SCOTTICISM. A feature of English peculiar to Scotland; a word or usage from SCOTS or related to Scotland that occurs in English at large or in any other language. The term has often been pejorative, especially in Scotland itself, where since the late 17c it has served to indicate a usage to be avoided for reasons of refinement at home and ease of communication abroad. As the Anglicization of Scots proceeded after the Union of the Crowns in 1603, Scottish writers began apologizing for, vindicating, or seeking English help in eradicating the Scots expression which occurred in their writings. Published collections such as James Beattie's Scoticisms arranged in Alphabetical Order, designed to correct Improprieties of Speech and Writing (Edinburgh, 1787, 115 pp., c.500 entries) began appearing in 1752, continuing to the 20c. The general response to these collections has been mixed: (1) Some of the expressions warned against were eliminated from ScoE: to come/sit into the fire; the French-derived verb evite (to avoid). (2) Some have become (and may always have been) part of general English: burial for funeral; come here (18c refined usage in England preferred come hither); close the door (shut was preferred); liberate (set at liberty was preferred). (3) Many continue in present-day ScoE. With the return of Scots to respectability in the 19c, Scotticisms have lost much of their former odium, except for the SHIBBOLETHS of Gutter Scots.
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