drukken): In cum-en, after dropping the -en, d is
added to distinguish the past participle from the present
tense: "thay're cum'd," Eng. come, Old Northern dialect
The change from the strong cum-en to the weak cum-it, cumd,
took place in the 16th century. In Henry Charteris's Preface to
his edition of Lyndesay's Poems, Edin., 1568, within half a dozen
lines we have both forms "ƺit war thay not cummit to that furie
and rage, as to bryle and scald quha sa euer suld speik aganis
them" — "bot quhan thair iniquities was cummin to maturitie,
God raised up Johne Wicleif," etc. For the pronunciation of
cummit, compare l. 32 of the "Deploratioun" in this same edition
of Lyndesay—
That brybour had nocht cummit within hir boundis—
with the reading of the Paris edition—
That brybour had nocht cumd wythin hir bundis.
These Verbs may be classed according to the changes
which they undergo; thus:
1. Stems in a changing in the past to e (S. C. æ), and in the
past participle resuming a, as hald or hàd, hæld, halden
or hàdden. This verb and faa, fæll, faa'en, drop l after
a, but retain it after e in the past tense. Where there was
originally a guttural, now represented by w, the present
tense is aa for aw, as blaa, bleuw (blew) blaa'en; or ow, as
growe, greuw, grown.
¹ This rule is of course unwritten,
but it is invariable; I have not observed
the same regularity in the dialect
of any other district or of any
period. No rule can be given for the
dropping or retention of -en in the
2. Stems in ai (S.C. ea), with the past ai, and past participle
resuming ai (ea); as beake, buik, beaken, teake, tuik, tea'n
for teaken.
This contraction is as old as the 13th century; Cursor Mundi
and Hampole, Barbour, Harry, and Gawain Douglas, have not
only tane, but also ta and tas, like the modern Lancashire and
Cursor Mundi:— But þai folow ay þair awen wille
And of noght elles þynkes ne tas hede.
And yheld agayn, if he be myghty,
Alle þat he tas wrangwysly.
Hampole:— But bi þe name of ded may be tane
And understanden ma dedes þan ane.
In þat state þat he is in tane
He sal be demed when he is gane.
Gawain Douglas:-
The auld gray all for nocht to him tais
His hawbrek quhilk was lang out of usage.
Our inemyis has thir worthy wallis taine
Troy from the top down fallis, and all is gane.
Wyntown:— His way out of that land he tays.
Barbour:— He bad him men of armys ta
And in hy to Scotland ga.
Him that myght othir ta or sla
Robert the Bruce that was his fa.
Harry:— Quhen Wallace herd the erll sic ansuer mais (makes)
A gret hate ire throw his curage he tais (takes).
3. Stems in e (S.C. æ) past in ui, and past participle in ui, as
læt, luit, luitten; thræsch, thruisch, thruischen.
4. Stems in ei long, past in ui or uo, past participle in uo, as
scheir, schuir (or schuore), schuorn; beir, buir (or buore),
5. Stems in i (y), ei short, or u, past in a, past participle in
u, as byd, bad, budden; syng, sang, sung; greit, grat,
grutten, to weep; cum (anciently cym, Mœso-Gothic qim),
cam, cum'd, Mid. Sc. cumen.
6. Stems in the diphthong ey, past in ai, past participle in y:
beyde, baid, bydden; reyse, rayse, rysen; scheyne, schain,
past participle obsolete.
Several verbs take parts from two different classes, or have
forms according to both. Others have in the tear and wear of
time so changed their stem, or its inflections, as to appear quite
Many are inflected both as Strong and Weak verbs; in such
cases the Weak inflections are generally the newer; instances of
Verbs, originally weak, developing a new strong form are rare,
and generally based on a false analogy. Such is bryng, which
has not only the original brocht, but also a strong inflection bràng,
brung, after the analogy of syng, dyng, etc.
Several Verbs, which in the literary English have a new weak
form, retain in Scotch the strong forms of the Anglo-saxon and
Old English; and conversely, a few verbs which retain in English
the old strong forms, have in Scotch adopted a weak one.
But many weak verbs, which are in English contracted or otherwise
divergent, are in Scotch full and regular.
The following Table of Verbs contains (1) all the strong stems
in the language; (2) all the weak stems whose inflections vary
from the three general rules for -it, -t, -d; (3) all verbs which
have a double form or partly follow two forms; and for comparison
with the English; (4) all verbs irregular or deviating in
English, which in the Scottish dialects are full or regular, and
(5) all strong or deviating stems retained in English, but which
the Scotch has lost.
Verbs or parts of verbs which have only the regular weak
inflection are indicated by italics; forms which are antiquated or
nearly obsolete in the spoken dialect are marked ant.; those
believed to be quite lost are denoted by obs. = obsolete:—
Beake buik ant., beakit beaken, beakit to bake
Beate bæt beaten beat, overcome

Begyn began,begood,beguid
begun begin
Beir buir, buorne bear
Bænd R. bændit bændit bend
Bereive R. bereiv't bereiv't bereave
(beseik ant.) besowcht, beseitcht besowcht, beseitcht beseech
Bey, pr. ym wàs bein be
Beyde baid bydden abide, stay
Beyte bait bytten bite
Byd bàd budden bid, invite
Bye bowcht bowcht buy
Byg bug, byggit buggen build
Bynd ban' bun' bind
Bluid blæd blæd bleed
Blaa bleuw blaa'n, bleuwn blow
Blyn, ant. blàn blun cease
Blyss blyss't blyss't bless
Breid bræd bræd breed
Bryk bràk bròken break
Bryng browcht, brang browcht, brung bring
Build built, buildit built build
Burn brunt brunt burn
Burst (brast obs.) burstit bursen burst
Càn cuid, cood cuid, cood can
Càst cuis'n cast
Càtch càtcht caucht catcht, caucht catch
Cheyde chaid chydden chide
Choise (Fr.
choisir)¹ chois't chois't choose
Cleid clæd clæd clothe
Cleik or
clutch claucht, cleikit claucht, cleikit clutch
Cleive cleiv't, clæft cloven, clæft cleave, split
Clym clàm clum climb
Craa creuw craa'n, creuwn crow
Creep cràp, creepit cruppen, creepit creep
Cum cam (cumen, obs.), cum'd come
Cuost cuost, cuostit cuost cost
Cut cuttit cuttit cut
Daar durst durst dare, venture
Daar daar'd daar'd dare, challenge

Deal deal'd, dealt deal' d, dealt deal
Dig wanting, supplied by howk, delve
Draa dreuw draa'n, dreuwn draw
Dreid dræd dræd dread
Dreyve drayve dryvven, dri'en (=
dreen) drive
Drynk drànk drunk, drukken drink
Dui dyd duin do
Dyng dàng dung push, knock
Eit (æt, ait,) eitit² eiten eat
Faa fæll faa'n fall
Fæycht feuwcht feuwchen, fowchen fight
Feel wanting, supplied by fynd.
Feid fæd fæd feed
Fley fleuw fleuwn, flowen fly
Fleyte flait flytten scold
Flyng flàng flung fling, throw
Flytt flyttit flyttit flit, change
For-beir for-buir for-buorne forbear
For-gæt forgàt for-gætten forget
For-seake forsuik for-seaken forsake
¹ In more Northern dialects chuise, chaise, chuis't.
² In the 16th century eitScho
eit of it to that intent,
And patt her Husband in beleue
That he suld be als sapient
As the grete God omnipotent;
He eit on that condition. — Lyndesay — Monarchie, 928.
Freize fruize fruozen freeze
Fynd fànd fund find
Gàng or geae geade geane go
Geate or gytt gàt geatten, gotten got
Gie (=gee)¹ gæ gi'en (= gĕin) give
Greave gruive, greav't greaven grave
Greit gràt grutten cry,weep (Itl.gridare).
Growe greuw growen grow
Grynd gràn' grun' grind
Gryp gràp gruppen grip, seize
Gylt gyltit gyltit gild
(Hald ant.), hæld (halden, ant.),
hàd hàdden hold
Hæv, hæ hæd hæd have
Hang hàng'd hàng'd execute by
Heuw heuw'd heuwn hew
Heir hàrd, hærd hàrd, hærd hear
Heive huive ant., heiv't huoven, heiv'd heave
Hælp hælpit hælpit help
Heyde haid hydden hide
Hyng² hàng hung hang, neut.
and act.
Hyt hàt hutten hit
Hurt hurt, hurtit hurt, hurtit hurt
Keip keipit keipit keep
Kneil kneil'd kneil'd kneel
Knytt knyttit knyttit knit
Knaw, obs. kneuw knawen know
Lay laid laid lay
Lauweh leuwch leuwchen laugh
Læn³ læn'd læn'd lend
Leade leadit leaden load
Learn learn't learn't learn, teach
Læt luit luitten let
Leid 1æd .1æd lead
Leive læft læft leave
Leycht leychtit leychtit light
¹ This contraction of give is as old as the 13th century.—
Þat gie of sothfastnes the sight. — Cursor Mundi.
² Pas on, and of treis thou mak ane bing
To be ane fyre, and thayr apoun thou hing
ƺone mannis swerd. — Douglas — Eneid.
³ I wat thy Grace wyll nocht misken me
Bet thow wyll ather geue or len me.
Wald thy Grace len me to ane day
Off gold ane thousand pound or tway,-
Lyndesay — Complaynt, 459.
Lowp¹ lap, lowpit luppen leap
Lowse lows't lows't loose
Luoss luost luost lose
Lyft lyftit lyftit lift
Lye (lig obs.) lay leyne,² layen lie, jacere
Maa meuw, maa'd maa'n mow
Mæ meycht meycht may
Mæn, maan (mud) must
Mælt mæltit mæltit melt
Meake meade³ meade make
Mein mein'd, meint mein'd, meint mean
Meit mæt mæt meet
Peae peaed peaed pay
Pænn pænn'd pænn'd penn
Pleid plæd plæd plead
Pruive pruived pruived, proven prove
Pytt pàt putten put
Quyt quàt quutten quit, let go
Quheyte quhait quhytten whittle, cut
Ræd ræd, ræddit ræd arrange, disentangle

Ràp rappit rappit rap
Rend wanting, supplied by reyve, teir.
Reid ræd ræd read
Reyde raid rydden ride
Reyse rayse rysen rise
Reyve rayve ryvven rive, rend
Rynn ràn run run
Ryng ràng rung ring, reign
Rot rottit rottit, rotten rot
Saa seuw saa'n, seuwn sow
Saa saa'd, seuw saa'd, saa'n saw
Say said said say
Sall suid, sood suid, sood shall, ought
Sæll sauld ant., sæll'd sauld ant., sæll'd sell
¹ In the 16th centuryThare
wall nocht be sic brawlyng at the bar,
Nor men of law loup to sic royall rent.-
Lyndesay — Monarchie, 600.
Out ouer the wall scho láp and brak her banys—
Douglas — Eneid, Book 4, Prologue.
² "Quhilk in a wait hes lyne for us sa lang." — Dunbar — Of the Resurrection of
Christ. "Ligging tharon, as semely for to see." — Douglas. Lig appears to be
obsolete in Scotland, though still used in the North of England.
³ Ags. macod, but the contracted forms ma, mas, or mase, mad or made, are as
old at least as the 13th century in the Northern dialect, and continued to be used
by the Sc. writers of the Middle Period:
Than ma-ys clerkis question. — Barbour.
But ma, mais, mase, are now obsolete.
Sænd sænt sænt send
Sæt suit suitten set, place
Schæd schæd schæd shed, divide
Schaw, ant. scheuw schawen show
Scheake schuik scheaken shake
Scheape schuip, scheapit scheapen shape
Scheave schuive, ant.¹
scheav't scheaven shave
Scheuw scheuw'd scheuw'd sew
Scheir schuir schuorn shear
Scheyne schain scheyn'd ² shine
Scheyte schait schytten cacare
Schreyve schrayve schryven shrive
Schrynk schrànk schrunk shrink
Scrynk scrynkit
Schui schòd, schui'd schodden shoe
Schuit schòt schòtten = pushed push
schòt = shot shoot
Seik sowcht sowcht seek
Seethe (sàd) seeth't sodden seethe
Sey saa sein see
Slay, ant. sleuw slain slay.
Sleip sleipit sleipit sleep
Sleyde slaid slydden slide
Sleyte slait slytten unsew, slit
Slyng slàng slung sling
Slynk slank slunk slink
Smæll smæll'd smæll'd smell
Smytt smait, smyttit smytten infect
Snaa sneuw obs., snaa'd sneuw'n obs., snaa'd snow
Snæd snæd, snæddit snæddit trim (trees)
Sneyte, ant. snait snytten schneiden snuff, blow the
nose, mungere
Speik spàk spòken speak
Speid spæd spæd speed
Spæll spæll'd spæll'd spell
Spænd spænt, spændit spænt, spændit spend
Spleit splæt splæt, splytten split
Spyll spylt spylt spill (fluid)
Spyn spàn spun spin
Spytt spàt sputten spit
Spreid spræd spræd spread
Spryng spràng sprung spring
Staand stuid stuiden stand
¹ Quhen that thay maid thair beards and schuve thair crown.
² Ags. past participle scinen, which ought to have given schyn in the modern
tongue; but according to Dr. R. Morris, this was already wanting in the 13th
century. — Introduction to Hampole.
Stàng stàng'd stàng'd, stung sting
Steave steav't steav't stave, walk heedlessly
Steill stale, stail, staw
ant., steill'd stown steal
Straa streuw, straa'd straa'n strew
Streyde straid strydden stride
Streyke stràk strukken strike
Streyve strayve stryvven strive
Stryng stràng strung string
Styck stàk stukken, stykkit¹ stick, adhere,
thrust, stab
Stynk stànk stunk stink
Soom² swàm, soom'd soom'd, swum swim
Soop soopit soopit sweep
Swàll swàll' d swàll' d, swàllen swell
Sweir swuir swuorn, swum swear
Sweit swàt, swæt swutten, swæt sweat
Swyng swàng, swung swing
Syng sàng sung sing
Synk sànk sunk sink
Sytt sàt sutten sit
Teake tuik teane take
Teir tuir, tuore tuorn tear
Teitch teitch't, taucht teitch't, taucht teach
Tæ11 tæll'd, tauld ant. tæll'd, tauld tell
Teyne tynt tynt disappear, lose
Thaa theuw thaa'n, thaa'd thaw
Thynk thowcht thowcht think
Thraa threuw thraa'n, threuwn throw
Thræsch thruisch thruischen thrash
Threid thræd thræd thread
Threyve thrayve thryvven, threin thrive
Toss toss't toss't toss
Træd træd, træddit trædden tread, trample
Treit træt, treitit træt treat
Tweyne tweyned twun, tweyned twine
Understaand understuid understuiden, -stànden understand
Waax waax't (wox obs.) waax't, waxen wax
Wæsch wuisch³ wuischen wash
¹ Stykkit is used in a neuter sense for one who has stuck or failed, as a "stickit
minister," like Dominic Sampson.
