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Re: Scottish titles

Poster: "Stephanie M. Thorson" <smt2@st-andrews.ac.uk>

Eogan writes:

> I was primarily using Robinson's _Concise Scots Dictionary_, because it is
> the only one available to me that consistantly dates all of its entries.
> It lists "Lord" and "Laird" seperately, because of the differences you
> describe, but includes "lard," "lerd," and "leard" all under the heading
> of "laird."  

Scots spelling has settled down a little now, but it was as prone (if not
more so) to vagaries as its more southerly relatives.  I'm dealing with an
East Lothian-born chronicler who lived and wrote in the Borders.  There
are 2 hands at work in the manuscript (contemporary to the chronicler),
which have distinctively different orthography, but they agree on the
lord/lard issue.  These particular scribes both tend to drop out i's in
places one might expect to find them - lard instead of laird, barn for
bairn, etc. 

The word, as they descibe it, had different meanings at
> different times.  Example:
> 1.  a prince or cheif (la14)

Not out of keeping with English practice.  English Princes of Wales in the
later Middle Ages were often referred to as "the lord So-and-So."  SCA
usage is all backwards in that regard.  During the Real Middle Ages <tm>
there were lots of knights but very few lords.  We have lots of lords, but
far fewer knights.

> 2.  Christ (la14-16)
> 3.  Christ, as a mild expletive (18-)

We do the same thing - "O Lord," "My Lord," "Lord have mercy," etc. 
Christ was awarded the title during the Middle Ages on the "as above, so
below" principle - if there are lords on Earth, there must also be Lords
in Heaven. 

> > Hehe.  The aforementioned 15th/16th c. material also uses this word, as
> > the past participle of "lere" and also a substantive adjective to mean
> > "learned," as clerks, for instance, and as opposed to "lawd"  meaning
> > sometimes the laity in general or more often the unlettered.  For example,
> Interesting.  The CSD, under "lerd" simply says, "see LAIRD."  But I have
> had experience with confusing similar words before in different ME, or
> Early English dictionaries before.  What I tend to do (if I am translating
> a MS), is to consider all possible definitions available to me, including
> definitions of similarly spelled words, and try to choose the best one in
> the context of the MS.

"Lerit" might be the more expected form of the past participle of "lere." 
Scots tends to use -it rather than -d or -ed endings in the past tense. 
Lere may also be an obsolete verb.  I can't recall hearing anyone use it
in everyday speech around here, anyway.  The Dict. of the Older Scottish
Tongue recognises lerd as both a variant spelling of lard/laird and as the
p.p. of lere.  If you can get access to it, the Middle English Dictionary
might prove useful, as well.  The CSD is good as far as it goes, but it is
a limited source.  I find cross-referencing to MED from DOST is often
helpful and usually wise. 

Stephanie M. Thorson			|  SCA: Lady Alianora Munro
Dept. of Scottish History		|  Clan White Wing
University of St Andrews		|  Tarkhan, Khanate Red Lion

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