Mak Forrit style sheet

Maist scrievers will hae their ain preferences whan it comes tae spellin Scots. Houiver, the blog wad be a fash tae read gin awbody gaed their ain orthographical gate. The ettle o this stylesheet is tae win at spellins that wirk for aw dialects, and if that’s no possible, sattle on ane or twa variants.

Aften the tradítional braid Scots spellins daes the job: written guid, for example, can be read ‘gid’ if ye’re frae Embra, or ‘gweed’ if ye’re frae the north-east, shuir as ‘shair’ or ‘sheer’ etc. Or houiver ye say it.

My heidmaist ettle is tae be pragmatic, takkin tent o historical precendent, and the Scots I see written doun the day, whether it’s by scrievers here on Mak Forrit or graffiti at a bus stop.

If ye’re new tae readin Scots and wad like a short innin, hae a leuk at How to read scots: a brief introductory guide (written in English).

Scots (wirds and spellin variants uised on this blog) Spellins ye micht see itherwhaur English Jottins
a a
ablo ablow below
aboot; oor; hoose; moose; etc. about; our; hous; mous; etc. about; our; house; mouse; etc.
aa; aaricht; aabody; etc. aw; awricht; awbody; etc. all; all right; everyone; etc.
abuin [ə’bøn, ə’byn, ə’bɪn, ə’ben, ə’bin] abune above
because acause because
ain (one’s) own
an an The indefinite airticle a micht occur afore baith vouels and consonants
and an and I think and is easier tae read nor an, especially if ye’r new tae readin Scots. As wi a wird like haund, ye dinnae need tae say the ‘d’. Itchy Coo uises and.
an-aw, an-aa as weel forby also, too
ane [en, jɪn, in, wan], ae [eː, jeː]; ance [ens, jɪns, ins, wans] one; once
anely ainly only
ar (contractit ’r) are
as as
at at
aye ayeweys ay, ey always Burns uises ay (see DOST entry forby); Lorimer ey; MacDiarmidMcLellan an Fitt aye 
ay aye yes Lorimer, McLellan uise ay. Stevenson uises ay an aye. R. L. C. Lorimer uises aye in Macbeth. Ay gien as first heidwird at SND, an by OSD
back back
be be
body person
but but
by bi (optional unstressed) by
can; could can; could
canna(e); couldna(e); wadna(e); etc. cannot, can’t; couldn’t; wouldn’t; etc.
come; cam come; came
contact; dialect; direct; fact; project; etc. contack; dialeck; direck; fack; projeck; etc. contact; dialect; direct; fact; project; etc. The -ck mak kythes a fair bit. A wheen ensaumples: respeck (DOST, SND), fack (DOSTSND); Scotland Makkin’s Scots Leid Policie; this SP document; NLS’s Wee Windaes project; SCOTS: contackdireck, fackprojeck. Burns uises, for ensaumple, eleckitnegleckit, respeckit, an theeckit. Lorimer uises acksarchiteckconvick, effeck, eleckexpecks, fackrespeck, rejeck, refleck, subjeck. R. L. C. Lorimer uises direcklie in his translate o Macbeth
contemporar; líbrar(y); líterar; ordinar; secretar; etc. contemporary; library; literary; ordinary; secretary; etc. SND: ordinar, secretar; SCOTS: ordinarsecretar. Leebrar kythes on NLS’s Scots Scriever Twitter account an Wee Windaes wabsteid. OSD gies contemporar, leebrar, leeterar, ordinar, secretar. The’r no ower mony kythins o contemporar an leeterar gin ye Google, but it’s certes consístent wi ither sib wirds. Linguist John M. Kirk mentions this mak here
dae; did; duin, daen div (emphatic) dune do; did; done Barbour an Middle Scots makars uise dodid, done. Lorimer, MacDiarmid an McLellan aa uise daedid, dune. Stevenson uises dae (ance), didna. Burns uises do, dae (ance), did, done. Fitt uises dae, did, done. SND gies dae an did, wi dune as the past participle heidwird. SDS gies dae, did, duin. OSD gies dae/div, daed/did, duin/daen
cultur; featur; futur; líteratur; etc. culture; feature; future; literature; etc; DOST: futur; SND: leeteraturCultur kythes a fair bit gin ye Google. Featur is uised on Wee Windaes and SLA wabsteids. OSD gies cultur, featur, futur and leeteratur 