² Soom and soop from the original swim and swip, changed by the action of the
w on the vowel into swum, swup, then suom, suop, soom, soop. The development
is as old as 1500, Gawain Douglas giving us sowme, sowp = soom, soop.
³ In the 15th century wosche, wusche —
He wosche away all with the salt watir. — Douglas.
Wàt, wait wust wust wot, know
Weid wæd, weedit wæd weed
Weir wuir wuorn, wurn wear
Weit wàt, weitit wàt, wutten, weitit wet
Weep wanting, supplied by greit.
Weive wuive, wuove wuv'n, weiv't weave
W'reyte w'rait w'rytten write
W'reythe w'raythe w'ryth'n writhe
Wryng w'ràng w'rung wring
Wun for wyn wàn wun win, gain, get at
Wun' wàn', wun' wun' dry in the wind
Wund wundit, wàn' wundit, wun' wind
Wurk w'rowcht, wurkit w'rowcht work
Wuss, wuss't wuss't wish
The parts of the Verb formed by inflection, without the
aid of auxiliaries, are the Present and Past Tenses of the
Indicative and Subjunctive Moods, the Imperative, Infinitive,
Present and Past Participle, and Gerund or Verbal
Noun, which in this dialect, as in that of Northumberland,
is distinct from the Participle or Verbal Adjective. The
distinct inflectional forms are in the Weak Verb five, in the
Strong Verb six, e.g. sleip, sleips, sleipand, sleiping, sleipit;
reyde, reydes, reydand, reyding, raid, rydden. The literary
English has in sleepest, sleptest, two forms, or if we reckon
sleepeth, three forms additional, but has lost the distinct form
for the participle, confounding it with the gerund sleeping.
The following is the conjugation of the Simple Tenses:—
Present. Aa leyke (thuw leykes), hey leykes, wey leyke, yee
leyke, thay leyke. With any other nominative leykes
in all the persons.
Past. Aa leykit (thuw leykit), etc.
Present. Yf aa leyke (thuw leyke), hey leyke, etc.
Past. Yf aa leykit, etc.
Imperative. Leyke! Infinitive. tui leyke.
Participle Present. leykand, leykan'. Past. leykit.
Gerund. leyking, leykein.
Present. An w'reyte (thuw w'reytes), hey w'reytes, wey, yee
thay w'reyte. With any other nominative w'reytes
in all the persons.
Past. An w'rait (thuw w'rait), etc.
Present. Yf aa w'reyte (thuw w'reyte), etc.
Past. Yf aa w'rait, etc.
Imperative. w'reyte! Infinitive. tui w'reyte.
Participle Present. w'reytand, w'reytan'. Past. w'rytten.
Gerund. w'reyting, w'reytein.
The verb GO has in the present tense a double form. Indic.
Pres. An gàng or geae, hey gàngs or geaes. Past. Geade (Old
Sc. ƺede, Old Eng. yhede, yhode, Ags. eóde). Imper. Gàng or
geae. Infin. tui gàng or geae. Partic. pres. gaand, gaan'.
Gerund gànging, gangein. Past Part. geane. Imperative followed
by away, gàng away, geae 'way or g'way! so with cum,
cum away, cu 'way or c'way!
The double forms in go are as old as the Sanscrit, where both
stems ga and gan are used. In the Lindisfarne Gospels both
forms are regularly given by the glossist, thus Matt. viii. 9. ic
cueðo ðissum or ðæm, gaæ, and (he) gaes or geongas. I say to
this or to that one, gae, and he gaes or gangs. viii. 28. næniƺ
monn mæhte gae or geonge ðerh þa ilco woeƺ, neae man meycht
geae or gàng thruw that ylk way. ix. 5. aris and geong or gaa,
GERUND. — The distinction between the Participle or Verbal
Adjective, and Gerund or Verbal Noun, survives in this dialect,
and that of the adjacent county of' Northumberland. In the
Southern English, the two inflections were confounded before
1300, but in the northern tongue they are quite distinct from the
earliest period to the 16th century, the participle being in -and,
-ant, the gerund in -yng, yne, ene, een.
The movand world withouten doute
Sal than ceese o turnyng aboute. — Hampole.
It aperit be presumynq and presuposing, that blaberand eccho had beene hid
in ane hou hole, cryand her half ansueir.
The wirkyng of the suelland wallis of the brym seye, undir ane hingand
The garruling of the stirlene gart the sparrou cheip — the jargolyne of the
suallou gart the jay jangil, the ropeen of the rauynis gart the crans crope.
Thai war of diuerse sectis haldant straynge opinions contrar the scriptour.
Complaynt of Scotland.
But in the 16th c., the dialect of central Scotland, and the
literary Middle Scotch founded upon it, lost the distinction between
the participle and gerund, apparently on account of the
final consonants becoming mute, and the vowels being then confounded,
so that both forms were written -ing, -in', in Lothian
now pronounced (-en). In the Southern Counties, also, the final
consonant is now mute, except in a few words (see under D and
NG, pages 121, 124), but the terminations are quite distinct, as in
the words pæan, crinoline.¹ The two forms may be exemplified
thus:— "Thay war dansand aa thruw uther (durch einander) an'
syc dansin' aa never saa afuore; hey beguid a-greitin, but feint o'
eane kænnd quhat hey was greitand fòr; syc on-gàngin's as yr
gaan' on yonder!"
When the past participle has the same vowel as the stem, as in
leaden, hadden, beaken, eiten, rotten, we have three forms closely
alike, but nicely distinguished by the vowel or no vowel before
the -n, as haddan' haddin' hadden (Hadɐn, Hadin, Had•n; itɐn,
itin, it•n; rotɐn, rotin, rot•n). "Quhat keynd o' eitin' dui-ye
fynd them? Wey hæna eiten onie o' them yet. Yr n' ye eitand
then een-nuw? The heäle beakin' o' neuw beak'n breid, 'at
schui was thràng beakand yestreen."
It is desirable to write the d in the participle, and perhaps also
the g in tho gerund, when the orthography is not strictly phonetic,
when both may be supplied by the apostrophe. In the dialect of
the county of Northunberland, according to Mr. Carr of Hedgeley,²
the gerund ends in -yng, "with an obscure sound nearer to that of
short u than short i." In the other Scottish dialects, both forms
are now confused in -en, apparently that of the participle, as in
the literary English both are confounded in -ing of the verbal
noun. Thus in Lothian they would say, "He begood a-greit'n,
but quha kènt, quhat the wus greit'n fur? D'ye heir 'ym reid'n?
The reid'n o' the wull."
In the PRESENT TENSE, aa leyke, wey leyke, yee leyke, thay
leyke, are used only when the verb is accompanied by its proper
pronoun; when the subject is a noun, adjective, interrogative or
¹ It is as absurd to a Southern Scot to hear eating used for both his eiting and
eitand, as it is to an Englishman to hear will used for both his will and shall.
When he is told that John was eating," he is strongly tempted to ask what kind
of eating he proved to be?
² On the Present Participle in the Northumbrian Dialect, and on the Verbal
Noun or Noun of Action terminating in -ing."Pro. of Berwickshire Nat. Club,
1863, p. 356.
relative pronoun, or when the verb and subject are separated by a
clause, the verb takes the termination -s in all persons. Thus
"aa cum fyrst; yt's mey ăt cums fyrst; wey gàng theare; huz
tweae quheyles gàngs theare; yt's huz ăt says seae; ye sey quhat
thay mein; yuw eanes seys quhat thir meins; yuw ăt thynks ye
can dui aa-thyng; thay cum an' teake them; the burds cums an'
pæcks them; sum thynks hey was reycht, but uthers menteins the
contrar; fuok ăt cums unbudden, syts unsær'd."
Such expressions as "the men syts" are not vulgar corruptions,
but strictly grammatical in the Northern dialect. The -s is a true
plural inflection, as witnessed by the 13th c. sittes, the old Northumbrian
sittes or sittas, answering to the Old South. Eng. sitteth,
Ags. sittað.¹
The modern Scotch usage, thay cum, the men cums, is identical
with that of the Northern Dialect from the 13th century, which
is incorrectly said by many English scholars (Mr. Guest, I think,
is the father of the mistake), to have made all the persons of the
present tense in -s. But this was only when the pronoun subject
was absent; when accompanied by the pronoun, this tense was
inflected (with exception of 2nd pers. sing. in -es, thow loves), as
in modern literary English. In the Old North-Anglian indeed,
the conjugation was:-
Ih cyme we cym-es
ðu cym-es ʓee cym-es
he cym-es hea or þa cym-es
or cyme we, ʓee, þa²
But before the date of the earliest Northern writings of the
13th century, the form without the -s had been extended to all
cases in which the verb was accompanied by its proper pronoun,
whether before or after it, leaving the full form in -s to be used
with other nominatives only.
Hampole:- Now haf we rest, and now travail,
Now we fande our force, now we fail;
Now love we, now hate, now saghtel, now strife.
Wharfor we suld þink þat lyves here.
¹ In the Ags, an n is dropped before
the final ð or d, the Mœso-Gothic being
sit-and, Latin sed-unt, Sansc. sad-anti.
The Slavonic tongues agree with the
Ags. in expelling the n before the final
dental, Russian siad-ūt' for siad-unt.
The modern Dutch and German, like
the old Midland English, retain the
and drop the t or d, sitt-en, sess-en.
The Greek not only expels the n, but,
like the Northern English and Scotch,
changes the dental into s, ϕέρ-ουσι, for
ϕέρ-συντι, Latin fer-unt, Sanscrit
bhar-anti, M. Goth. bair-and, Ags.
ber-að, Old Midl. Eng. ber-en, Old
Southern ber-eth, Old Northern ber-es.
² Compare the classical West Saxon
we cumað, cumeth, but cume we, the
use of -s for -th being Northern. Light
has been thrown upon the origin of
these syncopated forms by the researches
of Mr. Henry Sweet (Preface
to Anglo-Saxon Text of Gregory's
Pastoral Care), who has shown that
the forms in -e were preceded by older
ones in -en, originally subjunctive, from
which mood and the imperative, their
use passed into the indicative, whence
they have finally expelled the original
indicative terminations -að, -eth, North
Anglian -es.
Yhe þat folowes me here.
Sen the creatures þat skill has nane,
Hym loves in the kynde þat þai have tane.
But þai folow ay þair awen wille,
And of noght elles þynkes ne tas hede
What wonder es yf þai haf na drede?
Many spekes, and in buke redes,
Of purgatory, but fon (few) it dredes;
For many wate noght what it es,
Þarfor þai drede it wel þe les.
Gawain Douglas:— Reuthfull Eneas am I
That Troiane goddis caryis in my navy.
Baith here and thare standis large craggis and brais
How wourschipfall eik war thy parentis of micht
Quhilkis the engenerit has, sa worthy ane wicht!
The quhile oure sey that salis the Troianis, etc., etc.
Ettrick Shepherd:— Now quha are ye, ye sillie auld man,
That sleipis se sound and se weil?
Or how gat ye into the bishopis vault
Through lokkis and barris of steel?
When the kye comes hame.
In the verb BE where the plural (aron, area, are, ar, er, yr) did
not end in -es, the presence or absence of the pronoun subject
did not affect the form of the verb originally; but at a later date,
the analogy of the other verbs, in which a form identical with
the 3rd pers. sing. was used in the plural in the absence of the
pronoun, led to the use of es, is, in like cases for ar, er, though
only as an alternative form. In the same way was, wes, intruded
upon wer, war, in the past tense.
Cursor Mundi:— The childer þat es abortives,
Þaa that er born o-lives.
Hampole:— Many thinges to knaw and se,
Þat has bene, and es, and yhit sal be.
And swilk er þas þat here er fre,
Of dedly syns and er in charite.
I am a commelyng toward þe,
And pilgrym as alle my faders was.
Men ete and drank þan and war glade,
And wedded wyfes and bridalles made.
In the modern dialect also the usage is various, though is and
was are more common than are and were, when the pronoun is
"Rainbowe, rainbowe, ryn awa' heame!
Aa yer bairns is deid but eane."
Yuw at 's seae kein o' fyschin'. The treys was aa cuttit doon. Thaim at was
(or war) heir. Yuw an' mey was beath theare.
The -s of the first person singular, as in the quotation from
Gawain Douglas, "Reuthfull Eneas am I, that Troiane goddis
caryis in my navy," or the modern "Wad ye beheave that way
tui mey ăt hæs træt ye seae weill?" is not in the same position
as the -s in the plural, where it was an original characteristic of
the North-Anglian (ih cyme, we cymes), and is due either to a false
analogy, or to contact with the Scandinavian languages, in which
the first person, as well as the second and third, ends in -r =
English -s: jeg haver, du haver, han haver. I find a trace of it
as early as the 10th century in a double gloss to Matthew viii. 9,
Lindisfarne Gospels, "ec ic monn am under mæht, hæfis or hæfo
under mec ðeiʓnas," "I am eke a man under might (that), has or
have under me thaynes." Those modern dialects of the North of
England which spew the Norse influence have -s in the first
person singular, even when I is present, in which they differ
essentially alike from the 14th century northern dialect, and the
modern Scotch. Thus we find in the "Cleveland Glossary,"
Ah's about hungered to deid. Sc. Aa'm aboot hunger't tui deid.
Cl. Ah's gannan tiv Hull t'moorn. Ah's getten a sair deeas'ment.
