Loch Earn

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SCOTTISH ENGLISH Short forms ScoE, ScE. The English language as used in Scotland, taken by some to include and by others to exclude SCOTS, or to include or exclude SCOTS as appropriate to particular discussions. When included, Scots is taken to be a northern dialect of English and part of the range of English found in Scotland. When excluded, Scots is taken to be a distinct language, still intact in LITERATURE and in the SPEECH of some rural people, but otherwise now mixed with English from England. Although for many the relationship between English and Scots is not clear-cut, most people are fully aware of the great differences at the poles of the continuum between them. Whatever the case, the traditional Scots usage of the Lowlands is distinct from HIGHLAND ENGLISH, the English typically acquired by GAELIC-speakers in the Highlands and Islands. If Scots is excluded, ScoE can be defined as the mother tongue of a large minority of native-educated Scots (mainly the middle classes and those who have received a higher education) and the public language of most of the remainder (mainly the working class of the Lowlands). While most of its VOCABULARY and GRAMMAR belong to GENERAL ENGLISH, ScoE has many features of Scots.


In many ways, the conservative ScoE accent is phonologically close to Scots, while in others it has departed from it.

Scots-based phonology.

(1) The ScoE accent is rhotic, and all the vowels and diphthongs appear unchanged before /r/: beard /bird/, laird /lerd/, lard /lard/, moored /murd/, bird /bɪrd/, word /wʌrd/, heard /hɛrd/, herd /hɛ̈rd/, cord /kɔrd/, hoard /hord/. A distinction is made between the vowels in such words as sword /sɔrd/ and soared /sord/. Scots are widely supposed to trill the /r/, and many do, but majority usage is the alveolar tap in some phonetic environments and a fricative or frictionless continuant in others. There is a minority uvular r (see BURR) and retroflex r appears to be gaining ground in the middle class. (2) There are distinct phonemes in such words as rise and rice. The /aɪ/ diphthong occurs in rise, tie/tied, sly, why while the /əɪ/ diphthong occurs in rice, tide, slide, while, as well as in such borrowings from Scots as ay(e) always, gey very, gyte mad. (3) ScoE operates the Scottish vowel length rule. (4) There is no distinction between cam and calm, both having /a/, between cot and caught, both having /ɔ/, and between full and fool, both having /u/. (5) There is a monophthong in most regions for /i, e, o, u/ as in steel, stale, stole, stool. (6) The monophthongs and diphthongs total 14 vowel sounds, perhaps the smallest vowel system of any long-established variety of English. (7) ScoE retains from Scots the voiceless velar fricative /x/: for example, in such names as Brechin and MacLachlan, such Gaelicisms as loch and pibroch, such Scotticisms as dreich and sough, and for some speakers such words of Greek provenance as patriarch and technical. (8) The wh- in such words as whale, what, why is pronounced /hw/ and such pairs as which/witch are sharply distinguished. (9) In some speakers, initial /p, t, k/ are unaspirated.

Phonological options.

(1) Vowels: lodge and lodger with /ʌ/ and not /ɔ/; there and where with /e/ and not /ɛ/. (2) Consonants: length and strength with /n/ and not /ŋ/; fifth and sixth with final /t/ and not /θ/; raspberry with /s/ and not /z/, December with /z/ and not /s/, luxury with /gʒ/ and not /kʃ/; Wednesday retains medial /d/. (3) Stress patterns: tortoise and porpoise with spelling pronunciation and equal syllabic stress; many words with distinctive stressing, such as advertise, baptize, realize, recognize and adjudicate, harass, reconcile, soiree, survey with the main stress on the final syllable, and lamentable and preferably on the second.

Hybrid accents

The conservative accent just described is not the only accent of ScoE: (1) Especially in Edinburgh, in the group which includes lawyers, accountants, and architects, there exists a range of accents that to varying degrees incline towards RP. They date from the early 20c or earlier and their Scottishness is reduced by these main features: the addition of an RP-like /ɑː/ in such words as calm, gather, value contrasting with /a/ in cam, bad, pal, and /ɔː/ in caught beside /ɔ/ in cot; the merging of some of all of /ɪ, ʌ, ɛ, ɛ̈/ before /r/, in such words as bird, word, heard, and herd or birth, worth, Perth, and earth, usually with r-colouring; the sporadic or consistent merging of /əɪ/ and /aɪ/ under /aɪ/ in tied/tide; diphthongal realizations of /e/ as [ei] in came, and /o/ as [ou] as in home; and sporadic or consistent loss of pre-consonantal /r/ in such words as farm, form, hard. (2) Another hybrid, strongly stigmatized in the population at large, is a middle-class variety associated with both EDINBURGH and GLASGOW: see MORNINGSIDE AND KELVINSIDE. (3) Speakers of Highland English form a distinct community whose accents are influenced by Gaelic, including a tendency to lengthen vowels and devoice voiced consonants and aspirate voiceless ones, just sounding like ‘chust’, big like ‘pick’: see HIGHLAND ENGLISH.