decísion, specífic, partícular, phýsics, sýstem, etc. deceesion, speceefic, parteecular, pheesics, seestem, etc. (or deceision, speceific, parteicular, pheisics, sýstem, etc.) decision, specific, particular, physics, system etc. No aabody pronounces thir wirds wi a ‘ee’-like sound; an scrievit ‘ee’ micht leuk a bittie unbonnie tae new readers. We’v sattelt wi the ‘í’ an ‘ý’ chairacters (the staundart letters ‘i’ an ‘y’ wi diacritics abuin them), an leave it tae the reader tae pronounce it their ain wey
day day
doun; nou; toun; dout; etc. doon; noo; toon; doot; etc. down; now; town; doubt; etc. Uiss o -ou- in thir wirds shouldna cause confuision ower pronunciation
efter after
eneuch enough
even (contractit e’en) even
frae fae from
find [fɪn(d)] finn find
first first
for [fɔr, for, fər, fɪr, fʌr] fir, fur, fer for For kythes maist aften in my sairches o modren beuks etc. The’re ower mony potential spellin variants sae juist gaun wi for. OSD gies for
gae, gan(g); gaed; gane (pp.); gaun, gaein go; went; gone; going
gate wey gait way
gie; gied, gae; gien, gied give; gave; given
gin gif if, whether
get git get
guid [gød, gyd, gjød, gɪd, ged, gwid, gid] good
hae [heː], hiv [hɪv, hʌv] (emphatic); haed [heːd, hɛd, hɪd, hʌd]; haedna(e) [heːdnə, hɛdnə, hɪdnə, hʌdnə, -nɛ, -nɪ, -ne] hae; had; hadna(e) have; had; hadn’t Burns uises hae an had
haes [heːz, hɪz, hʌz]; haesna(e) [-nə -nɛ, -nɪ, -ne] hes; hesna(e) has; hasn’t Burns uises has
hale haill whole
haund; grund; laund; around etc. haun; grun; laun; aroun etc. hand; ground; land; around; etc. The -d is pronounced yet in mair conservative by-leids, sae mebbe we should haud wi it
he he
her hir her
him him
haena hinna hivna haven’t Burns uises hae na
his his
why hou whit wey why
hunder hunner hundred Burns uises hunder
I [aː, ə, ɛ, aɪ] ah ah I (1st pers. pron.)
in i in
be; is; wis [waz, wɛz, wɪz, wʌz]; war; been [bin, bɪn, bein, bøn] wes (English was) be; is; was; were; been (pp.) OSD gies be, is, wis, war an been. Wes an war wis kenspeckle in Aulder Scots. Burns uises were.
it hit (stressed form) it Contractit ’t in e.g. for’t, o’t etc.
ither other
its its
juist [dʒøst, dʒyst, dyst, dʒust, dust, dʒɪst, dɪst, dʒist] jist just
ken knaw know
like like
leuk; beuk; teuk; etc. luik; buik; tuik; etc. look; book; took; etc. Burns uises leuk, beuk an teuk. OSD gies aa three
my; mysel ma; masel my; myself Ma an masel if aften uised the day insteid o my an mysel, or as a unstressed mak thereof. For expository scrievin, I’d mebbe juist gang wi my an mysel (that ye could pronounce ‘my’ an ‘mysel’ or ‘ma’ an ‘masel’)
maist most
mak make
me me
mind mynd remember
na [nə, neː] (adv., int.) naw no (e.g. negative repone tae a quaisten) Na gien by OSDSND. DOST entry. Uised by Lorimer, Burns and McLellan
nae (adj.) no, not any; not (adv.) (Northren dialects) Gien by OSD, SND
name name
neist nixt next
new new
no not “From the contracted form of nocht” (OSD)
nor than than
o [o, e, ə] of
on [ɔn, on] oan on
ony; mony onie; monie any; many
our; oursel; oursels wir; wirsel; wirsels our; ourself; ourselves Wir, wirsel an wirsels micht be uised insteid o our, oursel an oursels; or as a unstressed mak thereof
or or
ower owre over Burns an Lorimer baith uise owre
rin run
sae so
say say
see see
she she
shall; should sall; sud shall; should Barbour, Dunbar, Douglas, Henryson an Stevenson aa uise sall an suld. McLellan uises shall an suld. Burns uises baith sal an shall, an sud an should; Lorimer uises sal an suid. SND an OSD baith gie sall an sud. OSD forby gies shall an shoud as mair modren spellins
some some
speak [spɪk, spɛk]; spak; spoken; speakin [spɪkɪn, spɛkɪn] spik speak; spoke; spoken; speaking
stairt; pairty stert; perty start; party
tae; intae til, intil ti; inti to; into I dinna think til an intil is iver uised afore a verb, an whiles only afore vouels an the letter ‘h’. Yon afore-vouel-an-letter-h prattick could be follaed in expository scrievin for tae help gie the writin a ‘neutral’, equal-aqual kythin (some fowk says ‘til’ in speak an ithers daesna). The Centre for the Scots Leid wabsteid gangs this gate. Lorimer’s uiss is mair líberal, but we maun mind that he wis scrievin in different dialects, delíberate-like, outower The New Testament