Sc. Aa'm gaan, Aa've geatten, etc. Cl. Ah doots it's gannand to
he a sair back-kest tiv 'im. Sc. Aa doot yt's gaan' a-bey a sair
bak-set tyl 'ym.¹
But this form is colloquially used in Scotch when the present is used as a
dramatic past; thus, "Aa heirs a reis'le at the doar, an' thynks aa, quhat can that
bey, an' aa reyses an' gangs tui the wunda, an' theare aa seys hym stan'an', etc."
In the verb say the same usage is extended to all the persons, Aa says or says
aa = I said, says we = said we, ye says, says thay = you said, said they, just as in
colloquial English. The s here distinctly indicates that the action is not present,
but a representation of the past, or even of the future, as, "The neist teyme ye
meit hym, says ye, quhair hæ ye bein seae lang."
The solitary point in which the inflection of the verb in modern
Scottish differs from the older forms of the Northern dialect is in
the plural of the Imperative, which retained the -s ending of the
Old North-Anglian when the pronoun was omitted, Cymes! or
Cyme ye! (West Saxon Cumað! or Cume ʓe!")
He sal than say, "Commes now til me,
My fader blissed childer fre,
And weldes þe kyngdom þat til yhow es dight."
"Lufes noght þe world here," says he,
Ne þat, þat yhe in world may se.— Hampole.
When Gawain Douglas wrote, two centuries later, the -s form
¹ In the Introduction to his "Glossary
of the Cleveland Dialect," Mr. Atkinson
thus gives the present tense of the verb,
"Ah gans, thou gans, he gans, we gans,
you gans, they gans; All is, thou is, he
is, we is, you are, they is," which may
be contrasted with the Scotch inflection.
In the examples of the dialect scattered
through the volume, however, the s in
the first person singular and in the
plural is often absent.
was still in use (and not even confined to the plural number), but
generally only for the first imperative in the sentence:
Now hark ƺe, schirris! thare is na mare ado;
Quha list attend, gyffis audience and draw nere.
Maistres of woddis, beis to us happy and kynd
Releif our lang travell, quhat ever thow be.
Ye writaris al, and gentil redaris eik,
Offendis not my volume I beseik
Bot rede lele, and tak gude tent in tyme, etc.
But the modern dialects have altogether rejected the s, using
the simple form, whether with or without the pronoun, exactly as
in English, as "Look!" or "Look-ye!" "Syt doon an' teake a
beyte wui's." "Syt ye doon aseyde 'ym." In some verbs a first
person plural is in use, as thynk-wey, let us think.
The parts of the Verb formed by inflection being so few, most
of the modifications of verbal action are expressed by the aid of
auxiliaries. The auxiliary verbs used in Scotch are Hae, Bey,
Dui, Wull, Sall, Mæ, to which may be added Uise, and Gang, and
the so-called Potential auxiliaries Can, Mæn.
A very interesting group of Verbs is found with little variation in all the
Teutonic languages, ancient and modern, distinguished by the peculiarity that
their original Present Tense has long been obsolete, and is supplied by the original
strong Past, from which a new Past has been developed with various irregularities.
These verbs are more numerous, and exist in greater completeness in the ancient
Teutonic languages; in all the modern dialects some of them are obsolete, and of
others the merest fragments remain. From the occurrence in Greek of oɩ̓̑δα
εἰδέναι, Mœso-Gothic WITA, WITAN, Anglo-Saxon WITE, WITAN, English WIT, a
preterite with a present signification, we learn that this class of verbs extends
beyond the Teutonic languages; and a similar tendency is observable in the Latin
NOVI, anciently GNOVI, for the obsolete GNOO (KNOW).
The verbs of this group which remain in Scotch in whole or
part are WYLL, WULL Will, SALL shall, MÆ may, CAN can, MAAN or
MÆN (often written maun, mon, Norse mån, Sw. mun) must, DOW
(A.S. duʓan, whence dought, valour, doughty valiant, and German
taugen, tugend, tüchtig) to avail, valere, DAAR, dare, WUT, WAT, wit,
AUGHT or OWCHT (Eng. ought, A.S. aʓan, ahan to possess, own), to
which we may add BYD must, a word of more recent origin.
FORMS OF THE VERB. — Each tense of the Verb, independently of its limitation
to time, is susceptible of assuming various forms, according as it is used to
express affirmation, interrogation, negation, emphasis or any combination of these;
such forms being indicated by changing the position of the words, by the presence
or absence of certain auxiliaries, the contraction or emphasising of elements,
etc. In this dialect these changes of form are important.
1. The Affirmative or simple statement, expressed in the independent verb by
the simple form, but in the auxiliaries by a contracted form, as hey gangs, hey'll,
hey' s.
2. The Emphatic form, used in asserting strongly, or repeating an assertion
which has been questioned. Expressed in auxiliary verbs by the full form as hey
wull, hey ys; in the principal verb by help of an auxiliary as he dyz gang, hey
dyd gang.
3. The Negative form, a simple Negation, usually formed in auxiliaries by
adding -na, as hæna, wasna, canna, wunna; in independent verbs by a negative
form of the auxiliary as ye dynna cum, wey dydna ken. But in some verbs the
custom is retained of adding -na as in auxiliaries as aa cayr-na, hey geade-na.
4. The Negative Emphatic, a strong negation, or re-denial of a statement
asserted, formed in auxiliaries by the full form with the adverb nô or not (anciently
nocht); in principal verbs by the negative emphatic form of the auxiliary, or by
the adverb neane as hey ys not, wey dyd not or hey nô ys, wey nô dyd; hey dyz not
gang, hey wull not gang, or hey neane gangs, hey'll neane gang.
5. The Interrogative form, formed in auxiliaries by placing the verb before the
subject as wad ye? can thay? in principal verbs, with the interrogative form of
the auxiliary, as dyd hey cum? wad ye dui'd?; but in some short words by simple
inversion without an auxiliary as cam ye? quhat thynk ye?
6. The Negative Interrogative, a negative question; as Is he not? formed by
adding nô or not (anciently nocht) after the subject; as, dyd they nô? dyd schui
nô cum? dui ye nô thynk? The more northern dialects use nae instead of nô or
7. The Suasive form, as wad-n 'ye leyke, equal to the English "You would like,
would you not?" the German Sie würden lieben, nicht wahr? the French Vous
aimeriez, n'est ce pas? formed from the Interrogative by inserting -n' between the
verb and subject, "Dyd-n' ye gang?" You went surely? or you went, did you
not? "Hæv-n' they a neyce gairdin'?" They have a fine garden, have they not?
This was no doubt originally the Negative Interrogative form, but it now does
more than ask a simple question; it also insinuates an expectation of what the
answer should be.
8. The Dissuasive form as wad-n 'ye nô gang? you would not go, would you
now? formed by adding nô after the subject of the Suasive form.
With reference to the last three forms, dyd ye nô heir'd? expresses no expectation
as to the answer; dyd-n 'ye heir'd, expresses an expectation of an affirmative
answer; dyd-n 'ye nô heir'd, expresses an expectation or fore-knowledge of a
reply in the negative.
WYLL usually WULL (see page 108, so pronounced in 16th cent.)
PRES. aa wull, hey wull, yee wull, etc. Contracted unemphatic
form, aa'll, hey'll, yee'll, etc.; Negative wunna for
wyllnocht = will not. Suasive wull-n'?
PAST TENSE wàd (older wald) contracted aa wăd or aa'd; Neg.
wàdna; Suas. wàd-n' ?
PRES. PART. wullant, wullint; Advb. wullantlie1 willingly. Gerund,
wullin'. Used also in Compound tenses, as, "hey hæd-na
wàd dui'd" he had not been willing to do it "schui hæs-na
wàd cum," she has not consented to come.
SALL = shall. PRES. aa sall, thay sall, etc.; contracted form,
aa s', yee s', thay s'; Neg. sànna, schànna = shall not. The
Present is almost out of use in this dialect.
PAST. suid, or sood (older suld, sould). Neg. suidna, soodna.
CAN. PRES. aa càn, hey càn, wey càn, etc.; Unemphatic aa căn,
aa c'n; Neg. cànna.
PAST. cuid, cood (older culd, could, couth); Neg. cuidna,
PART. cannan'. Ger. cannin', being able. Past part. cuid,
Used in comp. tenses as "thay hæna cuid geate eane," they
have not been able to get one; "If wey hæd cuid cum;
ye'll can cum neist weik?" "Wi' hym noa cannin' fynd
them" through his being unable to find them. "He'll no
can haud doon his head to sneeze, for fear o'seeing his shoon."
Scott, Antiquary, chapter xxvi.
MÆ (more northern dialects MAE) = may. PRES. aa, yee, thay
mæ. Unemphat, aa-mă.
PAST. meycht. Negat. meychtna.
MÆN or MÀN (older man, maun, mon, mun) = must. PRES. aa,
hey, thay mæn. Unemphat. aa-mĕn, aa-măn; Neg. mænna,
often written maunna. PAST. aa med, mud (older met, mot),
almost obsolete, and usually supplied by bud = behoved, hæd--
tui, was obleist or obleiget-tui, as "aa mud gang, aa bud gang,
aa hæd tui gang, aa was obleist tui gang."
DOW. PRES. an dòw. Neg. downa.
PAST. dowcht. Neg. dowchtna.
Nearly obsolete, used in such phrases as "an downa bey
fash't," I cannot bear to be troubled. "Hey dowchtna
reyse," he could not exert himself so as to rise.
Thay downa bide the stink o' pouther. — Burns.
DAAR (often written dar, daur) = dare. PRES. daar. Neg. daarna.
PAST durst; Neg. durstna.
Used also in Comp. tenses "wull-ye daar gàng? thay wadna
daar cum; yf wey hæd durst beyde onie langer."
WAIT, WAT, WUT = know. PRES. wat, wait; used only in such
phrases as aa wait-na, I know not, wàt-ye? know ye? weill
aa wàt, full well I know.
PAST. wust. Neg. wustna. "Thay war oot o' sycht or ever
aa wust," spelled wyst, but pronounced wust already in 16th
Bot I allace! or ever I wyste,
Was 'trampit doun in to the douste.-
Lyndesay, Comp., 254.
Infin. Teake wut o' quhat hàppens; dynna let wut, do not let
(any one) know.
AA (older aw, awe) AUWCHT. The Anglo-Saxon agan, ahan, past
ahte (Mœso-Gothic aigan, aihan, Greek εχ-ειυ), meant 1. To
have, possess, own; 2. to make another to possess or own
(Bosworth). Hence, through such phrases as he áh cuman,
he has to come, he owes to come, the modern English owe =
debere, and ought. The only parts of this verb retained in
Scotch are the Present Participle aand (Ags. aʓend, O.E.
awend, awand), owing, by which with the verb to be, the
English verb owe is expressed, thus aa'm aand hym nowcht, I
owe him nothing; yee was aand yer rænt, you owed your
rent, hey's bein lang aand hym, he has long owed him, he has
been long in his debt, etc. The Past Participle apparently
occurs in the difficult idiom "Quheae's auwcht that?" often
"Quheae's owcht that?" contracted "Quheae's aa that? Quheae's
o' that?" whose is that? who owns that? In addition to
what has been said with regard to this phrase under Quheae,
the second meaning given to agan by Bosworth would allow
us to construe Quheae's aucht that? as Who is made to possess
that, i.e. Who is entitled to that, Who has a right to that, or
To whom does that belong? The 's is in the South of
Scotland construed as is, making the past quheae was auwcht
or aa, future quheae'll bey auwcht or aa, etc. In the dialect
of Buchan, it is stated that the past is faa aicht and the
future faa'll aicht, and it is considered by some that the 's in
quheae's does not represent is, and that the modern quheae
was auwcht, quheae 'll bey auwcht, etc., are formed upon a
false analysis. This view is supported by the use of aucht in
the following passages:-
"In the whylke (seuende comandement) es forboden all manere of withdraweynge
of oþer men thynges wrang-wysely agaynes þaire wyll þat aghte
it.'' — Hampole's Prose Treatises, p. 11.
Þis heste ous norbyet to nimene and of-hyealde oþre manne þing huet þet
hit by, be wickede skele, aƺe þe wyl of hym þet hit oƺþ. — Ayenbite.
"The ladies and gentilwomen that aught the tresses were comynge thiderward
on pilgrimage.'' — Knight of La Tour Landry.
"With power to his said nichbour that aught the grund whereupon it
standis, to cast downe the said dyck, and tak it away. — Annals of Hawick.
Act of the Bailies 1640.
The modern form occurs in "A Ballat in derision of Wanton
Women," by Alex. Scot about 1550.
"And nevir speir quhais aucht hir."
BYD = must. PRES. aa byd; Neg. byd-na.
PAST. bud, bood; Neg. budna.
A contraction of behoved. So in the Northern and West
Midland Dialect of the 14th cent. we have bus, bos, for behoves;
bud, byhod for behoved:
Me bos telle to that talk þe tene of my wille.
Yow byhod haue with-outen doute. — West Midl. Allit. Poems.
Byd implies a logical or natural necessity, as "The man byd bey a fuil." He
must be a fool. "The trey bud faa, quhan the ruits was lows't." The tree of
necessity fell when its roots were loosened. "It's a byd-tui-bey (or a byd-bey)."
It is a must-be, a necessity from the nature of things. In this respect byd differs
from mæn, maun, which expresses a necessity dependent upon the will of a
person; compare "thay byd cum thys way" with "thay mæn cum this way," the
former implying that there is no other way, the latter that they are under personal
constraint to take this road.
UISE = use, is used as an auxiliary in the habitual past tense,
when the full forms ūīse, ūīse't (əəz, əəzt) are shortened into
ŭis, ŭist (əs, əst). Wey uist tui gang. As an independent
verb its conjugation is regular.
DUI = do, used as an auxiliary in Pres. and Past Indic., Subj. and
Imp.; in Middle Scotch used pleonastically in all tenses.
PRESENT. Aa dui, hey duis, wey, yee, thay dui. Auxiliary
form aa dui or dyv,¹ hey dyz, wey, yee, thay, dui or dyv.
Negative aa dynna, hey dyzna, wey dynna. Interrog. Dui--
aa or dyv-aa, dyz-hey, dui-wey or dyv-wey, dui-ye (dəi, dei)
dyv-ye, dui-thay or dyv-thay.
Suasive dyv-n' aa?
PAST. dyd. Neg. dydna. Suasive dyd-n'?
Imperative dui! Neg. dynna!
