Introduction

The Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) comprises electronic versions of the two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language: the 12-volume Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary (SND) with its two supplements (1976 and 2005). more

The Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) comprises electronic versions of the two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language: the 12-volume Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary (SND) with its two supplements (1976 and 2005). Each of these was a monumental work of scholarship published over a period of some decades in the 20th century. DOST contains information about Scots words in use from the twelfth to the end of the seventeenth century (Older Scots); and SND covers the period from the eighteenth century to the present day (Modern Scots). These are the most comprehensive dictionaries available for, respectively, Older Scots and Modern Scots, and are therefore essential research tools for anyone interested in the history of either Scots or English language, and for historical or literary scholars whose sources are written in Scots or may contain Scots usages.

In the DSL, these two dictionaries are published together in their full form. Thus, information on the earliest uses of Scots words is presented alongside examples of the later development and, in some cases, current usage of the same words. In this way, we hope that the DSL will allow users to appreciate the continuity and historical development of the Scots language. By making the DSL freely available online, it was also the aim to widen access to the source dictionaries and to open up these rich lexicographic resources to anyone with an interest in Scots language and culture.

DSL represents twenty-two volumes of printed text and contains more than eighty thousand full-word entries. Each entry traces the chronological and semantic development of a Scots word, and gives details of orthographic variants, grammatical inflections, derivative words and phrases, and etymological history. The words and terms defined in the DSL are illustrated by quotations drawn from over six thousand sources, covering a wide range of subject areas within Scottish culture and history. Many of the modern Scots words are also illustrated by evidence from oral sources, and include information on phonological and dialectal variation.

We hope that everyone who dips into the Dictionary of the Scots Language will find something that interests them and brings them back. There is a great deal of delight, as well as information, to be found in the DSL: in the headwords themselves, in the illustrations drawn from seven centuries of Scots literature, in the quoted speech of hundreds of Scots speakers, and in the definitions honed by teams of Scots lexicographers over almost a century. less

The current project

After the launch of the original version of DSL in 2004, it was envisaged that a second phase of the project would follow. Due to lack of funding, phase 2 did not proceed immediately, but thanks to the granting of core funding by the Scottish Government, Scottish Language Dictionaries were later able to tackle an upgrade of DSL – our current project, DSL2. more

After the launch of the original version of DSL in 2004, it was envisaged that a second phase of the project would follow. Due to lack of funding, phase 2 did not proceed immediately, but thanks to the granting of core funding by the Scottish Government, Scottish Language Dictionaries were later able to tackle an upgrade of DSL – our current project, DSL2. Our priorities were:

  1. to improve the functionality, such as the search facility and navigation between entries;
  2. to redesign the website to make it clearer and easier to use, which will also make it more accessible to a general readership;
  3. to create a robust underlying framework for ongoing maintenance and updating, to keep pace with changes in a living language.

The current version of the site is the result of this upgrade. Although much work remains to be done, we have:

  • updated the appearance and usability of the site
  • improved the search facility - see Using DSL for the options available
  • linked the vast majority of the cross-references to the correct destination entry, rather than merely carrying out a new search
  • linked the vast majority of the quotations to the appropriate listing in the relevant bibliography.

As work continues, we will keep everyone advised of progress via this site.

Acknowledgements

The DSL2 Project Team includes Peter Bell, Ann Ferguson, Brian Aitken, Eileen Finlayson, Alison Grant and Pauline Cairns Speitel.

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The history of DSL

The original project to create the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL1) was based at the University of Dundee in Scotland and was funded largely by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board. This three-year project began in February, 2001 and was completed in January, 2004. more

[The content of this section has been adapted from the ‘About the DSL’ section of the original website, by Susan Rennie.]

The creation of DSL

The original project (DSL1) was based at the University of Dundee in Scotland and was funded largely by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board. This three-year project began in February, 2001 and was completed in January, 2004.

The source data for the DSL was made available to the project in a variety of formats: print only, word-processed files with typesetting codes, and SGML text files. During the course of the DSL1 project, all parts of this data were fully digitised, collated and converted into a single format.

The bulk of the data (all ten volumes of SND plus the first five volumes of DOST) was available only in printed form. These sections were captured using digital scanning followed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) processing, carried out at the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at Queen's University, Belfast, and were later proofread and otherwise checked for errors by members of the DSL1 project staff.

Structured markup was then added throughout the text in the form of eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) tags. These identify the lexicographical function of particular parts of the text and so allow refined searching on these features. In the initial stages, most of the markup was added automatically by running macros in Microsoft® Word. Thereafter, extensive error checks were run and the final files were parsed with XML tools developed by the Language Technology Group at the University of Edinburgh.

Scots is a living language and, although the examples of modern Scots in the printed volumes of SND only date as far as the publication of its final part in 1976, work continued after that on collecting information on Scots usage. In 2005 an online supplement to SND, which incorporates more recent research, was published by Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd (successors to the Scottish National Dictionary Association and the Joint Council for the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue).

Acknowledgements

The original project team included the late Viktor Skretcowicz, Susan Rennie, William Aitken, Grant Cunningham and Frances Phillips, plus a team of proofreaders, keyers and volunteer testers.

In addition to the grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board under the Resource Enhancement Scheme, partnership funding was also provided by Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd and the Russell Trust. In addition, the project incorporated work from a pilot scheme to create an electronic Scottish National Dictionary (SND), which was funded by grants from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Finally, the DSL could not have been created without the work of the many lexicographers who compiled the source dictionaries which it contains. The names of those who contributed to the creation of DOST and SND are listed in the Preliminary materials of the source dictionaries. less