History of Scots to 1700

History of Scots to 1700

6. Phonology

Vowels §§1-30 – AJA ed. CM
Consonants §31 – CM

This section up to §6.30 is a summary, revised for the purposes of this Introduction, of Aitken (2002) on the vowel phonology of OSc, to which the reader is referred for rhyme and spelling evidence and for a more detailed exposition with many more examples. At a few points, comments by myself as editor that appear in the notes in the original are incorporated. As yet, no-one has attempted a similarly full treatment of the consonants, but I have added a few remarks in §6.31 – CM.

6.1 Vowel systems and sources

As the starting point for the history of the Scots stressed vowels we take late OE: see Figure 7.
Figure 8 shows the values assumed for ESc.

The main sources of the ESc vowels are listed below (for a fuller treatment, see Aitken, 2002).

Vowel 1, ESc /i:/

  • OE, ON ī, ȳ: e.g. bite, myre;
  • OE i before /ld/: e.g. wild (see §6.3.1);
  • OE y (rarely i) before /nd/: e.g. kind (see §6.3.1);
  • OE ī, ĭ, ȳ, ў: e.g. nine, dry;
  • OE suffix ī, -ĭ in e.g. haly adj.; OE suffix -līc, -līce, ON -líg, -líga, in e.g. frendly; OE ic > I;
  • after liquids, OE and ON [101] preceded by an epenthetic high vowel, e.g. bery v., belly (see §;
  • OF i in e.g. devide, cry, despite;
  • suffix -ie of OF origin: e.g. folie n.;
  • suffix -i, -y of OF origin: e.g. mercy.

Vowel 2, ESc /e:/

  • OE ē (WGmc ē): e.g. here adv.; ON é: e.g. sere ‘various’;
  • OE (Angl) ē (= WS ǣ1): e.g. schepe n., wete ‘wet’, dede n.1 ‘deed’, drede, mede n.3 ‘meadow’, rede v.1 ‘read’, threde, hele n.1 ‘heel’, ȝere ‘year’, hering ‘herring’, evin n.1 ‘evening’;
  • OE ē, ON œ́ , by i-mutation of earlier ō : e.g. kepe;
  • OE (Angl) ē (= WS īe), by i-mutation of Gmc au (OE ēa): e.g. eke v., nede n. ‘need’, here v. ‘hear’;
  • OE ēo, ON : e.g. lefe ‘dear’, ferde ‘fourth’, chese ‘choose’ (varying with chuse, from the rising diphthong), similarly ȝede varying with ȝude ‘went’;
  • OE ēa by ‘Anglian smoothing’: e.g. bekin ‘beacon’;
  • OE ē by lengthening of ĕ (ĕo): e.g. felde (see §6.3.1);
  • AN ē: e.g. clere ‘clear’, maintene, chere ‘cheer’, dangere;
  • AN ö: e.g. pepill, beif ‘beef’, quere ‘choir’, prefe ‘proof’, preve v.1 ‘prove’ (also prufe, pruve with Vowel 7), and similarly meve v. ‘move’;
  • L ē (from the L p.t.s exēmit, etc.) in exeme v.2 ‘exempt’, expreme ‘express’, redeme ‘redeem’;
  • PreSc ĭ with OSL: e.g. geve ‘give’ (from Scand giva, alongside variant with Vowel 3, from OE, ON ĕ), ceté ‘city’, menister (see §6.6);
  • OE i with ‘belated’ HOCL: e.g. chelde ‘child’ (see §6.3.1);
  • OF (L -ātem): e.g. bewte;
  • OF -ée (L -āta) (with doublets in Vowel 8): e.g. allye;
  • OE ǣ2 (i-mutation of earlier ā, Gmc ai) variably has Vowel 2 before the voiced alveolars /d, n, l, r/: e.g. brede n.2 ‘breadth’, sprede, clene, mene v.1 ‘intend’, mene v.2 ‘complain’, dele n. ‘deal, share’ (whereas dele v. has Vowel 3), lere ‘learn’, lede v. ‘lead’, hete n. ‘heat’, swete v. ‘sweat’, and the suffix -hede. It is conceivable that these inconsistencies (and likewise Vowel 3, below, from ǣ1) stem from dialect mixing in the AN period (see §2.3.3);
  • OE ēa also yields Vowel 2 variants: e.g. bene ‘bean’, lepe v.1 ‘leap’, eith ‘easily’.

Vowel 3, ESc /ε:/

Vowel 3 does not occur word-finally.

  • PreSc ĕ with OSL: e.g. (from OE) ete ‘eat’, geve ‘give’, hevin ‘heaven’; (from ON) neve ‘fist’; (from OF) were n.1 ‘war’ (see §6.6);
  • OF ĕ before the palatal consonants, in e.g. fenȝe ‘feign’ (see §6.11);
  • OE ēa: e.g. OSc bete v.2 ‘beat’;
  • OE ǣ2: e.g. quhete ‘wheat’, blese ‘blaze’; also ON ǽ in sete ‘seat’;
  • OE ǣ1: e.g. rede n.1 ‘counsel’, fere n.3 ‘fear’, brethe n.2 ‘breath’;
  • OF ē in ‘learned words’: e.g. repete ‘repeat’, remede ‘remedy’, concele, increse, creat;
  • AN ę̄ e.g. nete ‘neat’, lele ‘legal, loyal’; cheare ‘chair’. Pese n.2 ‘pease’, appears, from its ModSc outcomes, also to be from OF peis, not the cognate OE pise, L pisa. (Some other words in the same environments retained OF diphthongal ai, yielding PreSc /ai/ Vowel 8: e.g. pais n.2 ‘weight’, praise, laisere ‘leisure’, plait n. ‘pleat’, consait, dissait, ressait.)

Vowel 4, ESc /a:/

  • OE, ON ā, in e.g. hate ‘hot’, stane ‘stone’;
  • OE, ON ă with HOCL; e.g. aynd ‘breath’, wame ‘belly’ (see §6.3.1);
  • PreSc /a/ with OSL: e.g. (from OE, ON, MDu, Gaelic) make, gate n.1 ‘road’, craig ‘neck’ (s.v. crag n.2), craig ‘crag’ (s.v. crag n.1); (from OF, L) able, -able suffix; (with shifted stress) mater ‘matter’; also before palatal consonants, in e.g. falȝe ‘fail’ (see §§6.6, 6.11);
  • The suffix -ale, from L -ālis, as in bestiale, etc., sometimes rhymes as Vowel 4, as well as, more frequently, as Vowel 17, -all.

Vowel 5, ESc /o̞:/

  • PreSc /o̞/ (chiefly from OE, ON ŏ and from OF, AN, and L o) with OSL: e.g. (from OE, ON) hope v. and n.1, thole v., dother ‘daughter’ (beside dochter, with Vowel 18); (from OF, L) cote n.1 ‘coat’, dispose, pover ‘poor’ (beside pure adj.2 Vowel 7) (see §6.6);
  • OF o, before single final consonant and /st/: e.g. close n. and adj., los n.1 ‘praise’, bost ‘boast’, host n.2 ‘army’, store;
  • PreSc /o̞/ lengthened before /rC/: e.g. port, force, and the place-name Forth.

Vowel 6, ESc /u:/

  • OE, ON ū: e.g. clout n.1 and v., cow n.1;
  • OE, ON ūf-: dow ‘dove’, schow v. ‘shove’;
  • OE, ON ūg-, ŭg-: e.g. bow v.1 ‘to bend’, drouth ‘drought’;
  • OE ŭ with HOCL before /nd/ (with doublets in Vowel 19): e.g. ground (see §6.3.1);
  • OF, AN u: e.g. croun; and, with retained stress, the final syllables of e.g. baroun, cullour ‘colour’, jelous;
  • OF in dour (L dūrus);
  • MDu ū in spout v.1, MDu, MLG ū in stouk n.1, MLG ō in stoup n.1 ‘drinking vessel’;
  • OE ŭ after w > ū in (w)ouk ‘week’, (w)oull ‘wool’ (also (w)ou by l-vocalisation, see §6.23), s(w)ourd, woud ‘wood’ (beside wude, etc.); OE wi– > /wu-/ > /(w)u:/ in s(w)oum ‘swim’;
  • OE ŏg- after /w/ > ū in swoun ‘swoon’;
  • by-forms (wouk, woush, etc.) of PreSc /y:/ Vowel 7 following a labial consonant: e.g. woik p.t. of walk v.1 ‘wake’, wuisch p.t. of wesch v. ‘wash’, fusioun ‘foison, plenty’, mulde n.1;
  • ON ó > /u:/ in Orkney and Shetland (via Norn) in outhall ‘udal’.

Vowel 7, ESc /y:/

  • OE ō: e.g. gude ‘good’, do v.;
  • ON ó: e.g. lufe n.2 ‘palm of the hand’;
  • MDu, MLG ō: e.g. cuit ‘ankle’;
  • OE , treated as a rising diphthong: e.g. chuse v. , schute v.;
  • OE eōw: truith ‘truth’ (beside treuth Vowel 14a and trowth Vowel 13);
  • OE ŏ before /rd/, e.g. burde n.1 ‘board’ (see §6.3.1);
  • OF ō following a labial: e.g. bute n.2 ‘boot’, bro ‘broth’, fule ‘fool’, mulde n.1 ‘mould’, pure adj.2 ‘poor’;
  • PreSc /u̞/ by OSL > /o:/: e.g. dure ‘door’, lufe n.1 ‘love’, and before palatals e.g. tuilyie ‘brawl’, ulȝe ‘oil’ (see §§6.6, 6.11);
  • OF ǖ /y:/ (L ū): e.g. duke n.1, juge n. and v. (with variants in /u̞/ Vowel 19), -ude e.g. habitude;
  • OF üi: e.g. bruit ‘rumour’, fruit, June.

Vowel 8, ESc /ai/

  • OE, ON word-final and pre-consonantal ē, ǣ, ĕ, æ̆: e.g. hay, hain ‘enclose’, clay, day n.1 (see also §6.9.1);
  • ON ei, ey: e.g. ay ‘always’, graith ‘equip(ment)’, fey ‘doomed’; and the pronouns thay, thaim, thair (see §6.9.1);
  • AN ai: e.g. gay, obey;
  • in the suffix -ay, -a, from AN -eie, OF -ée, L -āta (with doublets in Vowel 2): e.g. allya ‘ally’, cuntray; ischa ‘egress’, journay;
  • also OF -eie, e.g. money; and OF -ai, e.g. verray ‘true’.

Vowel 9, ESc /o̞i/

  • OF or AN oi: e.g. joy, nois; also, with doublets in Vowel 5, croice n. ‘cross’, jois v. ‘enjoy’; and with variants also in Vowel 10, vois ‘voice’, void;
  • in boy n.1, of uncertain origin.

Vowel 10, ESc /ui/

  • AN ui: e.g. point n.1 and n.2, foisoun (beside fusioun Vowel 7), poison (beside pusoun Vowel 7);
  • from MDu: doit n.1 ‘the small Dutch coin’, hoy ‘the type of boat’.

Vowel 11, ESc /e:i/ > /e:/ Vowel 2

  • The only source is ē before a vowel, e.g. drey ‘to endure’, hey ‘high’ (see §

Vowel 12, ESc /au/

  • OE, ON āw(-) and pre-vocalic ăw-, āg-, ăg-: e.g. OSc knaw v.1 ‘know’, awin ‘own’, law n.1 (see §;
  • OE (Angl) ald /ald/, lengthened to OE āld /a:ld/, with 14th century breaking to /auld/ (see §6.13);
  • early PreSc a before h /x/: e.g. lauch v. ‘laugh’ (see §;
  • OF au: e.g. baume ‘balm’;
  • AN [ɑ:] before nasal combinations: e.g. graund ‘grand’, chaumer ‘chamber’, daunger ‘danger’ (see §6.12);

Vowel 13, ESc /o̞u/

  • OE ōw(-): e.g. grow v.1 (see §;
  • OE, ON pre-vocalic ŏg-: e.g. bow n.1 ‘the weapon’ (see §;
  • OWScand au: e.g. gowk ‘cuckoo’;
  • OF ou /o̞u/: e.g. cowp v.1 ‘to overturn’;
  • OE (Angl) ăld /ald/, lengthened to OE āld /a:ld/, with 14th century breaking to /o̞uld/ (see §6.13);
  • early PreSc /o/ before h /x/, e.g. douchter beside dochter ‘daughter’ (see §;
  • OE o + f [v], vocalised in PreSc: in owre ‘over’.

Vowel 14a, PreSc /i:u/ and /e:u/ > ESc /i:u/

The sources of /e:u/ are:

  • OE ēow: e.g. brēowan ‘to brew’ > brew;
  • probably also OE ĭw-, in sĭwan ‘to sew’ > sew, with PreSc /iw-/ > /e:w-/ by OSL;
  • OF eu: e.g. OF bleu ‘blue’ > blew, AN jeuel, > jewell etc.

PreSc coalesced, apparently by the late 13th century, with /i:u/ from the following sources:

  • OE īw- in OE spīwan ‘to spew’ > spewe and, with puzzling re-analysis and thus re-syllabification of the compound, OE stiward > stīward ‘steward’ > stewart;
  • OF iu < earlier OF eu: e.g. griu ‘Greek’ > Grew.

