Reminder: Ulster Scots

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Mar 31 20:52:10 CEST 2010

Phillips, Addison scripsit:

> Your primary distinction here appears to be between Scots and Ulster
> Scots. The orthography appears to be a *secondary* distinction in
> this case.

It isn't really, though.  Ulster Scots is a detached part of Central
Scots, and differs only because of its two-way lexical interactions with
Ulster English, Hiberno-English, and Irish.  The most likely division of
the spoken language is that Insular Scots split off first, then Northern,
then Southern, then Central, and only then Ulster.  And to this day they
are all a dialect continuum (with a possible case for Insular being
separate), with two different orthographical standards within this
continuum and a great deal of ad-hoc orthography as well.

The important thing to focus on is the unique Robinson orthography,
which is applied to Ulster Scots only (though it would serve Central
Scots about as well).

> If I went to buy "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", the spelling
> conventions would probably worry me rather less than whether the book
> were in Ulster Scots (vs. Scots).

The adjustment is probably about as hard as reading Uncle Remus (Joel
Chandler Harris) and not as tough as Mr. Dooley (Finley Peter Dunne),
both of whom represent dialects of English in unusual orthography.

Michael, could you present one-page samples?

What has four pairs of pants, lives             John Cowan
in Philadelphia, and it never rains   
but it pours?                                   cowan at
        --Rufus T. Firefly

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