Lowland Scotch as Spoken in the Lower Strathearn District of Perthshire. By Sir James Wilson, K.CS.L 8vo. 276 pp. Oxford University Press. 1915.
In this volume Sir James Wilson gives us a study of the dialect spoken in the valley of the Earn, in the south-east of Perthshire, between the Grampians and the Ochil Hills ; a dialect with which, he says, " I was familiar in my childhood." It is an interesting variety of the Scottish tongue, located as it is on the borders of the Highlands and Lowlands, and bordered on the east by the ancient Kingdom of Fife. Sir James Wilson has treated it very thoroughly, and on a somewhat novel plan. Instead of merely giving us a glossary, he deals with the grammar, idioms, and pronunciation, and besides an alphabetical vocabulary he gives lists of words arranged according to subjects such as clothing, crops, health, occupations, weather, and so forth, as well as specimens of oral literature — proverbs and verses (p. 187, pp. 216-227). A foreigner might, in fact, learn Scottish from the contents.
The subject-vocabularies are particularly welcome, both as showing the comparative wealth or poverty of the dialect in various directions, and also as tending to refute the calumny, not even yet quite extinct, that the British peasant's vocabulary is limited to three or four hundred words. It is no doubt narrow in some directions, but it is copious enough on matters which speci- ally concern him, as Sir James Wilson's work shows. One must not complain of the phonetic spelling, though to any but philo- logical students it appears to be simply an invention of the Evil One to obstruct the progress of learning; but it is surely a literary blemish that the phonetic phrases should so often be translated, not word-for-word, but in paraphrases. E.g. " Dhe kail'z noa loang on; iz dhe day-sairvis duin?" is rendered, "The broth has not been long on the fire. Is the service over ? " The lines
' Guid moarn,' koa dhe peddlur, foo fraank an foo free, ' Cum see hwaw dhis day wuU be haansul tay mee,' "
' Good morning,' quoth the pedlar, quite frankly and freely, 'Come see who to-day will be tlie first to Ijuy something from me.'"