Features of present-day Scots grammar are carried over into ScoE: (1) Modal verbs. Many speakers do not use shall and may in informal speech, using will as in Will I see you again? and can for permission as in Can I come as well? and might or will maybe for possibility, as in He might come later/He'll maybe come later. Must expresses logical necessity as in He must have forgotten, He mustn't have seen us, but not compulsion, for which have (got) to are used, as in You've (got) to pay. Both should and ought to express moral obligation or advice, as in You should/ought to try and see it, but otherwise would is used where other BrE has should, as in I would, if I was you (not I should, if I were you). Need to, use to, and dare to operate as main verbs rather than auxiliaries: He didn't need to do that; I didn't use to do that; She doesn't dare to talk back. (2) Passives. The passive may be expressed by get: I got told off. (3) Certain verbs are used progressively, contrary to other BrE practice: He was thinking he'd get paid twice; I was hoping to see here; They were meaning to come. (4) Negatives. As with Scots no and -nae, ScoE not is favoured over -n't: He'll not come in preference to He won't come, You're not wanted to You aren't wanted, and similarly Is he not coming? Can you not come? Do you not want it? Did he not come? Not may negate a main verb as well as an auxiliary: He isn't still not working?; Nobody would dream of not obeying. (5) Verbs of motion elide before adverbs of motion in some contexts: I'll away home then; The cat wants out. (6) The is used as in Scots in, for example, to take the cold, to get sent to the hospital, to go to the church. (7) Pronouns in -self may be used non-reflexively: How's yourself today? Is himself in? (Is the man of the house at home?). (8) Anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody are preferred to anyone, everyone, no one, someone. (9) Amn't I? is used virtually to the exclusion of aren't I?: I'm expected too, amn't I?

Vocabulary and idiom

There is a continuum of ScoE lexical usage, from the most to the least international: (1) Words of original Scottish provenance used in the language at large for so long that few people think of them as ScoE: caddie, collie, cosy, croon, eerie, forebear, glamour, golf, gumption, lilt, (golf) links, pony, raid, rampage, scone, uncanny, weird, wizened, wraith. (2) Words widely used or known and generally perceived to be Scottish: bannock, cairn, ceilidh, clan, clarsach, corrie, first-foot, glengarry, gloaming, haggis, kilt, pibroch, sporran, Tam o' Shanter, wee, whisky. (3) Words that have some external currency but are used more in Scotland than elsewhere: bairn, bonnie, brae, burn, canny, douce, hogmanay, kirk, peewit (the lapwing), pinkie, skirl. (4) General words that have uses special to ScoE and Scots: close an entry passage in a tenement building, stair a group of flats served by a single close in a tenement, stay to reside, uplift to collect (rent, a parcel, etc.). (5) Scottish technical usages, many of Latin origin, especially in law, religion, education, and official terminology: advocate a courtroom lawyer (in England barrister), convener a chairman of a committee, induction of an ordained minister to a ministerial charge, janitor caretaker of a school, jus relicti/relictae the relict's share of a deceased's movable property, leet a list of selected candidates for a post, procurator-fiscal an official combining the offices of coroner and public prosecutor, provost a mayor, timeous timely. (6) Colloquial words used and understood by all manner of Scots and by the middle class as overt Scotticisms: ach a dismissive interjection, braw fine, good-looking, chuckiestane a pebble, footer to mess about, gillie a hunting attendant, girn to whine, glaikit stupid, haar a cold sea-fog, howf a public house, och an interjection, pernickety fussy, scunnered sickened, wabbit tired out, wannert (‘wandered’: mad). (7) Traditional, sometimes recondite and literary, Scots words occasionally introduced into standard English contexts in the media, and known to minorities: bogle a phantom, dominie a schoolmaster, eident diligent, forfochen exhausted, furth of and outwith outside of, gardyloo the cry formerly used in Edinburgh before throwing slops from a high window, hochmagandie fornication, leid a language, makar a poet, owerset to translate, Sassenach an Englishman, a Lowlander, southron English, yestreen yesterday evening.



