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SLD News

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At our AGM in September, our outgoing Convener Christian Kay and Treasurer/Company Secretary Jim Lonie both demitted office. Both were involved in steering Scottish Language Dictionaries into existence and their guidance and help over our first ten years was invaluable.

Professor Kay’s involvement goes back a long way. Her advice was first sought during the compilation of the Scots Thesaurus. As Convener for the past ten years, she has ensured that SLD has always had an effective Board of Trustees and Board meetings have been as pain‑free as possible, even in hard times, when funding was uncertain. Staff always found her accessible and approachable on matters professional and personal, and her profound knowledge of lexicography ensured that high standards were set within the organisation.

Mr Lonie’s experience in the Civil Service stood us in good stead in many practical ways. He too was a rock in days when funding was in crisis and his reassurances did much for staff morale. Depute convener from the start, he took on the additional roles of Company Secretary and Treasurer when Mr William Mack stepped down in 2009.

Under their leadership, SLD has come a long way in the last ten years. They have our heartfelt thanks.

New faces

We are happy to welcome Professor Jeremy Smith as our new Convener, Mrs Jean Anderson as our new Treasurer, Company Secretary and Depute Convener, as well as new trustees Dr Rhona Alcorn and Mr Jim Tough.

10th Anniversary

We continue to mark SLD’s 10th anniversary in a variety of ways. In May, our first birthday event was an elegant occasion at Linlithgow Burgh Halls, and showed strong support for the work of SLD. You can read about it and see the photos here.

Other events included a well-attended lunchtime seminar 'Celebrating Scottish Lexicography' at Edinburgh University’s Celtic and Scottish Studies, with presentations from our director Chris Robinson, senior editor Pauline Speitel and editor Ann Ferguson. Our banners have been displayed in libraries in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

SLD continues to engage with a variety of audiences as part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations. In August, children and parents enjoyed an interactive workshop at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and in September SLD hosted a 'Dictionary Corner' at Stirling Castle, as part of their Scots language event 'The Mither Tongue'.

November is a busy month for SLD birthday events. Our banners have been on show again at an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament Members' Lobby, and generated much interest among MSPs. On the 23rd, there is a performance of the Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy at Mary King's Close in Edinburgh, with our director Chris Robinson providing commentary. On the 29th there is a panel discussion about Scots dictionaries at the National Library of Scotland. In January everyone's knowledge of Robert Burns' Tam O'Shanter is going to be tested in a lively 'Tam-tag' competition at the Scottish Poetry Library.

Ongoing lexicographical work

Despite anniversary events many and various, our core work is always our priority and the meticulous work on second edition of the Concise Scots Dictionary (CSD2) continues with good progress made.

As for the online Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL), work continues on improving the search facilities and general structure. We now have two test sites, one each for A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the Scottish National Dictionary (SND). If you make regular use of DSL and would like to try out the test sites and give us some feedback, please let us know.

Education and Outreach

SLD staff regularly visit schools, writers' groups and community groups to discuss Scots in literature and as a community language. Elaine Webster has been very busy with recent visits. She has been invited into schools as part of Book Week, and to the Mini‑Learning Festival in Dumfries to talk about the work of SLD. At the Scottish Learning Festival, the poet Liz Niven ran a workshop entitled 'Wall to Wall Scots' in conjunction with Elaine.

We are always keen to share ideas and resources, and would love more material for the Scuilwab website, including news of projects which involve Scots language. Please get in touch if you have contact with schools or community groups in your area who could give us appropriate recordings for inclusion.

Conferences and meetings

In addition to events specifically tying in with our 10th anniversary, SLD staff have continued to enjoy disseminating information about their work at various meetings and conferences. These included the ASLS (Association for Scottish Literary Studies) Schools Conference, the Literacy Network meeting, the Learning Link Conference, and the ASLS Language conference on multilingual Scotland, at which Chris Robinson gave a paper on Scots and Scottish English and Pauline Speitel gave a presentation entitled The Languages of Scottish Travelling Peoples, based on her ongoing research into that topic. In August, Chris Robinson gave a paper in Istanbul at the European Society for the Study of English conference.

Sponsor a word

We are keen to promote our Sponsor a Word scheme. Some schools chose to sponsor a Scots word during Book Week to open up discussion about Scots language. If you would like to sponsor a word or gift a word sponsorship to a friend to help fund work on the new edition of the Concise Scots Dictionary, you can download a form from our website. We are always delighted when a business, school or community group shows interest in our work by sponsoring a Scots word; please pass on details of the scheme.

George Philp

Finally, we were saddened to hear of the death of George Philp, a longstanding campaigner in support of the Scots language. Among his many achievements were the founding of the Henryson Society and the formation of the Friends of Fergusson, who erected the beautiful figure of Burns' 'Elder brother in the Muse' outside the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh. He has left a great legacy in his Scotsoun recordings of the poetry, prose, music and songs of Scotland. Along with recordings of Hugh MacDiarmid, J. K. Annand, Robert Garioch, Somhairle MacGill‑Eain and other great names of Scottish literature, is a CD In Mind o David Murison. George also recorded Jack Aitken, distinguished Scots scholar and former editor of A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, explaining and demonstrating How to pronounce Older Scots. This remarkable archive is a great gift to Scotland and we honour George for his tireless work and enthusiasm.