tak; teuk; takken, taen; takkin, taein take; took; taken; taking
than syne then
that, at yon, thon that Uissage o thon/yon is a bittie different tae that or thae, effeirin til something faurer awa in time or space, like ‘yonder’ in English
that whit, what whilk which
the thi the
they [ðe:, ðə, e:, de:]; there [ðe:r, ðər, de:r, dɛr, e:r]; their [ðe:r, ðər, de:r, dər]; them [ðɛm, ðəm, dɛm] thay; thare; thair; thaim their; they; there; them
thir; thae this; that (North-East) yon, thon these; those See jottin effeirin til that, ‘at anent that an thae vs yon/thon
think think
this [ðɪs, ɪs, dɪs] is, ’is this
time time
twa [twɑː, twɔː, tweː, twaː] twae two
uise [jøːz, jyːz, øːz, jeːz, iːz]; uiss [jøs, jɪs, is, jus] yaise, yuise; yiss, yuiss use (verb); use (noun)
university, varsity; policy universitie, versity; policie university; policy DOST: universitie, policie; RPS: universitie, policie. Universitie uised by the Aiberdeen University Scots Leid Quorum in the 1990s. Policie uised in the title o Scotland Makkin’s 2015 Scots Leid Policie. ‘Glesca Universitie’ kythes in a 2007 Pairlamentar motion. The North-East Scots Language Board is uisin varsity
up up
us hus (stressed form) us
want want
wark [wark] (n.) wirk [wɪrk, wʌrk] (v.) work
we we
weel well
wha [ʍɑː, ʍɔː, ʍeː, ʍɪə, faː, aː, ʍaː] fa who
whan [ʍan, ʍən, ʍɪn, fan, fɪn, aːn] fan when
whit [ʍɪt, ʍʌt, ʍat, ʍɔt, fɪt, fʌt, fat, ət], what fit, fat what Burns, Lorimer, McLellan an Stevenson aa uise what. Fitt uises whit. (Barbour an the medieval Makars uise quhat.) Christine Robinson uises whit in Modren Scots Grammar. What kythes muckle mair in the DSL. OSD gies whit. Whit kythes outthrou the SLC wabsteid. Leuks like whit micht be the mair kenspeckle modren spellin; but aiblins what wad wirk better for mair formal/conservative expository ettles
wi with
will [wɪl, wʌl]; wad [wad, wɪd, wʌd] wull; wid, wud will; would Will an wad gien by OSD. Will an wald wis kenspeckle Aulder Scots maks. Burns uises wad
withoot ithoot wioot athoot without
ye you
year year
yer; yersel your; yoursel your; yourself Burns an Lorimer uise yoursel, McLellan an Fitt yer an yersel(l) (an baith whiles your). SND gies your, notin that yer (an ither variants) uised “chiefly in unstressed position.” Aiblins your is a better fit for mair formal, expository scrievin


Item Jottins
Concise Scots Dictionary (2nd Edition) (2017) Scottish Language Dictionaries an Edinburgh University Press
Dictionar o the Scots Leid (DSL)
A Doric Dictionary (1996) Pit thegither an editit by Douglas Kynoch
Essential Scots Dictionary, The (2004) Scottish Language Dictionaries (SLD)
Online Scots Dictionary (OSD): English to Scots; Scots to English Creatit by Andy Eagle
Scots Dictionary for Schools app (iOS; Android) (2014)
Líterar warks an ither imprents
The Brus by John Barbour Written c. 1375. The first kent líterar wark in (Early) Scots. 2009 Canongate edítion by A. A. M. Duncan notes that “52% o the wirds in the poem is stryndit frae Auld Angles, 37% frae French (tho mony wad be auld borraeins).” A wheen wirds uised that will be kenspeckle tae modren een: amang; ane; ar (uised by Lorimer; kythes the day in Lallans jurnal); biggit; brocht; dout; fecht; folk (modren spellin: fowk); fra (auld spellin o frae); gan; gane; hale; hame; hous (maistly spelt hoose the day); ilka; licht; maist; mak; mony; na; nane; nocht; ony; strenth; syne; tak; thocht; throu; till (modren spellin is for common til); twa 
The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson Twa stories ar scrieved in Scots: Tod Lapraik an Thrawn Janet
The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns (List o ensaumple spellins tae follae)