Additional sources augmenting the merged Vowel 14a are:

  • OE /o:ɣV(C)/: e.g. enew;
  • in Northern, /o:r(d)/: e.g. mure n., burde n.;
  • OE ō before /k, x/; e.g. heuk, eneuch;
  • OF -ǖ(-): e.g. crewel, cruel.

Vowel 14b, early PreSc [ε:u] > ESc /ε:u/ and /εo̞u/ (see §

  • OE ēaw(-), ǣw(-), > early ME and early PreSc /ε:w-/ and /ε:u/, e.g. dew n.1, schew ‘show’ (beside schaw from sc(e)āwian, with shifted diphthongal stress), sleuth n.1 ‘sloth’;
  • OF eau: e.g. bewté.

Vowel 15, ESc /ɪ/

  • OE, ON ĭ, ў: e.g. bid, big v.1 ‘build’;
  • late OE ĭ, variant of ĕ before -ht: e.g. ficht, hicht n.2 ‘promise’;
  • OE ĭ, ў + nd: e.g. bind, pind v. ‘impound’ (see §6.3.1);
  • OE, ON ī, ȳ shortened: e.g. hiddillis ‘hiding’ (see §6.3);
  • OF ĭ: e.g. riche.

Vowel 16, ESc /ε/

  • OE, ON ĕ, ĕo: e.g. fecht ‘fight’, cleg ‘horse-fly’;
  • OF e: e.g. det ‘debt’;
  • OE æ̆,ĕa before alveolars and dentals: e.g. esch ‘ash tree’, blether ‘bladder’, bres ‘brass’, creddil ‘cradle’, erse ‘arse’, festin ‘fasten’, gef p.t. ‘gave’ (s.v. gef), gether ‘gather’ (SND s.v. gaither), gled adj. ‘glad’, gles ‘glass’, gres ‘grass’, helter ‘halter’, ledder n.1 ‘ladder’, mes n.1 ‘mass, the religious service’, peth ‘path’, Setterday, wesch ‘wash’.

Vowel 17, ESc /a/

  • OE (Angl) æ̆, ă, ON ă: e.g. sad, lang adj.1;
  • OF and AN a: e.g. catale ‘cattle’;
  • in the early PreSc combination elgV(C) > /εl(o)wV(C)/: fallow ‘fellow’, ȝallow ‘yellow’, swallow v.

Vowel 18, ESc /ǫ/

  • OE, ON ŏ: e.g. hollin ‘holly’, toft n.1;
  • OE, ON ō shortened: e.g. thocht, oxter ‘armpit’ (see §6.3);
  • OF o: joly.

Vowel 19, ESc /u̞/

  • OE, ON ŭ: e.g. burch ‘burgh’, bus ‘bush’;
  • OE ŭ before /nd/ and /ŋg/ (with doublets in Vowel 6): e.g. grund ‘ground’ (see §6.3.1);
  • OF tonic u in closed syllables (varying with Vowel 6 outcomes): e.g. nummer ‘number’;
  • OF countertonic u: e.g. bucket, buttoun, cullour ‘colour’, supper.

6.2 Preliterary Scots: General

The phonological development of Scots in the PreSc period largely shadowed that of ME generally. So PreSc shared in such developments as the smoothing of OE diphthongs and the subsequent creation of new diphthongs by native processes, supplemented by borrowings from ON, OF and other external sources. Likewise it shared in general in the succession of lengthenings and shortenings of vowels which so strikingly modified the lexical distributions of vowel sounds between OE and ME/ESc.[102] Here we will concentrate on those changes in which PreSc (mostly together with nME) followed a different path from sME or, more often, differed in detail in the outcomes of shared trends. In either case the effect was a wide difference between the Northern and the Midland-Southern dialects in the lexical distributions of (mostly shared) vowel phonemes.

Older Scots was highly tolerant of doublets and variants, as we have seen. Many of the sound-changes discussed below resulted not in the replacement of an old form, but in the creation of an additional option. In the modern dialects some of the individual members of these variant sets are separately distributed between dialects. In many cases their dialect distribution in OSc is much less evident, in the present state of knowledge.

6.3 Vowel shortenings and lengthenings of the OE period

Below we list the succession of vowel shortenings and lengthenings in OE:

  • Pre-Cluster Shortening I (6th – 7th century): e.g. OE grēttra > grĕttre > OSc gretter /′grεtɪr/ (s.v. gret adj.);
  • Trisyllabic Shortening I (6th – 7th century): e.g. OE hlāfmæsse > hlăfmesse > OSc lammes ‘Lammas’;
  • Homorganic Cluster Lengthening (9th century): for examples, see below;
  • Pre-Cluster Shortening II (11th century): e.g. OE fīfta > fĭfte > OSc fift;
  • Trisyllabic Shortening II (11th century): e.g. OE sūðerne > sŭðerne > OSc southern.

6.3.1 Homorganic Cluster Lengthening

We shall look more closely at Homorganic Cluster Lengthening (HOCL), as there are differences between nME and sME with regard to these changes. Homorganic clusters are sequences of a sonorant consonant followed by a plosive articulated at the same point with the same tongue configuration.

Before /ld/

  • PreSc shared the general lengthening of OE ĭ and ĕ, e.g. OE wĭlde > wīlde > wild; OE fĕld > fēld > felde.
  • Unlike sME, PreSc has some lengthening of ŏ in this environment, e.g. OE mŏlde ‘soil’ > mōlde > mulde n.1, Vowel 7, along with an unlengthened doublet mold n.1, Vowel 18; but not e.g. fold n.1.
  • On the lengthening of Anglian a + ld and its development to auld and owld, see §6.13.
  • The sequence -uld is largely lacking in OE; but sculde ‘should’ fails to lengthen, giving suld (s.v. sall aux. v.).

Before /nd/

  • For the most part PreSc does not show lengthening of ĭ before /nd/, so Vowel 15 in blind, etc.; but lengthening, yielding Vowel 1, in e.g. kind.
  • As in sME, ĕ does not usually show lengthening before /nd/, e.g. bend; but lengthening did occur for instance in OE gehĕnde ‘handy’ > heynd, OE lĕndan ‘to land’ > leynd ‘to dwell’ (alongside unlengthened lend).
  • PreSc does not usually show lengthening of OE ă before /nd/, thus hand, etc.; but lengthening did occur in ON ănde ‘breath’ > aynd; OE făndian ‘to test’ > faynde; OE sănd ‘messenger’ > saynde.
  • OE ŭ lengthened to /u:/ before /nd/, yielding Vowel 6, in stound ‘a while’, sound adj., sound n.1 ‘swim bladder’, and wound n.; but with unlengthened doublets in Vowel 19, in e.g. bound and bund, bundin, p.p.; found and fund, fundin, p.p.; ground n. and grund; houndreth and hundreth. The DOST record appears to indicate that for most items the unlengthened forms were more frequent in OSc.

Before /mb/

  • ĭ before /mb/ shows no lengthening: cf. e.g. clim ‘climb’.
  • ŭ before /mb/ shows no lengthening: e.g. clumbin p.p. of clim ‘climb’.
  • As in sME, OE ă before /mb/ > /a:/ Vowel 4: e.g. kame ‘comb’; but not e.g. clam p.t. of clim ‘climb’.

Before ng /ŋg/

As in sME, there is not usually lengthening in PreSc in this environment: e.g. bring, sang, hung. But note MSc laing with Vowel 4, a less common and later variant of lang; and OSc doungin, doung with Vowel 6, a well-attested though less common variant of dungin, dung, p.p. of ding ‘to beat’, and heingit (late 16th century) beside regular hingit p.p. of hing v. ‘to hang’ < ON hengja. [103]

Before /rd/

  • OE æ (ea) in OE beard yielded Vowel 3, thus beird ‘beard’.
  • OE e in e.g. breird ‘first shoots’ and eird ‘earth’ yielded Vowel 2 /e:/, according to the rhyme evidence.
  • OE ŏ lengthened to /o:/ before /rd/, ultimately yielding Vowel 7 in e.g. OE bŏrd ‘board’ > bōrd > burde n.1 ‘board’.

The lengthened vowel in e.g. yaird (s.v. ȝarde) < OE eard and hairns beside harnis ‘brains’ is of later (14th century) origin (see §6.14.1).

Other clusters

The homorganic clusters /rn/ and /rl/ perhaps did not cause lengthening in PreSc (any more than in English). In most cases with lengthened vowels in these environments there are other explanations. Cairn, like baird ‘bard’ and kaird ‘tinker’ (s.v. kard n.2), had /a:/ by derivation from Gaelic /a:/ (Pődör, 1995/6: 183); on bairn ‘child’, and eirle beside erl ‘earl’, see §6.6.1.

6.4 Backing and rounding of OE, ON ā in sME

Vowel 4, OE and ON ā /ɑ:/ in e.g. hām ‘home’ > hame n.1, remained common to all dialects of early ME till about 11th – 12th century. By that date, however, in sME it had probably become rounded to something like [ɑ̫:]. In the 13th century there accrued to both these dialects a body of vocabulary containing the sound [a:], from OF ā, in e.g. cās /ka:s/ > case n.1 and by OSL of OE and OF ă in e.g. nāme /na:mə/ > name (see §6.6.1). These joined Vowel 4 in the north, now evidently fronted from its late OE realisation. Meantime in sME the [ɑ̫:] diaphone had undergone raising to something like [ɔ̞:], quite distinct from the newly introduced [a:]. In this way sME acquired a new low, back round phoneme /ɔ̞:/.

Around this time both PreSc and sME acquired a new low to mid back round phoneme, of rather closer quality than /ɔ̞:/, here represented as /o̞:/, arising from OF ǭ, in e.g. store /sto̞:r/ ‘store’ < OF estǭr, and by OSL (see §6.6.1) of OF ŏ in e.g. rose giving /ro̞:zə/. In the precursor of StE, the other new low back phoneme, /ɔ̞:/ in home, etc., merged with this, as /o̞:/.

Thus in the outcome both these major dialects achieved the same or a similar pair of phonemes, /a:/ and /o̞:/, but derived from distinct combinations of sources, and thus with different, though overlapping, lexical distributions. Hence in Scots, Vowel 4 as in hame ‘home’ is much more lexically prolific than is Vowel 5 as in rose, whereas in StE this position is reversed.

6.5 Short Vowel Lowering

In the interval between the latest of the OE vowel shortenings (11th century) and OSL (13th century), a fundamental readjustment of the short-long vowel oppositions took place. It is easiest to see this as a general lowering by one height of the old short vowels, as shown in Figure 9 (Lass, 1992: 48). In this new situation Vowel 15 /ɪ/ lengthens to Vowel 2 /e:/, not Vowel 1 /i:/ as in OE, Vowel 7 /o:/ shortens to Vowel 19 /u̞/, not Vowel 18 /o̞:/ as in OE, and so on. But the situation in this respect of Vowels 4 and 17 (which were already fully low) is unchanged, except for the addition of the inventory of OE /æ/ to that of /a/, and the fact that ă and ā, back vowels in OE, have now joined the front vowel system.

6.6 Open Syllable Lengthening

The 13th century sound-change known as Open Syllable Lengthening (OSL) lengthened short vowels in open (i.e. ending in a vowel) stressed syllables when followed by an unstressed syllable.

6.6.1 The non-high vowels /e/, /a/, /o̞/

In PreSc, as in ME, lengthening was all but invariable in environment (1):

environment (1) /-Cə# (as in bere n.1 ‘bear, the animal’),

but considerably less frequent in environment (2):

environment (2) /-CVC# (as in hadok),

/-Ci# (as in body).[104]

Some words that do undergo lengthening in environment (2) include PreSc /′wε:zəl/ ‘weasel’ (implied by such forms as quhaisill, waizel: see §6.25.2), draigon; waitter ‘water’; seivine ‘seven’; and PreSc /′sε:kund/ is implied by ModSc /′sekənt/ ‘second’.

Before clusters /rn/ and /rl/ lengthening may have been due in some cases not to Pre-Cluster Lengthening but to OSL before an epenthetic vowel forming a second syllable. These epenthetic vowels are well attested in MSc spellings, e.g. <baren, bairen, beirin, etc.> for bairn ‘child’ and <eryl, eryll, erell, earill> for eirle, Vowel 3 variant of erle.

Some unlengthened forms are explicable as due to uninflected beside inflected forms, e.g. graff beside grave, coll beside cole ‘coal’ < OE col. More puzzling are many verbs such as haf and have, mak and make, brek and breke, stell and stele ‘to steal’, and other words in which unstressed final -e was part of the stem, e.g. den beside dene ‘valley’ < OE denu (cf. StE dean), dell beside dele ‘deal, the wood’ < MDu dele, clok beside cloke ‘cloak’ < OF cloke, cot beside cote ‘coat’ < OF cote, throt beside throte ‘throat’ < OE <þ>rote, <þ>rotu, as if in these words final -e had been lost before OSL; but the textual evidence does not seem to support this.

6.6.2 The high vowels /ɪ/ and /u̞/

With these vowels, which are believed to have lengthened later than the non-high vowels, environment (2) seems to be just as susceptible to lengthening as environment (1).

Lengthening of /ɪ/

Environment (1): e.g. geve and gif < ON gifa; steek and stick ‘stitch’ < OE stice.

Environment (2): e.g. bissy and besy; mekill and mikel ‘mickle’; littill and leitell < OE *lytel, shortened in inflected forms from lȳtel (from which OSc lytil, lyitill, etc., with Vowel 1); and from OF: cité and ceté.

