Jun 272018
 

In the last post we looked at predominantly Gaelic, Scots and English speaking parishes. But, it is important to note that the other minority languages have impacted on whatever the majority language was, including its pronunciation and intonation. The linguistic landscape of Scotland’s parishes was far from black and white.  For some of those writing the parish reports, the jumble of languages used was an unwelcome development, as they saw it as an erosion of the “superior” pure form of language.

Pronunciation

It has been fascinating to find out how people pronounced words. Several parish reports give us a idea of the kinds of sounds produced, in the various Scots dialects in particular. Again, it is other languages which greatly influenced pronunciation.

In Wick, County of Caithness, “the language spoken over all the parish is, with exception of that of some Gaelic incomers, a dialect of the lowland Scottish. It is distinguished, however, by several peculiarities. Wherever the classical Scottish has wh, the dialect of the parish of Wick has f; as fat for what, fan for whan; and wherever the Scottish has u, this dialect has ee ; as seen for sune, meen for mune, feel for fule. Ch at the beginning of words is softened into s, or sh; as, surch for church; shapel for chapel. Th at the beginning of words is often omitted. She, her, and hers are almost invariably used for it and its. This seems a Gaelic idiom; and the tendency to pronounce s and ch, as sh, seems a relic of Gaelic pronunciation.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 144)

Jedburgh, County of Roxburgh – “The common people in the neighbourhood of Jedburgh pronounce many words, particularly such as end in a guttural sound, with a remarkable broad, and even harsh accent. They still make use of the old Scotch dialect. Many of the names of places, however, are evidently derived from the Erse, and expressive of their local situation in that language. For instance, –Dunian, John’s Hill; –Minto, Kids Hill; –Hawick, Village on a River; –Ancrum, anciently called Alnicromb a Creek in the River; etc. etc.” (OSA, Vol. I, 1791, p. 15)

A painting of Jedburgh Abbey by an unknown artist. Glasgow Museums: http://www.artuk.org/artworks/jedburgh-abbey-86391

Unknown artist; Jedburgh Abbey, 19th Century. Glasgow Museums.

Wilton, County of Roxburgh – “The language generally spoken by the lower orders, throughout this district, contains many provincialisms, but these are becoming gradually obsolete. Two diphthongal sounds, however, seem still to maintain their ground, namely, those resembling the Greek eǐ, and the ow, as in the English words, cow, sow, how, now,–e.g. the common people generally pronounce, tree, treǐ; tea, teǐ; knee, kneǐ; me, meǐ; and, instead of the diphthongal sound of oo in the pronoun you, the pronunciation is almost invariably yow, as in now.” (NSA, Vol. III, 1845, p. 78)

Dalgety, County of Fife – “The language commonly spoken in the parish is the Old Scotch dialect, and there seem to be no peculiar words or phrases which are not in general use throughout most parts of the kingdom. The words are pronounced with a broad accent; and I have often heard in this part of the country a sound given to the diphthong oi, which is not, I believe, so usual in other places: it is frequently pronounced as if it consisted of the letters ou, as for boul boil, pount for point, vauce for voice, etc.” (OSA, Vol. XV, 1795, p. 265)

Caputh, County of Perth – “The Stormont dialect, of course, prevails, in which the chief peculiarity that strikes a stranger is the pronunciation of the Scotch oo as ee, poor being pronounced peer, moon meen, aboon abeen, &c.” (NSA, Vol. X, 1845, p. 677)

Dunlop, County of Ayrshire – “The language which they speak is a mixture of Scotch and English, and has no other singularity, but the slow drawling manner in which it is spoken, and that they uniformly pronounce fow, fai-w, and mow, mai-w.” (OSA, Vol. IX, 1793, p. 541)

Alves, County of Elgin – “The language generally spoken is the Scotch. A stranger is struck with the peculiar vowel sounds, given in a great many words, as wheit for wheat, feel for fool, pure for poor, and wery for very, &c.” (NSA, Vol. XIII, 1845, p. 107)

Montrose, County of Forfar, “One great peculiarity which strikes a stranger from the south, in the language of the common people in this county, and in the neighbouring counties on the north, is the use of f for wh, as fan, far, &c. for when, where, &c. Except by the better classes, the lowland Scotch is universally spoken with a strong provincial accent.” (NSA, Vol. XI, 1845, p. 279)