Part. Pres. duian'. Past duin. Gerund dui-ing, dui-ein.
As an independent verb, dui has all the compound tenses.
HÆV or HÆ = have. PRES. aa hæ or hæv, hey hæs, wey hæ
or hæv. Contracted form aa've, hey's, wey've. Neg. hæna,
hæsna. Interrog. hæv-aa, hæs-hey, hæ-wey. Sues. hæv-n',
PAST. hæd. Contract. aa'd, yee'd, etc. Neg. hædna. Suas.
IMPERATIVE hæ or hæv! Neg. dynna hæ!
PART. PRES. hæan', hævan'. Past hæd. Ger. hæin', hævin'.
The Imperative with a different pronunciation heae! or
hyeh! (Hjæ) is used for Here! in offering anything (French
tiens!). "Heae! theare's a peice tui-ye," Here! there is a
piece of bread for you. "Hey's neane seae deif, ăt hey
cànna heir Heae!" He is by no means so deaf, that he
cannot hear an offer made to him.
The Compound tenses of hæv are formed as in regular verbs.
BEY = be. Present. Aa ym, hey ys, wey, yee, thay yr. Contract.
Aa'm, hey's, wey're, yee're, thay're.² Neg. Aa'm nô, hey's
nô. Sues. ym-n' aa, ys-n' hey.
PAST. aa wàs, hey wàs, wey wàs or waar, yee wàs or waar,
thay waar. Contract. aa wăs (wəz, wez), hey wăs, wey wăs,
yee wăs, thay wăr (wər, wer). Neg. was-na. Suas. was-n'?
SUBJ. PRES. yf aa bey. Neg. yf an bynna (benə). PAST. yf
aa waar or wàs, yf an waarna, wàsna.
IMPERATIVE bey. Neg. bynna, dynna bey.
PART. PRES. beyand, beyan'. Past, bein (bin). Ger. beying,
beyin' (bei·in).
Has the compound tenses of the first form.
¹ Dyv is a Northumbrian form; div.
tiv, wiv, are used for dui, tui, wui (do,
to, with), as far south as Cleveland,
and form interesting examples of the
passage of u into v as seen in Modern
Greek, etc.
² The Rev. W. Gregor (Dialect of
Banffshire, in Phil. Soc. Trans. 1866,
part II.), gives the conjugation of be
in the North-east of Scotland, thus:
"A'm, y're, he's, we're, y're, they're;
I wiz, ye wiz, he wiz, we wiz, ye wiz,
they war," which closely agrees with
the contracted form above. See the
Cleveland form antè p. 214 note.
By the aid of the auxiliaries, all the varieties of Verbal Action in Time, Mood,
and Form, can be expressed with minuteness.
The following are the Tenses used in the full conjugation of complete Verb,
each of them possessing all the modifications of form, Affirmative, Negative,
Emphatic, etc., already described.
The INDICATIVE Mood makes a statement of what is actually happening, has
happened, or will happen.
The Present Habitual. The simple present tense of a full verb does not
describe an action going on at present, but a habitual act or state ; thus "hey
gangs theare," does not mean "he goes there" at present, but "he is in the
habit of going there."
The Emphatic, Negative, and other forms take the auxiliary dui.
The Present Actual is formed by prefixing the present tense of the verb be to
the present participle, as "hey's gaan' thruw the wud." But in verbs expressive
of sensuous or mental impressions, as sey, heir, fynd, fancie, leyke, heate, also bey,
hæ, there is only one form for these two tenses, as wey sey them een-nuw, an' wey
sey them at aa teymes; with which contrast, thay're syngan't een-nuw, an thay
syng 'd at aa teymes.
The Past General. The simple Past of a Verb in the affirmative form, and
with the auxiliary dyd in the other forms, is a General Past, both historical and
habitual. To express more decidedly
The Past Habitual, the auxiliary Uise is employed as "hey uist tui gang, dyd
hey uis tui gang?"
The Imperfect is formed by prefixing the past tense of BE to the present
participle, as hey was gaan', was-n' hey gaan'?
The Perfect Indefinite prefixes the Present tense of the verb have to the past
participle, "thay've w'rytten." It describes an action already finished without
defining the time of its completion.
The Perfect Definite prefixes the perfect of the verb BE to the present participle,
"thay've bein w'reytan'." It indicates an action which has continued to
the present moment.
The Pluperfect Indefinite prefixes the past tense of the verb HAVE to the past
participle, "thay hæd-na sung."
The Pluperfect Definite prefixes the pluperfect of BE to the present participle,
"thay hæd-na bein syngan'."
The Future is expressed by various periphrases.
The Simple Future is formed by the auxiliary will as hey'llgang, wull ye bey
The Second Future prefixes the future of BE to the present participle, "thay'll
bey sleipan', quhan ye wun theare."
A Future is also formed by the aid of sal, but this is all but obsolete in the
first person, where aa'll gang is used for as s' gang. In the other persons, sal
implies compulsion, i.e. action independent of the will of the subject, "Ye s' get
yer fairin' ; schui's noa gàng hyr fyt-lenth!" But in the interrogative form sal
is quite obsolete, and a Scotchman says wull aa? where an Englishman says
shall I? will having almost lost in Scotch its sense of volition, and become a
mere sign of the future, like θέλω in Modern Greek.¹
A Proximate or Paullopost Future, is formed by help of the verb BE and the
Future participle, "hey's gaand-a-scheir or gaan tui scheir thys on-cumman'
hærst," he is going to reap, this approaching harvest.
A Future of Design or Destination is formed by prefixing the present of the
verbs have or be to the Infinitive, the former when the arrangement is made for
the subject, the latter when with his concurrence; "wey've tui gang theare
everie neycht ; thay're tui syng us a sang." From the former of these periphrases
¹ In Macri's Modern Greek Interpreter,
Corfu, 1825, the Future of
γράφω is given as θέλω, θέλεις, θέλει,
θέλομε, θέλετε, θέλουν γράψαι, I shall,
thou wilt, he will, or I will, thou shalt,
he shall write.
is formed the future of the Modern Romance tongues, ils parler-ont = ils ont
parler. By the latter the Future of the Old Latin and Greek, ama-bit = he beeth
to love, άιν-έσομεν = we are to praise.
The Future Perfect prefixes the auxiliary will have to the past participle; "thay
wunna hæ fund onie yet."
The SUBJUNCTIVE and POTENTIAL Moods express action that is only supposed or
conceived of as happening, the former expressing a hypothesis, or stating a condition,
the latter expressing (by the auxiliary may, might) the intended or
expected result of an action, or (by the auxiliary would) the natural result of a
hypothesis or condition. The old languages had a distinct inflexional form for
these dependent modes of expression, which their modern representatives have
more or less lost. In the case of Conditional or Hypothetical expressions, it has
not been necessary to provide any substitute, the conditional words if, though,
unless, etc., sufficiently showing the nature of the expression; but in the Potential
or Dependent mood, an auxiliary was necessary to distinguish them clearly from
the Indicative. Hence in modern English the Subjunctive is practically identical
with the Indicative; the Potential has the auxiliaries may, might, would, should.
The names Subjunctive and Potential are far from satisfactory; Hypothetical, and
Dependent would much more accurately express their functions.
The words may, can, must, might, could, would, should, are usually given as
auxiliaries of the Potential, but the claims of many of them to such a character
will not bear examination. It is evident that we can only apply the name, where
the auxiliary and principal verb together have a meaning, different from the sum
of the meanings of the separate parts; thus you may go, he can come, are not
Potential, because each word retains its independent force as you have-permission--
to go, he is-able-to come. If we admit such phrases as Potential or Subjunctive,
we may as well extend the name to he dare go, he need go. But in I give him, a
horse that he may go, may go is Potential or Dependent, for we cannot render it
he-has-permission to go.
The only auxiliaries of the Dependent Mood in Scotch are mæ, mycht, wad,
may, might, would. Can and cood always have the sense of be able, and sood of
ought or duty. Where should is dependent in English, it is replaced in Scotch by
The Present Subjunctive agrees with the Present Indicative, except that the 3rd
person singular does not usually take -s; which moreover is never taken in the
plural: — Indic. the burds syngs, Subj. yf the burds syng.
The Past Subjunctive is regularly the same as the Past Indicative; "yf ye said
seae; yf thay dydna cum," less usually "yf thay nô cam."
The Present Potential has the auxiliary mæ with the infinitive,
The Past has meyeht to express an expected result; wâd to express the consequence
of a condition; "hey held it heych, ăt aa meycht sey'd; yf ye ran,
thay wad suin follo'."
The Perfect takes the auxiliary mæ with the Past Participle.
The Pluperfect has meycht hæ, or wad hæ, with the Past Participle in the
same circumstances as the Past; "yf yt hæd bein aye as sayr, aa wadna hæ
thuoled it seae lang," If it had always been so painful, I would not have borne it
so long.
The IMPERATIVE MOOD is the simple stem of the verb; in the Emphatic form
it takes the auxiliary dui, and in the Negative dynna; the simple verb followed
by nocht or na, as in gang-nocht or gang-na, being antiquated, and nearly obsolete
in living speech.
The INFINITIVE PRESENT is also the stem of the verb, or the present participle
preceded by BE: tui syng or tui bey syngan'.
The Perfect Infinitive takes the auxiliary hæ before the Past Participle: tui
hæ eiten, or tui hæ bein eitand.
The Future Infinitive takes the auxiliary go tui bey gaand-a-eit, gaan'-a-eit or
gaan' tui eit.
The Participles and Gerund have already been described.
The Negative forms of all these parts are formed by prefixing nô, nô tui gang,
nô cumman', nô hæin' hàrd o'd.
The combination of the past participle with have continues to
be used in the Scotch dialects in a more primitive or analytical
form than in the English Perfect tense, where the two elements
coalesce into the single idea expressed in Greek by a single word
πέπραγα, I have done. In this older construction, the participle
fellows the governed words as in German, thus "Hæ ye aa yer
wàrk duin? Hey'll suin hæ the buik ræd," which have not precisely
the same force as "Hæ ye duin aa yer wàrk, Hey'll suin
hæ ræd the buik," the latter referring to the process, the former
to the result, and suggesting that the thing remains in the condition
to which it has been thus brought. Thus "schui hæd her
wàrk suin duin" is really = she soon had her work in a state of
completeness, she soon had her work (in the state of) done
(work). This is, of course, the original idea out of which the
modern Perfect tense with have has arisen.
As is well known, examples of the use of have as an auxiliary are rare in
Anglo-Saxon, and the earliest of them all convey the idea expressed by the
Scotch "schui hæs her wark duin." In Ælfric's Colloquy, we find "O monache,
ecce probavi te habere bonos socios" translated "Ealá þu munuc, efne ic hæbbe
afandod þe habban ʓode ʓeferan," where the sense is "I have (it as a thing)
ascertained;" to be compared with the Latin "Compertum habeo, milites," "de
Cæsare hoc dictum habeo," "vectigalia parvo pretio redempta habere," instances
from the classical writers of the construction which has produced the perfect tense
of the modern Romance languages, as in j'ai compris, j'ai dit, avoir racheté les
impôts. The true Teutonic usage, according to which the simple preterite was
used for all shades of past action, occurs a few lines later in the Colloquy: ðu
cnapa, hwæt dydest (fecisti) þu, to-dæʓ? Maneʓa þing ic dyde (feci.). Thou boy,
what host thou done to-day. Many things have I done. Wære þu (fuisti) to-dæʓ
beswunʓen? Ic næs (fui), for þam wærlice ic me heold (tenui). Hast thou been
whipped to-day? I have not been, because I have behaved myself carefully.
It would be interesting to know how far the Perfect remains in this rudimentary
form in other dialects.
Indicative Mood.
¹ Older, but now uncommon "aa syng-na," sometimes "aa nô syng."
¹ Older, but now uncommon "aa
sàng-na," sometimes "as nô sàng."
2 Perhaps more commonly "Dyd-aa-uis-tui,
dyd ai nô uis-tui, dyd n' aa
uis-tui, dyd n' aa nô uis-tui?"

The past participle of a verb preceded by the auxiliary BE,
forms the Passive Voice, as the waa's built, the cairt was cowpit,
the cart was overturned.
This Passive only expresses the completion of an action, thus
the hoose is built, does not mean the house is now being built (das
Haus wird gebaut, domes ædificatur), but the house is already built
(das Haus ist gebaut, domus ædificata est). Here the present fact
is that the building is past; similarly in the assertion the hoose 'll
bey built the-muorn, the future fact is that the building will tomorrow
be past. This is, therefore, not a Passive of Action, but
of Result. To express the Passive of action, equal to the Latin
ædificatur, ædificabatur, ædificabitur, the Scotch uses the form the
hoose is buildan'. This is not a contraction of the Old Eng. a-building,
as the form is not the gerund but the participle, and
represents the middle voice buildan' itsel', and' thus being built.
But as this form, being identical with the Active voice, would
often cause ambiguity, it is usual in Scotch, as in French, to
make such sentences active, with the indefinite Nominative
thay, pronounced (dhə), Fr. on. Thus, "Many houses are at
present being built here," would be rendered "The 're buildan'
monie hooses heir the-nuw." Indeed, this use of thay in the
indefinite sense of people generally, some one, any one, is almost
as common in Scotch as in French. "Thăy say ăt wey're tui hæ
waar," it is said that we shall have war; "quhat dui thăy dui
wui thyr? " what is done with these? "dui thăy sæll schuin
at the kreames?" are shoes sold at the stalls? So in all the
operations of husbandry, etc., as, "thăy're scheiran' aa roond
heir-away," reaping is going on all around in this direction;
"thys is the munth ăt thăy clyp the scheip onna the oot-bye
færms," this is the month in which sheep are shorn on outlying
or upland farms; "quhat dui thay meake oot o' the schuort
'oo?" what is made from the short wool?
The Old English usage in "a house to let," "a letter to write,"
holds its ground in the north: 'Thyr stycks is tui cairrie heame.'
