Identification of words
Words are identified by (A) their spelling, (B) their grammatical function, (C) their status, (D) their meaning, (E) their pronunciation, (F) their inflexions, (G) their origin.
(A) It is very seldom that a word is spelled only in one way in Scots. The variant spellings at the head of each article are divided into two classes. The first class, in large capitals, contains the most common spelling or spellings found in our conventional literary dialect. The second class in smaller capitals, represents less important or dialectal spellings. The placing of the words in the first group is determined by three considerations: (1) frequency of occurrence; (2) historical importance; and (3) phonetic correctness. An example will illustrate this: ADAE, ADO, Adeu, Adü, Adee. ADAE is placed first because it is the form most commonly used and because it suggests the most common pronunciation. Ado is also in common use, and is found in Old Scots, but is apt to be identified with an English pronunciation. The next two forms are rare spelling variations, and the last is an attempt to represent a dialect pronunciation.
(C) Their status – i.e. they may be obsolete (obs.), obsolescent (obsol.), archaic (arch.), colloquial (colloq.), dialectal (dial.).
(E) The pronunciation (indicated by phonetic characters) precedes the illustrative sentences, and is enclosed within square brackets. Each pronunciation is followed by the name of the district or districts (abbreviated) where it is prevalent. When any word that has no consonantal variations has been once written phonetically it will be sufficient to use the vowel symbol if the vowel varies with the dialect. The sign + before a word or symbol means that two pronunciations are prevalent in a district. Sc. (Scots) Following a word means that the pronunciation is general.
(G) When known, the origin of the word will be indicated at the end of the article, in square brackets. In the case of words which the etymology may be found even in smaller dictionaries of Standard English only a very brief etymological note is given. Where the development of Scots form or meanings seems to call for it the etymology is more fully stated or discussed.