Reminder: Ulster Scots

Michael Everson everson at
Wed Mar 31 22:17:37 CEST 2010

On 31 Mar 2010, at 19:52, John Cowan wrote:

> 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.

Well, that's not inconsiderable. There are words that Anne Smyth uses like "carrant" 'adventure' (from the French dance "courante") which Sandy Fleming doesn't know at all (though that is found elsewhere in Scotland according to the CSD). 

> 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.

Nevertheless, for good or for ill, in Ulster they are standardizing to a set of different conventions from those used in mainstream Scots writing. 

> 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).

Robinson wrote it up but was not a one-man orthography guru. 

>> 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.

I don't know Mr Dooley to evaluate this claim. I can say that Scots proper is very much separate from mainstream English in a number of significant ways. 

> Michael, could you present one-page samples?

In due course. I'd like to get the same text, so I'll ask Anne for chapter 1.

Michael Everson *

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