The Adverbs of MANNER which in Eng. are formed by the
termination -ly, Ags. -líce, O.E. -liche, are in Sc. as in most of
the Teutonic dialects, identical with the Adjective; thus a lood
synger, hey syngs lood; nærr duin, nearly done; schui can eisie
dui'd, she can easily do it. Guid is an adjective only, the adverb
being weill. From adjectives in -lie we sometimes find adverbs
in -lies, as if genitive forms, like once, thrice, needs; thus leyklie,
leyklies, rædilies, probably; compare stridlings, astride, gruvelings,
(also a-gruif ), prone, eäblins, eäbles perhaps, mæ-bey, mæbeys,
mayhap. The word ways (wəz) = wise, ways, is also used to give
an adverbial force; as, "hey was lookan' keynd o' hyngan' -wa's
quhan aa mæt 'ym; the cheild cam lowpan' -wa's doon the luone."
The phrase an'aa (=and all) is used with the value of also,
besides, 'càllants an' wainschis an'aa', boys and girls also.
Adverbs of DEGREE comprise keynd o' (American kinder), somewhat,
rather, gaye, pretty, gayelie,-s, pretty much, unco', exceedingly
uncommonly, aa, all, quite, aathegyther, altogether, ameaste, almost,
værra, very, sayr, sore, very much, ower, too, too much -(American
over). Avaa', in negative sentences, noa avaa' not at all, i.e. not
of all (point du tout). Aafu' and tærrible, meaning simply very,
exceedingly, illustrate the change in the use of the Greek δεινóς between
Homer and Demosthenes. In Eng. the adverb as has two
uses, demonstrative and relative, as in 'as white as snow,' the distinction
between which becomes apparent on translation: aussi blanc
que la neige, so weiss wie Schnee, tan blanco como la nieve, etc. In
Early and Middle Scotch, the forms were quite distinct, als quhyte
as snau; and in the modern dialect they are still pronounced
differently (aas, az); aass quheyte az snaa. The Eng. so is
translated by seae, older sa, swa, when it expresses manner:
"Gang an' dui seae"; but by that when it expresses degree, or is
used pronominally: "the bairn 's nô thàt yung," the child is not
so young; "hey said it thàt òft," he said it so often. Is that
true? It is so. Sc. Yt yz thàt.
The Adverbs of Cause and Effect, quhy or more fully for-quhy,
and for-thy (Ags. forhwí, forþý), are found in Sc. literature
down to the 16th c., but seem now to be obsolete, being replaced
by quhat for? and for that; quhairfor and thairfor are less
Of Adverbs of PLACE, whence, thence, hence, whither, thither,
hither, in the old language quhethen, thethen, hethen, later quhyne,
thyne, hyne, and quhiddir, thiddir, hiddir, are now obsolete,
although hyne-furth henceforth, fra thyne thenceforth, were still
used in the 17th c. The modern spoken idiom is "Quhayr dui-ye
cum fræ? quhayr 're ye gaan' tui? or more commonly "Quhayr
'r ye gain'? Thay're geane away fræ theare." Yònder or thònder
is the adverb from yòn, thòn.
In compound adverbs, the Eng. -where is replaced by -geate:
sumgeate, oniegeate, neaegeate, aageate, -s, somewhere, anywhere,
nowhere, everywhere.
Away is used pleonastically, with verbs of motion, like hin and
her in German. Thus "Cum away yn, kommen Sie herein; Ryn
away doon, Laufen Sie hinunter. Cum yn, Gang oot, sound peremptory
and harsh; by saying Cum away yn (or Cum yeir ways
yn), Gang away oot, the effect is softened into the form of an
invitation. Bye. is used to form adverbs out of prepositions, thus
up-bye, doon-bye, oot-bye, ower-bye, yn-bye, meaning at some place
which is recognized as up, down, etc. Huw yr ye aa doon-bye?
How are you all down with you? Cum yn-bye an' gie's yeir cràks,
come in this way and tell us your news. An oot-bye wurker, an
out-of-doors servant.
Adverbs of TIME.—To-day, to-morrow, tonight, are the day, the
muorn, the neycht. We find the same in the 16th c., but in the
Early Period, to-morne:
Thocht thow wer gret as Gow-mak-morne,
Traist weile that we sail meit the morn.
Lyndesay — Sq. Meldrum.
Perilows thingis may fall perfay,
Als wele to-morne as yhistirday. — Barbour's Bruce.
A similar change of to into the is seen in thegether for together, old
Sc. togyddir. Morn, muorn, is always used for morrow, demain;
mornin' for morning, matin. To-morrow morning, to-morrow night,
are the muorn's muornin', the muorn's neycht. Yester evening is
yestrein. As in the old dialect, when, then, are still quhàn, thàn.
Just now, at present, is in Sc. een-nuw, eenuw, often the nuw. In
Mod. Eng. it looks toward the past; in Scotch, as in Shakespeare's
English, to the future, "hey'll cum the nuw," he will come presently.
Yet older ƺit, yhit, refers to continuation of past time:
the quhuns is aye theare yet, the furze is still there; but in interrogative
and negative sentences to anticipation of future time:
hæ ye hàppent onna them yet? Nô yet. Have you lighted on them
yet? Not yet. Ells (ælz) antiq. ellis, is used for already. Hey's
suirly nô bàck ells! Surely he has not returned already!
The Ags. siþþan, O.E. sithen, has been split into two forms,
seyne advb. subsequently, afterwards, further, and sen, syn, prep.
and conj. since; quhayr hæ ye bein sen hærst? where have you
been since harvest; fyrst thay grat an' seyne thay leuwch, first
they wept and then they laughed; ye'd as weill dui'd suin as
seyne, you would as well do it soon as later; lang-seyne = long--
ago, "the days o' auld lang syne." The two forms combined,
sen seyne, equal the Eng. since then; aa've oft thouwcht o' d senseyne,
I have often thought of it since.
The same distinctions are found in the 15th and 16 centuries:
"he gart strik the heidis fra the tuelf lordis of Irland, and sen
syne al the Irland men ar sklauis til hym." — Compl. of Scot.
The forms of the NEGATIVE in use are: in composition n-, as
aither, naither, eane, neane. But verbal forms in n-, like nis,
nave, nill, nare, have never been favoured by the Northern
dialect, which uses instead forms with an affixed -na, hæ-na,
wunna, canna, wasna, in the 16th century haif-nocht, can nocht,
was nocht. In other cases not is expressed by noa, nô, also derived
from nocht (compare thô from thocht); Wad ye nò gàng =
would you not go? In more northern Scotch nae (derived from
nane) is used instead of nô, as, Yr thay nae foo? South Sc. Yr
thay nô fuw? Neane and nòt are used as stronger negatives than
nae and noa. The three degrees of negation in the French il ne
peut, il ne peut pas, il ne peut point, might be rendered in Scotch
he canna, he nô can, he neane can. The adverb No! in answer to
a question, is naa! "Ye mæn àns'er aither æy or naa." The
affirmative æy is perhaps more common than yes in the spoken
dialect; yhis, ƺis, is the usual form in the old writers. By pronouncing
æy as a dissyllable æ-ay, in a lazy manner with the lips
shut, so that the voice escapes through the nose, we have the
northern 'mhm, 'nhn, 'nghng, "that ugly word 'mhm that stands
for an ay!"¹
Alone has given rise to curious forms in the Northern Dialect, recalling the
change of thet-ane into the tane (p. 176) and English then once into the nonce.
Alane properly all-ane seems to have been taken as al-lane, or a-lane, and then
lane separated and used by itself as an adjective, as in "a leane wumman," in
which form it has also passed into modern Eng. as a lone tarn. Lane was next
treated like sel, self, and accompanied by the possessive pronouns: "aa leive aa'
be masel, or aa' ma leane; the bairn's gaan' hys leane."
The chief prepositions are the following, in which it will be
seen that the English prefix be- is in Scotch commonly a- (Ags.
on-, a-):—
¹ According to popular statement,
'mhm, was first uttered in the following
circumstances: "Auld Clootie" had
made a raid upon the wicked wives of
a certain town, and was marching off
with one under each "oxter," and one
between his teeth, when a goodman,
loath to lose the chance of such a
deliverance, called anxiously after the
fiend if he could not take one more.
Unable to open his mouth to say ay!
for fear of dropping part of his booty,
Simmie grunted 'mhm, and with a
dexterous cleik of his tail, snatched off
the fourth victim also.
² Thræ is the universal pronunciation
in the South of Scotland, and the substitution
of th for f, is found as far
Prepositions of time and place are used also adverbially.
Anunder is perhaps in under, "quhat yr ye luikan' for anunder the bæd?"
Athuort, "hey gangs a suort athuort the cuintrie," he goes a great deal about,
or up and down, the country.
Be and bye are distinct, be being used of the instrument or author ύπò; bye of
place and mental relationship παρά. They thus become the reverse of each other,
as in the following from H. Charteris's Preface to Lyndesay, "nouther gude nor
euill can fall vnto tham, by the will of thair Father," i.e. beyond, or without his
will ; "he forther intendis be the help of God, to vse the lyke diligence," i.e. by
or with his help. Bye preserves the sense of παρά when compounded, as bye--
common, bye-ordnar. The derivation ,forbye, means besides, in addition to, adverbially
moreover, "the'll be plaintie theare forbye yuw."
But, bot, was regularly used in the Early and Middle periods in the sense of
without, sine; "a land bot a king." But is still used for without in speaking of
place, and particularly of the parts of a house, when it is opposed to ben, bæn;
thus "gang but the hoose," go into the outer apartment or kitchen ; "ye're wantit
ben-a-hoose or ben the hoose," you are wanted in the inner part of the house, in
the parlour, Ags. bútan, bynnan, be-out, be-in, with-out, with-in. In the old
style of domestic architecture, access to the parlour was had only through the
kitchen, and the former was called the ben-end, the latter the but-end, and in
farm kitchens the domestics still speak of the master's family as "the ben-a-house
folk." Houses which consist of two rooms only are said to have "a but and a
ben;" if there is an additional chamber off the parlour, they have a but, a ben,
and a færr-ben. People who live in contiguous apartments are said to live but--
and-ben with one another; and hence also the metaphorical phrase "to be unto
far-ben" with any one i.e. to he very intimate with him, deeply in his confidence,
as if invited not only to his parlour, but to his chamber or "far-ben." In the
Romance of "Guy of Warwick," etc., we have but and ben also in Old English.
O', i', wui are the common forms of of (not ov), in, with, unless when emphasized.

Oot, yn, on, are almost always used adverbially, oot ŏ, ynnă, onnă, being the
prepositional forms. It is doubtful whether the etymology is out of, in of, or
oota, inna, from Ags. útan, innan, Old Eng. ute, ine; probably the former. Compare
"Quhat ys 't ăt 's at eance oot Cheinie an' innă Cheinie? Tey. "What is
it that is at once out-of China and (?) in-of China ? Tea. Ontui, ontă, expresses
motion, "hey lap ontă the horse."
Quheyle, quhyl = till, as "beyde quhyl the muornin," is becoming antiquated.
Tyll and tui are synonymous; in most parts of Scotland tyll is used more than
tui in speaking of place, or even with the infinitive mood, "Tell him till gang till
his faither," but in the South tui is the more common, tyll being only substituted
for euphony, as tyl't for tui't, to it; "hey was sayr put tyl't aboot his luoss," he
was sadly perplexed about his loss. In Fife and adjacent districts, the prepositions
of motion into, onto, are regularly used for those of rest, "Ye'll fynd the preins
yntă the box; he leeves yntui or ynt'l a graan' house." So with Lyndesay,
Harry the Minstrel, and other writers who were natives of the Central district.
south as the Barnsley dialect, where
from is throo. Frae must be a difficult
combination, for the Central and
Northern Scottish is fae (compare
Greek θήρα and Latin fera).
The chief Conjunctions are:
An', and, tui, too, also, aither, either, neither, neither, òr, nòr,
but, for, sen, since; yf, gyf, gin, an, if; thoa, athoa (thoo, ɐthoo),
though, although, ăt, that, leist, lest; a-cause, 'cause (kɐz) because.
Yf and gin, gyn, are the ordinary conditional conjunctions.
Gin is probably a contraction of gie'n, given, i.e. granted; yf spelt
by the Scotch writers gyf, give, gyue, was also by them identified
with the verb give, though not really connected with it. An is
little used in the living dialects, though common in the early
writers, where, as in Old Eng., it was often spelt and, with which
word it was identical. The combination and if, an if, seems to
have been used to express a hypothesis more emphatically = even
if, even' though:
But and if that wicked servant say in his heart, etc.
Then with the omission of if, the and or an was used alone with
the same meaning, as in the Early Scotch writers:
For and he de, as he suld de, he suld think that he suld pas to mare joy.
And we resist his temptaciouns, we sal have þerfor gret reward in hevyne.
Craft of Deyng.
If ifs and ans were pots and pans
There'd be nae trade for tinkers¹
Though was always written by the Sc. writers thocht, thoucht
perhaps they identified it with thought, as if it were supposed,
Thocht thai war quheyn, thai war worthy.
Thŏ is used like the German doch and Dutch toch, to imply a
concession; Es ist heute doch kalt! .yt's caald thŏ the day! it is
cold to-day, though who would have thought it? Hey's a keynd
buodie thŏ, he is a kind man, one must confess after all.
Exclamation Ay! Wonder ee! Alarm, awe, pain O! oo! Objection,
opposition, æh! æh but! Doubt, contempt, h'mh! Vexation
't! 't! 'ts! 'ts! (with suction of the breath). Aversion, repulse
towts! tuts! Disgust feech! Surprise lòsh! lòk! Surprise at
meeting halloa! Calling after, hāye! hōy! Expostulation weh!
(well! quhat wad ye hæ ?) Triumph, contempt, hooch! Exultation
hurray! Laughter he! he!, hay! hay!, ha! ha!, ho! ho!, hui!
hui! Commiseration wuw! quhowe! ay quhowe! allaice! weae's
mey! Nă, or něh, apparently from now, is often used interjectionally
to soften a command or give force to an entreaty, quite
like the Hebrew אכ now! pray! Co 'way nĕh.! do come, pray.
Staand styli, neh! leyke a màn. Do stand still, there's a man
¹ The Rev. Hateley Waddell says in
his remarks on the language of Burns,
that if and gin are used differently, gin
expressing a concession, and if a mere
supposition. I have not found this distinction
in actual speech.
