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Perspectives on the Older Scottish Tongue

Perspectives on the Older Scottish Tongue

Christian J. Kay
Margaret A. Mackay
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Perspectives on the Older Scottish Tongue
    Book Description:

    This volume celebrates the completion of the monumental Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7946-1
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    Christian J. Kay and Margaret A. Mackay
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    Alasdair A. MacDonald

    This book is conceived not only as a companion to, but also as a celebration of, the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (in the familiar abbreviated title, DOST) – that wonderful, imposing, comprehensive, challenging, meticulous, authoritative, occasionally frustrating, multi-volume, heavyweight (!), lexicographical monument, which deservedly occupies its secure place in the reference sections of all university libraries where philology is taken seriously. In the following pages, the contributions of more than a dozen experts are testimony to the enormous resource that DOST represents for anyone investigating the language, history, literature, religion, law, society, economy, agriculture, physical geography, architecture, and...

  5. CHAPTER 2 DOST and the Literary Scholar
    (pp. 5-17)
    Priscilla Bawcutt

    There have been many dictionaries in my life, ranging from the humble to the monumental. The first, encountered as a child, was the family copy of Chambers’, chiefly useful, as I recall, for completing crosswords. In later schooldays there were various bilingual dictionaries, the most notable of which was a French–English dictionary (published by Gasc in 1945), which brought home to me very vividly the reality of language change in the modern world. It contained three different supplements, the last of which (from abri-caverne to viseur de bombardement) recorded some of the enormous, though often ephemeral, effects of the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The History and Development of DOST
    (pp. 18-37)
    M. G. Dareau

    The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue is a great store of treasures for the researcher or the merely curious. Its twelve volumes, as well as offering a unique point of entry to Scottish medieval and renaissance society, form a substantial monument to many years of scholarship throughout the twentieth century and, in the development of the ideas that underpin it, a bridge to the twenty-first. Yet its history has its share of precarious moments. This account of that history¹ seeks to record these moments along with the powerful sense of purpose and endeavour that informed the production of the...

  7. CHAPTER 4 ‘There is Nothing Like a Good Gossip’: Baptism, Kinship and Alliance in Early Modern Scotland
    (pp. 38-47)
    Jane E. A. Dawson

    ‘There is nothing like a good gossip’: the modern meaning conjures up the image of two neighbours talking over the garden fence or women on the telephone to their female friends.¹ The emphasis is upon the verb and the ‘crack’ which is taking place and very often the image is linked to that of a nosy female minding someone else’s business! In early modern Scotland, by contrast, the word is usually found as a noun describing a person, often male and used within the context of social and political power. The complexities of the term ‘gossip’ created a problem whilst...

  8. CHAPTER 5 ‘Wyne Confortative’: Wine in Scotland from the Thirteenth till the Eighteenth Centuries
    (pp. 48-60)
    Alexander Fenton

    This paper examines the history of the drinking of wine in Scotland as an exercise in using entries in the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue. Wine is not native to Scotland and so had to be imported as an object of trade. It was expensive, and remained as a drink of the better off until surprisingly recent times. As a personal reminiscence, I remember the very unflattering reception given in the 1950s to a bottle of claret that I brought from France to a croft in the north-east of Scotland. There, the expected drinks were beer and whisky for...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Law and Lexicography: DOST and Late Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Shipping Law
    (pp. 61-72)
    A. D. M. Forte

    This essay considers the value of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue from a lawyer’s perspective. To assess the significance of DOST, however, requires one to understand the role of dictionaries generally in the interpretation of legal language. From this exercise it will become apparent that the lexicographer’s conception of the significance of the dictionary is not one necessarily shared by the modern lawyer. However, the value of dictionaries to the contemporary lawyer may, in turn, be contrasted with their usefulness to the legal historian. As I have worn both hats for most of my professional career, writing this...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Cereal Terms in the DOST Record
    (pp. 73-83)
    Iseabail Macleod

    What does the terminology of cereal crops and their products in the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue tell us about the language and diet of Lowland Scotland in the period? Evidence suggests that up until the middle of the sixteenth century, cereals played a secondary role to meat and dairy products in the Scottish diet, especially in the pastoral areas of the Highlands and the Southern Uplands. Fish was also important, especially on ‘fish days’ (in accordance with the fast days of the Church). Cereals were always important and after 1550 became dominant, as the most economic way to...