It appears that the degemination of long consonants came too late to admit to OSL conditions such items as bid < OE biddan and clip v.1 < ON klippa. But a number of disyllabic words apparently similarly disqualified from OSL, show occasional spellings in <e, ei>, e.g. <meidle> middil ‘middle’.

OSL is normally a phenomenon of penultimate stressed syllables. In Scots, however, a substantial body of mots savants of MF origin apparently operated OSL on original OF countertonic i in antepenultimate open syllables with fronted stress, which yielded PreSc /e:/ Vowel 2, e.g. minister and meinister; and nouns in -itioun, e.g. condition and condecioun. (On the separate treatment of MF tonic i /i:/ in 15th century Scots, see §6.17.)

Lengthening of /u̞/

Vowel 19 /u̞/ lengthened in the same environments to [o:]. The outcome of this shares the subsequent history of /o:/ from OE, ON ō and of OF /y:/, yielding ESc Vowel 7 /y:/ (see §6.10).

Environment (1): e.g. lufe n.1 ‘love’ < OE lufu; muve ‘move’< OF muveir.

Environment (2): e.g. abune, abuve, abuif < ME abufan; une ‘oven’ < OE ofen; guitter ‘gutter’ < AN gutere.

In other cases this lengthening fails, e.g. cum v., huny ‘honey’, nut, bullet. For later variants in /ɪ/ Vowel 15 (hinnie, nit, etc.), see §6.18.

6.7 Miscellaneous PreSc forms with unexpected short vowels

OSc contained a number of distinctive present tense verb-forms in short /ε/ Vowel 16, alongside sME forms with the long vowel /ε:/. Some of these were by ‘failure’ of OSL such as unlengthened doublets of the verbs brek (beside lengthened breke Vowel 3), spek ‘speak’, get ‘get’. Others were back-formations from weak p.t.s and p.p.s with geminated consonants, such as sned v. ‘lop branches of a tree’ (PreSc p.t. snǣdde > snĕdde). A similar case is het adj. ‘hot’ (OE gehǣtt, p.p. of hǣtan ‘to heat’).[105] More puzzling are words such as ȝett v. beside ȝete (OE ᵹēotan strong verb), let v. ‘permit’ (OE lǣtan strong verb), also lat (ON láta).

6.8 Shortenings of PreSc /e:/ and /o:/

Some of the shortenings of ME and PreSc /e:/ to /ɪ/ and /o:/ to /u̞/ known in StE are missing from Scots. For instance, the regular Scots form for ‘sick’ is seek with Vowel 2. Likewise the regular Scots representations of OE blōd and flōd are bluid and fluid Vowel 7, not Vowel 19 as in StE. However, the following display shortening subsequent to Short Vowel Lowering:

  • Vowel 15: hicht n.1 /hɪxt/ ‘height’ < OE hēhþu; licht n.1 < OE lēoht; lipper n.1 < lēper Vowel 2 < OF lēpre ‘leprosy’; the ballad-word lilly (beside English liefly) < OE lēoflīc.
  • Vowel 19: futher, fudder ‘cart-load’ < OE fōðer; futt < OE fōt, beside the more widespread Vowel 7 and Vowel 15 forms; and, as in ME, OSc munth ‘month’ < OE mōnð.

6.9 New Diphthongs in -i and -u, especially those of native origin

PreSc shared in the late OE and early ME monophthonging of the OE diphthongs: ēo > ē; ĕo > ĕ, ēa > ǣ, ĕa > æ̆. As in sME, new diphthongs arose:

  • by adoption from external, mainly ON and OF, sources (see above). In most cases, loanwords containing these diphthongs already existed in the language before the creation of new diphthongs by native developments, which accordingly merged with them;
  • by development of the new native diphthongs out of various combinations of vowels + OE, ON (= palatal /j/ after front vowels), OE, ON g (= velar /ɣ/ after back vowels), or OE w, or in some cases OE h /x/. (When the vowels ī, ĭ were followed by or ū, ŭ by g or w, the outcome was, respectively, Vowel 1 long /i:/ or Vowel 6 long /u:/.)

6.9.1 ESc /ai/ Vowel 8

In addition to the sources listed in §6.1, it seems that, anomalously, after ĕ, intervocalic produced the same outcome: e.g. OE an > OSc wey ‘weigh’, OE *swĕan > OSc swey ‘sway’.

6.9.2 Vowels before OE word-final and pre-consonantal h /x/

In word-final and pre-consonantal environments where it was not in immediate contact with a preceding front vowel, OE g /ɣ/ was devoiced and merged with OE h /x/, e.g. OE swelg ‘whirlpool’ > swelch /swεlx/. This environment gives rise to diphthongs in the cases of a and o before /x/, e.g.:

OE āhte, earlier *āgte, p.t. of āgan v. ‘owe’ > aucht /auxt/; OE eahta ‘eight’ likewise > aucht; OE bōg ‘bough’ > beuch /bi:ux/; similarly OE hōh ‘heel’ > heuch n.1 ‘a precipice’. Vowels not undergoing diphthongisation

ESc differs from PreStE in preserving the following vowels before h(t) unchanged from OE:

  • e + h(t): e.g. fecht;
  • ē + h: e.g. OE hēh (with ‘Anglian smoothing’ from hēah) > heich ‘high’;
  • o + ht: e.g. OE þōhte, p.t. of þencan ‘think’ > þŏhte (by Pre-Cluster Shortening) > thocht;
  • ā + h: e.g. OE dāg > daich ‘dough’; and similarly ON lág-r > OSc laich ‘low’. In PreStE, ā > /ɔ̞:/ here as elsewhere (see §6.4). The regular ModSc outcome in this case is /e/, but in Southern Scots /iu/ or /ju/, apparently Vowel 14b(i). The latter outcome was more widespread in MSc, on the evidence of spellings. The diphthonging must have come about after ESc /a:/ Vowel 4 had been raised to /ε:/ by the GVS; the long vowel then developed a [u] glide onto the following velar, to yield /ε:u/ or /εu/, thus merging with Vowel 14b(i) and sharing its subsequent history (see § ă and ŏ before h /x/

As in sME, ă and in some dialects ŏ developed back-vowel glides onto /x/, yielding diphthongs /au/ and /o̞u/ respectively:

OE (Angl) hlæhhan > lauch ‘laugh’; OE dŏhtor > douchter /′do̞uxtər/, now found only in Insular and Southern Scots, beside more common dochter /′doxtər/ ‘daughter’.

6.9.3 With intervocalic g

In words that had final -h /x/ in OE uninflected forms, it appears that in new inflected forms such as hēahe, hēhe ‘high’, the intervocalic consonant was in PreSc voiced to /j/ after front vowels, /ɣ/ after back vowels. The outcomes were in some cases different from the earlier diphthongisations in final and pre-consonantal position. High front vowels before intervocalic

ī, ĭ + intervocalic /j/ resulted in ī /i:/ as in other environments: e.g. OE drȳe > OSc dry adj. ē before intervocalic

PreSc ē /e:/ followed by intervocalic /j/, yielded [e:j] > /e:i/ Vowel 11, which then smoothed to /e:/ Vowel 2, in e.g.:

OE drēoan > dre(y) ‘to endure’; OE ēae > e ‘eye’; and, apparently, by-forms of OE an ‘weigh’ > wee and *swĕan ‘sway’ > swee.

(In PreStE, there was a merger with [i:j], thus StE eye, etc.) The syllable division in these words fell between the stressed vowel and /j/, so conditions for diphthong-formation did not come about till after the loss of final -e or the vowel of -is. This explains how e ‘high’ (ModSc /hi:/) and ‘hay’ (ModSc /həi/) came to have such different outcomes. Likewise key has doublets from e or (OSc ke(y), ModSc /ki:/) and cǣᵹ (OSc kay, ModSc /kəi/).

6.9.4 Back diphthongs in -u

The most prolific of the native sources of ESc /au/ Vowel 12 and /o̞u/ Vowel 13 consisted of the sequence: (vowel + intervocalic -w-). The intervocalic -w- was either original, e.g. in OE clawu > claw n., or arose from /ɣ/, as in OE lagu > law n.1. The latter development seems not to have taken place till the 12th – 13th century in sME; relevant PreSc spellings, if any, are not available.

The mainly NE change of āw- to /ɑ:v / (with the labial preventing GVS fronting and raising) in e.g. blyaave ‘blow’ and tyaave ‘toil’; and of ēw- to /e:v/ > /i:v/ by the GVS, in e.g. theeveless ‘spiritless’, must have pre-dated the vocalisation of -w- (see SND, s.v. V). ESc /au/ Vowel 12

PreSc /a:u/, ESc /au/, Vowel 12, was developed from:

  • OE word-final āw: e.g. OE snāw > snaw ‘snow’; and OE pre-vocalic āw-: e.g. OE cnāwan > knaw v.1 (contrast backing and rounding of ā in sME);
  • OE, ON pre-vocalic āg- /a:ɣ-/ > āw- /a:w-/: e.g. OE āgen > awin ‘own’ (contrast backing and rounding of ā in sME);
  • OE ăw- /aw-/ > /a:w-/ by OSL: e.g. clăwu n., clăwian v. > claw;
  • OE, ON pre-vocalic ăg- /aɣ-/ > āg- /a:ɣ-/ by OSL, then > /a:w-/: e.g. OE sceăga > schaw n.1 ‘coppice’. ESc /o̞u/ Vowel 13

PreSc /o̞:u/, ESc /o̞u/, Vowel 13, was developed from:

  • OE pre-vocalic, also pre-consonantal, ōw-: e.g. OE grōwan > grow; and, with diphthongal stress-shift ȝow ‘ewe’ < OE eōwe; and similarly, but with early yod-absorption, four /fo̞ur/ < OE feōwer;
  • OE, ON pre-vocalic ōg- did not have the same outcome (see §6.10.3).
  • OE, ON pre-vocalic ŏg- /o̞ɣ-/ > /o̞:ɣ-/ by OSL, then > /o̞:w-/: e.g. OE bŏga > bow n.1 ‘the weapon’. The same development before syllabic /n̩/ (? with epenthetic vowel, see §6.6.1) is seen in OWScand lŏgn > lown ‘calm’.
  • When a short back vowel was followed by a liquid + w, the latter either original as in OE geolw- ‘yellow’, or from earlier g, as in OE galga ‘gallows’, an epenthetic vowel mostly spelled <o> was inserted between the liquid and the /w/, thus yallow, gallowis, presumably pronounced with (unstressed) /o̞u/.

In StE, this vowel monophthongised and merged with the vowel of home, etc., perhaps in the 17th century.[106]

6.9.5 Vowel 14 ESc /i:u/ Vowel 14a

The merger of /e:u/ with /i:u/ is well-evidenced in MSc rhymes, but spelling evidence for the date of the merger in PreSc is unavailable. ME spellings, however, show <ew, eu> applied from the late 13th century to 14a(ii), of which the regular earlier spelling is <iw, iu, yu>.

The later history of the merged phoneme makes it certain that its realisation was [i:u] rather than [e:u]. This appears not only from the modern dialect outcomes, /iu/ or /ju:/, but even more convincingly from the several ESc outcomes of PreSc /o:/ before velars (see §§6.10.2, 6.10.3), all of which eventually merged with Vowel 14a and all of which must have passed through the stages [y:u] > [i:u], but hardly [e:u].

That it should have been the <ew, eu> spelling option which prevailed is perhaps a little surprising. Perhaps the explanation is the greater lexical prolificness of the /e:w/ source.

OF /y:/

OF /y:/ in general remained as Vowel 7 [y:] in PreSc. However, when final or followed by unstressed -e or in hiatus, an allophone of this vowel must at some early date in PreSc have split from the other allophones, thus [y:V] > [*y:wV] and [y:#] > [*y:w#], yielding the diphthong [*y:u], which, with unrounding of the first element, eventually merged with Vowel 14a, as /i:u/, as evidenced by MSc rhymes and spellings in <ew, eu>.

Thus in these environments, the Scots outcome of OF is the same as that in all environments in StE, e.g. argu < OF arger, cruel < OF crel. This phonemic split must have taken place before the fronting of PreSc /o:/ to /y:/ Vowel 7, e.g. do v., quite distinct from Vowel 14a in argu.