THE extent to which the Gaelic is still spoken in Scotland has
been referred to in the preceding pages. Having found, while
engaged in the preparation of this work, that there exists no
accurate account of the limits within which the old tongue is
now confined, at the suggestion of some of the members of the
Philological Society, I issued in 1869-1870, a series of inquiries
to clergymen and others residing along what, from personal
examination, I knew to be the linguistic frontier, accompanied
by sketch maps of their respective districts, upon which I asked
them to lay down the approximate limits of the Gaelic. These
inquiries were in every instance most courteously and fully
answered, and I have here to acknowledge the great obligations
under which I lie to the various gentlemen who so warmly
responded to my requests.¹ When arrangements were being made
for the census of 1871, the Philological Society memorialized the
Home Office with a view to have the linguistic statistics of Great
Britain collected in the returns, as is so admirably done in Russia,
Austria, and other Continental countries. Had this been acceded
to, very much more minute information than is here communicated
would have been within our reach. But as no attention was paid
to the suggestion, these notes will in some measure do for the
Gaelic what would have been possible also for Irish, Welsh, and
¹ These are the Rev. Wm. Ross, of Chapelhill Manse, Rothesay, a native of
Caithness, to whom I am mainly indebted for notes upon Caithness and the other
counties N. of the Murray Firth, and also on the islands and coasts of the Clyde;
the Rev. Colin Mackenzie, of Ardclach, and Rev. John Whyte, Moyness, for the
counties of Nairn and Elgin; the Rev. Walter Gregor, of Pitsligo (Editor of the
"Banffshire Dialect"), and James Skinner, Esq., Factor to the Duke of Richmond,
for Elgin and Banff; the Rev. Robt. Neil, of Glengairn (through Rev. Dr. Taylor,
of Crathie), for Aberdeenshire; the Rev. Neil McBride, of Glenisla, for N.W. of
Forfar, and adjacent parts of Aberdeen and Perthshires; the Rev. Samuel
Cameron, of Logierait, Rev. Dr. McDonald, of Comrie, Rev. Hugh McDiarmid,
of Callander, for the adjoining parts of Perthshire; the Rev. W. Mackintosh, of
Buchanan, for the W. part of Stirlingshire; the Rev. Duncan Campbell, of Luss,
for the district between Loch Lomond and Loch Long; and the Rev. Neil
Mackenzie, of Kilchrenan, formerly missionary in St. Kilda, for that island, and
other western parts. To the Revs. W. Ross, Neil McBride, and Walter Gregor
(Member of the Philological Society), I am specially indebted for much general
assistance in addition to the information as to their own districts.
the Norman French of the Channel Isles. The general result is seen
in the Map, where, however, it is to be observed that the outside
limits of the Gaelic are shown, that is, every district is included in
which Gaelic is still spoken by any natives, regardless of the fact,
that English may be spoken by the majority of the people. To
a distance of ten miles probably all round the frontier, Gaelic
may be considered to be the language of a decreasing minority,
especially in the towns; in almost every part of the Highlands,
English is now more or less understood and spoken. These facts,
which could not easily be shown on the map, are detailed in the
following notes, whence also it can be seen how steadily the
Celtic has been retreating backwards step by step within living
memory. The traditional Highland boundary line, as it existed
to 1745, is shown in the map, and affords the same evidence as to
the retreat of the Gaelic frontier.
The linguistic boundary is formed by a wide curve, extending
from the head of the Murray Firth by the N.E. corner of Perthshire
to the Firth of Clyde; of the three natural divisions of
Scotland, the Gaelic area does not touch the Southern, cuts off the
larger part of the Central, and the whole of the Northern, with
exception of the N.E. point of Caithness, and the Orkney and
Shetland Isles, which have long been Teutonic. On the other
hand it includes a portion of the N.E. of Ireland, the dialect of
which is identical with that of the opposite coast of Kintyre.
More particularly, the line may be drawn from a point on the
Murray Firth, about three miles W. of the town of Nairn, southwards
towards Loch Clans, and S.E. to Geddes, thence S. and E.
by the S.W. boundary of the parish of Auldearn, and so on to
Coulmony on the Findhorn, whence S.E. to the Knock of Murray.
Thence across the Spey, midway between Cromdale and Ballindulloch,
to Lyne on the Avon, and along the southern watershed
of Glen Livet to Aberdeenshire; across Strath Don, nearly in the
line of the road from Inverness to Balmoral, to a point on the Dee,
about three miles above Ballater. South of the Dee, the Gaelic
has retreated several miles farther west, so that the line leaves that
river about six miles above Balmoral, and runs south over the
Grampians, to the boundary between Perth and Forfar (no part of
the latter county being Gaelic), which it follows as far as Mount
Blair, thence across Glen Shee and Strath Airdle, the lower
part of which is now English, and S.W. across the moors
to the Tay between Dunkeld and Dowally. From Dunkeld
by Birnam Hill, and the southern watershed of Strath Bran to
Glen Almond, thence south by the head of Glen Turritt to
Comrie. From Comrie, along the braes of Donne to the Teith,
three or four miles below Callander, and so on by the north side
of Lake of Monteith to Gartmore, where the boundary leaves
Perthshire. In Stirlingshire, from Gartmore to Rowardennan on
Loch Lomond, and across that lake by Glen Douglas to Loch
Long. In the Clyde, the line may be carried directly down by
the east of Bute, Arran, and Cantire. But this includes extensive
districts in which it is hard to say how far the Gaelic is to be
considered native, inasmuch as it would certainly have been
already extinct there but for fresh accessions of Celts from more
inland districts. One correspondent, a native of Arran, says the
line should proceed "from Arroquhar to Dunoon, and from Dunoon
to Kames Castle (leaving out the Toward district as no longer
Gaelic); from Kames, across the narrow part of Bute (Gaelic
being no longer native in the south half of Bute) to Arran, so as
to include that island, and thence to the Mull of Kintyre; . . . .
even in some districts within the line, such as Dunoon and south
end of Kintyre, Gaelic is almost extinct." Another, who is
minister of the Free Gaelic Church in Rothesay, says, "In Bute,
and the district on the shores of Cowall, from Inverchaolin, by
Toward, Dunoon, Sandbank, Kilmun, and Strove, English prevails,
but a few natives and a considerable immigrant population
still speak Gaelic. Of the native farmers in the Isle of Bute,
probably ten can speak Gaelic. A small portion of the Gaelic--
speaking people in the town of Rothesay are also natives, but the
large body consists of immigrants. Gaelic is still preached in
the Established Church at North Bute, also occasionally at Port
Bannatyne, while there is regular Gaelic service in the Established
and Free Gaelic churches in Rothesay. The Gaelic population in
North Bute is almost entirely immigrant. About 1843-5, the
estate of Skipness was sold, and the new proprietor cleared away
a large part of the inhabitants, who came over and settled in
Bute. In the district from Inverchaolain to Strone, along the
shore, a few natives still speak the language; there is a considerable
Gaelic population in Kilmun, and a few in Sandbank;
in Dunoon there are said to be upwards of 200 Gaelic-speakers,
but chiefly immigrant. It is curious to observe the nature of the
change going on along the border line: the Gaelic people are
gradually going to the principal towns in their neighbourhood,
while Lowlanders who have been successful in business in the
towns, or farmers from the south, go to occupy farms or residences
within the Gaelic area. This change has taken place extensively
in the district from Otter Ferry on Loch Fyne round to Loch
Long . . . . I do not think Gaelic is extinct anywhere in Kintyre.
Even in the farming district of Southend, a few natives still
speak it; and in Campbellton, I think a majority of the people
use the ancient tongue, so that the line may safely pass south of
the peninsula."
In Caithness, at the other extremity of the line, the boundary
is drawn "from the mouth of the water of Forss, west of Thurso,
by the village of Hallkirk, and to the N.E. of Harpsdale, along
the road to Achkeepster, and thence by a gentle curve to Bruan
Head." The majority of the people in the village of Lybster,
and in Mid Clyth and East Clyth, speak English. In Caithness,
Gaelic is regularly preached in Dunbeath, Latheron, Lybster,
Halsary, Westerdale, Hallkirk, Reay, and occasionally in Bruan.
In Ross-shire the district from Tain to Tarbat Ness, and along the
coast to Invergordon, is chiefly Gaelic. The Gaelic School Society
occupies two stations in this peninsula, one at Hilton and Balintore,
and another at Inver. The district from Cromarty southward
along the shore to near Avoch, is chiefly English, local tradition
stating that it has been so since the time of James VI., when a
number of people from the south settled here (see Hugh Miller's
"Schools and Schoolmasters").¹ But there is a large Gaelic congregation
at Resolis, and smaller ones at Fortrose and Avoch.
In the County of Nairn, Auldearn has been an English parish
for many generations. In the town of Nairn,. Gaelic preaching
was given up in the parish church in 1854, upon petition of the
parishioners; it is still partly used in the Free Church for the sake
of old people, but these are chiefly immigrants from the parishes
of Ardersier, Petty, etc., who have settled in the town. In the
parish of Ardclach, a few natives speak Gaelic, and for the sake
of old people it is preached in the Free Church, but has been discontinued
for ten or twelve years in the parish church. In the
other parishes of this county, Gaelic is still preached for the sake
of the old people, but the Celtic is "gradually disappearing, most
of the young people being quite ignorant of it." The traditional
Highland boundary passes through the town of Nairn, and its mixed
population was already a matter of note in the reign of James
VI., if we may credit a story told of that monarch after his
accession to the English throne. His courtiers are said to have
boasted in his presence of the size of London in comparison with
any town in Scotland, but the King declared that there was in the
North of Scotland a town so large, that the people at one extremity
of it spoke a different language from those at the other
In the lower division of Elginshire, Gaelic is extinct, but is
still preached in the parishes of Cromdale, Abernethy, and
Duthil, in the upper part of the county; in Banffshire it is used
in divine service only at Kirkmichael and Tomantoul. "No
Gaelic has been spoken in any part of Inveravon for very many
years, nor in Glen Livet for upwards of forty years at least; even
in Tomantoul, I am told by natives that the children now cannot
speak one word of it, and that in thirty years or less it will be
quite lost."
In Aberdeenshire, Gaelic is not now used in the public worship
of any church. Down to the Disruption in 1843, it was partly
used in the parish churches of Braemar, Crathie, and Glengairn,
¹ Inverness has also a large English population, which local tradition attributes
to a garrison left by Cromwell. Extraordinary ideas are current as to the purity
of the Inverness English, the most that can be said for which is, that it is Book--
English and not Lowland Scotch. But "it is not correct to consider Inverness as
an English town, isolated and surrounded by the Gaelic; the latter has still a firm
hold of a large part of the town; in at least four churches Gaelic is the language
used, and that for people born and brought up in the town."
and in the parish church at Ballater at the Communion only; but
in all these it has been disused since 1845, and in the Free
Churches since 1850. In the Roman Catholic Chapels it has been
obsolete for a much longer period. It is still used in ordinary
conversation by a considerable proportion of the population of
Glengairn, Crathie, and Braemar; it is the first language learnt in
a very few families, but every child above ten years of age may
be said to understand English. It is nearly, but not altogether
extinct in Strathdon; but has not been used in Glenbucket for a
long time past. Towie and Glentanner, although their topical
names are all Gaelic, have been considered as below the Highland
line for several centuries. None of the natives there know anything
of Gaelic, which is fast disappearing even in Braemar.
Although a portion of Forfarshire was included within the Highland
boundary, and the local names are Celtic, Gaelic is not
spoken in any part of the county; nor has it been used in public
worship in any parish since the Reformation at least (except in
Dundee, where there is a Gaelic church for immigrants, as in
Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London).
In Perthshire, Gaelic is commonly spoken in the upper part of
Glen Shee and Strath Ardle; but "in the Free Church of Kirkmichael,
Strath Ardle, there has been no Gaelic preached for
several years, and it is going and almost gone in the Established
Church."¹ It has for some time been used in divine service,
in summer only, in the parish of Logierait, and "is or ought to
be used in whole or part in every parish in the Presbytery of
Weem." It has been quite disused at Dowally, but is partly
used at Little Dunkeld. "In the parishes of Comrie and
Callander, Gaelic is much spoken, and frequently preached in;
Aberfoyle has a Gaelic-speaking minister, and he till recently
officiated half the Sabbath in Gaelic; but now only occasionally.
These parishes lie along the frontier line; inward, and completely
or nearly quite Celtic are Balquhidder, Killin, Kenmore, Weem,
In Stirlingshire, Buchanan parish, which extends along the
whole east side of Loch Lomond, and across to Loch Katrine,
is the only part in which Gaelic is spoken, though there is now
"probably not a person in the parish who cannot understand and
speak English. No Gaelic is spoken below the pass of Balmaquha.
Between that and Rowardennan, Gaelic is used in some families,
and is in pretty common use above Rowardennan. But it has
¹ An Address to Highlanders respecting their native Gaelic, showing its
superiority over the artificial English, etc., by Archibald Farquharson. Edinburgh,
Maclachlan and Stewart, 1868. Referring to Strath Ardle, the writer says,
"Although my native country, I am quite ashamed of them. Who wrote the
inscription 'Mile failte' (a thousand welcomes) on the top of the arch at
Kirkmichael, on the occasion of a certain gentleman up the country taking home
his English bride? I passed under it, and expressed my astonishment to see it,
as the children spoke nothing but English in the street."
long ceased to be taught in school, and has not been used in
church for half a century, with the exception of an annual sermon
at Inversnaid, discontinued in 1868." West of Loch Lomond,
Gaelic is extinct among the natives of Luss, but there is a constant
influx of slate quarriers, servants, etc., who speak Gaelic,
from Argyllshire. English alone has been used in church for
fifty years, the last Gaelic minister having been Dr. Stewart, one
of the translators of the Gaelic Bible. Even he, in the latter
part of his ministry, had a Gaelic service only once a month. In
Arroquhar, Gaelic is still in general use, but receding. Divine
service is regularly in Gaelic and English.
With regard to the identity of dialect between the Scottish
Highlands and a part of Ulster (a point to which my attention
was first called by H.R.H. Prince Lucien Bonaparte), I have
been favoured with information from the Rev. Classon Porter, of
Larrne, and Robt. MacAdam, Esq., of Belfast, an eminent Celtic
scholar, and well acquainted with the dialectical divisions of the
Irish. The district in question is "the Glens of Antrim," opposite
to Kintyre, with the adjacent Isle of Rachrin (Anglicized Rathlin);
the area has been much circumscribed within living memory.
