Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lost & found: one Scots dictionary

No, it wasn't actually one of our library collection dictionaries; it is a rare archival sort of discovery. A leading scholar of the Scots language has discovered, in a cache of other papers, an attempt at a Scots dictionary by the 18th century literary figure James Boswell, best known for his biography of Samuel Johnson, who in turn was a famous pioneer of the English language dictionary. Click here for a story on the discovery.

And yes, Scots is a language of its own, or was historically. It and English descended from Anglo-Saxon and other roots, and Scots was not only the language of the common people, but of the government and literature up into the 18th century. Today there are still many speakers of Scots; the upcoming 2011 census in Scotland will for the first time include questions about Scots language use. You can learn more about Scots at the Scots Language Centre or the Scots Wikipedia. We do have books in and about Scots in the library collection, see our catalog. Project Muse and JSTOR would be good places to look for articles on the subject.

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