Page:The dialect of the southern counties of Scotland - Murray - 1873.djvu/40

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.



it may be said that the contributions which the Scotch has received from the Scandinavian affect rather the vocabulary than the grammar; numerous words passed from the districts in which the Danes settled into the Northern dialect generally; the grammatical inflections, particles, and formative affixes have not been so widely adopted. As an illustration of the caution which ought to be exercised before pronouncing a word or grammatical form to be of Scandinavian origin upon internal evidence alone, we may take the case of the relative ăt (the man ăt was here) for that. This is generally, if not universally, accepted as Scandinavian, as the same word occurs in Old Norse and the modern languages derived from it.

Old Norse Ek hefi spurt at þú hafir aldri blótat skúrgoð.
Færcæese E hävi spurt at tú hevir aldri ofra til Afgudar
  I have learned at thou hast never offered to idols.
Swedish Du wet, att jag sade, att jag horde det
Danish Du veed, at jeg sagde, at jeg hörte det
  You know at I said, at I heard that.

So far nothing could seem clearer than that the at of the English dialects is the Norse at. But there is another class of facts requiring consideration. In the Gaelic, although th is one of the commonest of written combinations, the sound is quite lost in the language as now spoken, its place being indicated by a breathing, or a simple hiatus. Thus athair, mathair, brathair, ceithir=father, mother, brother, quatuor, are pronounced a'air, ma'air, bra'air, kai'er. Cath, cathair (Welsh cad, cader), fathast, leth, are ca', ca'air, fa'ast, le'. Thighearn, thigh, Thomais (vocative of Tomas), Theurlach (genitive of Teurlach, Charles), are pronounced hee-arn, hee or high, homish, hairlach. Now the Lowland Scottish dialects, all along the Celtic border-line, or in districts where the Teutonic has only lately superseded the Celtic, have a tendency to drop the initial th of unaccented subordinate words and particles. Aa'nk or aa'ink for I think is generally diffused; and in Caithness we hear not only at, but ee, ay, aim, an, air, are, for that, the, they, thaim, than, thair, thare. In the West of Forfar and Fife, South of Perth, in Kinross, Clackmannan, etc., the article is regularly abbreviated into ee "ee haid ŏ ee toon, ee haid ee toon, pyt ee braid i' ee prêss" (the head of the town put the bread in the press).[1] After disappearing in Clydesdale and Lothian this peculiarity crops up again in Galloway, a district which was Celtic in the 16th century. Lest in these districts, and Caithness in par-

  1. The definite article de, den, has also been contracted into e, æ, in South Jutland, as e By, e Barn, e Bynder, e hele Hus, the town, the bairn, the farmers, the whole house (Det Danske Folksprog in Sonderjylland ved J. Kok, quoted in Introduction to Cleveland Glossary, p. xxiii.) At an earlier time the Norse at and en themselves were doubtless from the þat and þen (dat, denn) of the first Germanic occupants of the Scandinavian peninsulas, and perhaps by similar contact with a preexistent language.