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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

T, n., letter of the alphabet.

The twentieth letter of the alphabet now called tee [ti], as in Eng., but formerly tae, tay [te] (Sc. 1761 Magopico 1; Bnff. 1836 Ellis E.E.P. V. 777; Ags. 1920 D. H. Edwards Men and Manners 216; Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 46. 24), ty [tɑi] (Cai. 1930 John o' Groat Jnl. (25 April), tey [təi] (s.Sc.), signifying the breathed point plosive. In Sc. the sound is gen. alveolar as in Eng. but the aspiration of the consonant before vowels is much less marked or entirely absent as compared with Eng.; in Sh. and Ork. the tongue is advanced to the teeth producing a dental rather than an alveolar sound. The letter is gen. written double medially after a short vowel, as in Eng. In Sc., t appears: 1. Initially for the unvoiced fricative th [θ] as in trae, Thrae, trape, Threap, ting, thing, tink, think, tree, three, etc. reg. in I.Sc. from Norw. (see 9. (2) (iii)), obsol. in Gall. (Wgt. 1517 Wigtown Burgh Ct. Rec. MS. (Reg. Ho.) 66; Gall. 1684 W. Macfarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 120; Wgt. 1972), due to Irish Celtic influence, and obs. in Cai. (Cai. c.1700 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 61) and on the Fife coast (Fif. 1737 Gentleman's Mag. (May) 282); and for the voiced fricative th [ð] esp. in Rnf. and n. Ayr. as in tou, tu, thou (Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail i.; Dmf. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Let. xii.; Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 36), cf. seestu s.v. See, v., B. 2.; tat, that (Rnf. 1822 Galt Steam-Boat xi.); t'e, the (Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 227). See also 2.

2. As a liter. convention to represent a pseudo-Highland pronunciation of d (Gaelic d being voiceless) (Sc. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 257–73, 1816 Scott Rob Roy xxii., 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xiv., 1827 A. Rodger Peter Cornclips 168, 1893 Stevenson Catriona viii.); also sim. used for th[ð]- initially as in te, tere, ting, tem, etc. (Sc. 1707 Sc. Antiquary XII. 105, 1715 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 138–9).

3. Finally (1) for orig. d: (i) in the pa.t. and pa.p. of weak verbs where the ending forms a separate syllable. See P.L.D. § 63; in n., wm. and sm.Sc. also freq. after stems ending in -l, -m, -n, -ng, -r, and in monosyllabic vowel stems, though usage fluctuates; (ii) after -n, in Fient, secont (Second), and in em. and s.Sc. in Ahint, Ayont, eerint, thousant. See P.L.D. § 63.2.; (iii) after -ar, as in cooart (Cooard), Cubbart, guisart (Guiser), Millert, Standart, Stewart, Ackwart, Forrit ( < forart), Backart, Backar't, Eastart; (iv) after -m in fremt (Fremd); (v) in hundert (Hunder), Stippit, Worset. See D, 5.; (2) for th [θ] in Gen.Sc. in ordinal numbers fourt, fift, saxt, seevent, etc. See P.L.D. § 63.3.; in I.Sc. as in lent (Lenth), strent, eart, wirt (Worth). See P.L.D. § 165; also in Stalwart, q.v.

4. t replaces initial k before n in Ags. and e.Per., formerly also in Sh. and occas. elsewhere, as in tna(c)k (Knack), tnaggie (Knag, n.1, 2.) (Ags. 1879 Forfar Poets (Fenton) 156), tnap (Knap, v., n.2), tnappie (Knap. n.1) (Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon vi.), tnead (Kned, v., 2.) (Ags. 1896 Barrie Sentimental Tommy xxvii., M. Ogilivy 86), tnee, tneif, tnife, tnyfe (Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 589), tnet (Knit), tnoab, knob (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 25), tnoalege, knowledge, tnoan, known (Sc. 1779 A. Scott The Contrast 9), tnoak, tnock (Knock, n.1, v.1, Knock, n.2, v.2), tnot (Knot), tnow(e) (Know); before l occas. in e.Dmf. (See K, letter, 5.) and q before u as in Twilt; and is more feq. replaced in em.Sc. (b), esp. w.Lth., by q in twa and its derivs. (See Q, letter, 3.).

5. Medially and finally t disappears after c(k), and p, as in Ack, Fack, Infeck, Proteck, corrup, Temp, Empy (see P.L.D. § 63.2.); between ch, f, s and n and between s and l (as in Eng.), e.g. fochen (Fecht), lichnin (Lichten, v.1), straichen (Straicht), affen (Aften), saffen (Saften), cassen (Cast), fessen (Festen), Warsle; and in various consonant clusters, as in weskit, waistcoat, Worset, worsted, Beas', beasts, wantin [wɑnʔn].

6. In industrial areas in e. and wm.Sc., in Aberdeen city, and with increasing frequency in rural areas, intervocalic t followed by l or r in the next syllable is replaced by the glottal stop [ʔ], occas. indicated in spelling by ' (Sc. 1884 Stevenson Letters to Baxter (1956) 149, 185; Edb. 1940 R. Garioch 17 Poems for 6d 13), e.g. better [bɛʔər], water [wɑʔər], bottle boʔl], kettle [kɛʔl]; sim. final t is replaced, esp. in monosyllables as but [bʌʔ] got [goʔ], hat [hɑʔ], spit [spɪʔ], etc. See Ellis E.E.P. (1889) V. 725, 730, and P.L.D. § 93.6. This change seems to have developed in the Glasgow area about the middle of the 19th c., phs. due to speech influence of Irish and foreign immigrants, with a diferent enunciation of plosive consonants.

