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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.

I, n.1, letter of the alphabet. The ninth letter of the alphabet, pronounced [ɑe], †[i:] (Bnff. 1836 in Ellis E.E.P. V. 777). In Sc., i is a front vowel having in gen. the same uses and values as i in Eng., though slightly more closed and longer in quantity, varying from high front tense to high front lax and including the diphthong pronounced according to the particular dialect and position in the word as [ɑe, ɑɪ; ai, aɪ (I.Sc.); əi]. See P.L.D. pp. xliii — iv and 3. below. In addition various Sc. dialects also pronounce i as a high or mid front lax lowered vowel [, ] or as a mid back tense vowel [ʌ] in certain positions, e.g.:

1. as [i]: (1) in the stressed vowel of Romance words as civil, city, image, item, licence, minute, oblige, position, etc. (see Weekly Mag. (18 July 1771) 69 and P.L.D. § 45 and p. xliii), and in the ending -ise, as criticeese, idoleeze, etc., now obsol.; (2) representing the development of O.E. i, y in open syllables through Mid.Eng. , as in Gie (give), Spier, Dreel (drill), Skeel (skill), Steer (stir); (3) in ne.Sc. in the ending -ie, -y, after a high or closed vowel in the root syllable according to the system of vowel harmony applying in that dialect (see Dieth §§ 83 sqq.); (4) in Chiel (child), King, wing, Sheen (shine) obsol., before [n(d)ȝ], as in Peenge, Reenge, Wheenge, and sporadically in local dialect pronunciations of forms borrowed from St.Eng. as pin [pin], swim [swim]. Since the 18th c. the spelling ee or, less commonly, ie has been largely adopted for this sound;

2. as [ɪ], representing mainly: (1) O.E., O.N. i, y without lengthening. Note that there is no lengthening of i in Sc. before -nd, -mb, unlike Eng., except in kind, mind, wynd, hence [fɪnd, grɪnd, blɪnd, klɪm, etc.]; (2) O.E. ō, O.N. ó, Fr. u, shortened, except when final and before r and voiced fricatives, to [ø, y] and from the early 18th c. onwards unrounded in e. and wm.Sc. to [ɪ], though the spellings u-e, ui, and, formerly, anglicised oo are usu. retained (see P.L.D. §§ 86, 93.1., 96.1.), e.g. Brither, Ither, Fit, Mither, Guid, Mune, shune, spune, Uise, n. [′brɪðər, fɪt, etc.];  (3) O.E. u, esp. freq. before or after dentals, e.g. Hinnie, Nit, Pit (put), Simmer, Sindrie, Wid (see P.L.D. § 60.1.); (4) an unstressed vowel, usu. orig. e, as in pa.p. of wk. verbs, creepit, dreidit, hurtit, luikit, etc.; in his (has, O.Sc. hes), wis (was, O.Sc. wes), div (Dae, v.1), hiv (Hae), wir (= our), kin (can), Is (as), Ir (are); in wm. and s.Sc. in the adj. ending -ie, -y (cf. 1. (3) above); (5) earlier a, ai, e before -nt in ne.Sc., e.g. wint (want), pint (paint), kint (kent, knew), Inter (enter); (6) freq. before v, as Iver, Ivery, Ivenoo.

In most Sc. dialects however this sound [ɪ] is modified by lowering in some way (see P.L.D. §§ 58, 59): (1) to [] in ne.Sc. before voiceless consonants, single nasals, l and r, e.g. as in fish, Fit, Clim, Rin, fir, Birl, Gird, Licht adj.1, n.1, v.1 and Licht adj.2, n.2 and v.2; (2) to [, ] in I. and sn.Sc. in most positions, and also in s.Sc. except before [] where it becomes [i] (see P.L.D. §§ 107, 118.2., 164.7.). [], written i, also develops in s.Sc. from O.E. (h)ā- by a process of breaking into [′iə > ɪ′ɛ > j], hence Yill (ale), yin (Ane), yit (Ait), hyim (Hame), hyill (Hail, adj.); Cf. also Stell, n.2, a still. (3) to [ʌ] in e. and wm.Sc. in sim. positions (see P.L.D. §§ 90, 95.2. (1) and cf. Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 42; also in most dialects after w, wh (f in n.Sc.) (see P.L.D. § 59), e.g. will, win, witch, whip, whiskie, whistle [wʌl, wʌn, etc.]; in ne., e. and wm.Sc. before -l, e.g. fill, hill, til, [fʌl, hʌl, tʌl] (see P.L.D. § 58.1.) and -kl-, -tl- -k(e)n- as in Chucken;  as in Pickle, little [pʌkl, lʌtl]. Muckle is Gen.Sc. See on the above A. Scott The Contrast (1779); (4) to [e] in the ending -ie, -y, reg. in em.Sc. (b) (cf. P.L.D. § 89 and -Le, suff.) and in ne.Sc. after open back vowels as Bonnie [′bone] (see 1. (3) above).