Eejits, The by Roald Dahl, owerset by Matthew Fitt First imprentit in 2006. Ensaumple spellins: aff, afore, and, aroond, aw, awa, awbody, awricht, aye (English “always”), aye (English “yes”), because, biggit, canna, cannae, chynge, couldnae, didna, dinna, dinnae (in dialog), doon, efter, find, folk, forby, frae, furnitur, gaed, gane, gang, gaun, git, glaikit, guid, had, hadnae, hae, haill, haund, hert, hoose, I, ilka, intae, isna, jaikit, jist, jyle, ken, lauch, look, ma, mair, maist, masel, mony, nicht, nixt, noo, ony, ower, pairt, pit, staund, stert, strecht, tae, telt, thae, then, there, warld, weel, wha, when, whit, wi, wid, widnae, wis, wisna, wisnae, work, wrang, ye, yer, yin, yir, you (emphatic mak)
Linmill Stories by Robert McLellan Imprentit in 2010. (List o ensaumple spellins tae follae)
The Makars: The Poems of Henryson, Dunbar and Douglas The editor, J. A. Tasioulas, notes that “the spellin o the texts haes been modrenised a wee bit” but disna gang intae ony mair detail. Onygates, here’s a wheen o weel-kent wirds an phrases, in uiss the day, taen frae thir Middle Scots poems: ane; ay (modren spellin: aye, meanin “always” in English); buik; coud; douchter; doun; dout; dreid; fra; guid; haill; hairt; hame; hous; ken; kirk; kist; langage; lat; leid; licht; luik; mair; mak; mirk; nocht; ony; pairt; richt; sall; sangs; soucht; strang; symmer (modren spellin: simmer); tak; tak na tent; than; thir; toucht; tuik; twa; warld
New Testament In Scots, The by William L. Lorimer First imprentit in 1983. (List o ensaumple spellins tae follae)
Croniklis of Scotland, owerset by John Bellenden An owersettin intil Scots (1531 — r. 1537) by John Bellenden o Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historia (1527). The first full-scale prentit national history in Scots. List o some weel-kent wirds, wi modren maks an exemples frae the text in parentheses: abone (abuin), afoir (afore), aganis (agin), amang, ane, athir (aither), auld, baith, barnis (bairns), big (“[…] quhair he suld big his townis”), biggit (“Sone eftir he biggit ane town […]”), braid, brak, brig, brocht, contrair, croun, discrive (descrive), dochter, doun, dyke, eftir (efter), eikitt (eikit: “How Gregowr eikitt Northumberland to the empire of Scottis”), erd (yird, earth), fecht, folkis (fowk), fornent, fra (frae, fae), furth, gait (gate), gatt (gat), glaid (gled), haif, haill (hale, haill), haly, hame, hie, hou, ilk, ilkane, ingyne (ingine), kirk, knaw, landwart, lang, lenth, loch, firth (“Thir oratouris wrait in thair bukis the situacioun of hillis, firthis, ilis, townis, lochtis, castellis & municionis […]”), maist, mak, maner (mainer), marijt (mairit), mater (maiter), mekill (muckle), mony, mycht (micht), na, necessair (necessar), nixt, nocht, nycht (nicht), ony, oure (ower: “Eftir this he biggit ane brig oure Forth and brocht all his army our the samyn”), propone, quha (wha), quhais (whase), quhilk (whilk), richt, sa (sae), sair, sall, schaw (shaw), sic, sikker (siccar), siklyke (siclike), sindry, skaith, socht, soidiouris (sodgers), strang, straucht, strenth, suld (sud, should), syne, tak, thame (thaim), thir, thocht, thraw, throw (throu), toun, twa, wald (wad), war, war (waur), warld, watter, wes (wis), wiffis (wifes), wrait (wrate), wrang
Papers, grammars etc.
A Scots Grammar: Scots Grammar & Usage by David Purves
Introduction to Modern Scots by Andy Eagle
Modren Scots Grammar: Wirkin wi Wirds by Christine Robinson
Recommendations for Writers in Scots Scots Leid Associe, 1985
Luath Scots Language Learner by L. Colin Wilson Lauth, 2002 an 2012
Scots Style Sheet Makar’s Club, 1947
Scots Spellin Comatee 1996-1998 Report recommends: Mensfu Scots Spellin
Oxford English Corpus o 100 maist common wirds, via EnglishClub
Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 St Andras University
Scottish Corpus Of Texts & Speech Glesca University
Ither wabsteids
Bella Caledonia
Centre for the Scots Leid
Scots Threip by John M. Tait, includin airticles anent writin expository Scots
Wee Windaes: A Continuum o the Scots Leid National Líbrar o Scotland
Wikipedia: Doric
Wikipedia: Modern Scots