The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

IV. The Scottish Language



Much remains to be done in the study of the development of literary Scots down to the close of the middle period. All earlier work (and, indeed, much of present-day effort) has been confined to the elucidation of the characteristics of special texts. Books like Sinclair’s Observations on the Scottish Dialect (1782) have a historical interest, but are not of any scientific value. The first important contribution was made by James A. H. Murray in The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland: its Pronunciation, Grammar, and Historical Relations, printed, in 1873, for the Philological Society. In 1902, the present writer published Specimens of Middle Scots with an introduction dealing with the literary forms of Middle Scots. The chapter in this volume is based on that work, to which the reader is referred for details of argument and illustration. Important contributions are being made in the articles in the New English Dictionary (ed. Murray, Bradley, and Craigie), and some aid has been given in the English Dialect Dictionary and Dialect Grammar (ed. Wright, J.). Jamieson’s well-known Scottish Dictionary, now useless as a philological guide, may be consulted for illustrative examples; but the best of these have been incorporated in the New English Dictionary. For the influence of French on Scots, Francisque-Michel’s Inquiry (u. s.) may be referred to; but, for reasons stated in the chapter, this work should be used with caution. For discussion of the language of special texts, the following references to editorial introductions may be useful: Barbour’s Brus, ed. Skeat, W. W., E.E.T.S. 1870–89; revised edition S.T.S. 1894; The Kingis Quair, ed. Skeat, W. W., S.T.S. 1884; Lancelot of the Laik, ed. Skeat, W. W., E.E.T.S. 1865; The Complaynt of Scotlande, ed. Murray, J. A. H., E.E.T.S. 1872; Bellenden’s Livy, ed. Craigie, W. A., S.T.S. 1901–3.