The Buchan dialect is mentioned in several parish reports from the County of Aberdeen. It is also known as the Doric dialect, and is a sub-dialect of Northern Scots, found in a small area between Banff and Ellon. In Peterhead, County of Aberdeen, “the language spoken in this parish is the broad Buchan dialect of the English, with many Scotticisms, and stands much in need of reformation, which it is to be hoped will soon happen, from the frequent resort of polite people to the town in summer.” (OSA, Vol. XVI, 1795, p. 592) People in the parish of Aberdour, County of Aberdeen, also spoke “the broad Buchan, or real Aberdeenshire, and this dialect is much the same as it was forty years ago.” (NSA, Vol. XII, 1845, p. 266) For more information on the Buchan dialect take a look at the parish report for Longside, County of Aberdeen. (OSA, Vol. XV, 1795, p. 294)

Intonation is also described in some of the parish reports. In Dunfermline, County of Fife, “the language is a mixture of Scotch and English. The voice is raised, and the emphasis frequently laid on the last word of the sentence.”(OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794, p. 479) A similar observation was also made in the report for Lesmahago, County of Lanark. “The language spoken is the broad Scotch dialect, with this peculiarity, very observable to strangers, that the voice is raised, and the sound lengthened upon the last syllable of the sentence.” (OSA, Vol. VII, 1793, p. 433)

Purity

Some writers of the parish reports had a very clear perception of language purity and, conversely, corruption. Inhabitants in many parishes were considered to be speaking a language that was not in its pure and correct form.

  • Lochgoil-Head and Kilmorich, County of Argyle – “The Gaelic that is spoken in this place, owing to the frequent communication with the Low Country, is corrupted with a mixture of English words and phrases, and is not so pure, nor so correct, as that which is spoken in the more remote parts of the Highlands.” (OSA, Vol. III, 1792, p. 190)
  • Logierait, County of Perth – “The language spoken here, is a corrupted dialect of the Gaelic. The Saxon dialect of the lowlands is, however, pretty generally understood here.” (OSA, Vol. V, 1793, p. 82)
  • Comrie, County of Perth – “All the young people can speak English; but, in order to acquire it, they must go to service in the Low Country. The Gaelic is not spoken in its purity, neither here nor in any of the bordering parishes.” (OSA, Vol. XI, 1794, p. 186)
A postcard of a view on the Earn, Comrie, Scotland. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900.

View on the Earn, Comrie, Scotland. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. By The Library of Congress [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Fortingal, County of Perth – “The Gaelic is the language of the natives. It is, however, losing ground, and losing its purity, very much of late. Forty years ago, in some parts of the parish, especially in the district of Rannoch, it was spoken in as great purity as in any district of the Highlands. That race of genuine natives having disappeared, many of their phrases and idioms have become almost unintelligible to the rising generation. It is, however, gratifying to the antiquary and to the lover of Celtic literature, that so much has been done to rescue the language and insure its permanency and stability; still all that is practicable has not yet been achieved. Hundreds of vocables might be collected which have escaped the notice of the several learned compilers of our Gaelic dictionaries.” (NSA, Vol. X, 1845, p. 553)
  • Halkirk, County of Caithness – “[Erse] is much corrupted, but yet spoken with great fluency and emphasis, and not without harmony of sound. [English] has also many words, which are neither English nor Scotch, yet, according to its idiom, it is spoken with great propriety, and the sentiments are expressed by it, either in narration or description, as intelligibly and significantly, as in any county in Great Britain, nay, I dare say, more so than in most of them. These languages are spoken in various degrees.” (OSA, Vol. XIX, 1797, p. 62)
  • Eddlestone, County of Peebles – “The language generally spoken is a corrupt Scotch, with a barbarous admixture of English. A few only of the oldest of the people speak the Scottish dialect in its purity. These, however, are rapidly disappearing, and in a few years more in all probability there will not be one person alive who could have held converse with his grandfather without the aid of a dictionary.” (NSA, Vol. III, 1845, p. 149)
  • Evie and Rendall, County of Orkney – “In the language of the people, there is an intermixture of Norse words with Scotch and English; but, on the whole, they speak more correctly than the peasantry do in other parts of Scotland. The accent is peculiar though far from being unpleasant.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 202)

In the parish report for Kilmalie, County of Inverness, it was noted that “it is remarkable, yet not the less true, that the illiterate Highlander, who is a stranger to every other language but the Gaelic, speaks it more fluently, more elegantly, and more purely, than the scholar.” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 430)

In some cases, inhabitants were strongly criticised for speaking impure languages, especially those of Kilmadock, County of Perth!

