Online Dictionary of the Scots Language: How many ways can you spell that? – Lauren Tormey

Many like to debate whether Scots is a language or dialect of English, but no matter which side you take, the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences’s Online Dictionary of the Scots Language event showed some great resources for Scots. The one hour session was hosted by Ann Ferguson of Scottish Language Dictionaries, a charity that’s now officially an associate of the university.During the session, we mainly looked at how to use the online Dictionary of the Scots Language, which is a work in progress but nonetheless a fantastic, copious resource. It comprises entries from a few different Scots dictionaries, including A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (which has Scots entries from the twelfth to eighteenth century) and the Scottish National Dictionary (from the eighteenth century onwards). Both dictionaries are massive collections (in print, the former is twelve volumes and the latter ten) and now, they have been compiled into an online resource.

If there has been one struggle facing the compilers of this dictionary, it’s been the spelling. Scots does not have standardized spelling, and it creates an issue when making an online dictionary of how people can search for a variant spelling of a word. Ann told us that the word ‘taffeta’ has 98 variant spellings, and we even got the chance to look at some of the spellings for ‘oven’, everything from ‘euine’ to ‘owyn’, ‘houne’ to ‘ine’. The most interesting fact I learned was the word ‘pinkie’—what I’ve been calling my little finger all my life—is actually a Scots word!

It was a small event, but greatly appreciated by all in attendance. If you fancy learning more about Scots or want to have a look at the dictionary for yourself, check out: http://www.dsl.ac.uk/

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