Dictionary of the Scots Language

The Dictionary of the Scots Language/Dictionar o the Scots Leid (DSL) was first published online in 2004 at www.dsl.ac.uk. It was the culmination of a three-year research project at the University of Dundee, in partnership with the Scottish National Dictionary Association (SNDA), to digitise the two main scholarly dictionaries of Scots, the Scottish National Dictionary (SND) and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST), covering the history of the language from the twelfth to the twentieth century. The project was managed by the late Dr Victor Skretkowicz, as Research Director, and Dr Susan Rennie as Editor and lexicographer. 

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Drs Rennie & Skretkowicz working on DSL1: Contact Magazine, May 2002

The DSL1 team digitised all 10 volumes of the SND and 12 volumes of DOST, using a combination of scanning, OCR and computer programming, to create an XML text conforming to TEI standards for dictionary markup. The digitisation process was based on an earlier pilot project, led by Dr Rennie, which had digitised a sample of the SND using a similar methodology. As well as the lexicographers in Dundee, the project was assisted by the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at Queen’s University, Belfast. The DSL1 search facilities made use of open-source software and all web development was carried out by Dr Jeffery Triggs of Global Language Resources.

Since its initial publication in 2004, the DSL website has been updated and its current version, called DSL2, is now maintained by the University of Glasgow, in partnership with Scottish Language Dictionaries. In the shift from DSL1 to DSL2, however, some important parts of the historical data have been discarded. These include parts of William Grant’s Introduction to the Scottish National Dictionary (only his ‘Phonetic Description of Scots‘ remains); the original List of Contributors to the SND, by means of which individual contributions to the dictionary may be traced; and Sir William Craigie’s original Preface to DOST.

Many libraries are now dispensing with print copies of the original SND and DOST, believing that the online version incorporates all of the print material. Until these essential parts of the original volumes are restored to the DSL website, many scholars will not have access to these materials to help them interpret and analyse the varied information in the original print dictionaries.

The Preface and Introduction to the first edition of the DSL, which explain the origins and methodology of the project, and record the names and contributions of the lexicographers and researchers who brought it to fruition, have also now been taken down from the website. This means, sadly, that researchers are unable to set the current DSL2 in context, and thus part of the history of digital scholarship has been obscured.

We encourage fellow lexicographers and dictionary users to contact Scottish Language Dictionaries to urge them to reconsider this decision. 

We hope that these important resources will at some point reappear on the DSL website; but in the meantime, ScotLex is making archived copies of the material available here, for the benefit of researchers worldwide:

List of Named Contributors to the SND (orig. 1931; republished in DSL1, 2004)

Preface to DOST by William Craigie (orig. 1937; republished in DSL1, 2004)

Preface to the Dictionary of the Scots Language (2004) by Victor Skretkowicz
[Web archive (captured 13/06/2004): www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/preface]

‘About the Dictionary of the Scots Language’ (2004) by Susan Rennie
[Web archive (captured 13/06/2004): www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/aboutdsl]

Preface to SND Second Supplement (2005) 
[Web archive (captured 01/05/2006): www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/supplintro]

*Note that the original XML text of the first edition of the DSL is also available for non-commercial use to individual researchers through the Oxford Text Archive.*

Further Reading:


Susan Rennie (June 2001). “The Electronic Scottish National Dictionary (eSND): Work in Progress”. Literary and Linguistic Computing. 16 (2): 153–160. 

Susan Rennie (August 2000). “Encoding a Historical Dictionary with the TEI”. Proceedings of the 9th EURALEX International Congress.