There also exist some rhymes in several ESc poems, especially Legends of the Saints and the Troy-book, and a scattering of spellings from ESc on, which indicate instead a merger with Vowel 6 /u:/. The data suggest that at some date before the late 14th century (and probably before the shift of stress to the first syllable in such words as argu, vertu), PreSc /y:u#, y:u+/ from OF was in some dialects smoothed, by retraction of the first element, to /u:/, thus /*ar’gu:, *vεr’tu:/. This variant was, however, perhaps short-lived. No /u:/ outcomes for the words in question appear to be recorded for ModSc dialects (except, of course, when the /j/ of Vowel 14 has been absorbed by preceding consonants). ESc /ε:u/ Vowel 14b(i), /εo̞u/ Vowel 14b(ii), and ?/εau/ Vowel 14b(iii)

The principal ModSc outcomes of Vowel 14b are:

  • /iu/ or /ju:/, the same as for 14a;
  • in the NE, the sequence /jʌu/, rhyming with Vowel 13, e.g.: dew, few, beauty as /djʌu, fjʌu, ‘bjʌutɪ/; in the same area ModSc sleuth has the variant slouth with yod-absorption by the preceding liquid. This implies an earlier /εo̞u/ Vowel 14b(ii);
  • in addition, most of the words of OF origin above yielded variants with some such realisation as ESc [εau] Vowel 14b(iii), which, with regular early MSc smoothing of Vowel 12 /au/ to /ɑ:/, and presumably raising of the first element as with 14b(i), resulted in something like [iɑ:], or, with diphthongal stress-shift, /jɑ:/, in e.g. beauté, leauté ‘loyalty’, reaume ‘realm’; also, with yod-absorption by a preceding liquid, apparently in the course of the early 15th century, lauté (first recorded 1452), rawme (1544). Forms of this type appear not to be recorded after the 18th century (see e.g. SND s.v. lawtie). [But it is attractive to see NE forms such as blyaave for blaw ‘blow’ as survivors of Vowel 14b(iii), the merger of these Vowel 12 items having been with Vowel 14b(iii) rather than vice versa – CM].

The regular OSc spellings of vowels 14b(i) and 14b(ii) are <ew, eu>, and of 14b(iii) <eau, eaw>. Since only 14b words have this range of outcomes, all of them must have been in separate existence before the merger of vowels 14b(i) and 14a, i.e. in the ESc period c1400. It is possible that their origin is much older than that. The speculative scenario set out in Figure 10 would account for all the so far observed results, albeit its precise early chronology remains unclear. Later history of ESc /i:u/ Vowel 14a, /ε:u/ Vowel 14b(i), ?/εo̞u/, Vowel 14b(ii)

The rhyme evidence suggests that 14a and 14b(i) were merging or had merged by the mid-15th century. We may now call the merged phoneme simply Vowel 14. In some dialects the established [i:u] realisation yielded ModSc /iu/, surviving only in Southern Scots. In all other dialects but those of Orkney (see below), the outcome is /ju:/. Rhyme evidence and Vowel 6 spellings with <(y)ow> suggest that the diphthongal stress-shift, from [í:u] to [iú:] to [ju:] took place in the first half of the 15th century. (The histories of ȝow pron. ‘you’, eschow ‘eschew’, Jow n.1 ‘Jew’, are not evidence of this development. In all of these cases, in the course of ME and PreSc, the preceding palatal continuant absorbed the first element of Vowel 14a /i:u/.)

While in almost all dialects the Vowel 14 outcome /ju:/ indicates that the merger has been in the direction (14b(i) > 14a), several modern Orkney dialects display outcomes such as [ɜu] which suggests the opposite direction of merger, 14a > 14b(i), in some environments at least.

In the case of dialects with Vowel 14b(ii) OSc /εo̞u/ > /(j)o̞u/, ModSc /(j)ʌu/, there was of course no merger with 14a. And indeed some OSc poets, including the author of Legends of the Saints, Henryson, Dunbar and J. Stewart of Baldynneis, appear not to rhyme 14a with 14b. J. Stewart at least belonged to the modern /jʌu/ area, and the possibility exists that 14b(ii) was more widespread in OSc than today. The spellings are equivocal.

Figure 10 summarises the history of Vowel 14 and related developments.

6.10 The Front Rounded Vowel (Vowel 7)

6.10.1 The fronting of PreSc /o:/

In the late 13th century PreSc and nME /o:/ was fronted to /y:/, merging, in pre-consonantal environments, with /y:/ mainly of OF origin. Rhymes of former OF with former PreSc /o:/, e.g. multytud: stud ‘stood’, are abundant from Barbour onwards. The fronting of PreSc /o:/ drastically altered the shape of the long vowel system, and was ultimately responsible for the different direction taken by the GVS in Scots and nME from that in sME.

The fronting of /o:/ involved /u̞/ > /o:/ by OSL, e.g. duir ‘door’ (OE duru > /do:rə/), and MDu, MLG ō, e.g. cōte > cuit ‘ankle’, as well as original /o:/, e.g. OE gōd > gude ‘good’, > to ‘to, too’. It must therefore have come after c1250. Spelling evidence for the change dates from 1296 onwards in the north of England. The first apparently reliably dated Scots spelling that shows the fronting is <Swarthbrandkruc> (Liber Calchou, c1300). See Samuels (1985) for the suggestion that it may have originated in Scots.

The Northern Scots unrounding to /i(:)/, merging with Vowel 2, is evidenced in occasional 16th century spellings (see §5.2.5). [There is apparently no contemporary evidence for the same unrounding to /i(:)/ in Southern and SW Scots, but its occurrence also in Ulster suggests that it was taken there in the early 17th century (see Macafee, 2001, 2006) – CM.] In regions other than Northern the vowel was thereafter lowered to [ø:], which plausibly underlies all the other ModSc results. On the evidence of LAS3, it continues in ModSc as a rounded vowel [ø:] in Shetland, Orkney, north Angus, east Perthshire and Southern, or sometimes now [e:] in SVLR-long environments. The realisation in nEC is [e(:)] in both long and short SVLR environments. The OSc form paig ‘puke, the fabric’ 1595, 1602, suggests that the unrounding to merge with Vowel 4 as [e(:)] had begun in the second half of the 16th century. In the rest of Central and SW, ModSc has [e:] in the long environments, and some mid front unround vowel in the short environments, mostly [ë] or [ε̈]; in sEC and WC, this is merged with Vowel 15, as [ε̈] or [ɪ], but it remains a separate vowel in the SW (see also note 100 and §6.28.4).

6.10.2 /o:/ before the voiceless velars

Early PreSc /o:/ before final /x/ and /k/ remained till the late 13th century, when it participated regularly in the PreSc fronting to [y:] Vowel 7. Then, from the late 14th century or early 15th century, different dialects diverged in their treatment.

(1) In some dialects /y:/ remained, developing thereafter as regular Vowel 7. Doubtless this is the form represented by continuing OSc spellings in <u, ui, etc.>, e.g. <pluche> ‘plough’, persisting alongside those in <eu, ew> representing the new diphthongs. This type appears to have predominated in OSc till the 17th century or later;

(2) in one outcome a glide [u] developed between the long vowel and the following velar, yielding [y:u]. With unrounding of its first element, this diphthong has then joined Vowel 14a /i:u/. This is now the most widespread outcome;

(3) in other dialects the following velar has caused breaking of the long vowel, yielding a diphthong */ju̞/ with a second element resembling Vowel 19 /u̞/, with which, either at the time of the split or later, merger occurred. The modern representative is, by regular development of Vowel 19, /jʌ/, in e.g. /ɪn(j)ʌx/ ‘enough’ and /hjʌk/ ‘hook’.

In the modern dialects both types (2) and (3) show forms both with and without yod-absorption by preceding liquids: thus /hjuk/ and /hjʌk/ ‘hook’, but /luk/ and /lʌk/ ‘look’.

The date of the merger of (3) with Vowel 19 /u̞/ is quite uncertain. The earliest spelling in <eu, ew> in DOST for one of these words is <clewch> 1456. It seems moot whether these <eu, ew> spellings represent type (2) or type (3).

All three of these outcomes were widely different from the corresponding outcomes in sME, which were /u:x/, whence e.g. modStE bough /bʌu/, and also /ux/, whence modStE enough /ɪnʌf/; and /o:k/, whence e.g. modStE book /buk/.

6.10.3 /o:/ before intervocalic g /ɣ/

Early PreSc intervocalic ōg- /o:ɣ-/ > ESc [y:u], merging with Vowel 14a /i:u/, apparently by the early 15th century, in e.g. OE bōgas pl. < bewis ‘boughs’; genōge adj. pl. > enew ‘enough’, pl.

The PreSc development of ōg- is unlike that of both PreSc ōw and sME ōg-, both of which yield /o̞u/, merging with the outcome of ŏg-. Doubtless, as with ēg-, the syllable division remained between the long vowel and the consonant till the loss of unstressed final -e and the vowel of -is.

6.10.4 Northern breaking of /y:/ before /r(d)/

In a swathe of Northern Scots from Caithness to Aberdeen, the ModSc outcome of PreSc /o:/ before /r/ and /rd/ is likewise Vowel 14a, e.g. mure ‘moor’, burde ‘board’, swourd ‘sword’. After the fronting of /o:/ to [y:], the close lip-rounding has perhaps produced a velar glide from [y] to /r/, with the following consequence: y:r(d) > y:ur(d) > y:ur(d), merging with Vowel 14a as [i:u]. This must have taken place before /y:/ Vowel 7 unrounded in Northern Scots to merge with Vowel 2 as /i:/, i.e. before the late 15th century.

6.11 The effects of palatal consonants

6.11.1 General

The several environments in which the short vowels + the palatal consonants /ɲ/ and /ʎ/ – later /nj/ or /ŋj/ (also forms with /ŋ#), and /lj/ – occurred are these:

(1) with original tonic stress on the syllable preceding the palatal: e.g. OF loigne > lunȝe ‘loin’; OF coin /kuɲ/ > cunȝe ‘coin’;

(2) with original tonic stress on the syllable following the palatal:

(a) with final vowel, e.g. menȝee ‘company’, lignee ‘lineage’;

(b) with vowel + one or more consonants, e.g. opinioun.

In environment (2b), /lj/ and /nj/ occur in such words as million and onion in English as well as Scots, from ME onwards. In the other environments there are sporadic occurrences in ME and EModE, especially in northern texts, but only Scots continued these consonants or the palatal sequences that succeeded them as regular constituents of the system.

6.11.2 Treatment I

In the treatment shared with PreStE, a palatal glide [-i], forming the second element of a diphthong, was inserted between the vowel and the consonant, possibly already in OF. The borrowed consonant was realised as dental or alveolar /l/ or /n/. This combined with the vowel to produce the diphthongs /εi/, /ai/, /ui/ as well as, with i, the long monophthong /i:/. (Instances with o seem to be confined to environment (2b), which did not at first produce diphthongs, as long as the stress followed the palatal).

This provides sources for Vowels 8, 10 and 1, e.g.:

  • Vowel 8: OF /′faʎ-/ faillir > <faill, fale>; OF /′fεɲ-/ feign > PreSc feign- /′fεin/ > /′fain/;
  • Vowel 10: OF /′buʎ-/ > <boyl>, ModSc /bəil/ ‘boil’ v.;
  • Vowel 1: OF /fa′miʎə/ famille > <famyle>; OF /de′siɲ-/ designer > <desyne>.

However, not all qualifying words display these Treatment I forms. Thus OSc has brulȝe, etc. ‘to broil’ by Treatment II (below), but there appears to be no *broil form on record. Similarly cunȝe ‘coin’. For ‘join’, conversely, there are only the Treatment I form join /ʤuin/ and a variant june /ʤy:n/ Vowel 7, of uncertain derivation.

6.11.3 Treatment II

In this treatment, which is the more common Scots outcome, the consonant remained palatal in PreSc, and the preceding vowels continued as simple vowels. When, in OF, the consonant was followed in environment (1) by a final unstressed -e, as in OF /luɲə/ loigne ‘loin’ > lunȝe, this was continued in PreSc; when the consonant itself was final, as in OF /kuɲ/ ‘coin’ > cunȝe, its off-glide was extended into an unstressed vowel, so that in both cases there was a final vowel, probably, as the later outcomes indicate, of [ɪ]-like quality, constituting a second syllable. This often remains in ModSc even when the consonant has been depalatalised, e.g. NE eely ‘oil’. In later MSc, the forms in /-njɪ/ acquired dissimilated doublets in /ŋjɪ/, again with depalatalised modern outcomes, e.g. <spaingie, spengie> ‘Spain, Spanish’.

In inflected forms the spelling evidence suggests that both disyllabic and trisyllabic forms existed with -and e.g. /′fa(:)ljand, ′fa(:)lje:and/ and -it, e.g. /′fa(:)ljɪt, ′fa(:)lje:ɪt/, the forms with a vowel (possibly lengthened in hiatus) being more common. But indications of disyllabic forms with the ending -is seem rare or non-existent: thus e.g. <failȝeis>, but apparently not <*failȝis>.

Mixed forms with the vowel of one treatment and the consonant of the other also occur, e.g. <ballie> ‘baillie’, a common and early variant.

In this treatment, the vowels were subject to OSL, with the usual failures of OSL resulting in doublets. Examples include:

OF e > OSc /ε/ Vowel 16

/′fεnjɪ/ <fenȝe, fenyhe> (and, by raising of Vowel 16 to Vowel 15, <finȝe>), and by OSL > Vowel 3 /ε:/ /′fε:njɪ/ <feinȝe>.

In the course of the 16th century, Vowel 3 underwent a further development in the environments /ʧVn/ and /(st)rVn/, affecting e.g. chene ‘chain’, rene ‘rein’ streyn ‘strain’, whereby Vowel 3 acquired a diphthongal realisation approximating that reached by Vowel 1, by which it was then captured, resulting in chyne, etc.;

OF a and Gaelic /a/ > OSc /a/ Vowel 17

/′spanjɪ/ <spanȝe> ‘Spanish’ and <ganȝe> ‘cross-bow bolt’ < Gaelic gainne, by OSL > ESc /a:/ Vowel 4, thus <spainyie, gainȝe>; (and with shortening of Vowel 4 at the /ε:/ stage, <genȝe>);

OF u > OSc /u̞/ Vowel 19

NE eely, /′ilɪ/ ‘oil’ with the regular NE outcome of Vowel 7; OF oignon <unȝeoun, onyon> with /u̞/ > /ɪ/ giving <ingyeoun, ingon> (the latter with /ŋ/);

OF i > OSc /ɪ/ Vowel 15

In the special case of OF i in closed syllables, before final /ɲ/, the original form may have been, and the ESc outcome certainly was, regularly /ɪŋ/, by dissimilation from the high front vowel, in e.g. <ring, rigne, ringne> 14th century ‘reign’. Spellings in <-(n)gn(e)> are often, as many rhymes show, orthographic for -ing /ɪŋ/.

