Inglis of the Northern Lede: Sources and Resources for the Study of Older Scots

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Date(s) - 12/03/2015
1:10 pm - 2:00 pm

University of Edinburgh - Room 3.10, Dugal Stewart Building


Inglis of the Northern Lede: Sources and Resources for the Study of Older Scots

An English Language Reading Group Talk given by

Joanna Kopaczyk and Benjamin Molineaux

The first aim of this talk is to present an outline for the AHRC-funded FITS Project (From Inglis to Scots), currently in progress at the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics (Linguistics and English Language). The data under investigation come from diplomatic transcriptions of the earliest extant local documents from the Scottish Lowlands, which form the backbone of the Linguistic Atlas of Older Scots (LAOS, 1380-1500). In essence, the FITS project concentrates on the relationship between Older Scots spelling variation and the language’s underlying phonological system, aiming to produce a corpus of attested orthographic forms (root morphemes) and their reconstructed phonological values. In parallel, a corpus of changes tracking the development of these forms from their etymological sources will also be compiled.

The problem of which language(s) a particular Older Scots form may be traced back to, however, is anything but straightforward. Thus, the second aim of the talk is to address this very problem. The LAOS texts are a product of the linguistic melting pot of the early Scottish burghs, where local speakers of Anglian and Gaelic came into contact with incoming speakers of Midlands Anglo-Danish and other varieties of Middle English, as well as speakers of Norman and Central French, Latin, and even Middle Dutch. At the outset of the project, then, it will be necessary to interrogate the resources that can help us establish the source(s) of Scots phonological and orthographic features overall. The most important resources of this kind include the Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English (in its electronic version), the Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English and the Corpus of Narrative Etymologies, developed at Edinburgh in the last several decades. The talk will be illustrated with selected examples from the FITS data, providing an opportunity to discuss methodological issues arising from this complex endeavour.

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