  • Kirkmichael, County of Perth – “The prevailing language in the parish is the Gaelic. A dialect of the ancient Scotch, also, is understood, and currently spoken. These two, by a barbarous intermixture, mutually corrupt each other.” (OSA, Vol. XV, 1795, p. 516)
  • Kilmadock, County of Perth – “The language of the common people in this parish, like many of the parishes in the neighbourhood, is a mixture of Scotch and English. This jargon is very unpleasant to the ear, and a great impediment to fluent conversation. No language is more expressive than the Scotch, when spoken in perfection; and, though the ancient be short and unmusical, yet it is by no means disagreeable to hear two plain country men conversing in the true Scotch tongue; but, in this parish, you seldom meet with such instances... In the quarter towards Callander, the generality of the inhabitants speak Gaelic; and this is perhaps still more corrupt than even the Scotch, in the other quarters of the parish. It is impossible to conceive any thing so truly offensive to the ear, as the conversation of these people. The true Gaelic is a noble language, worthy of the fire of Ossian, and wonderfully adapted to the genius of a warlike nation; but the contemptible language of the people about Callander, and to the east, is quite incapable of communicating a noble idea… It ought, therefore, to be earnestly recommended to the people of this parish, and, indeed, to other parishes in that quarter, to study a more perfect style; either to practice the true Gaelic, the true Scotch, or the true English tongue. But all kinds of civilization in society go hand in hand; and when arts and sciences begin to flourish here, the language will gradually polish and refine.” (OSA, Vol. XX, 1798, p. 53)

Language trends

A couple of parishes reported a particularly interesting development, that of younger Gaelic speakers interspersing their language with English or Scots words. In North Uist, County of Inverness. “The language spoken is the Gaelic, which the people speak with uncommon fluency and elegance. One fifth of the whole population above the age of twelve years understand and speak English. Such of them as are in the habit of going to the south of Scotland for trading or for working, are fond of interlarding some English or Scotch phrases with their own beautiful and expressive language. This bad taste is confined to so limited a number, that it has but slightly affected the general character of their native tongue. There are only five individuals in the parish who do not understand the Gaelic, and some of these have made considerable progress in its attainment.” (NSA, Vol. XIV, 1845, p. 172) In Gairloch, County of Ross and Cromarty, “some young men, indeed, who have received a smattering of education, consider they are doing great service to the Gaelic, by interspersing their conversation with English words, and giving them a Gaelic termination and accent. These corrupters of both languages, with more pride than good taste, now and then, introduce words of bad English or of bad Scotch, which they have learned from the Newhaven or Buckie fishermen, whom they meet with on the coast of Caithness during the fishing season. The Gaelic, however, is still spoken in as great purity by the inhabitants in general, as it was forty years ago.” (NSA, Vol. XIV, 1845, p. 95)

In some cases, however, the impure form of language at least made it easier for certain groups of people to understand. In Rogart, County of Sutherland, “a considerable proportion of the inhabitants, however, can converse in the English language; and, in a few years it is likely that none may be found who cannot do so. Their English, being acquired from books, and occasional conversation with educated persons, is marked by no peculiarity, except a degree of mountain accent and Celtic idiom; so that it is more easily intelligible to an Englishman than the dialect spoken by the Lowland Scotch.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 51)

Conclusion

Languages are very fluid, with changes occurring over time in vocabulary, pronunciation and intonation. In some parish reports there are some strong comments bemoaning the lack of language purity, but the pure form of a language is an ideal, not a reality. This is certainly the case in Scotland where the Gaelic, Scots, English and Scandinavian languages influenced each other.

Changes were even felt between the first and second Statistical Accounts of Scotland, most notably the increased comprehension and use of English. In the final post on Scotland’s languages we look look more closely at the reasons for linguistic change.

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Jun 142018
 

This is the second post on Scotland’s languages. This time we look more closely at the languages spoken throughout the parishes. As can be gleaned in the last blog post, at one point the majority of Scots spoke Gaelic, or Erse as this was called in some of the parish reports. According to the authors of the Statistical Accounts, Gaelic was more widely spoken in many parishes. But there were also areas of Scotch or Scots speakers, with English beginning to make strong inroads.