6.12 OF a before nasal combinations in OSc

6.12.1 All environments

OF a was retracted in AN to [ɑ] before a following nasal, and this was then lengthened to [ɑ:], and borrowed into PreSc and ME. In the environment before nasal + single consonant there are rare OSc spellings in <ay> of dant ‘daunt’, plant, and ant ‘aunt’, which conceivably represent survivals of this, merged with ESc [a:] Vowel 4. Such forms are not known to survive today (unlike StE chamber). In the environment before alveolar nasal + affricate /nʧ/, /nʤ/ (with later reduction of the affricate to simple fricative /ʃ/, /ʒ/), in e.g. branch, danger, change, there is no doubt of the existence of Scots forms in Vowel 4 (as in many of these words in StE), either by merging of AN /ɑ:/ with PreSc /a:/ Vowel 4, or by smoothing of /au/ to /a:/ in this environment. It is likely that some of the common OSc spellings in <a>, such as <bran(s)che, change, manger, plan(s)chour>, represented Vowel 4 rather than Vowel 17 forms. For the most part, Vowel 4 forms in this environment underwent further changes (see §6.12.2).

The usual outcome in the environment before nasal + single consonant, however, was diphthongisation of /ɑ:/ under the influence of the following nasal to [ɑu], which was levelled with existing /au/ Vowel 12, e.g. <aunt, awnt>, <ensawmpill> ‘example’, <chaumer, chawmer> ‘chamber’. Vowel 12 forms also occurred in the environment before alveolar nasal + affricate, thus <daunger>, etc.

Forms in /a/ Vowel 17 also occur (confirmed by modern dialect forms), arising either by earlier shortening of AN [ɑ:] or by direct adoption from CF [a]. Indeed, in OSc, in the environment before nasal + single consonant, spellings of these words in simple <a> greatly outnumber these in <au, aw>. Vowel 17 forms also seem to have existed in the environment preceding /nʧ/ but not preceding /nʤ/. This is suggested by certain occasional ModSc spellings cited in SND: <panch> 1706, <planching> 1914 Arg. These are less ambiguous than the same spellings in OSc. But there is nothing to suggest any corresponding forms in /a/ for angel, brainge, change, etc.

6.12.2 Additional developments before alveolar nasal + affricate All preceding environments

Further developments from Vowel 4 forms took place in the environment before alveolar nasal + affricate. There arose a new front diphthong [ai] by breaking of /a:/, or its fronted and raised successor by the GVS. Since OSc spellings in <ai, ay> that might represent this diphthong could equally represent the monophthong Vowel 4, e.g. <hainche, playnscheour, chaynge, daynger>, this change can only be dated from its subsequent outcomes (see below), the earliest of which in evidence is <chenge> ‘change’ 1495.

This [ai] merged with existing /ai/ Vowel 8, and shared the subsequent environmentally-conditioned development of such Vowel 8 words as dainty, faint, paint, to /ε/ Vowel 16. It appears that once /ai/ had been raised to /εi/, about the second half of the 15th century, the second element of the diphthong was absorbed. Since this change is shared by words with pre-existent /ai/, it is evident that in all of these cases the /ε/ outcomes derive from Vowel 8 antecedents and not, as might have been supposed if only the /nʧ/ and /nʤ/ forms were involved, directly from Vowel 4. After /ʧ/ or /r/ and before /nʤ/

In the environment of a preceding /ʧ-/ or /r-/ and a following /nʤ/, e.g. change, range, there is a development to Vowel 3, thus cheenge, reenge. The route to Vowel 3 may be like that of NE /i/ in words with original Vowel 4 + /n/, e.g. ane, bane, stane, etc. (as een, been, steen, etc.); that is, it derives from /a:/ Vowel 4, which in this environment caught up with Vowel 3 in the course of the GVS (see §6.25.1). These words then either shared the subsequent development of Vowel 3, i.e. in most dialects merger with Vowel 2, or shared the subsequent environmentally-conditioned development of such Vowel 3 words as chain, rein, strain (see §6.11.3) to merge with Vowel 1, thus chynge, etc.

Orthographic indications for forms with Vowel 1 are scarce and late: <chynge> late 16th century, <rynge> late 16th century, <strynge> 19th century; but they have a wide distribution in ModSc and are therefore far from recent, the negative indication of the absence of occurrences in Ulster notwithstanding. As with chyne forms of chain, etc., the capture of the Vowel 3 forms by Vowel 1 perhaps took place when Vowel 3 had reached by GVS a quality in the [e] area. It seems that an allophone of Vowel 3 had its onset lowered by influence of the preceding /r/ or /ʧ/ and its coda raised by the following alveolar nasal in the environment before /nʤ/, thus approaching the quality of the diphthongised Vowel 1, ESc /i:/ > MSc /e:i/ > /ε(:)i/.

6.13 OE (Anglian) ald in PreSc

Like sME, PreSc lengthened OE (Angl) ă before /ld/ by HOCL to /a:ld/. Whereas in sME the resultant /a:/ was as usual rounded to [ɔ̞:], yielding sME o̞ld, co̞ld, etc., in PreSc the unrounded /a:/ remained, perhaps till the early 14th century, when it underwent breaking to something like [ɑu] or [au]. DOST’s rare <ai> spellings might indicate surviving undiphthongised Vowel 4 /a:/ forms; if so these have not survived into ModSc.

In fringe areas (Orkney, Caithness, around the Moray Firth, Argyllshire, single localities in Renfrewshire and Wigtownshire, and Ulster) there has been a merger with the existing diphthong /o̞u/ Vowel 13, thus owld, etc. The distribution in ModSc seems too extensive for this to be an Ulster (ultimately English dialectal) form imported into Scotland, but this question remains unsettled (see Macafee, 2001, 2006).

The alternative Vowel 12 form, auld, etc., occupies the main Scots dialect area. Gregg (1985) suggested that this had spread at the expense of /o̞u/ [but the basis for supposing a widespread earlier /o̞u/ is almost entirely the geographical argument for its present peripheral distribution – CM]. The OSc orthographic evidence is meagre. OSc has predominantly <ald>, less often <auld, awld>. Orthographic evidence for a type /o̞uld/ is scanty prior to the late 16th century (when anglicisation confuses the picture): <old> ‘old’ 1487, and <ould> the anglicised Troy-book (MS c1470-80).

6.14 ESc /a/ and /ε/ before /rC/

6.14.1 /a/ Vowel 17 lengthened before /r/ + consonant; /a:rC/ > /ε:rC/ Vowel 4, shortened to /ε/ Vowel 16

Some time in the PreSc period, /a/ was lengthened before /r/ followed by any consonant. In most cases the outcome seems to have been doublet unlengthened and lengthened forms, in Vowel 17 and Vowel 4, also sometimes Vowel 16, presumably by shortening of Vowel 4 at the GVS [ε:] stage: there appear to be no instances of ModSc /ε/ without also some occurrences of /e:/. Examples include OE scearn ‘dung’ > sharn, shairn, and shern (early 18th century); cart, cairt, kert; warm and ModSc wairm; OSc garnis and ModSc gairnish; OSc arm and airm, but ModSc /erm/ and /εrm/. However, a group of words does not participate in this change, and presents only spellings in <a> and ModSc forms in /a/, e.g. OF-derived argu, argune ‘argue’, varlet, and also e.g. harsk, lark.

6.14.2 /ε/ lowered before /r/

As in sME, /ε/ Vowel 16 was lowered to /a/ Vowel 17 in the 14th century before tautosyllabic /r/ and in Scots also intervocalic /r/. This change was lexically very productive, but not invariable. As usual in Scots, most occurrences have doublets with unchanged forms, e.g:

gers and gars ‘grass’, gertlins and gartling ‘great line’, serk and sark ‘shirt’, stern and starn ‘star’, werldly and warldly ‘worldly’, fer and far, ger and gar ‘to cause’, wersill and warsill ‘wrestle’.

There are also many words without an (unanglicised) <a> form, e.g. ferm n. ‘farm’, ferm adj. ‘firm’, sterve, service (but serve and sarve), cercle.

Since for many words the only outcomes are /ε/ and /a/, this change appears to come after lengthening of /a/ to /a:/ in some of the same environments. But there may also have been some chronological overlap, for a limited number of /εr/ forms do seem to have proceeded via /ar/ to /a:r/, e.g. pertrick, partrick, pairtrik; serve, sar and ModSc sair (18th century).

This may also explain the variants in Vowel 4, with spellings from MSc onwards in <ai>, of a group of words with earlier /ε/ + /rd, rn/, having escaped HOCL, e.g. braird ‘first shoots’, aird (whence ModSc yird, see §6.27.2) ‘earth’, and cf. ModSc yirn variant of earn ‘to curdle’.

6.15 Smoothings of certain Early Scots diphthongs in particular environments

6.15.1 Smoothing of /au/ before labials and affricates

As in sME, in the late 14th century, the diphthong /au/ was smoothed to /a:/ before /f, v, d, ʤ, ʧ, tj > ʃ/, e.g. safe (< OF sauf); catioun, modern legal Scots /′keʃn̩/. In almost all cases there are persisting doublets in /au/ Vowel 12.

6.15.2 Conditioned smoothing of i diphthongs Smoothing of /ai/ before front fricatives

It is now clear, pace Murray (1873), that there was no wholesale monophthonging of ESc diphthongs in -i, and the origin of the i-digraph spellings has been otherwise explained (see §5.1). However, there was a smoothing of /ai/ to /a:/ in ESc, about the same time (the late 14th century), as the more widespread smoothing of /au/ (above), in the environment of a following /v, f, ð, θ/, e.g. the verbs in -save (consave ‘conceive’, etc.), aither ‘either’, faith.[107] More doubtful, because of the infrequent incidence of the possible rhyming words (such as amaze, gaze, raze) which would confirm this development, are some words of OF origin in -ais, viz. pais n.2 ‘weight’, praise, laisere ‘leisure’ and raisin, also abais ‘dismay’ < OF abaiss-, and raise v. < ON reisa. On the evidence of the modern dialects, the smoothing appears not to have reached the extreme SW. Smoothing of /o̞i/ before /s, z, ?d/

PreSc /o̞i/ and /o̞:/ were merged as /o̞:/ in some words before /s, z/ and perhaps /d/, as well as in the single item jo ‘joy’. This took place before 1375, at least in the case of the word chose ‘choice’ (< OF chois), which rhymes with purpose in Barbour. Other examples, in all cases with doublets in /o̞i/, include croce variant of croice ‘a cross’ (OF crois, croiz), and vode variant of void. This appears to be a peculiarly northern and especially Scots sound-change.

6.16 Reduction of -is

In ESc the inflection -is /ɪs/ > /-ɪz/ was still syllabic in certain phonetic contexts. However, from the treatment in verse, it appears that after secondary-stressed or fully unstressed syllables, e.g. cité ‘city’, dowcot, labour, profit, questioun, the vowel had been deleted some time before the ESc period, as also in sME, although the spellings retain <i, y> till the late 16th century (when not represented by the MS abbreviation for -is). But when the preceding stem syllable consists of a fully unstressed vowel + a liquid or nasal, it seems that optionally the unstressed stem syllable rather than the inflection might undergo syncope: e.g. eldris ‘elders’, noblis, wattrys, lipnis (pres. t. of lippin v. ‘trust’); this is exemplified from the earliest ESc texts onwards.

After vowels, the inflectional vowel had likewise been absorbed before ESc: cf. rhymes such as rais p.t. ‘rose’: gays ‘goes’ (Barb. VII: 349-50), and the metrics of lines such as: Yai bar all oyer-wayis on hand (Barb. I: 62) (references are to McDiarmid and Stevenson’s 1980-5 STS edn.).

After stressed syllables ending in sibilants there was never syncope: facis, raisis, fechis, jugis ‘judges’ (as in modStE). After other consonants, it seems that, by the time of Barbour, retention of the vowel in this ending was optional, though down to the 16th century unsyncopated forms seem to predominate.

6.17 MF tonic and countertonic i adopted as Vowel 2

There is a considerable number of words in which MF tonic ī /i:/ with unshifted stress appears in 15th century Scots or later as Vowel 2, ESc /e:/ > MSc /i:/, e.g. habeit, baptese, oblege, in most cases with a doublet in the expected Vowel 1, ESc /i:/ > MSc /e:i/, e.g. habyte. The words in question are all relatively late adoptions as, no doubt, mots savants. The explanation seems to be that MF /i:/ in these words was identified with Scots Vowel 2 as this was being raised from [e:] to [i:] by the GVS . The Vowel 2 forms are on record from the mid-15th century, suggesting that the shift of this vowel was well under way by this time.

