History of Scots to 1700

Abbreviations and conventions

References to counties in Scotland and England are to the pre-1974 counties.

The following conventions are used in discussing sounds and spellings:

< > brackets enclose graphemes (letters and combinations of letters, the latter often digraphs, i.e. combinations of two letters, such as <ch>) and spellings of words;

/ / brackets enclose phonemes (crudely, the sounds corresponding to graphemes, see below);

[ ] brackets enclose phonetic realisations (the fine details of pronunciation not usually relevant to spelling).

C stands for 'any consonant'.

V stands for 'any vowel'.

The symbols used are those specified by the International Phonetic Association (IPA). See Figures i-iii. In addition to those in the figures, the following symbols are used:

ʍa consonant, a voiceless labio-velar fricative, as at the beginning of where

wa consonant, a voiced labio-velar approximant, as at the beginning of wear

ʧa consonant, a voiceless affricate, as at the beginning of char

ʤa consonant, a voiced affricate, as at the beginning of jar

and the following diacritics:

the consonant is syllabic, as /n/ in heaven

the consonant is dental

the normally voiced consonant is devoiced

the vowel is raised

the vowel is lowered

ε̈the vowel is centralised (i.e. backed in the case of a front vowel, fronted in the case of a back vowel)

i:the vowel is long

the normally non-rounded vowel is partly rounded.

A vowel or /j/ written as a superscript after a vowel is an off-glide from that vowel, i.e. a sound that the vowel shades into towards the end of its duration.

A stressed syllable can be indicated thus: contents /'kɔntεnts/ n.pl., /kən'tεnts/ v. The stressed element of a diphthong can be indicated thus: [íu].

The following symbols are traditionally used with PreSc/ME spellings to indicate pronunciation:

ăthe vowel is short

āthe vowel is long (OE)

áthe vowel is long (ON)

the vowel is raised

ęthe vowel is lowered.

Figure i: Consonants

Figure ii: Non-rounded vowels

Figure iii: Rounded vowels


ANAnglo Norman
CFCentral French
EModEEarly Modern English
EScEarly Scots
EScandEast Scandinavian
GVSGreat Vowel Shift
HOCLHomorganic Cluster Lengthening
LGLow German
MDuMiddle Dutch
MEMiddle English
MFMiddle French
MLGMiddle Low German
ModEModern English
ModScModern Scots
ModStEModern Standard English
MScMiddle Scots
NENorth East
nECnorthern East Central
nMEnorthern Middle English
OEOld English
OFOld French
OIrOld Irish
ONOld Norse
ONhbOld Northumbrian
OScOlder Scots
OSLOpen Syllable Lengthening
OWScandOld West Scandinavian
PreStEPre-Standard English
ScStEScottish Standard English
sECsouthern East Central
sMEsouthern Middle English
StEStandard English
SVLRScottish Vowel-Length Rule
SWSouth West
WCWest Central
WSWest Saxon
WScandWest Scandinavian

Macafee, Caroline and †Aitken, A. J. (2002) ‘A history of Scots to 1700’ in A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue vol. XII, xxix-clvii. Online http://dsl.ac.uk/about-scots/history-of-scots/abbreviations/