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SLD retirements

Dr Margaret Mackay

Chris Robinson

The warmest of thanks were in order for two long-serving members of Scottish Language Dictionaries staff in the month of March, for that month saw the retirements of Dr Chris Robinson and Mrs Ruth Martin. Tributes were paid to both at the SLD Board Meeting on March 27.

The creation of SLD in 2002 signalled an intention to build on the achievements of DOST (A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue) and SND (The Scottish National Dictionary), taking forward an exciting new phase in Scottish lexicography with the Second Edition of The Concise Scots Dictionary and the development of electronic resources such as the online Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL).

The leadership of these and many associated projects called for a range of qualities in its Director and SLD was fortunate to find these in Chris Robinson, who has combined expertise in Scots with an admirable capacity for energetic promotion of the work of SLD. She has been as much at home in a group of school pupils as in a convocation of scholars or in a meeting with our funders, and her unstinting efforts for the success of SLD and its future prospects put us – and Scotland – greatly in her debt. Her zeal has extended to the production of lively and much-needed publications on aspects of Scots and to spreading knowledge of it well beyond our borders at international conferences and colloquia. It is good to know that she will continue to undertake university teaching and that she has been appointed a Scots Ambassador, an important role which has been created for Scottish schools, for she has already earned this title during her SLD years.

Ruth Martin has been associated with Scottish dictionaries for many years from the times of DOST and SND, contributing in vital ways to Scotland's language resources and access to them as both a lexicographer and an administrator. The successful work of dictionary-making calls for both, and Ruth's insider knowledge of how our work is carried out has made her contributions all the more welcome and effective. All familiar with her and with her support for our work know how staunch she has been over these years. Amongst the gifts presented to her was a sponsored word, and it was not surprising that the unanimous choice was 'leal'. No one deserves that description more than Ruth.

Gifts to Dr Robinson included a framed print by the Port William-based artist Lisa Hooper of a 'Brown Hare' leaping through grass. In thanking Chris and Ruth, SLD President Dr Mackay quoted from a poem by Flòraidh NicPhàil of Tiree from her 2012 collection Mairaiche nan Cuantan, 'Nead a' Mhoighich', 'The Hare's Nest'. It is a moving account of the passing down of knowledge from one age to another. This is precisely what dictionaries – and the people who make them – do. With the generous permission of the author and the publisher Acair Books, the English translation of this Gaelic poem is reproduced in full in this newsletter, a reminder of the fact that dictionary-making in Scotland is characterised by collaborative contacts and that the sharing of expertise and experience links SLD and our colleagues in Faclair na Gaidhlig, who are preparing a Scottish Gaelic dictionary for the 21st century.

The launch of the Second Edition of The Concise Scots Dictionary, work on which is nearing completion, will give an opportunity for SLD's members, friends and former staff to give good wishes to all in person, both to those who have retired recently and to those who are continuing to be active in the important work and projects which are at the heart of SLD's commitment to the Scots language and all with an interest in it.