6.18 ESc /u̞/ > /ɪ/

Luick (1903: 117), followed by Aitken (1977), accounted for Vowel 15 forms of originally Vowel 7 words, e.g. fit ‘foot’, brither, ither, mither, wid ‘wood’, by suggesting that there had been an unrounding and shortening of PreSc /y:/ Vowel 7, prefiguring the later development in SVLR-short environments in modern Central dialects. However, a large body of words originally containing Vowel 19 /u̞/ in ESc also display variants in Vowel 15 /ɪ/ from the 15th century onwards, e.g. din ‘dun’, dissone ‘dozen’, hinnie ‘honey’, kimmer ‘godmother’, nit ‘nut’, simmer ‘summer’. Some of these could be explained in the same way, having Vowel 7 doublets by OSL, e.g. guitter ‘gutter’; but not all have Vowel 7 forms (even of those eligible for OSL). It therefore seems rather that there was a direct change /u̞/ > /ɪ/, especially in the environments of following nasals and/or preceding or following labial consonants, for which the spellings suggest a 15th century date. The existence of /u̞/ doublets for many of the originally Vowel 7 words, e.g. fut ‘foot’, confirms that they formed an input to this change following an early PreSc shortening of /o:/ to /u̞/.

6.19 /o̞:/ before /ʧ/ and /ʤ/ shortens to /u̞/ in ESc

Prior to the 15th century, /o̞:/ Vowel 5 followed by the palato-alveolar /ʧ/ or /ʤ/ was raised and shortened to /u̞/ in the following words of OF origin: broche and bruche, crochat and cruchet, loge and luge, motioun and mudgeoune, sojourn and sudiorne.

6.20 /o̞/ Vowel 18 unrounds to /a/ Vowel 17

Beginning in the first half of the 15th century many words containing Vowel 18 /o̞/ acquired doublets in /a/, when a labial followed or, in some words, preceded, e.g. aff, laft, tap ‘top’, thrapple ‘windpipe’, patt n.1 ‘pot’. However, many words presenting similar environments show no doublets in /a/, e.g. fon ‘play the fool’, foly, mok, groff ‘coarse’.

6.21 OSc /o̞/ > /o̞u/ before velar stops and voiceless labials

OSc /o̞/ Vowel 18, either original or less often by shortening of Vowel 5, developed a [u] glide on to following velar stops /k, g/ and voiceless labials /p, f/, yielding Vowel 13 /o̞u/, e.g. dowg ‘dog’, doup 1641 ‘buttock’ (MDu, LG dop ‘egg-shell’), houp ‘expectation’, howp ‘valley’.

6.22 Vowel 3 > /ɪ/ before /v/ or /z/ followed by a syllabic liquid or nasal consonant

About the first half of the 16th century, and certainly before the general merger of Vowel 3 with Vowel 2, Vowel 3 ESc /ε:/, by then realised as approximately [e:], shortened to /ɪ/ Vowel 15 before /v/ or /z/ followed by a syllabic liquid or nasal consonant, e.g. niver; the ModSc forms hivven ‘heaven’, siven ‘seven’, rizzon ‘reason’, sizzon ‘season’; and divill (the Vowel 3 form having arisen from OE dēofles, inflected form of OE dēofol, with Pre-Cluster Shortening and later OSL of the resultant ĕ) .

6.23 L-vocalisation

When /l/ was preceded in a stressed syllable by one of the three short back vowels (including /a/ Vowel 17 as a back vowel) and fell within the same closed syllable as the vowel, it vocalised to [u]:

  • /al/ > /au/, merging with Vowel 12, e.g. all, salt, hals ‘throat’, calk ‘chalk’, halch ‘haugh, river-meadow’, haud ‘hold’ (with irregular prior shortening of /a:ld/), staw (beside stall ‘stole’);
  • /o̞l/ > /o̞u/, merging with Vowel 13, e.g. knoll, folk, golf, colpindach ‘young cow’, wow and woune, wone (beside woll and wollin); also before /d/ (HOCL not having occurred), in e.g. gold, mold ‘earth’. In <stoun> ‘stolen’, the vocalised form results from previous contraction of the suffix syllable;
  • /u̞l/ > /u:/, merging with Vowel 6, e.g. full, pull, pulpit, culter ‘coulter’, multure, schulder, fulth ‘plenty’.

These changes are attested in spelling from the first half of the 15th century. In fact, reverse spellings (see §3.3.2) are slightly earlier than the direct evidences. It looks therefore as if these changes became established in Central Scotland in the late 14th century or early 15th century. A few earlier incidences, such as <hawhes> ‘haughs’ Kelso c1240, hint at a place of origin of the sound-changes in southern Scotland or northern England.

Unvocalised doublets, surviving alongside some of the forms that underwent l-vocalisation (LV), are visible in many rhymes of words such as all, fall, small, thrall with the latinate suffix -all (L -ālis) in such words as celestiall, etc.: there is no indication that this suffix ever underwent LV, and the verb sall ‘shall’, which also participates in this set of rhymes, never displays a vocalised form. Henryson, who is thought to have come from Fife, has no vocalised forms, in rhyme or otherwise. But others, such as Dunbar, Walter Kennedy, Douglas and Lyndsay, employ both types of rhymes, the unvocalised type especially in their more serious verse, with rhymes displaying vocalisation only in colloquial passages. Possibly the change was still in the process of diffusion. Unvocalised /al/ was evidently taken to Ulster in the early 17th century, and survives as the dominant form in Donegal Scots (Gregg, 1985; Macafee, 2001, 2006), as in Caithness and Insular Scots.

The doublets /fʌl/ beside /fu:/ full and /pʌl/ beside /pu:/ pull are widespread throughout ModSc. bull ‘papal bull’ had, according to rule, a doublet <bow>, whereas bull ‘the animal’ had not.

6.24 Smoothing of /au/ Vowel 12 to [a̫:] or [a̫:], in early MSc

Subsequent to LV, Vowel 12 /au/ became smoothed to [a̫:], merging with labialised Vowel 4 [a̫:] in those dialects in which this allophone did not undergo raising by GVS (see §6.26), or constituting a new low back long monophthong on its own in other dialects. The modern dialects realise this variously as [ɑ:, ɒ:, ɔ:, a:]. Spelling evidence occurs from the late 15th century.

6.25 The Great Vowel Shift

6.25.1 Outline

In outline, in Midland and Southern English, the GVS, beginning in the 14th – 15th century, raised the three lower vowels in both the front and the back series and diphthongised the close vowels /i:/ and /u:/, so that:

Front [i:] > [ɪi] > [əi] and eventually modEng [aɪ],

[e:] > [i:],

[ε:] > [e:] but thereafter merged with one or other of the neighbouring vowels (= Vowel 2 or Vowel 4),

[a:] > [ε:] and later [e(:)];

Back PreStE only

[u:] > [ʊu] > [əu], and eventually modEng [ʌu],

[o:] > [u:],

[ɔ̞:] and [o̞:] in PreStE merged and eventually > [o:].

The ESc (and nME) system, however, lacked back vowels in the slots occupied by sME /o:/ (since PreSc Vowel 7 had fronted to /y:/) and sME /ɔ̞:/ (since Vowel 4 remained /a:/). There was thus no pressure for a push-chain shift in the back vowel system. So OSc underwent no shift of the long back vowels beyond a tendency, visible in many modern dialects, to a closing of Vowel 5’s realisation from [o̞:] > [o(:)], and a tendency, especially in Central dialects, to some fronting of the realisation of Vowel 6 /u:/ > [ü(:)], though how early the last two events took place is unclear.

The shared shift of the long front vowels took place in Scots through the 15th and 16th centuries. In outline, the three non-high long front vowels were each raised by one or two stages, as shown in Figure 12, and Vowel 1, being already fully close, could only maintain its differentiation from encroaching Vowel 2 by becoming a diphthong. In Scots it seems that the general upwards movements of Vowels 2, 3 and 4 came to an end with the establishment of the SVLR, whereas the opening of Vowel 1 long continued thereafter.

It appears that Vowel 4 had been raised from /a/ in ESc to [ε:] or [e̞:] by the mid-16th century, when its realisation approximated that then reached by Vowel 1, hence occasional spellings such as <cray> for cry. Had SVLR-shortening come about at the [ε:] stage we would have expected many more [ε] outcomes of Vowel 4 (such as gemm ‘game’) than we actually find. It has largely maintained its separation from Vowel 16 /ε/ except in some Northern dialects.

[A conditioned early merger of Vowel 4 with Vowel 3 is indicated by the development of Vowel 4 + /n/ to merge with /i:/ Vowel 2 in modern NE Scots, as in steen ‘stone’, etc. LAS3 data confirm that Vowel 4 does not reach /i/ except in those dialects where Vowel 3 also does. Although early spelling evidence for this appears to be lacking, there is other internal evidence for an early merger of Vowel 4 with Vowel 3 in certain environments. A number of words, with both Vowel 3 and Vowel 4 originally, have /əi/ (Vowel 1 short) in modern Scots, from the south coast of the Forth northwards, but concentrated in the NE. There is usually a labial element, e.g. wame, weaver, quine, but also for instance gryte ‘great’. The merger with Vowel 1 presumably took place when Vowels 1 and 3 passed phonetically close to each other as [ei] and [e:] respectively. The modern distribution of /əi/ forms is regardless of whether Vowel 3 then raised further to merge with Vowel 2. This merger of Vowel 4 with Vowel 3 is surely of some antiquity, since those words originally with Vowel 4 have a considerable phonetic distance to cover (Macafee, 1989: 433ff). See Figure 13 – CM.]

Vowel 2 seems to have been raised from ESc /e:/ to near [i:] by the mid-15th century. About this time Vowel 7, ESc /y:/, merged with it in Northern Scots.

There appears to be no direct evidence as to the date at which Vowel 1 began diphthongising, except that it was apparently not till after c1400. Several kinds of evidence seem to point to a diphthong with a low to mid front first element converging with Vowel 4 and Vowel 8 by the second half of the 16th century.

The present-day representative of the SVLR-short allophone of Vowel 1 is predominantly /εi/, with more or less retracted diaphones [ε̈i], [əi], [ʌi]. Probably Vowel 1 had opened to the extent of [ε:i] by the late 16th century if our proposed dating of SVLR is correct (see §6.28.2). At that point, we may assume the diphthong-opening process ceased in Vowel 1 short but continued in Vowel 1 long.

6.25.2 ESc /ε:/ Vowel 3 The modern dialect evidence

According to LAS3’s word-lists, Vowel 3 continues unmerged into ModSc in a small number of scattered dialects north of Forth. In several Caithness dialects and in Avoch (Ross and Cromarty), it has the realisation [εi] and in some of these dialects Vowel 4 has merged with it, instead of vice versa.

In much of Fife, Vowel 3 is found in merger with Vowel 7 before /t/ or /d/ or both, suggesting that Vowel 3 still survived there as a distinct phoneme until the unrounding of Vowel 7 to /e/ at the turn of the 16th and 17th century.

In other nEC dialects, the all but regular outcome of Vowel 3 in all environments is merger with Vowel 4 as [e̞(:)] or [e(:)] (often plus Vowel 7 and/or Vowel 8). Exceptions to this occur in which, before /n/, less regularly before /l/, and in one case before /r/, merger with Vowel 2 occurs. In parts of the NE and also further north, merger of Vowels 3 and 4 as /e/ is regular, with some exceptions, mainly before /n, d, l/, where the merger is instead with Vowel 2. In western Wigtownshire, merger of Vowel 3 with Vowel 4 is again the norm.

In other Central, Southern and NE dialects, Vowel 3 merges regularly with Vowel 2 as [i(:)] , in all environments. Vowel 3 in ESc and MSc

The ESc and early MSc evidence presents a much simpler picture. In 15th century verse generally, Vowel 3 rhymes separately from Vowel 2, except for limited instances of merger with Vowel 2 before /r/.

The spelling evidence for the merger of Vowel 3 with Vowel 4 begins with such 1488 spellings as <havin> ‘heaven’, <havy> ‘heavy’, <mar> ‘female horse’. Some spellings of this kind in the 16th century appear to be from localities now having merger of Vowel 3 with Vowel 2, hinting that the latter merger spread at the expense of the former (as also apparently in PreStE). The earliest rhyme evidence so far observed comes in the verse of Sir David Lyndsay (? 1486-1555) whom we may regard as a Fifeshire man. However, before /r/ Lyndsay almost always rhymes Vowel 3 either with itself or with Vowel 2. Before /d/ he rhymes sometimes with Vowel 2 and sometimes with Vowel 4.

Gavin Douglas (early 16th century) no longer distinguishes Vowels 2 and 3 before /r/, and he also occasionally rhymes them before /d/. Near the end of the 16th century, Edinburgh-born William Fowler rhymes Vowel 3 with Vowel 2 before /r, t, d, k, f/, but also with Vowel 4 before /t, d/ and /s/. About the same time the Ayrshire man Alexander Montgomerie, the Berwickshire man Alexander Hume and King James VI all freely rhyme Vowel 3 with Vowel 2 in all environments.

6.26 Vowel 4 in labial environments merges with smoothed Vowel 12

In most dialects, the GVS fronting and raising of Vowel 4, ESc /a:/ was inhibited by an adjacent labial consonant, either:

(1) /(C)w-/ preceding, e.g. /twa:/ ‘two’, /wa:k/ ‘wake’, or

(2) any labial consonant preceding or following the vowel, when an unstressed syllable followed, so that the vowel was final in an open syllable, e.g./′fa:dəm/ ‘fathom’, /′ha:mər/ ‘hammer’,

(3) ? in brave > /bra:v/ <brawf> 1561, whence braw ‘fine’,

(4) ? in na adv.3 (q.v).

This labialised [a̫:] or [ɑ̫:] or the like was merged with Vowel 12 when this became a monophthong. This is evidenced by spellings from the late 15th century in which the Vowel 12 and 12a graphemes <au, aw, al, aul> are applied to labialised Vowel 4, e.g. < wawk> ‘wake’, <walter> ‘water’.

In the dialects in which this change did not take place, /a:/ in labial environments has had the regular outcome of Vowel 4, viz. /e(:)/. The regional distribution of retained Vowel 4 in environment (1) in OSc, as revealed in localised texts, appears like that of today – sEC, Southern and eastern SW.

6.27 Preiotation of initial vowels

6.27.1 Older Scots

Occasional 16th century spellings are evidence of the development in OSc of initial vowel variants with a palatal glide onset:

  • Vowel 4, e.g. <ȝane> ane ‘one’ 1527 Prestwick, <ȝaikin> akin ‘oaken’ 1578-9 Elgin;
  • Vowels 2, 3 and 7: in <ȝerle> ‘earl’, <ȝerd, ȝeird> varr. of erde ‘earth’, and perhaps <ȝyrne> ‘to curdle’, the prefixed /j/ apparently already existed in PreSc (for a speculative explanation see s.v. Y in SND). Other MSc instances of preiotation before these vowels also exist, e.g. <yells> ells 1640, <ȝown> une ‘oven’ 1517;
  • Sporadic examples with other front and back vowels occur in ModSc over most of Scotland, on the evidence of SND and LAS3.

6.27.2 The modern dialect outcomes of initial Vowel 4

Whereas in nearly all the OSc examples it appears from the spellings that Vowel 4 remains unchanged following the preiotised /j/, in the modern Central and Southern instances the regular outcome of word-initial SVLR-short Vowel 4 is Vowel 15 preceded by /j/, e.g. <yin> ‘one’. The regular SVLR-long outcome is unchanged Vowel 4, e.g. air n.3 ‘oar’. (Yae /je:/ ‘one’ adj. appears to be an exception, possibly a survival of OSc preiotation, reinforced by analogy with yin.) /jɪ/ forms are evidenced only from the late 18th century on.

It appears, as Murray (1873: 105) suggested, that /jɪ/ arose out of the Teviotdale realisation of Vowel 4, which in his time was a diphthong [ɪə] by the more widespread outcome, the monophthong [e]. Kohler (1967) added the corollary that the area occupied by the [ɪə] realisation of Vowel 4 had earlier been much more extensive. The area occupied by /jɪ/ in yin = ane ‘one’, etc., would thus seem to mark out the former extent of the [ɪə] area.

The northern boundary of the /jɪ/ initial SVLR-short outcome of Vowel 4 in ModSc appears to coincide with the northern boundary of the Central area in which Vowel 3 merged with Vowel 2 as the close front vowel /i(:)/, thus leaving phonetic space for Vowel 4 to be raised above its regular [e(:)] position, leading to the diphthongisation (see Aitken, 2002: Map 2).

6.27.3 Vowel 7

The development of preiotised Vowel 7 to /jɪ/, e.g. use n., has to be seen as an independent and coincidental development. /ɪ/ arises as a local outcome of Vowel 7 in all SVLR-short environments, not only following /j/, suggesting that /jɪ/ arose out of regular OSc preiotised Vowel 7 by unrounding, /jø/ > /jɪ/.

6.28 The Scottish Vowel-Length Rule

6.28.1 The Scottish Vowel-Length Rule set up

The removal of Vowel 7 from the back to the front vowel system, followed by changes in the qualities of the vowels that underwent GVS, abolished the historical vowel-length oppositions between long and short vowels that had existed at the time of OSL.

It now became possible to shorten long vowels without, in most cases, producing mergers with existing short vowels (but see below). This shortening took place except in environments specially conducive to longer vowel-duration. The resultant Scottish Vowel-Length Rule (SVLR) may be thus expressed:

The affected stressed vowels are realised long in end-stressed syllables before the voiced fricatives – /v, ð, z, ʒ/ – in most dialects /r/, before a word-boundary and in hiatus; in other environments they are realised short.

Or, in the usual formulation:

V > V: / –
v z ʒ ð

This then resulted in SVLR-governed vowel-length differences between e.g.:

  • Vowel 2: tree with [i:], and heich ‘high’, with [i];
  • Vowel 3 is mostly merged with Vowel 2 or Vowel 4;
  • Vowel 4: lave ‘remainder’ with [e:] and late with [e];
  • Vowel 6: now with [u:] and about with [u];
  • Vowel 7: puir ‘poor’ with [ø:] and muin ‘moon’ with [ø] (or [i:] and [i], [e:] and [e, ɪ], etc);
  • in addition, Vowel 1, following its diphthongisation by GVS, yielded SVLR long [a:ɪ], [ɑ:e] or the like, in e.g. five, and SVLR short [εi], [əi], [ʌi] or the like, in e.g. bite;
  • On Vowel 5, see below.

Notice that the first element of the now diphthongal Vowel 1 was also shortened. It is not necessary to suppose that Vowels 8 and 12 were still diphthongal in order to explain their opting out of the SVLR in most dialects. This may be due rather to the pattern of diffusion of the SVLR, from the highest to the lowest vowel-height, thus leaving Vowels 8 and 12, and also 5, as exceptions in many dialects. The result was a new, essentially allophonic, rule that determines vowel-length over part of the Scots vowel-system.

At some stage, whether originally or later, some dialects have incorporated among the vowels subject to the Rule the ModSc diphthongs and the original non-high short vowels, including Vowels 1 short, 10 and 13, and Vowels 16, 17 and 18 (Aitken, 1981b: 134, 139, 142), presumably by lengthening in the SVLR-long environments to conform with the vowel-length patterns now established among the former ESc long vowels. But this tendency has never reached the ESc short high vowels, 15 /ɪ/ and 19 /u̞/ > ModSc /ʌ/, perhaps because the realisations of these were too short to admit of further shortening.

Some features of the SVLR may have been added later:

  • Forms with the p.t. inflection /-d/ after a final stem-vowel, e.g. dee’d p.t. of dee ‘to die’, normally share the SVLR-long realisation of the morpheme-final uninflected form, so /di:d/ dee’d ‘died’ by analogy with dee /di:/ ‘to die’, is in contrast with SVLR-short /did/ deed n. The first record of this feature is by Sylvester Douglas (c1775), who states that pride and deny’d are non-rhyming, since, though both contain the ‘diphthongal sound of i… in pride that sound is shortened and protracted in deny’d’ (Kohler, 1966: 36). But in late MSc there are many rhymes of pairs of words of this sort, for instance in Fowler, Alexander and Ayton, suggesting that this type of long-short contrast did not yet operate;
  • In stressed penultimate syllables, bimorphemic (inflected or derivational) items share the SVLR-length of the uninflected or underived stem: so useful has the SVLR-short in [‘jïsfɪ] but using the SVLR-long in [‘je:zɪn], and leafy has [i] like leaf, but leaving has [i:] like leave.

6.28.2 The date of the establishment of the Scottish Vowel-Length Rule

Gburek (1986) suggested that an incipient SVLR was involved in pre-GVS changes in strong verb paradigms. Aitken did not rule out the possibility of allophonic shortening at an early date, compatible with occasional captures by short vowels of shortened (? half-long) allophones of their long equivalents, particularly in the Central dialects where the Rule apparently originated; but the Rule could only manifest itself fully after GVS had brought about the changes of vowel quality which made the former oppositions by quantity functionally redundant (1981: 154). Had the SVLR been in full operation at the time of the GVS (15th century), a general merger of Vowel 4 in short environments with Vowel 16 (ESc /ε/), might have been expected.

An indication that the Rule is long-established lies in its universal application throughout Scotland and Scots-speaking parts of Ulster. Since SVLR is well established in the dialects of Shetland and of Orkney, it seems to follow also that it was in operation before the main colonisation of these islands by Scots-speakers was completed (i.e. by the late 16th century).

The fact that Shetland meed (formerly meethe) ‘landmark’, buid (formerly buith) ‘booth’, etc. take long vowels suggests a date before c1560 by which time Shetland /ð/ > /d/. [Around the same time, Peebles Burgh Records have spellings indicating the merger of Vowel 17 and Vowel 12 (see below), e.g. <bailk> ‘back’ and <sailfand> (= saufand ‘saving’) 1564, <lawdis> ‘lads’ 1572. Meurman-Solin (1999) has also suggested that the use of short vowel spellings for long vowels, for which she has examples from as early as the 1540s, indicates SVLR-shortening. However, as she also points out, a number of her examples are in the pre-/r/ environment – CM.]

6.28.3 Mergers consequent on the Scottish Vowel-Length Rule

In most modern dialects, the new monophthong Vowel 12 contrasts with Vowel 17, but in some (mainly Orkney, Caithness and a band across southern Scotland), they have merged as /a/ in most environments. In some, especially WC, dialects, Vowel 18 has closed and merged with Vowel 5, as /o:/, though in most other dialects the two remain distinct, either by virtue of an opener realisation of Vowel 18, [ɔ] or the like, or by virtue of Vowel 5’s having maintained length in SVLR-short environments, [o:] or the like; or in some dialects both. Long realisations of Vowel 8 in SVLR-short environments are another case in which vowel-length oppositions continue to function in some ModSc dialects. The fairly common Eastern realisation, from Shetland southwards, of Vowel 16 as long [ε:] is perhaps motivated by avoidance of merger with Vowel 15, realised as [ε̈].

6.28.4 Scottish Vowel-Length Rule-conditioned splits

From the beginning SVLR appears to have been a phonetic rule, operating over a particular set of phonemes in a given dialect and controlling the allophonic systems of these phonemes. Nevertheless there have also from time to time occurred SVLR-conditioned splits at the phonological level, when in a particular dialect or group of dialects the SVLR-short allophone of a certain phoneme has parted finally from its SVLR-long companion. One case is the several Southern and Central splits of Vowel 7, with the SVLR-long continuing as [ø:] or unrounding to [e:] in e.g. puir ‘poor’ and yuize ‘use’ v.; and the SVLR-short deviating as [ɪ] or [ε̈] in e.g. muin ‘moon’ and yuis ‘use’ n. The most widespread of these splits in its ModSc outcomes has been that of the SVLR-short of Vowel 1, when this diphthong had opened as far as [ε:i]. This then shortened in the SVLR-short environment to [εi, əi], which has remained ever since; while the SVLR-long has continued the opening process to the [a:ɪ] or [ɑ:e] which it has eventually reached in many dialects. Another SVLR-conditioned split has been that of word-initial Vowel 4 into /jɪ/ or the like in the SVLR-short environments in Central and Southern, e.g. yin ‘one’ (see §6.27.2), and regular /e:/ SVLR-long.

6.29 The later history of Vowel 8 /ai/

The later history of ESc /ai/ Vowel 8 and its relations with, in particular, Vowel 4, differs greatly amongst its several environments, specifically amongst word-initial, word-medial SVLR-short, word-medial SVLR-long (effectively, before /r/), and word-final. In the word-initial environment, the preiotation of Vowel 4 (see §6.27.2) means that Vowels 4 and 8 remain distinct over most of modern Central and Southern, whereas they are usually merged in word-medial SVLR-short environments (see Aitken, 2002: Map 2).

6.29.1 Final position

There are three different modern outcomes of Vowel 8 in final position:

(1) a diphthong, [εi], [ε̈i] or [əi]. In many ModSc dialects this shares the quality of Vowel 1 short in e.g. bite, bide, and of Vowel 10 in e.g. doit, join, oil, poison. This must have arisen by a diaphonemic split from the other allophones of Vowel 8 as the first element raised. This applies for example to gey ‘gay, very’, hay;

(2) doublets in the diphthong above and in Vowel 4 /e:/ of early origin. In the case of two of these words, both of OF origin, pay and according to Murray (1873: 77) pray v.1, these doublet outcomes arose quite early in PreSc: OF pajier and prejier > respectively paijer and preijer > PreSc /′(n)/ and /′(n)/, yielding dual results when the sequence /-aij-/ was simplified, either /′p(r)aiə(n)/ or /′p(r)a:jə(n)/, with the vowel lengthened either by OSL or by compensatory lengthening; leading eventually to /′p(r)ai/ or /′p(r)a:/. The other two words of this group are: thay pron., with doublet outcomes from /θai/ < ON þeir and /θa:/ < OE þā ‘those’ pl. demonstrative, with which the former was confused; and may v.1 /mai/ < OE mæg and its doublet /ma:/ < ON ;

(3) other doublets with a diphthong as in (1) above and a monophthong, still occasionally separate, but merged in most ModSc dialects with Vowel 4, e.g. day, Tay, lay v.; the monophthongal form also appears sporadically in e.g. may, stay, and way. It seems that we are witnessing the latter stages of a process of lexical diffusion whereby Vowel 4 /e:/ is superseding a more original monophthong. However, the ModSc forms wa ‘way’ and awa ‘away’, and OSc maw, rare variant of may v., appear to arise out of Vowel 4 forms treated in labial environments as described in §6.26.

