Scotticisms

Scotticisms

Extract from a list of Scotticisms by David Hume, published in the Scots Magazine, 1760 (NLS shelfmark: Sc.Mag [22])

During the later part of the 18th century, there was a sustained attempt to create a standard pronunciation of English based on that spoken by the upper social classes in London and at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. There were proposals for an English Academy, based on French and Italian models, to encourage linguistic uniformity.

Correcting 'errors'

In Scotland, many of the leading intellectuals were anxious to rid their speech and writing of 'Scotticisms', distinctively Scottish words and phrases. Books and pamphlets were published highlighting such 'errors' and encouraging 'correct usage'.

Scots sometimes appropriate

At the same time, Scots was considered an appropriate language for poetry, song, proverbs, and storytelling, all of which originated in the oral tradition.


  • Source 1

    A list of Scotticisms by David Hume, first printed 1752
  • Source 2

    Lectures on the art of speaking English, 1761
  • Source 3

    A society for promoting the reading and speaking of English, 1761
  • Source 4

    Observations on the Scottish dialect by Sir John Sinclair, 1782
  • Source 5

    Teaching correct English to the young, 1799
  • Source 6

    The richness of the Scots language, 1792
  • Source 7

    In support of the Scots language, 1799