7. An inorganic t occurs in Eident, gizzent, Suddent, phs. on analogy with the pa.p. (see 3. above); in minnet (Minnon), sinnet (Sinnen); and in oncet, twicet, phs. influenced by the ordinal forms fift, sixt, etc.

8. Orig. t appears as d in Boddam (cf. Mid.Eng. boddem), though this may be explained alternatively as due to borrowing from M.L.Ger., Mid. Du. bodem; in the pa.p. of weak verbs, -id has been restored from earlier -it in I.Sc. and Cai. See P.L.D. §§ 91, 165, and D, letter, 5.

9. t appears as in Eng. in the digraph th, representing the point-teeth fricative, (1) unvoiced [θ], and (2) voiced [ð], which may undergo various changes: (1) (i) th [θ] may occur for f initially, esp. in Bwk. and s.Sc., as in Thane, n.2, Thrae, Throm (freq. as an idiosyncrasy), Thrumple; more freq. the converse change of th > f operates, as in Fain, Frock, liff (Lith), esp. in s.Sc.; in Cai. in fresh, thresh, and meef (Meeth); and, now only in ne.Sc., Feersday (Fuirsday, Thursday). See M.M.Sc. 22, P.L.D. §§ 70.2., 112, and F, letter, 1.; (ii) for cht [t, xt], as in mith (Micht), dother (Dochter), noth (Nocht), esp. in n.Sc. See P.L.D. § 138; conversely [θ] is found as [t] in baith [bet], skaith [sket] (Ags. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 183), now obs.; (iii) initially thr may be replaced by [] or [r] as in Thrae [e:], Threap [ip], Three [i:], esp. in m. and s.Sc., See R, letter, and Zai § 347, Wettstein § 80; (iv) th develops initially before r in Thresh, n., Thropple; and out of t in Threeple; (v) in I.Sc. th, initial and final, becomes reg. t, as in tank, thank, ting, thing, to, though, toum, thumb, tree, three, trapple (Thrapple), eart, earth, lent, length, wirt, worth, etc. (but not in death, faith). See Ork. 1773 P. Ork. A.S. II. 53, Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 589–93, P.L.D. § 165; (vi) for th > t in other dials. see 3. (2) above; (vii) th is retained as [θ] and not voiced to [ð], after back vowels in plural forms, e.g. baths (bɑθs], paths (pɑθs], booths [bøθs, buθs], in with(in, -out) [wɪθ(ɪn, -ut)], and in though [θo:]; (viii) th is lost in final position, esp. in monosyllables, as Fro, mou (Mouth), Quo, Scy, Unco, Wi;

(2) th (ð) (i) replaces orig. d esp. before syllabic r [ər], as in Blether, n.2, Consither, Ether, n.2, Ether, n.3, Lether, Pouther, shouther (Shouder), freq. in m. and s.Sc. (see J. Wilson L. Strathearn (1915) 29, Cent. Scot. (1926) 45, Dial. Burns (1923) 23, Watson W.-B. § 17, and D, letter, 4.); rarely initially as in Thereckly; also intervocalically, occas. in Mry. as in teythin s.v. Tide and Botham ( < Boddom). See 8.; (ii) is replaced by d, now esp. in ne.Sc., as in fader (Father), midder (Mither), gedder (Gaither) before -er, and in Smiddie, smithy (Gen.Sc.), and Fardin; See P.L.D. § 135 and D, letter, 4.; (iii) in all positions in I.Sc. dee, du (Thou), dat (That), idder (Ither), blide (Blithe), saide (Saithe), etc. See P.L.D. § 165; also ‡in Fif. (see D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 224–233) and on the Kcd. coast; (iv) th occas. appears intervocalically for v, as in sythe, sieve, syther (Syver), and as v in Screeve < * screethe; and for wh- in Thorl; (v) thw- is reduced to wh- in Whang, n.1, v., White, v.1, n.1, Whittle n.1; (vi) th is lost in the relative that, definite article the, and pronominals this, that, they, there. See 'At, dem. adj., dem. pron., adv., At, rel. pron., At, conj., 'E, 'Ey,'Ere, and P.L.D. §§ 71.1., 139, 154.1, 158; also in the numeral three, esp. in comb. twa ree, two or three (Gsw. 1862 J. Gardner Jottiana 46; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein 35; Rxb. 1942 Zai 200). In ne.Sc., Ags., Per., sm.Sc., the def. art. may combine with the preps. i, o, to produce a syncopated form Ee,'E. See P.L.D. §§ 96.6, 125, 158;

(3) th is lost in Claes, q.v., from claithes [kleðz], Scree, n.1 Th was represented in O.Sc. by the runic letter þ, which in some modified forms resembled y. Early Scottish printers occas. adopted y, esp. as the initial letter in the pronominal and demonstrative words, and in MSS. until at least the mid 18th c., this practice was followed, as also in England. Diplomatic texts reproduce this as, e.g., ye, the, ym, them, yr(s), their(s), yt, that (Sc. 1700 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 269, ys, this (Inv. 1725 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 219, 1745 Scott Tales of a Grandfather lxxvi.), yrafter (Sc. 1701 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 325), yranent, thereanent (n.Sc. 1702 Hist. Papers Jacobite Period (S.C.) 24), yrfor, therefore (Abd. 1701 Trans. Bch. Field Club X. 152).

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



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