A distinguishing feature of the words in group (3) was that all occurred in inflected forms, albeit only infrequently in the case of some items. In these inflected forms, such as [‘daiɪz], pl. of day, the [i] element of the diphthong was absorbed by the inflectional vowel and the [a] lengthened in compensation, yielding [‘da:ɪz], which, with deletion of the inflectional vowel in hiatus > 14th century [da:z] . From Barbour on there are numerous rhymes proving the contraction of inflectional /-ɪz/ in such cases.

Some (perhaps only the earlier) 15th– and 16th century poets keep separate in rhyme Vowel 4 final from any Vowel 8 final, including our group (3). Other poets, however, do rhyme Vowel 4 and Vowel 8 group (3), among them Henryson and Lyndsay.

6.29.2 Non-initial, non-final environments Long environments

Before /v/, /ð/ and /z/, most or all of the words which would otherwise have yielded Vowel 8, ESc /ai/, had already had their diphthongs smoothed to Vowel 4 /a:/ (see §

In most ModSc dialects Vowels 4 and 8 have merged before /r/, mostly as [e:], as they have in other SVLR-long environments. Some earlier OSc poets, including Barbour and Henryson and the authors of the The Buke of the Sevyne Sagis and The Buke of the Chess, seem to have kept ESc /a:/ Vowel 4 separate in rhyme from /ai/ Vowel 8 before /r/. Others, however, rhyme them freely. It seems then that Vowel 4 and Vowel 8 merged before /r/, beginning in the early to mid-15th century, apparently by smoothing of the diphthong of Vowel 8. When did the merger of Vowels 4 and 8 in short environments begin?

The overwhelming majority of the OSc rhymes apparently showing Vowel 4 rhyming with Vowel 8 involve members of pairs of etymological doublets in Vowel 4 and Vowel 8. Once these are excluded, the number of rhymes between Vowels 4 and 8 in SVLR-short environments is exiguous: possibly such rhymes were imperfect but approximate.

There seem to be no clear clues as to when Vowel 8 became a monophthong in non-final short environments. The strongest indication perhaps is that the monophthongal outcome prevails throughout the entire Scots-speaking area, including Orkney and Shetland.

The quality of the smoothed Vowel 8 is, in nearly all modern dialects, close to or identical with that of Vowel 4. In many conservative dialects the distinction between the two is that of quantity only, Vowel 4, being subject to SVLR, having undergone shortening to [e] in the SVLR-short environments; while Vowel 8, not subject to SVLR, remains long in all environments. It seems to follow from this that Vowel 4 had already undergone SVLR-shortening before Vowel 8 became smoothed from a diphthong to a monophthong, or the two, being of very similar quality, would have merged as [e:] and shown identical outcomes in the same environments. Thus it seems that the smoothing of Vowel 8 to a long monophthong, probably [e:], in all of its non-final environments, came about later than the establishment of SVLR in these dialects.

This chronology accounts well enough for those dialects in which merger of Vowel 8 (invariably long) with SVLR-short Vowel 4 has not taken place. However, in many SW dialects, Vowel 8 has remained unmerged, as the result of maintaining a lower height than Vowel 4, but nevertheless operates SVLR. Whether this was due to early monophthongisation, with Vowel 8 shadowing Vowel 4 through the GVS at a lower height, does not seem ascertainable.

In some Tayside dialects, SVLR has not reached the non-high vowels, including Vowel 4, which has accordingly merged, as a uniformly long vowel, with Vowel 8.

The dialectological evidence suggests that the more usual merger of SVLR-subject Vowels 4 and 8 is an on-going change, which has been spreading outwards since its beginning, apparently in some Central dialect, some time after the establishment of SVLR.

6.30 Recapitulation

6.31 Consonants

6.31.1 Inventory

OSc had essentially the same consonant system as ModSc, itself the same as ModStE but with the addition of /x/ as in richt and /ʍ/ as in white. (On NE /f/ for /ʍ/, see §2.4.) The realisation of /ʍ/, the early 17th century orthoepist Hume threaps, was [xʍ]:

… a labiel symbol can not serve a dental nor a guttural[108] sound ; nor a guttural symbol a dental nor a labiel sound.

To clere this point, and alsoe to reform an errour bred in the south, and now usurped be our ignorant printeres, I wil tel quhat befel my-self quhen I was in the south with a special gud frende of myne. Ther rease, upon sum accident, quhither quho, quhen, quhat, etc., sould be symbolized with q or w, a hoat disputation betuene him and me. After manie conflictes (for we oft encountered), we met be chance, in the citie of baeth, with a doctour of divinitie of both our acquentance. He invited us to denner. At table my antagonist, to bring the question on foot amangs his awn condisciples, began that I denyed quho to be spelled with a w, but with qu. Be quhat reason ? quod the Doctour. Here, I beginning to lay my grundes of labial, dental, and guttural soundes and symboles, he snapped me on this hand and he on that, that the doctour had mikle a doe to win me room for a syllogisme. Then (said I) a labial letter can not symboliz a guttural syllab. But w is a labial letter, quho a guttural sound. And therfoer w can not symboliz quho, nor noe syllab of that nature. Here the doctour staying them again (for al barked at ones), the proposition, said he, I understand; the assumption is Scottish, and the conclusion false. Quherat al laughed, as if I had bene dryven from al replye, and I fretted to see a frivolouse jest goe for a solid ansuer. (Hume Orthog. 18)

Cf. the spelling <chwa> ‘who’ in ONhb.[109]

OSc also had two additional consonants, the palatals /ɲ/ (n-mouillé) and /ʎ/ (l-mouillé) in words of French and Gaelic origin, e.g. cunȝe, ganȝe, bailȝe n.1. At an unknown period, /ʎ/ became /lj/; and /ɲ/ became /nj, ŋj/, or in some cases, /ŋ/, e.g. ring v.3 ‘reign’. They are still separate in Barbour’s rhyme practice (cf. the transcription in Aitken, 1977: 10). There was a wide range of spellings[110] <nȝe, ngȝe, nȝhe, nyhe, ny(i)e, etc.>, and similarly <lȝe, lȝhe, lyhe, ly(i)e, etc.>. The <yh> type spellings fell into disuse in late MSc.[111] The spellings in <ȝ> were subject to confusion with <z> (see Ȝ).

6.31.2 Fricatives

OE had no voiced fricatives as phonemes: [v, đ, z, ɣ] occurred as allophonic variants of /f, θ, s, x/ intervocalically and between a nasal/liquid consonant and a vowel. This environment included the position before a subsequently lost final -e. In this and other ways, including borrowing from other languages, PreSc/ME acquired the phonemes /v, đ, z/, while [ɣ] was vocalised (see §6.9). Scots does not, of course, share the PreStE borrowing of South-Western English dialect forms, thus e.g. fat n.1, not vat.

It appears that the phonotactic rule governing voicing was still operating after the loss of inflections, yielding voiceless final fricatives in e.g. gif and haf.[112] In OSc, as in nME, rhymes indicate that final <s> was voiceless in the inflectional ending -is. Spellings are unhelpful, as <z> is little used in OSc at all and <f, ff> continue to be used for medial /v/. Word-finally, <ss> and <ff> can perhaps be taken as a signal that the consonant is voiceless. It is likely that there were variant pronunciations in /f/ and /v/ in words such as lufe (Catherine van Buuren, personal communication). As King (1997: 164) points out, OSc seems to share, at least variably, the ModStE alternation of /f, v/ in the inflected form of nouns ending in /f/, e.g. <livis> as well as <lif(f)is> as the plural and possessive of life. In ModSc, /f/ has been generalised throughout the paradigm, and likewise /θ/ (e.g. baths) and /s/ (e.g. hooses): voiced forms of the latter two would not be revealed by OSc orthography.

6.31.3 Consonant clusters

The consonant clusters /kn, gn, wr, wl/ were pronounced as spelled. They participate in alliteration accordingly.

There were simplifications of medial and final consonant clusters consisting of a nasal and a homorganic plosive, at some point after Homorganic Cluster Lengthening (see §6.3.1):

  • /ŋg/ gives /ŋ/ medially as well as finally, e.g. in Scots finger, langage, Inglis (as well as e.g. sing and singer as in StE). In the inflectional ending -ing, this /ŋ/ was already changed to /n/ in ESc, on the evidence of spellings in 14th century texts. As in other cases, the orthography of MSc is more conservative, and the -in form, which was presumably prevalent in speech, is revealed mainly in reverse spellings like kiching ‘kitchen’;
  • /mb/ gives /m/ medially as well as finally, e.g. timber (s.v. tymmer n.1), Chalmers, number as well as e.g. lamb. Correspondingly, there is no insertion of unetymological /b/ in e.g. emmer, thymmil;
  • /nd/ gives /n/ medially and finally, e.g. candill, ground, hand, but this change does not affect all dialects, on the evidence of ModSc. These reductions are treated as colloquial in OSc rhyming practice. There is no insertion of unetymological /d/ in e.g. ganer, spinnel (s.v. spindill).

Similarly, /ln/ gives /l/ in e.g. kill n.1. The mill doublet of miln is already present in OE.

/t/ is lost after /p, k/ in the 15th century, e.g. excep (s.v. except), effeck (s.v. effect). Meurman-Solin (1997b) finds that in pre-1500 texts deletion of /t/ in the clusters /kt, pt/ is the rule when followed by the past tense and past participle ending -it/-yt, with variation in the early 16th century texts but a clear preference for deleted forms. In letters dating from the first half of the 16th century there is a spread into other positions and other word classes. But by 1570-1640 there is a conservative reaction in orthography and the only texts illustrating deletion in verb forms are informal, including letters written by women. During a relatively short period of time, 1580-1610, hypercorrect variants such as publict, attentict ‘authentic’ spread from parliamentary acts and burgh records throughout the corpus.

6.31.4 Interchange of /d, đ /

OE/ON /đ/ commonly gives OSc /d/ in the environment of a liquid or nasal in a following syllable, e.g. bladder, idand (doublet of ithand).[113]

Conversely, in the first half of the 15th century, /d/ gives /đ/ between vowels or between a nasal/liquid consonant and a vowel, e.g. father (a late doublet of fader), mother (doublet of moder n.1), and wethir (doublet of weddir n.1 and weddir n.2).

6.31.5 Loss of consonants

Reiterating the late OE change that gives e.g. laird, hede n.1, and hawk by loss of intervocalic /v/, MSc has v-deletion intervocalically and between a nasal/liquid consonant and a vowel in e.g. aunter, dollin (p.p. of delve), hairst, seynt (variant of sevint), siller (s.v. silver n.), shuil (s.v. s(c)hule n.), Steen(son) ‘Steven(son)’, tolmond (s.v. twelf mon(e)th); and also finally in e.g. dow n., producing doublets alongside the full forms. Many of the reduced forms are treated as colloquial (see §5.2.6 and §9.3.7).

/θ/ is similarly lost word-finally in MSc, e.g. mow n.2 (beside mouth), uncow (beside uncouth), no beside noth (s.v. nocht), and is similarly colloquial (see §9.3.7). Cf. the earlier loss of /θ/ in hundir, etc.

On l-vocalisation, see above (§6.23).

6.31.6 Metathesis

Metathesis is a sporadic change whereby adjacent sounds exchange places. It is particularly liable to happen with /r/ and a vowel, e.g. gers = gres, girt = grit adj.; but also e.g. wardle = warld and NE fedill = felde.

6.31.7 Interchange of voiced dental/alveolar nasals and liquids

As in English and also in Gaelic, there are sporadic interchanges of /n, l, r/. See for instance knapholt and knok n.1 (and see further Meier, 1968; Macafee and Ó Baoill, 1997).

[101] When it represents /j/, OE g is usually written as here, or ġ. For concision, ON g = /j/ is sometimes referred to together with the OE , and likewise ON long vowels together with OE ones, although different length marks are used in representing the two languages.

[102] For the developments that PreSc shared with ME south of the Humber, the reader is referred to the standard text-books of Luick (1903), Jordon and Crook (1974), and others.

[103] See hing v.

[104] Since in both cases PreSc largely shadowed ME generally, the reader is referred to Minkova (1982) or to one of the standard ME grammars for lists of examples.

[105] Kep beside kepe ‘to keep’ is by Pre-Cluster Shortening II (see §6.3).

[106] The borrowing of the Scots word powny into English as pony may suggest that the borrowing was earlier than the 18th century evidence.

[107] The nouns consait ‘conceit’, dissait etc. appear to have adopted the vocalism of the corresponding verbs in -save.

[108] I.e. velar.

[109] Lindisfarne Gospels.

[110] Though not as wide as some writers suppose, who include spellings for /n, l/ that actually reflect doublets without the palatal consonants (see above, §6.11).

[111] Aitken (2002: §8.1) writes: “Spellings of French origin – <(n)gn(e)> and <lle> – are markedly less common, though favoured by some scribes, e.g. the copyist of Gilbert Hay’s Prose Works (la15).”

[112] In sME, where the endings were lost later, final fricatives preserved voicing from their formerly intervocalic position, and also became voiced in unstressed syllables by the 14th century (see Jordan rev. Crook, 1974: §§158-60).

[113] Quod has been explained as analogous to said (Jordan rev. Crook, 1974: §207).

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/phonology/