"The people are evidently the same as those of Argyll, as indicated
by their names, and for centuries a constant intercourse
has been kept up between them. Even yet the Glensmen of
Antrim go regularly to the Highland fairs, and communicate
without the slightest difficulty with the Highlanders. Having
myself conversed with both Glensmen and Arranmen, I can
testify to the absolute identity of their speech." — R. McAdam, Esq.
The Celtic of all the rest of Ulster, viz., in Donegal, and isolated
patches in Derry, Tyrone, and south of Armagh, differs considerably
from the Scottish Gaelic, and is truly an Irish dialect.
But there is not the slightest reason to deduce the Glensmen from
Scotland; they are a relic of the ancient continuity of the population
of Ulster and Western Scotland.
The most advanced outpost of the Celtic in the Old World, is
the Isle of St. Kilda, lying far out in the Atlantic, to the west of
the Hebrides. The language is entirely Gaelic, none of the
natives knowing any English but the little that they may be
taught by their minister or missionary. All the topical names
are Celtic, and the Northmen seem never to have reached the
island. The Gaelic has the dialectic peculiarity, that l is pronounced
instead of r, as in Harris, which strikes the hearer very
strangely at first.
Such are the limits within which the Scottish Gaelic is now
spoken; its recession within living memory aids us at least in
depicting the successive steps by which it has receded during the
ten centuries since it -occupied all the territory north of Forth.
At the War of Independence, I think it probable that it extended
to the Ochil and Sidlaw Hills, and that north of the Tay the
"Inglis" was limited to a very narrow strip along the coast.
Galloway and Carrick in the S.W. were also Gaelic in the 16th
century; and it is probable that we are to look to the Reformation,
and to the use of the Lowland Scotch in public worship and the
parish schools, for its disappearance there. No mention of this
division of the Erse stock is found in the earliest records, and
they appear to have occupied, in the 8th or 9th century, a territory
formerly held by the Britons.
Celtic scholars distinguish three dialects in the Scottish Gaelic, a Northern, a
Central, and a South-western (see Map). The Northern division, comprising
Caithness, Sutherland, Moss, and North Hebrides, is distinguished by its "narrow,
sharp, and arid" pronunciation, its consonantal character, and tendency to suppress
guttural sounds, as in mac, pasgadh, deagh, which are pronounced (mak,
paskgəv, tjee•əv) for (makhk, paskgɐgh, tjee•ɐgh). "The pronunciation gives
reason to think that the inhabitants spoke some Northern language at one time."
Probably this is due to the great influence of the Norse in these parts. In the
South-western division, comprising Argyle, Perth, and the Southern Isles, long
é (ee) is used for long í (ii) of the central division; the language is most vocal,
"the swelling sound of the terminations adh and agh are scarcely audible after a
broad vowel; the words are generally pronounced with amazing rapidity, falling
from the mouth with a kind of jerk, and such heedlessness that it is not easy
sometimes for a stranger to catch the nature of the sound."¹ The northern
variety is that which is easiest for a Sasunnach to acquire and understand, the
South-western comes nearest to the Irish and the language of the old Celtic
At p.78 the general dialectical divisions of the Lowland
Scotch, as well as their historical relations to each other, have been
given. The areas occupied by these divisions, viz. the North--
eastern group, containing the dialects of Caithness, Aberdeen, and
Angus, the Central group, embracing those of Fife and Lothian,
of Clydesdale, of the Highland border, and of Galloway, and the
Southern group, containing only the border counties in Scotland,
but closely connected with the dialects of Northumberland, of
Shields, and of North Cumberland in England, will be seen in
the map, where the affinities between the idioms are to some
extent represented in the colouring.
As to the distinguishing characteristics of these dialectic forms,
it has been the object of the preceding pages to show those of the
Southern group; and at §20 of the Historical Introduction, as
well as throughout the work, they have been contrasted with
those of the Central group.
The most prominent distinction of the North-eastern dialects
is the use of f for wh, and of vr for wr, as in "fat's vrang,"
what's wrong? This peculiarity is current from the Pentland
Firth to the Firth of Tay, and the dialect is most typically represented
in Aberdeenshire and the district to the N W. toward
the Murray Firth. Here the 12th vowel (ə, y) of the Central
and Southern dialects, loses its labialization, so that long English
¹ Principles of Gaelic Grammar, by John Forbes, F.E.I.S. Edinburgh, 1848.
The introduction contains a short sketch of the characteristics of the three dialects.
oo (in Centre and S. Scotland ui), is represented by ee, as in do,
boot, roof, here dee, beet, reef; short oo by ĭ, or the high mixed
vowels (Y, y), moon, stool, (min, myn, stil, styl). The back consonants
k, g, affect a preceding or following oo, changing koo, ook,
into kwee kwĭ, and yook, as in good, cool, school, book, general Scotch
guid, cuil, scuil, buik, here gweed, queel, squeal, byook. The sound
of cō, in the south cuo, is often also changed to cwey (kwəi) as
cweyte, cweyle, for coat, coal. As the ai (ee) of the other dialects,
corresponding to Eng. ō, also often sinks into ee, thus bone, stone,
Central Sc. baene, staene, here been, steen, the long ee is a prominent
feature of the dialect. But this latter change is not found
all over the district; and the Rev. Walter Gregor, in the preface
to his "Dialect of Banffshire," distinguishes three dialectic
varieties within the area, in the lower or coast variety of which
stone and bone are steen, been, while in the middle they are stĕhn,
bĕhn (sten, ben), and meal, peats, fear, bear, etc., mail, paits, fehr,
behr (mel, pets, feer, beer). The short u (Ǝ) of the other dialects
often becomes i (e, y), as in mother, son, bull, full, here myther,
syn, byll, fyll, often even with the vowel long. The long aa of
the south of Scotland is often replaced by ai, as gayn, aicht, for
gaan, auwcht, going, ought. The hard g is strongly palatalized,
so much that I have often found it difficult to distinguish the pronunciation
of geng or gyang, go (gjEq, djEq) from jeng. In the
coast districts there is also a strong tendency to substitute d for
th, in fadder, mudder, widder, etc., for father, mother. weather.
In the dialect of Angus, south of the Grampians, the consonantal
peculiarities of the North-eastern group are still found, but
the vowel system is more like that of the Central Scottish, English
oo being ui as good, guid. The ĭ or y of other dialects is often
widened into ŭ, as hum, tull, hur, mulk, etc, for him, till, her, milk.
D is sometimes softened into th (dh), as laddies (ladhiz).
In Caithness, in addition to the consonantal peculiarities of the
North-east, we find the use of sh for ch, shylder = childer, and the
regular dropping of initial th in the demonstrative class of words,
so that, the, they, them, there, that, appear as (i, ee, em, eer, ət).
The pairs made, maid, tale, tail, are distinguished as (méid,
mèèd, téil, tèèl), a very different distinction from that used in
the south. So the words one, home, bread, head, place, way, are
eynn (éin, éinn), heyme, breyde, heyde, pleyce, wey. While, bide,
wife, are foyle or fhoyle, boyd, woyfe (wohif).¹
Of the Central group, the Clydesdale dialect is distinguished
from that of Lothian chiefly by its broader vowels. The long aa
especially is almost if not quite aw (AA) in twa', awa', wauk=
¹ Mr. Melville Bell says that the sound often at least given to wh in Caithness
is not the simple f, but his mixed-divided labial (fh). Probably, however, this
is an individual peculiarity. I hardly know whether to consider general a peculiar
dwelling upon the letters m and n when final, as though they were doubled eyn-n,
man-n, which was very noticeable in some of my Caithness correspondents, and
seems to suggest Old Norse influence.
wake. It is heard also in the combination -and, where the d is
regularly dropped, leaving such forms as lawn, hawn, for land,
hand; so ehn for end, meyne for mind, fyn for find. Long i becomes
broad (Ǝi), wuyves, buyde, stuy, for wives, bide, stay. The
ui is scarcely labial, dui, tui, wui, etc., being undistinguishable
from dae, tae, wae (dee, tee, wee) or (dii, tii, wii). Short o before
a consonant has a tendency to be replaced by (a, a) as in pàt, tàp,
slàp, pàrritch, dràp, bànnet, àff, àft, hàp, wàrlt, for pot, top, stop,
porridge, drop, bonnet, off, oft(en), hop, world. This change does
not appear in the Early or Middle Scotch, and is probably of
Celtic origin. In Modern times it has gained a wide currency
from being used by Burns in this dialect.
In the Highland border along the south-east of Perthshire, we
find ĭ regularly pronounced as u, as in hull, mull, mulk, sulk, hill,
mill, milk, silk. Ea which in the more Southern dialects is ei,
here remains ai, as braid, haid, mail, for braid, held, meil, Eng.
bread, head, meal. The article the is commonly contracted into
ee, especially after in, as, in the, i'ee (iii, ii).
This last-mentioned peculiarity is found again in Galloway, at
the opposite point of the Central group, associated with the prolonging
or doubling of final nasal consonants even more strikingly
than in Caithness. The verb gang becomes gann; the pronouns
his and her are contracted to simple s and r, he can gann tyl's
faither, he may go to his father; gann yer waws, go your way.
I had intended to furnish a comparative specimen of each of these eight
dialectic forms, and had for this purpose taken down the first chapter of Ruth in
the vernacular from the dictation of native speakers; but doubts as to the accuracy
of my palæotypic renderings in some cases, which I have not at present the means
of testing, have induced me to give only three of these, viz. one from each of the
three great dialectic groups. The Southern counties dialect is represented by the
Teviotdale specimen, given both in the conventional spelling used in this book,
and for comparison with the others, in Mr. Ellis's palæotype also. The Central
group is represented by the Ayrshire specimen,¹ and the North-eastern by that of
Buchan.² In these I have used palæotype only; the conventional alphabet would
have required a large extension of symbols in order to exhibit their phonetic
differences, which even then would have been but clumsily and inaccurately shown.
In the palæotype I have made use of the distinction suggested at p.106, note 2,
writing (é, é) for close sounds of (e, e) i.e. nearer to (i, i); (é, é) for open ones,
nearer to (E, æ). Thus I make the Teviotdale day (dèè), nearly (dEE); the
Aberdeen (déé), that is almost (dii) or (dii). The Scotch sound of ĭ in bill, sit,
etc., is generally (é), i.e. a shade higher than Southern English bell, set, though
much nearer to that than to Eng. bill, sit. The short or stopped (e, e) should
have the same quality as the long vowels in each dialect, but as the difference is
in their case scarcely perceptible, I have generally left them unmarked. In the
Palæotype the words are united by hyphens into phonetic groups as pronounced,
the accented syllable in each being marked by the turned period (˙). Where
this mark is wanting, the accent is on the last syllable of the group.
¹ From the dictation of Mr. Heron Duncan and his brother Mr. W. Duncan;
revised by Mr. R. Giffen.
² Dictated by Mr. Thomas Forrest, and revised by his brother, Mr. W. Forrest,
with the assistance of Mr. Melville Bell, by whom the sounds were written in
visible speech.
Note. — The expression of the vowel sounds in Palæotype, so far as concerns
Scotch, has been already explained pp.103-113. The consonantal signs, not
having been referred to as a whole, are here arranged alphabetically (b, d, f, k, 1,
m, n, p, t, v) have each their usual value; (dh) as in that (dhæt); (dzh) = j in
judge (dzhədzh); (g) as in got (gɔt); (g) or (gj) palatal g = g+y, as some pronounce
guard (gaaɹd, gjaaɹd); (h) only used as an auxiliary in consonantal groups,
as (ph, th, kh, sh); (H) the full h in hat (Hæt); (j) only an auxiliary sign of
palatalization, a weakened y as in (kj, gj, dj, sj); (J) a full consonantal y as in
you (Juu); (k) or (kj) palatal k = k+y, as sometimes heard in sky (skəi, skjəi);
(kh) the simple "guttural" ch, gh., in German ach, Gaelic clachan (akh, klakh•ɐn);
(kh) or (kjh) the palatalized guttural, in German ich, Southern Scotch neycht,
(ikh, nekjht); (kwh) the labialized guttural in German auch, South. Sc. thowcht
(aukwh, thokwht); (1j) palatal or "liquid" 1 in Ital. figli, Old Sc. coilƺear (fi·lji,
koo·ljɐr); (nj) "liquid" n, in Fr. regner, Old Sc, feinƺie (rEnje, feenji); (q) used
as a simple sign for (ng) in thing (thiq); (qk) = nk in think (thiqk); (r) always
trilled — properly in Scotch we should use the stronger (.r) to indicate the sharp
trill; (ɹ) the vocalized Eng. r in roar (rooɹ); (r) the uvular trill in French Paris
(Pari) — this or often a stronger (.r) is the Northumberland burr or "crhoup";
(s) always as in hiss (His); (sh) as in she, patient (shii, peei•shent); (tsh) = ch,
tch, in child, watch (tshəild, wAtsh); (w) as in wall (wAAl); (w) an auxiliary sign
of labialization, in (kwh) etc.; (y, y, Y) are vowels only, never consonants; (z)
as in buzz (bəz); (zh) French j, in vision, (vizh•ɐn). The (') indicates a vocal
murmur, or imperfect vowel as heard in eaten (iit•'n). In Scotch it often follows
other vowels making an imperfect diphthong as (mii, baa', tii', bE'l), etc.

(Continuation in Southern Counties Dialect).
An' Naaomie hed a freind bey hyr guid-màn's seyde ŏ the hooss, a rowthie màn
duian' weil ĭ the wòr'lt, an' eäne ŏ Eleimelek's kyn; an' thay caa'd 'ym Boaz.
An' Ruith the Moabeyte làss said tui Naaomie, "Læt's gàng oot òntui the hærstryg
neh, an' gæther the heids ŏ cuorn ahynt ònie ăt aa mæ fynd greace ĭ ther
seycht." An' schui said tyll'er, "Gàng (y)eir ways, ma làssie." An' schui geade
oot, an' càm an' beguid a gætherin' ònna the hærst-ryg ahynt the scheirers, an'
ăz hàp wad bæ'd, dyd-n' schui leycht on a byt ŏ the feild ăt wăs Boaz's, hym ăt
wăs eäne ŏ Eleimeleks ayn kyn.
