Home» Publications» SLD Newsletter» Newsletter October 2007» Scots Lexicography

Scottish Language Dictionaries Word Collection

Modern Material

coverWhat is the Word Collection? Simply the material that has been collected by SLD to update our dictionaries. This material can be collected from written sources for example books, magazines, newpapers and oral sources. Oral sources can be general conversation, overheard conversations — on public transport or in pubs, restaurants and cafés.

Although there has been constant collecting since the beginnings of the Scottish National Dictionary in the 1920s, there are gaps. The staff of the Scottish National Dictionary Association collected material until the late 1960s and early 1970s, but once the Dictionary moved into its final editing stages, this collecting became much more sporadic.

In the 21st century we have a programme of reading where books and other materials — such as broadcasts — are harvested to fill the gaps in the modern record of Scots. For example we now include more urban language, which was overlooked in earlier times when the focus was on the language of rural Scotland. We owe a great debt to many publishers who donate written materials free of charge but some books still have to be bought.

Through outreach work we gain access to additional oral sources and record conversations with speakers of all ages. This can help with giving us the nearest thing to to private conversations. However, people are notoriously nervous in front of a microphone. This means that we have to spend a lot of time making our informants feel comfortable over tea and biscuits. This makes SLD's staff a thoroughly sociable team. We also make use of informal conversations with our family and friends and when we hear something new we seek evidence from other sources.

For more information on the Word Collection, please visit the Reading Scheme and Oral Collection pages on our website, or contact Senior Editor Pauline Cairns Speitel: pauline.cairns_speitel @ scotsdictionaries.org.uk