Predominantly Gaelic-speaking parishes

There were many parishes where most inhabitants spoke Gaelic, including:

  • Barvas, County of Ross and Cromarty (NSA, Vol. XIV, 1845, p. 147);
  • Moy and Dalarossie, County of Inverness (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 499);
  • Applecross, County of Ross and Cromarty (NSA, Vol. XIV, 1845, p. 102)
  • Gairloch, County of Ross and Cromarty – “The Gaelic is the prevailing language in this, as well as in several other corners on the West coast” (OSA, Vol. III, 1792, p. 93);
  • Inverary, County of Argyle – “The language generally spoken is the Gaelic. Among the agricultural labourers, it is almost exclusively used; and as many of them, for various reasons, remove from the country into the burgh, they naturally continue to speak their mother tongue, and to teach it to their children.” (NSA, Vol. VII, 1845, p. 27).
Brown, William Beattie; Coire-na-Faireamh, in Applecross Deer Forest, Ross-shire; 1883-84. Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/coire-na-faireamh-in-applecross-deer-forest-ross-shire-186783

Brown, William Beattie; Coire-na-Faireamh, in Applecross Deer Forest, Ross-shire; 1883-84. Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/coire-na-faireamh-in-applecross-deer-forest-ross-shire-186783

However, this situation was beginning to change. If you look at the parish reports for Gigha and Cara, County of Argyle, you can see the differences in language use even between the Old and New Statistical Accounts of Scotland.

“The language of the common people is Gaelic, but not reckoned the purest, on account of their vicinity, to Ireland, and intercourse with the low country, by which many corruptions have been introduced into their phraseology. They understand English, and several speak it well enough to transact business; but very few of them can understand a connected discourse in that language.” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 65)

“English, however, is much better understood by young and old than it was forty years ago, but there are not above ten persons in the parish who do not understand and speak Gaelic.” (NSA, Vol. VII, 1845, p. 401)

By the time of the New Statistical Accounts, in practically all of the parishes English was increasingly understood and spoken. It is always interesting when figures, even approximations, are provided. In Southend, County of Argyle, “the language generally spoken by two thirds of the people is Gaelic; but, from the establishment of schools and the intercourse with Campbelton, and the Lowland districts of Scotland, the English language is beginning to be universally understood. Families who understand Gaelic best, 210; English best, 145.” (NSA, Vol. VII, 1845, p. 431)

We will be looking at the rise of the English language in the next post.

Predominantly Scotch/Scots-speaking parishes

Scots is a Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and some areas of Ulster. It is itself “a dialect of the Dano-Saxon, which was brought from the other side of the German Ocean, by the Danish invaders of the ninth and eleventh centuries”. (OSA, Vol. IX, 1793, p. 226) Here are some examples of parishes which were predominantly Scots-speaking. Again, we can see that in many cases other languages have also left their mark.

  • New Spynie, County of Elgin (OSA, Vol. X, 1794, p. 637)
  • Cromarty, County of Ross and Cromarty – “The language of all born and bred in this parish, approaches to the broad Scotch, differing, however, from the dialects spoken in Aberdeen and Murrayshire; this being one of the three parishes in the counties of Ross and Cromarty, in which, till of late years, the Gaelic language, which is the universal language in the adjacent parishes, was scarce ever spoken. There has been a considerable change, of late years, in this respect, among the inhabitants here; the Gaelic having become rather more prevalent than usual.” (OSA, Vol. XII, 1794, p. 254) This was attributed to Gaelic-speaking people coming to work in the parish.
  • Kirkmichael, County of Ayrshire – “The language is a mixture of Scotch and English, without any particular accent. In this district, as in every other, there are certain provincial words and phrases peculiar to itself.” (OSA, Vol. VI, 1793, p. 111)
  • Drainie, County of Elgin – “The only language here is Scotch; but the pronunciation is gradually approaching nearer to the English. Gaelic is not spoken nearer than 20 miles; and very few
    of the names of places here seem derived from it.” (OSA, Vol. IV, 1792, p. 87)
  • Boharm, County of Banff – “The Scotch is the only language spoken in the parish; but, with a few exceptions, the names of the places belong to the Erse tongue.” (OSA, Vol. XVII, 1796, p. 362)
  • Tannadice, County of Forfar – “The broad Scotch is the only language spoken here. Some of the names of places are Gaelic, and others of Gothic origin; although the former seems to abound most.” (OSA, Vol. XIX, 1797, p. 380)
  • Kinfauns, County of Perth – “The language of this parish and corner is Saxon, intermixed with Scottish words and expressions; attended, however, by little or no provincial accent or dialect. Though this part of the country is not at a great distance from the Highlands, yet neither Gaelic words nor accent are known amongst the natives below Perth. Very few names of places are Erse; but great number are Scotch or Saxon.” (OSA, Vol. XIV, 1795, p. 223)
  • Canisbay, County of Caithness – “The Scotch, with an intermixture of some Norwegian vocables, is the only language spoken in the parish… There is scarcely a place in the whole parish, whose name is not of Norwegian derivation.” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 162)
  • New Machar, County of Aberdeen – “The common people speak the Scotch language, and in what is commonly called, and well known by the name of, the Aberdonian Dialect.” (OSA, Vol. VI, 1793, p. 470)
Alexander Naysmyth; Robert Burns; 1821-22. National Portrait Gallery, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/robert-burns-157341

