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


Abd Aberdeen
AN Anglo Norman
Angl Anglian
Arg Argyll
CF Central French
Cmb Cumbria
Dmf Dumfriesshire
Du Dutch
EModE Early Modern English
ESc Early Scots
EScand East Scandinavian
F French
f/c forthcoming
Flem Flemish
G German
Gael Gaelic
Gr Greek
GVS Great Vowel Shift
HOCL Homorganic Cluster Lengthening
It Italian
L Latin
LG Low German
LV l-vocalisation
MDu Middle Dutch
ME Middle English
MF Middle French
MLG Middle Low German
ModE Modern English
ModSc Modern Scots
ModStE Modern Standard English
MSc Middle Scots
NE North East
nEC northern East Central
nME northern Middle English
OE Old English
OF Old French
OIr Old Irish
ON Old Norse
ONhb Old Northumbrian
OSc Older Scots
OSL Open Syllable Lengthening
OWScand Old West Scandinavian
Port Portuguese
PreSc Pre-Scots
PreStE Pre-Standard English
Scand Scandinavian
ScStE Scottish Standard English
sEC southern East Central
sME southern Middle English
Sp Spanish
StE Standard English
SVLR Scottish Vowel-Length Rule
SW South West
WC West Central
WS West Saxon
WScand West 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 https://dsl.ac.uk/about-scots/history-of-scots/abbreviations/