  11. CHAPTER 8 The Spread of a Word: Scail in Scots and Sgaoil in Gaelic
    (pp. 84-111)
    Donald E. Meek

    The completion of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue in 2002 was a landmark event in the history of Scottish, and indeed British, lexicography. The finished work provides a splendid picture of the lexis of the Scots language from the twelfth century to the seventeenth. It offers an opportunity for scholars to survey the Scots lexis generally, but it also provides an excellent starting-point for comparing the usages of certain Scots words with those of related words in other languages, notably Scottish Gaelic, which has shared frontiers with Scots for many centuries. Not only has one very important Gaelic...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Place Names as Evidence in the History of Scots
    (pp. 112-118)
    W. F. H. Nicolaisen

    My interest in the topic to which this brief essay will be devoted goes back several decades, finding an early, and still somewhat tangential, written expression in a detailed exploration of the complex linguistic history of the name Falkirk (Nicolaisen 1969). More recent relevant studies have been concerned with the contrasting development of the place names Stirling and Dunfermline (Nicolaisen 1989) and, in a somewhat wider perspective, with ‘Scottish place names as Evidence for Language Change’ (Nicolaisen 1993). In 1996, I presented a paper with the same title as this essay to the Eighth International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance...

  13. CHAPTER 10 DOST and MED and the Virtues of Sibling Rivalry
    (pp. 119-131)
    Paul Schaffner

    Viewed from the offices of the Middle English Dictionary (MED),¹ the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, more than any comparable project, always seemed a lexicographic brother-in-arms, even if one kept at arm’s length. The language it aspired to document was divided, at least in its early and transitional stages, from the northern dialects of our own Middle English (ME) by criteria that seemed at best artificial and at worst arbitrary; and even the fully formed and independent language of Middle Scots proper declared its kinship with Middle English at many points, not only in what it preserved of the...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Was it Murder? John Comyn of Badenoch and William, Earl of Douglas
    (pp. 132-138)
    W. D. H. Sellar

    The following passage occurs in Sir Gilbert Hay’s Buke of the Law of Armys written in 1456, a translation, albeit a rather free one, of Honoré Bonet’s L’Arbre des Batailles, completed in 1387. In it Hay discusses the legality and morality of a challenge to combat, and concludes that it transgresses all laws, both God’s and man’s:

    Bot before or I schaw thir casis [some exceptional cases], I will first prove opynly that gage of bataille be all lawis is forbedyn expressly, bathe in Goddis law and mannis law, in commoun lawe and canoune lawe, and als, be gude resoun...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Interpreting Scots Measurement Terms: a Cautionary Tale
    (pp. 139-152)
    A. D. C. Simpson

    Weights and measures were as much a part of the social fabric in medieval times as they are today. Then as now, measurement units were used in the trade of foodstuffs, raw materials and many finished goods. In addition, Scottish units have also been used for centuries in land contracts, as the basis for taxation, and in rental and tenancy agreements, and notably in circumstances where payments of all sorts were made in kind. To understand these activities we require a knowledge of the sizes of these units and an appreciation of the way in which they were used. Taking...

  16. CHAPTER 13 The Use of the Scottish National Dictionaries in the Study of Traditional Construction
    (pp. 153-178)
    Bruce Walker

    Language is used to describe every facet of human activity. The wider the range of terms used by a society to describe a particular activity the more important is that activity to the society as a whole.

    Previous studies of aspects of building construction using the national dictionaries have shown that traditional forms of building construction using turf and earth have a much wider range of terms than does masonry (Walker and McGregor 1996; Walker, McGregor and Stark 1996a, 1996b and forthcoming). It was also discovered that although the same or similar terms were used in Ireland the meanings were...

  17. CHAPTER 14 DOST and LAOS: a Caledonian Symbiosis?
    (pp. 179-198)
    Keith Williamson

    The completion of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue is a significant milestone in the study of Scots. Reaching it after such a long journey is well worth celebration. But the study of Older Scots, as with any language and the cultures which it encodes, is a journey without a foreseeable final destination. There is always much new to learn and new places to go, while previously visited places and legs of the journey demand revisiting with an eye to fresh discoveries or new perspectives.

    In this paper I consider the relationship between dictionaries and linguistic atlases, particularly in...

  18. CHAPTER 15 Envoi
    (pp. 199-203)
    William Gillies

    The completion of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue is an occasion for rejoicing for many categories of student. As the essayists in this volume show, it is an indispensable portal through which students of older Scottish literature must pass. It is our key to the usage of Barbour and Blind Harry and Gavin Douglas, Henryson and Dunbar and Lindsay and many more. Equally, it is an invaluable aid to anyone who wishes to work with Scottish records, or Scots Law, or Scottish architecture or medicine or sport – indeed, with any aspect of our cultural history. DOST is...

  19. APPENDIX 1: The Editors of DOST
    (pp. 204-208)
    M. G. Dareau and K. L. Pike
  20. APPENDIX 2: Contributors to this volume
    (pp. 209-213)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 214-224)
  22. Index
    (pp. 225-232)