3. as the diphthong developed mostly from O.E. ī, , O.N. í, ý, O.Fr. i, viz. [əi, s.Sc. i], written i-e, y-e, †ay, †ey, but finally, and in n.Sc. before voiced fricatives, [ɑe] as in buy, dry, Kye, and among old speakers in n.Sc. in a rounded form [ʌi] as in bide, hoyne s.v. Hyne, mine, five, pipe [bʌid, mʌin, etc.] (see P.L.D. § 131 and A. Scott The Contrast (1779)). But see also 1. (1).

The diphthong [əi, in nn.Sc. ei] also (1) develops in some words before g, as big, pig, rig, in nn.Sc., ne.Sc. (coast), Fif., ‡n.Rxb. (see P.L.D. §§ 107, 147.1. (4)), and before ng, nk, in Fif. (see P.L.D. § 87); (2) represents Mid.Eng. oi, ui, O.Fr. ui, mod.Eng. oi, in boil, oil, joint, point, in n. and m.Sc. and now also freq. in s.Sc. Obs. exc. dial. in Eng. In Dundee, Fife and some districts of Edinburgh the sound [ < i] is heard for the diphthong [ɑe] as in I, my, pie, etc.

For the digraphs in which i occurs, viz. ai, ei and ie, oi, ui, see the letters A, E, O, U respectively.

I, pers. pron. Sc. forms and usages:

A. Forms: nom. I; a, etc. (see A, pers. pron.); eh, ey (Dundee); accus. me; mei (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 191, when emphatic; e.Dmf. 1952 Scotsman (31 May)), mey (s.Sc. 1818 Scott Letters (Cent. ed.) V. 155), unemphatic also ma. Phr. a ma ( = on me)). For poss. adj., see Mine, My. Sc. 1791 Archie o Cawfield in Child Ballads No. 188. B. xv.:
Out then spak Dickie and said, Let some o the weight fa on me; "O shame a ma!" co Jokie Ha, For he's no the weight of a poor flee."
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy (1848) II. 122:
I wot they cost me dear eneugh. The shame a ma.
[Sc. stressed ɑe; unstressed ɑ, ə, ʌ, s.Ags. e; Sc. stressed mi:, s.Sc. məi; unstressed mɑ, mə. See P.L.D. § 103.]Dundee 1989 W. N. Herbert in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 93:
whan Dundee gleikit in view
whan Eh wiz fehv:
Dundee 1990 Sheila Stephen in Joy Hendry Chapman 60 51:
"Well!" she cried when she'd poured their tea. "Eh canna keep it in ony langir! Eh've goat a rare story ti tell yi the day, Bella! ... "
Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 10:
elaine sehs she's awa doon the murraygait
- eh, eh ken

B. Usages: me is used for the nom. I, esp. in colloq. or rather illiterate speech, when conjoined with another subject, which it freq. precedes, in exclams. of surprise or protest before an infin., in pseudo-Highl. Sc., and in phrs. (1) and me, considering that I . . ., especially since I. . . .(2) that's me, That's where I am, what I'm doing.(2)Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 81:
Right, that's me, a'm away then! I'll be taking my leave now!
Sc. 2003 Herald 16 Dec 18:
"Well, that's me, I'll not be back here again."
Concerned, staff asked if they'd done something to offend him. "Nothing," he said. "It's just that when I had an operation, you gave me nine pints of blood, and now I've given you the nine pints back."
Edb. 2004:
That's me since this morning.

In regard to word-order, me as indirect obj. usu. precedes the direct obj. it, e.g. give me it, show me it = Eng. give (show) it me (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scotticisms 54; s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 191). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 187:
Me never saw the like, man.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize II. xxi.:
She's a pious wife, sir. Me ca' her a witch!
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 2:
Me and Wordsworth are aboon the age we live in.
Abd. a.1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xx.:
Aw'm railly nae wise t' be sittin' clatterin' awa here, an' me hiz sic a lang road afore ma.
Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart iii.:
Ba'bingry an' me's both wrang?
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 36:
Me and Dauvit Sma' And Robert Todd, the herd at Meldonha'.
Cai. 1934 John o' Groat Jnl. (19 Jan.):
Me lose min' on 'e show?

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"I n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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