Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

R, n.1. letter of the alphabet. The eighteenth letter of the alphabet, now gen. called ar [ar] as in Eng., but formerly er(r) [ɛr] (Sc. c.1775 Signet Lib. MS. 85; Ags. c.1825 D. H. Edwards Men & Manners (1920) 216; Bnff. 1836 Ellis E.E.P. V. 777; Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 133; Sh. 1948 P. Jamieson Letters 248), airr [er] (ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 39). In Sc. this is the voiced point sound, markedly trilled in all positions, unlike Eng., where it is sounded as a fricative [ɹ] before vowels and disappears entirely before another consonant or finally. This [ɹ] sound is often substituted for [r] in all positions in anglicising speech. [r] tends to be lengthened in stressed position. In Highland areas, esp. in Cai., Rs., Inv. and Nai., [ɹ] has become retroflexed regularly to []. Another form of r, the breathed point trill [], has developed in m. and s.Sc. out of thr- as in Thrae (= Frae), three, throat, through [e, i, ot, u]. See A. Somerville Autobiog. Working Man (1848) passim, who spells it rh- (see Rhae). The uvular r or burr [R] is not found except as a speech idiosyncrasy. For the above see P.L.D. § 80. In Sc.:

1. r freq. suffers metathesis, esp. in certain consonant clusters, e.g. Birse, n.1, Birse, n.2, Girse, Turse; Brast, Thrist (Thirst), Girsle, Warsle, Kirsten; girt (Great), Scart, v., Wrat, Girdle; Brecham, Broch, n.1, Brod, n.1, Crub, n.1, Crud, Dredgie, Hunder; Girn, v.1; Skirl, Thirl, v.2, Yorlin;

2. r appears intrusively in Carsackie, Sprigot, Thrissel, prob. due to analogy; and in Dorb, n.1, v., Gorb; Hirple, Hirtch, Hurb; Carble, Garble; Firple, Firsle, Jirble, Purfle, Sirple, Troddle, where it provides a variant form with freq. or intensive force, of the simple form without r, Dob, etc.;

3. r disappears, esp. before s and in dialects where the r is retroflex, in fist (First),  hoss (Horse), puss (Purse), haist (Hairst), a feature of Mry. and Upper Bnff. (See P.L.D. § 143), also in hissel (Hirsel, n.1), hist (Hirst), Trevis; before -t, in Ersit, Forrit, Wurchet; and from lack of stress in fae (Frae); paitrick (Pairtrick) is phs. due to analogy with Patrick;

4. r is substituted for l, e.g. in Cleesh, Frail, n.2, Ramper, Runk, v.1 (see also L, letter, 4.); for d in Scarrow; for t in Parritch; for n in kree, krife, krit, krock, krowe, for knee, etc. in Rs. under the influence of Gaelic where cn- is sounded [Kr-]. See P.L.D. § 153. For l, n for r, see L, and N, letters.

5. The proximity of r final after the long vowels, except a, and diphthongs, and in the collocations -rl-, -rm-, -rn, shr-, freq. produces a glide or svarabhakti vowel [ə, ʌ, ɪ] as in Sair [′se:ər], Spier [′spi:ər], fire [′fɑeər], Farl [′fɑrəl], Airm [′erəm], warm [′wɑrəm], Bairn [′berən], worn [′worən], shrew [ʃə′ru] (cf. Rushyroo), etc. See M.M.S. § 69, Dieth Bch. Dial. § 82, Zai Dial. Morebattle § 229, Wettstein Bwk. Dial. § 59; orig. a between rt occas. > o. Hence protty (Pretty), rot (Ratt), rottan (Ratton); and e between rk, -s > a, as in rack, Reck, Rackless, Rackon, Brak; Rash, n.1 For the occurrence of this feature in Eng. see Luick Hist. Gramm. § 541 n.3 Cf. also Dan., Du. rotte, rat, etc.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"R n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: