Illustrative sentences

In A-D only the illustrative sentences are, as a general rule, arranged in a fixed regional order, i.e. according to the locality with which each writer is associated. The chronological order is observed if a number of sentences are cited for one district or if it is necessary to show the continuous development of a word from Middle Scots. The name of the district is followed normally by the date of publication of the work, the name of the author and the name of the book. If a later edition has been used its date is recorded in brackets after the title of the book. Both the date of composition or of the author’s death) and that of publication may be given, if there is any considerable interval between. The title of the book is followed by one or more of the following: page (9), volume (II), chapter, or similar section (xi), book (as a large division (l. 203). In quotations from magazines and newspapers the month or day is given, sometimes with the page, and in the ease of the newspapers also with the number of the column.

Proverbs and Ballads and Old Songs. Many old words have been preserved in our rich store of proverbs and proverbial sayings. The words may not be used in ordinary speech, but if they are still understood by genuine speakers of dialect, or are in literacy use they will be recorded. As a rule we give the date of the collection used, which implies nothing as to the date of the first appearance of the proverb. The same procedure is followed in the case of the old ballads and songs. The quotations from Child’s great collection are taken from the 1904 abridged edition and the ballad number is used instead of the page. These survivals of the past stand on a similar footing in Scottish speech to that of many Biblical words and phrases in Standard English.

Writers who cannot, for various reasons, be assigned to one particular district and who use the conventional literary dialect come under the designation of Sc. In this Sc. list are included some great names, such as Ramsay, Scott and Stevenson. As the literary dialect is founded on Mid Scots, the dividing line between these two is not always easy to strike, and may not meet with the approval of everyone. For instance, Burns has been so long identified with Ayrshire that we leave him there. John Buchan claims to speak for the centre and south of Scotland as against the north, so we place him under Mid Scots. Stevenson, on the other hand, professes to select his words from all dialects, and he therefore comes under a general designation.

Writers who by their spelling, their idiom and their vocabulary show that they aim at representing a local form of speech are generally marked by placing (D) after the abbreviation for their district (see Geographical labels). Names of counties with numbers affixed, and of county and district word-books, may be taken also to indicate dialect forms, unless otherwise stated. A few writers borrow obsolete words from Middle Scots, some with discretion, and others more indiscriminately, obscuring the meaning to the ordinary reader. Their object may be to enrich the modern vocabulary, and they may defend their action by appealing to the practice of the great Scottish Makars. There is this difference between the two, however, that the Scottish Makars addressed a public who were thoroughly acquainted with the languages from which they borrowed the words, Latin and French, and to whom meaning would seldom be obscure. Such modern writers cannot be altogether neglected, but quotations from their works are generally marked by the letter (E) within brackets. (E) stands for “eclectic”, a word which in itself carries no reproach, and is, therefore, preferable to “synthetic”. Another class of modern writers whose background is Standard English, into which they weave distinctive Scots words or spellings, sometimes borrowing wholesale from the dictionary. Quotations from works of this type are necessarily small in number. Between the two extremes of the conventional literary and the pure dialect there are many shades of difference. The regional designation, however, will enable readers to judge for themselves how far the author approaches the one or other extreme. The scholar who desires to the local pronunciation can obtain it by studying Phonetic description.

In many of the quotations from writers who are marked by the district designations there will be found, apart from the distinctive interest of the local idiom, references to or description of local customs, traditions, occupations and habits of thought. The regional arrangement, therefore, will conduce to a fuller presentation of Scottish thought and feeling in all parts of the country.

Words and sentences from a manuscript collection are marked by the name of the county or district of the collector with a figure affixed, thus Cai.1, Keb.4 The same method is used to record sentences written down from the mouth of dialect speakers by competent observers. The names of these contributors are given in a special list (see Correspondents).