Aweil thăn, Boaz càm oot fræ Bæthlem, an' says tui the scheirers, "The
Loard bey wui-ye!" An' thay aansert bàk, "The Loard blyss-(y)e!" Than Boaz
says tui the greive ăt wăs stàn'an' ower the scheirers, "Quheae's auwcht thys làss
thăn?" An' the greive ăt stuid ower the scheirers tælld 'ym, an' said, "Thàt's
the Moabeyte làss, ăt càm bàck wui Naaomie fræ the laand ŏ Moab; an' schui
àxt-us, 'Aa bæg o'ye, læt-us gæther ahynt the scheirers, amàng the stooks.' Seae
schui càm, an' hes bydden heir fræ the muornin' tyl duist eennw, ăt schui baid
a wee quheyle ĭ the hooss." Thàn Boaz said tui Ruith, "Heir (y)e, ma làss,
dynna gàng tui gæther ynna ònie uther feild, nor gàng away fræ heir avaa, but
beyde heir cluoss aseyde maa maydens. Keip (y)eir ein ònna the feild ăt they're
scheiran', an' gang ahynt-them; hæv-n' aa chairget the laads nô tui fasch-(y)e;
an' quhan (y)e're drye, gàng tui the càns, an' teake a drynk ŏ quhatever the laads
tuim oot." Thàn schui fæll doon ònna 'er feace, an' buw'd 'ersel tui the grund,
an' said, "Huw ys't ăt aa've fund greace ĭ (y)eir seycht, for (y)e tui teake nuotice ŏ
mey, syn aa'm eäne ŏ the fræmd." An' Boaz tælld-'er, an' said tyl-'er, "Aa've
bein luitten kæn the heäle stuorie, an' huw (y)ee've duin tui (y)eir guid-muther syn
the deathe ŏ (y)eir ayn màn, an' huw (y)e've læft (y)eir faither an' muther an' the
laand ŏ (y)eir byrth, an' cumd heir amàng a fuok ăt (y)e kænnd nowchts aboot afuore.
Mæ the Loard requeyte (y)eir dui•ins an' a heäle rewaird bey gie'n-(y)e fræ the Loard
Gôd ŏ Ysrel, ăt (y)e've cumd tui lyppen (y)eirsel anunder'ys wyngs!" Thàn schui
said, "Læt mey fynd fayver ynna (y)eir seycht, ma luord! for (y)e've comfortit-us,
an' spòken hærtsum wurds tui (y)eir haand-mayden, athoa aa'm noa tui bey coontit
leyke ònie eane ŏ (y)eir maydens." An' Boaz tælld'er, "At meale-teymes cum
fòrrat, an' teake a beyte ŏ the breid, an' dyp (y)eir peice ĭ the vynniegar." An'
schui sàt doon aseyde the scheirers, an' hey raaxt'er bye ruestit cuorn, an' schui
eitit 'er fyll an' geade 'er ways. An' quhan schui'd rys'n up tui gæther, Boaz
chairget the laads, an' said, "Læt 'er gæther fòrrat amàng the scheives, an' dynna
challinge 'er. An' læt faa' a næffŭ nuw an' thàn wullantlie for 'er, an' dynna
fynd faat wui'r. Seae schui gæthert òn ĭ the feild tyl neycht, an' schui thruisch
oot quhat schui lied gæthert, an' yt meade the fæck ŏ tweae haffuw ŏ baarlie.
An' schui lyftit it up, an' geade 'er ways ynta the toon; an' 'er guid-muther saa
quhat schui hed gæthert, an' schui browcht oot an' gæ 'er quhat schui hed læft
ower, æfter schui hæd aneuwch. An' 'er guid-muther àxt 'er, "Quhayr hæ-ye
bein gætheran' the-day? an' quhayr hæ-ye w'rowcht? Blyssins onna hym ăt hæs
teane nuotice o'ye. An' schui luit hyr guid-muther kæn quheae yt wàs ăt schui
hed gæthert wui, an' says schui, "Thay caa the màn Boaz ăt aa was wurkan' wui
the-day." An' Naaomie said tui 'er guid-dowchter, "Blyssins òn 'ym fræ the
Loard, ăt hæs-na gie'n ower 'ys keyndness tui the leivan' an' the deid." An'
Naaomie tælld'er, "The màn's a nærr freind ŏ oor ayn, eäne ŏ oor neist ŏ kyn."
An' Ruith said, "Hey tælld-us tui, '(y)ee mæn beyde cluoss aseyde maa laads, tyl
thay 'ye duin wui aa' maa hærst." An' Naaomie said tui Ruith, hyr guiddowchter,
"Yt's weill fòr-ye, ma dowchter, tui gang alàng wui hyz maydens, at
thay mæ no meit wui-ye yn ònie uther feild." Seae schui stàk cluoss be Boazis
maydens, an' gæthert, tyl the baarlie hærst an' the quheit hærst was beath duin,
An' schui baid wui 'or guid-muther.
Thàn Naaomie, her guid-muther, said tyl 'er, "Ma dowchter, mæn-n' aa
seik a heäme for ye, ăt (y)ee mæ dui weill? Nuw ys-n' Boaz eäne ŏ oor ayn
kvn, hym ăt (y)e was aseyde 'ys maydens. Look-ye, hey's deychtan' 'ys baarlie
the-neycht ĭ the bærn-fluir. Wæsch-yersel than, an' ræd-yersel up, an' pyt on
(y)eir guid clease, an' slyp doon tui the bærn, but dynna meake-yersel kænnd tui
the màn, tyl hey's duin wui eitin' an' drynkin.' An' quhan hey lyes doon, (y)ee
mæn teake nuotice ŏ the pleace quhayr hey lyes, an' gang yn, an' lyft the hàp òff
hyz feit, an' lye doon; an' (y)e'll sey ăt hey'll tæll-(y)e quhat (y)e're tui dui." An
Ruith says, "Aa'l dui aa'thyng ăz (y)e tæll-us."
An' schui geade doon tui the bærn, au' dyd aa ăz hyr guid-muther hed budden
'er. An' æfter Boaz hed eiten an' drukken, an' 'yz hært was merrie, hey geade
an' lay doon ayownt a hòt ŏ cuorn; an' schui càm slyppan' yn værra caanie, an'
lyftit the hàp off hyz feit, an' laid 'ersel door. An' aboot the myddle o' the
neycht, the màn was feir'd, for hey turnt'ys-sel, an' theare was a wumman lyan'
at hys feit. An' hey says, "Quheae's thàt?" An' schui says, "Yt's mey, (y)eir
haand-mayden Ruith; spreid (y)eir hàp ower (y)eir haand-mayden, for (y)e're a nærr
freind." An' hey says, "Blyssin's on (y)e fræ the Loard, mă dowchter! for ye've
schaa'n mayr ynnerlieness ăt the hynder-ænd ăz ăt the fyrst, syn (y)e hæna run
æfter yung mæn, naither puir nor rytch. An' nuw, mă dowchter, hæ neae feirs;
aa 'l dui for-(y)e aa' ăt ye wànt; for aa' the fuok ŏ oor toon kæns ăt (y)e're a
deacent wumman. An' (y)e're reycht aneuwch, aa ym a nærr freind; but for aa'
thàt, ther's eäne a neirer nŏr mey. Wait aa' neycht, an' wey'll sey ageane
muornin', yf hey'll dui a freind's pairt bey-ye — weill an' guid: let hym dui the
freinds pairt. But yf hey'll noa dui the freinds pairt bey-ye, thàn as suir az aa'm
leıvan', aa 'l dui the freind's pairt bey-ye; lye styll tyll day-leycht."
An' schui lay ăt hys feit tyll the muornin', an' schui rayse afuore yt was leycht
aneuwch for eäne tui kæn anuther. An' hey said, "Dynna læt wut ăt a wumman
hæs bein ĭ the bærn." An' hey said forbye thàt, "Bryng the vail ăt ye've òn, an'
hàd-it." An' quhan schui hæld it, hey mezzert oot syx wæychtfŭ baarlie, an'
hælpit 'er 'on wui'd; an' schui geade ynta the toon. An' quhan schui càm tui 'er
guid-muther, schui said, "Quheae yr (y)ee, ma dowchter?" An' schui geade ower
aa' ăt the man said tyll 'er, an' schui said, "Hey gæ's thyr syx wæychtfŭ baarlie tui,
for hey said, "(Y)e mænna gang away tuim-hàndit tui yeir guid muther." Than
Naaomie says, "Syt styll, ma dowchter, tyll (y)e sey huw the maitter'll ænd; for
the màn 'll noa bey ăt ræst, tyll hey hes wun ăt the boddum o'd the-day."
Thàn Boaz geade up tui the puort, an' sàt doon theare: an' the freind,
ăt Boaz spak ŏ, càm bye; an' hey cryed tyll 'ym, "Haye! syc'n-a-leyke
eäne, step ower thys way, an' syt doon heir." An' hey stæppit acròss an' sàt
doon. Thàn hey tuik tæn mæn ŏ the ælders ŏ the toon, an' said, "Syt (y)ee doon
theare." An' thay sàt doon. Thàn hey says tui the freind, "Naaomie, hyr ăt's
cumd bàk fræ the laand ŏ Moab, 's sællan' a byt grund ăt belang'd tui oor bruther
Eleimelek. An' aa thowcht aa wad læt-ye kæn o 'd, an, caa' on-ye tui bye 'd
afuore the reasidænters, an' afuore the ælders ŏ oor toons-fuok. Yf (y)e're gaan'-a--
bye'd bàk, dui-seae but yf (y)e dynna ættle tui bye'd up, thàn tæll-mey, an' aa'll
bye'd bàk, for ther' neane tui bye'd bàk but yuw, an' mey æfter (y)e." An' hey
says, "Aa'll bye 'd." Thàn says Boaz, "But meynd, the day ăt (y)e bye the feild off
the haand ŏ Naaomie, (y)e'll hæ-tui-bye'd tui fræ Ruith the Moabeyte wumman,
the weyfe ŏ hym at's geane, tui keip up the neame ŏ the deid ynna the ayrskep."
An' the neist ŏ kyn said, "Thàn aa cànna bye'd for masel', for feir aa spoyle ma
ayn ayrskep; (y)ee'd bætter bye up ma reycht fòr (y)eir-sel, fòr aa cànna bye'd."
Nuw, the way thay uist-tui dui î the days ŏ aald ynna Yzrel, anænt byein', an'
anænt cowpin', for tui meake aa-thyng syccar, was thys: a màn puw'd òff 'ys
schui, an' gæ'd tui hys neiber; an' thys was the seyne ăt a bàrgain was meade, yn
Yzrel. Seae the neist o' kyn said tui Boaz, "Bye'd for (y)eir-sæl," an' he puw'd
òff hyz schui.
An' Boaz said tui the ælders an' tui aa' the fuok, "(Y)e're aa' wutnessis thys
day, ăt aa've bowcht aa' ăt was Eleimelek's, an' aa' ăt was Cheilion's an'
Mauwchlen's, òff the haand ŏ Naaomie. An' Ruith the Moabeytess tui, ăt was
Mauwchlon's weyfe, aa've bowcht tui bey maa weyfe, tui keip up the neame ĭ the
deid ower hys ayrskep, ăt the neame ŏ hym ăt's geane bynna luost fræ mang 'ys
kyn, an' fræ the puorts ŏ hys ayn toon; (y)e 're aa' wutnesses, the-day!" An' aa
the fuok ăt was aboot the puort, an' the ælders, said, "Wey're wutnessis: mæ the
Loard meake the wumman at's cumman' ynta (y)eir hooss, leyke Ræychel an' leyke
Leaäh, the tweae ăt byggit up the hooss ŏ Yzrel; an' mæ (y)ee dui weill yn
Eaphraatah an' bey faimus ynna Bæthlem. An' mæ yuwr hooss bey leyke the
hooss ŏ Phaarez ăt Taamar hæd tui Jeuwdah, wui the bairns ăt the Loard gie's
(y)e fræ thys wumman."
Seae Boaz tuik Ruith, an' schui was hys weyfe; an' æfter thay war mairriet,
schui turnt wui bairn, an' schui buir 'ym a sun. An' the wuimein said tui
Naaomie; "Blyssin's tui the Loard ăt hæsna læft-(y)e the day, athoot eane ŏ (y)eir
ayn, ăt 'ys neame mæ bey faimus yn Izrael. An' hey'll meake-ye leive (y)eir
leyfe ower agean leyke, an' hey'll teake cayr o'ye quhan (y)e're aald, for (y)eir
guid-dowchter hes gie'n byrth tui 'm, ăt leykes ye seae weill, an' 's bætter tui-ye
ăz seiven suns." An' Naaomie tuik the bairn, an' laid it ynna hyr buosem, an'
schui was a nurse tyl 't. An' hyr neiber wuimein gæ'd a neame, an' said,
"T'her's a sun buorn tui Naaomie; an' thay caa'd hys neame Obed; an' thys
was the faither ŏ Jesse, an' the gràn' faither ŏ Daavyt.
Thyr's the genòligies ŏ Phaarez; Phaarez gàt Heazron, an' Heazron gat Ram,
an' Ram gàt Aminadab, an' Aminadab gàt Nachshon, an' Nachshon gàt Saalmon,
an' Saalmon gàt Boaz. An' Boaz gàt Obed, Obed gàt Jesse, an' Jesse gàt
This air, referred to at p. 18, is here given, accompanied by a verse of the modern ballad.
Sco-tia felt thine ire, O O-din! On the blood-y field of Flod-den;
There our fa-thers fell with honour, Round their king and country's banner.
Týr-hæb-us ye Týr-ye O-din, Sons of he-roes slain at Flod-den,
Im-i-tat-ing Border Bowmen, Aye de-fend your Rights and Common


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The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland

Document Information

Document ID 158
Title The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland
Year group 1850-1900
Genre Orthoepists
Year of publication 1873
Wordcount 118258

Author information: Murray, Sir James Augustus Henry

Author ID 243
Title Sir
Forenames James Augustus Henry
Surname Murray
Gender Male
Year of birth 1837
Place of birth Denholm, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Occupation Lexicographer
Other languages spoken Latin, French, German, Italian, Classical Greek
Religious affiliation Congregational Church