A tale o twa leids


bi Bob Fairnie

Hou aften hiv oo heard the cry gaun oot that Scots isnae a real leid in it’s ain richt but is juist a local byleid o English?  Weel, so is English!  Whan the Angles an the Saxons arrived in sooth-east England, they baith spake a diffrent byleid o an auld Germanic leid that they cried aither Inglis or Englisc.  The Angles spreidit aw the wey up the east coast tae the Firth o Forth takin thair Inglis wi thaim but the Saxons steyed in the sooth east o England an spreidit alang the sooth towarts the Welsh mairches an the wast kintrae.  Ower the centuries, as baith byleids growed up intae leids o thair ain, they baith chynged but it wad seem that English wis the yin that chynged the maist.

In 1565 durin the ring o Mary, Queen o Scots, Roman biggins wis onkivvert  in Inveresk, Musselburgh. On hearin the news, the Queen sent a message laddie wi a letter tae the toun baillies wi her consaits aboot the maitter. The follaein extrack wis taen fae the Queen’s Thesaurer’s accoonts:-

Aprile 1565:

Item.  To ane boy passend of Edinburgh, with ane charge of the Queenis grace, direct to the baillies of Mussilburgh, charging thame to tak diligent heid and attendance that the monument of grit antiquitie now fundin be nocht demolishit nor broken doun, xii.D.

Nae mair nor a week efter the abuin entrie wis eikit tae the Queen’s accoonts, Randolph, the English Ambassador tae Scotland, screivit the follaein report tae the Earl o Bedford an it’s gey intrestin tae compare the twa leids.

Edenburgh, 7th April 1565.

For certayne ther is founde a cave besyds Muskelbourge, stonding upon a number of pillers, made of tyle stones curieuslye wroughte, sygnefyinge great antiquetie, and straynge monuments found in the same. Thys comethe to my knowledge, besyds the comon reporte, by th’ assurance of Alexander Clerke, who was ther to see yt, wch I wyll do myself wthin these three or four dayes, and wryte unto yor Ldship the more certayntie therof, for I wyll leave nothynge of it unseen.

Thir nae doot here that the Scots an English leids o Aprile 1565 wis diffrent in soond an thir nae compare atween the spellins for the Scots spellins leuks mair modren nor the Ambassador’s daes. Whit grips the ee mair nor onythin tho is the appearance o thae words that Scots shares wi English the day.  In the Queen’s accoonts thae words is aw spelt in modren English but the spellins o Lord Randolph is in a mair auld farrant Elizabethan style.  It’s kinna whit ye micht expeck gin modren Standart English wis a byleid o Scots or at the verra least, whaur the spellin o thae shared words is concairned, the Scots leid got thare first an Standart English follaed it.