The place-names of Scotland reflect mixed linguistic origins over more than 2,000 years: Pre-Celtic, Celtic (Cumbric, Pictish, and Gaelic), Germanic (Anglian, Norse, Scots, and English), and some French, together with both the Scotticization and Anglicization of older names and considerable hybridization.

1. Pre-Celtic, Cumbric, and Pictish.

Many of the most ancient names label rivers, whether these remain unexplained (as with Spey, Ettrick, and Tweed), are Pre-Celtic (as with Ayr and Nairn), or are Celtic (as with Avon, Clyde, Dee, and Don). The Britons of Strathclyde, whose Cumbric speech was similar to Old Welsh, have bequeathed such names as Cramond (‘fort on the river Almond’), Glasgow (‘green hollow’), Linlithgow (‘lake in the moist hollow’), Melrose (‘bare moor’) and Penicuik (‘headland of the cuckoo’). Pictish has provided relatively few names, but one name element, pett (‘parcel of land’) occurs in some 300 names, such as Pittenweem and Pitlochry. Also Pictish is aber (‘river mouth, confluence’), as in Aberdeen and Aberfoyle, contrasting with both the Gaelic inver, as in Inverness and Inveraray, and the Scots/English mouth, as in Lossiemouth.

2. Gaelic.

The most pervasive of the place-naming languages. Common elements are: achadh (‘field’), Scotticized in the Lowlands as ach- and auch-, as in Auchmithie, Auchendinny, and Achnasheen; baile (‘farm’), Scotticized as bal as in Balerno, Balfour, and Balmaha; and cill (‘church’), Scotticized as kil as in Kilbride, Kilmarnock, and Kilmartin. In the Highlands, Gaelic often has exotic spellings that breach the rules of both Gaelic and Scots, as in Ardrishaig (‘height of briars’), Drumnadrochit (‘ridge of the bridge’), and Tighnabruaich (‘house on the bank’). The names of mountains and other natural features, however, tend to conform to Gaelic rules: Sgurr Domhnall (hill + Donald, ‘Donald's hill’), Rubha Mor (headland + big, ‘big headland’), and Loch an Eilean (‘loch/lake of the island’).

3. Anglian, Norse, Scots, and English.

The Germanic language complex in Scotland has produced a variety of forms.

1. Many names in the south-east are of Anglian (northern Anglo-Saxon) provenance, such as Haddington (‘farm of Hadda's people’) and Whittinghame (‘homestead of Hwita's people’), or are hybrid Anglo-Celtic, as in Jedburgh (‘fort on the Jed’:?twisting river) and Edinburgh (adapting Cumbric Din-Eidyn, ‘Eidyn's fort’, the original of both Gaelicized Dun-eideann and Anglicized Dunedin.

2. Scandinavian names in Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, and parts of the Western Isles (Hebrides) and north-western Highlands, include Dingwall, Isbister, Kirkwall, Lybster, Papa Westray, Scalloway, Scapa Flow, and Sullom Voe. Gaelicized versions of vik (‘bay’, as in Viking and the town names Wick ansd Lerwick) survive in Uig and Mallaig, and the Gaelicized Duirinish and Fishnish are close parallels to the more transparently Norse Durness and Stromness (in all of which nish or ness means ‘headland’).

3. Names in Scots generally derive from Anglian, and include Broomielaw, Canonbie, Dyke, Lamington, Neilston, Newbigging, Skinfasthaven, Staneycroft, Stewarton, and Windygates. Such names are cognate in structure with many place-names in England and in recent times many have acquired Anglicized pronunciations, as with ‘head’ rather than ‘heid’ in such forms as Fairmilehead in Edinburgh.

4. The Scots cognate for English -borough and -bury (‘fort’) is -burgh, as in Edinburgh and Fraserburgh.

5. In naming settlements at the head of Highland lochs (lakes and arms of the sea), there has been a degree of competition between wholly Gaelic and Gaelic-with-English: contrast Kinlochleven (‘head of Loch Leven’) with Lochearnhead (‘head of Loch Earn’); these might as easily have been *Lochlevenhead and Kinlochearn.

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Loch Earn (lŏkh ûrn), lake, 7 mi (11.2 km) long and 1 mi (1.6 km) wide, Perth and Kinross and Stirling, central Scotland. Ardvorlich House, on its shore, is the Darlinvarach of Sir Walter Scott's Legend of Montrose.Earn River (46 mi/74 km long), the lake's outlet, flows eastward through Strathearn past Comrie, Crieff, and Bridge of Earn into the Firth of Tay.