Further reading

Chism, Christine. Alliterative Revivals. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Duncan, Thomas G., ed. A Companion to the Middle English

Lyric. Cambridge and Rochester, N.Y.: Brewer, 2005. Pearsall, Derek. Old English and Middle English Poetry. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1977.

Michael Modarelli

MIDDLE SCOTS literary language Early academic critics of the makars (Scottish court poets) argued that Middle Scots (a term first used in the Victorian era) was purely a written construction and not a genuine spoken language in Scotland. More recently, however, scholars have argued that the Middle Scots dialect was indeed a living speech, and that the poets' genius was the incorporation of the rhythm and syntax of this local speech into high poetic verse drawing on a Chaucerian, French, and Latin tradition simultaneously. The Middle Scots poets themselves referred to their language as Inglis, or English, mainly to distinguish themselves from Gaelic dialects rather than linking themselves with English. Middle Scots developed directly from Old English and is in effect a northern dialect of Middle English. The vocabulary of the Middle Scots poems reflect a heavy drawing on Latin and French terms, and some poems such as William Dunbar's The Tretis of the Twa Mariit Wemen and the Wedo reflect the common speech of the Scots people.

Even a casual reader of Middle Scots poetry will immediately notice the orthography as markedly different from the more familiar Middle English spelling. Many of the colloquial terms probably did not have written counterparts at all, so the poets' spelling of some of these terms is arbitrary (such as widow rendered as weido and wiedo). However, the truly distinctive features of the Middle Scots forms are the use of quh for wh (as in quhose and quhat), the use of sch for sh (as in "schowris"), and the plural form is rather than es ("lassis" and "rokkis"). Like nearly all medieval poetry, Middle Scots poems are ultimately meant to be read aloud, and the orthography is secondary to the rhythm and rhyme of the words.

See also Scottish Chaucerians.

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