Nasmyth, Alexander; Robert Burns; 1821-22. National Portrait Gallery, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/robert-burns-157341

In some parish reports, particular Scots pronunciation was remarked upon. In Gamrie, County of Banff, “the language spoken in this parish is the Scottish, with an accent peculiar to the north country. There is no Erse.” (OSA, Vol. I, 1791, p. 477) In Dron, County of Perth, “the language spoken here is Scotch, with a provincial accent or tone; the pronunciation rather slow and drawling, and apt to strike the ear of a stranger as disagreeable.” (OSA, Vol. IX, 1793, p. 478) Scots spoken in the county of Fife also had its own pronunciation. In Carnock, County of Fife, “the language now generally spoken in this district, is the broad Scotch dialect, with the Fifeshire accent, which gives some words so peculiar a turn, as to render the speaker almost unintelligible to the natives of a different county.” (OSA, Vol. XI, 1794, p. 496) In St Andrews and St Leonards, County of Fife, “the language of this parish is the common dialect of the Scotch Lowlands. The Fifans are said, by strangers, to use a drawling pronunciation, but they have very few provincial words.”(OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794, p. 215) Specific examples of pronunciation will be given in the next post on Scotland’s languages.

Predominantly English-speaking parishes

What is particularly interesting to note about the predominantly English-speaking parishes is that, for the most part, they do not actually border England! (Read the next post to look at possible reasons why.) Again, there are influences from other languages, such as Gaelic and Scots, and Norse in the Shetland Isles.

  • Cushnie, County of Aberdeen – “English is the only language now known in the parish, the Gaelic having ceased to be understood.” (OSA, Vol. IV, 1792, p. 177)
  • Ardersier, County of Inverness – “The language generally spoken in the village, which contains three-fourths of the population of the parish, is English. In the interior, Gaelic prevails. But, from recent changes in the lessees of farms, and from the new occupants possessing little of the Celtic character, it may be fairly stated, that the Gaelic has lost, and is losing ground.” (NSA, Vol. XIV, 1845, p. 472)
  • Newbattle, County of Edinburgh (NSA, Vol. I, 1845, p. 70)
  • Broughton, County of Peebles – “The language spoken here is English, with the Scotch accent.” (OSA, Vol. VII, 1793, p. 158)
  • Kirkconnell, County of Dumfries – “only the English language is now spoken here, as in the rest of Nithsdale, with considerable purity, excepting chiefly a few old Scotch, or rather obsolete Saxon words, that now and then occur; and in a plain, easy, manly style of pronunciation, without any of those grating peculiarities of provincial accent, that mark the dialect of some of the adjoining counties. With the small exception, of one from England, and another from Ireland, the inhabitants are all natives of Scotland.” (OSA, Vol. X, 1794, p. 447)
  • Portpatrick, County of Wigton – “English is spoken in this parish, with less of provincial accent and less mixture of Scotch than in the more central and populous districts of Scotland.” (NSA, Vol. IV, 1845, p. 145)
  • Section on the county of Shetland from volume 15 in account 2 – “The language is English, with the Norse accent, and many of its idioms and words.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 156)

Here, we should mention that there seems to be some confusion between the English language and the Scots dialect. In some quarters, Scots is seen as a dialect of English, or even “English or Saxon, with a peculiar provincial accent” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 193), instead of it being a language in its own right. This makes it a little difficult to identify those parishes speaking English and those speaking Scots. Examples include:

