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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LALLAN, adj., n. Also lal(l)and, -lant. A variant form of Lawland, q.v., lowland, the spelling with -ll- being particularly associated with meanings 2. of adj. and n. See P.L.D. § 29.1.

I. adj. 1. Pertaining to the Lowlands of Scotland (sm.Sc., Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1960). Comb. back-lallan, from the back or remote part of the Lowlands. Deriv. Lalander, a dweller in the Lowlands.Sc. 1706 Te Address fer te Fishers on te Highland Coasts 2, 7:
Her nane sell wis naver pehind her neighbours te Lalanders, in Loyalty to her nane Lord. . . . It will mak Usquebae dear, which her nane sell cannot well want — the Laland Lairds will make but a sorry hand of it.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 271:
Her sell hae pistol and claymore, Tae flie ti' lallant loon, mattam.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 22:
Tho' not wi' wights o' rank to beau it, Yet as a gray back-lallan Poet.
Sc. 1812 Popular Opinions 20:
But Highland Ossian, wi' his high-flown strains, Is too sublime for my dull Lalland brains.
Rxb. 1876 W. Brockie Leaderside Leg. 42:
To see ane o' the sorriest sichts E'er seen i' Hielan toon or Lallan.
Lnk. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 41:
The men o' the lallans are stealing your cattle.
Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert vii.:
Great lots o' Lallan Scots are copyin' the English in tongue an' wye as fest as they can.
Ags. 1944 Scots Mag. (May) 88:
Mary's mother's folk, that came from Lallan way, had her a lot to bide wi' them.

2. Specif. in regard to speech: using the speech of the Lowlands of Scotland, Scots-speaking as opposed to Gaelic- or English-speaking, in Scots.Ayr. 1786 Burns Address to the Deil xix.:
But a' your doings to rehearse . . . Wad ding a' Lallan tongue, or Erse, In Prose or Rhyme.
Rnf. 1791 A. Wilson Poems 235:
Far aff our gentles for their poets flew, An' scorned to own that lallan sangs they knew.
m.Sc. 1897 Chambers's Jnl. (13 March) 175:
For it were vain to translate Lallan into orthodox speech, when the very salt of the night air clings to the Scots as it did to that queer tale.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road ii.:
I didna do sae badly wi' ye wi' my lalland Scots.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 3:
I could for very joy ha'e sung To hear again the lallan leid.

II. n. 1. In pl.: the Lowlands of Scotland.m.Lth. 1787 Edb. Ev. Courant (12 March):
Ye mind me ay o' the twa callands Wha gat sic praise thro' a' the Lallands.
Per. 1830 Perthshire Advertiser (11 Nov.):
An old Highlander, . . . in order to have the heels of his brogues better fortified against the hard roads of “ta Lallans.”

2. Now gen. in pl. (sc. tongue, speech, etc.): the historic speech of Lowland Scotland, descended mainly from the Northern dialect of Anglo-Saxon, the speech recorded in this dictionary. Since c.1940 the name Lallans has been specif. applied by its exponents to the movement begun by Lewis Spence, Hugh McDiarmid and others to recreate and extend the range and vocabulary of Scots in literary usage.Ayr. 1785 Burns To W. Simpson xx.:
They . . . spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 132:
My mither-gab ye'll scantly ken't, . . . Sic lallan's o' a codroch dint.
Rnf. 1872 J. Young Lochlomond Side 96:
Then, sir, in gashy lallans braid, Thanks fer the compliment ye've paid To our auld mither tongue.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 126:
He tint the gate to speak braid Lallans.
Rxb. 1881 R. Fairley Poems 37:
Of sterling worth and rich in verse, His sangs in lallans did rehearse, Prelude to future fame.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Mem. and Portraits 99:
I translate John's Lallan, for I cannot do it justice, being born Britannis in montibus, indeed, but alas! inerudito sæculo.
Arg. 1902 N. Munro Shoes of Fortune xxviii.:
At first I scarcely noticed them until I heard a word of Scots. I think the man that used it spoke of “gully-knives,” but at least the phrase was the broadest lallands, and went about my heart.
ne.Sc. 1922 P. Macgillivray Bog Myrtle 25:
Neen o' 's now that ken the teen O' Lallan Scots or Aiberdeen To kittle up.
Sc. 1924 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 407:
Leal, lo'esome lallans! first in auld-langsyne, When heart-loved Adam woo'd his calf-love Eve.
Sc. 1946 Maurice Lindsay Modern Scottish Poetry 18:
It is largely under MacDiarmid's influence ... that the younger poets, especially those who use Gaelic and Scots (or Lallans, as I prefer to call their Scots, drawing more, as it does, upon middle Scots) have developed.
Sc. 1946 D. Young Plastic Scots 3:
As it is convenient to have some term of distinction for that part of Scottish literature which is written in Braid Scots or Anglic, to refer to it separately from Scots literature written in Gaelic, English, Latin or any other tongue, I suggest “Lallans”, adopting the term of Robert Burns.
Bnff. 1958 Banffshire Jnl. (15 April):
It is said that if the Bible had been translated into Scots for the Scottish Church at an early date, Lallans to-day would be our national language, or at least in a much more vigorous state.
Sc. 1959 K. G. Silver in Gsw. Herald (29 May) 8:
Lallans is an artificial plaything of frustrated xenophobes.
Ork. 1972 George Mackay Brown Greenvoe (1976) 239:
A table of poets sat next to her; she recognized this face and that; they were arguing over their beer as to whether a Scots poet should write in English or Lallans.
Sc. 1972 Seamus Heaney Preoccupations (1984) 195:
Lallans, his poetic Scots language, is based on the language of men, specifically on the dialect of his home district around Langholm in Dumfriesshire.
Sc. 1974 Encyclopædia Britannica Macropædia Vol. 16 410:
Hugh MacDiarmid, ... the most prominent exponent of Lallans, achieved an international reputation, but the Lallans revival has faded.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 10:
She had imbibed rather too freely of the usquebaugh and her heavy Glaswegian accent was slurred and hesitant, punctuated by hiccups.
"'Sno that I dinnae like poetry, ken," she began. "But is that no Lallans the guy's speakin'? An am ah no richt in supposin' yon man MacDiarmid didna like Burns Suppers? An' ony road, wis Lallans no yer nobs' langwich? Ah mean tae say, Burns wis aw fur the coamon man an fur plain spikk, no some gentry's lickspittle ...".
Sc. 2002 Scotsman 9 Jan :
How many languages should be spoken in the Scottish parliament? Some MSPs are now demanding that traditional Scots be officially recognised, as well as English and Gaelic. There is a cross-party group of MSPs committed to promoting Scots, or Lallans,
Sc. 2003 Scotland on Sunday 1 Jun :
In the 20th century, Hugh MacDiarmid pulled together archaic Scots words from all times and regions into something he called Lallans.
Sc. 2003 Edinburgh Evening News 5 Jun :
"I thought it would work really well in Scots because it's really funny, it's all about community. I grew up with my gran speaking Lallans and I wanted to use that rich, broad language," she says. "It's very light-hearted, good fun and accessible even though it's in Scots, people seem to understand it easily."

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"Lallan adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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