Daisy Smith

PhD Linguistics & English Language


The focus of my PhD research is the inflectional morphology of Older Scots. Using the Linguistic Atlas of Older Scots (developed by Keith Williamson, also part of the AMC), I will examine a variety of legal texts dating from 1380 to 1500 with the objective of identifying factors conditioning scribal choice of orthographical variant in covered inflectional vowels. This topic of research is not one which has been previously considered in great detail. The general tendencies characterising OSc inflectional morphology and differentiating it from that of Middle English have been described (see Minkova 1991, King 1997, Aitken 1977, Aitken and Macafee 2002, Bugaj 2002; 2004, Kopaczyk 2001), but as yet there has not been any attempt to investigate thoroughly the diversity of the covered inflectional vowel in OSc texts and account for its distribution. In a manuscript note made in 1977, Aitken stated that he had “regrettably not yet made the time to discuss […] prefix and suffix syllables”. In her 2002 editor’s preface to Aitken’s The Older Scots Vowels, Macafee elaborates that “without further data, [Aitken] did not feel that he could improve on the fullest account available, that of Kuipers (1964:76-9)”. Kuipers’ account is a descriptive chapter within a larger work analysing two Eucharistic tracts written by Quintin Kennedy, a sixteenth-century Scottish abbot and religious reformist. Since the completion of LAOS, it has been possible to access more than 1000 legal texts in OSc as part of a lexico-grammatically tagged corpus. I propose to utilise this “further data” which Aitken felt was lacking in 1977 and investigate the development of the covered inflectional vowel.


Aitken, Adam Jack & Caroline Macafee (2002). The Older Scots vowels : a history of the stressed vowels of Older Scots from the beginnings to the eighteenth century. Edinburgh: Scottish Text Society.Aitken, Adam Jack (1977). How to Pronounce Older Scots. In Adam Jack. Aitken, Matthew Purdie McDiarmid & Derick Thomson (eds.), Bards and makars : Scottish language and literature : medieval and Renaissance. Glasgow: University of Glasgow Press. 1-21.Bugaj, Joanna (2004). Middle Scots inflectional system in the south-west of Scotland. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 189Kennedy, Quintin and Cornelis Henricus Kuipers (1964). Quintin Kennedy, 1520-1564: Two Eucharistic Tracts. Nijmegen: Drukkerij Gebr. Janssen. 76-79King, Anne (1997). The Inflectional Morphology of Older Scots. In Charles Jones (ed.), The Edinburgh history of the Scots language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 157-181.Kopaczyk, Joanna (2001). The Scots-Northern English continuum of marking noun plurality. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 36. 131-140.Minkova, Donka (1991). The history of final vowels in English: the sound of muting. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 88-91.

Research summary

Morphology, Historical Linguistics, Scots