  • Bellie, County of Elgin – “The Gaelic tongue, however, has long disappeared in this part of the country; the language, in general, being that dialect of English common to the North of Scotland; though, among all persons who pretend to anything like education, the English language is daily gaining ground.” (OSA, Vol. XIV, 1795, p. 264)
  • Luss, County of Dumbarton -“The language now universally spoken by the natives of the parish is the English language, or rather the provincial Scotch dialect.” (NSA, Vol. VIII, 1845, p. 162)
  • Speymouth, County of Elgin – “The language here spoken is the English, if the broad Scotch that is spoken throughout the greatest part of Murray, Banff, and Aberdeenshires, be thought entitled to that name. Erse is not the common language within 20 miles of us.” (OSA, Vol. XIV, 1795, p. 406)
  • Keith, County of Banff – “In this parish, and in all the neighbourhood, the language spoken is the Scotch dialect of the English language.” (OSA, Vol. V, 1793, p. 423)

Language differences within parishes

As well as language differences between parishes, there are differences within parishes. In the parish of Luss, County of Dumbarton, “south from Luss, English, and north from it the Gaelic, is the prevailing language.” (OSA, Vol. XVII, 1796, p. 266) Here are some other inter-parish variations:

  • Keith, County of Banff – “All the old names of places are evidently derived from the Gaelic, which language is generally spoken in a detached corner of the parish, by a colony from various districts of the Highlands; who being indigent, and supported by begging, or their own alertness, are allured there by the abundance of moss, and the vicinity of a very populous and plentiful country.” (OSA, Vol. V, 1793, p. 423)
  • Little Dunkeld, County of Perth – “In that part of the parish which is below lnvar, the people speak the Scottish dialect of the English, and are not distinguished by any perceptible shade of character from the inhabitants of the low country parishes around them. The rest of the inhabitants (more than three fourths) are Highlanders, who speak a dialect, not perhaps the purest, of the Gaelic. They have all a strong attachment to their native tongue; many speak English with tolerable case, and the youth, by means of the charity schools, can write it with rather more propriety, and copiousness than those of the low country part of this parish, who are very all situated with respect to schools.” (OSA, Vol. VI, 1793, p. 369)
  • Dowally, County of Perth – “It is curious fact, that the hills of King’s Seat and Craigy Barns, which form the lower boundary of Dowally, have been for centuries the separating barrier of these languages. In the first house below them, the English is, and has been spoken; and the Gaelic in the first house, (not above a mile distant), above them.” (OSA, Vol. XX, 1798, p. 490)
  • Edenkillie, County of Elgin – “In the lower part of the parish, the Scotch dialect of the English language is only spoken; but, in the upper part, the Gaelic is still much in use. About 50 years ago, the minister preached the one half of the day in English, and the other half in Gaelic.” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 566)
  • Strathdon, County of Aberdeen – “The language spoken is English, or rather broad Scotch, excepting in Curgarff. The people there, especially in the upper part of that district, speak also a kind of Gaelic; but that language among them is much on the decline.” (OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794, p. 183)
  • Monzie, County of Perth – “This parish being situated on the borders of the Highlands, and having much intercourse and connection with the natives, we need not be surprised to find that the Gaelic is spoken in the back part of it, and the old Scotch dialect in the fore part, pronounced with the Gaelic tone and accent. There are, however very few persons in the whole parish, who do not either speak or understand Gaelic.” (OSA, Vol. XV, 1795, p. 251)
  • Dunkeld, County of Perth – “The English language is spoken in Dunkeld. In Dowally, with the exception of 110 persons, English is spoken with fluency, but they prefer Gaelic. Gaelic is still preached, and it is taught, along with English, at school.” (NSA, Vol. X, 1845, p. 989)
  • Crieff, County of Perth – “The people speak the English language in the best Scotch dialect: although the Gaelic be commonly spoken at the distance of three miles north, of four west from Criess, yet no adult natives of the lowland part of the parish can either speak or understand it. They have not even contracted the peculiar tone of that language, by their intercourse with the numerous Highland families now residing in the town. Many indeed of these understand no other language but the Gaelic, and their children born in Crieff speak that alone for a few years as their mother-tongue.” (OSA, Vol. IX, 1793, p. 601)

Conclusion

It has been very interesting to discover the language similarities and differences between parishes and even within parishes. It is clear that, even though parishes were predominantly Gaelic, Scots or English speaking, other languages were influencing what was being spoken. In the next post, we will look at the concept of language purity and, conversely, corruption, as well as specific examples of pronunciation found in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland.

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