I learn from Arnold Zwicky’s Language Log post that the online Dictionary of the Scots Language (which I wrote about here) is facing a crisis:

DSL consists of the Dictionary of the Older Scots Tongue and the Scottish National Dictionary, together making 22 volumes in print (plus a 2005 supplement). These amazing resources are now available on-line, providing searchable electronic versions of the fruits of scholarship on the Scots language. For free, no strings, available to anyone with web access….
Now, the bad news. I reproduce here (with slight revisions) a posting of 12 July by Grant Barrett to ADS-L:

The Scottish Language Dictionaries program has had its funding withdrawn by the Scottish Arts Council.
SLD, a charity, is responsible for the Dictionary of the Scots Language online, the Concise Scots Dictionary, the Essential Scots Dictionary, and other reference works.
As a regular user of DSL, I write this email in order to encourage my colleagues to support SLD in any way they can.
To ensure that they stay in operation, SLD is holding a fundraiser by auctioning celebrity-related items on eBay…
The auction is described here, and there’s a story in the Scotsman about the funding and fundraiser here.

I know things are tough all over, but I find it appalling that the Scottish Arts Council has so little appreciation of the importance of a language to the people who use it, and the importance of lexicography to keeping a language flourishing. If anyone is in a position to help, I hope they will do so.


  1. The Scottish Arts Council is partially funded through the National Lottery, and all National Lottery distributers have a reduced income, partly because less people are paying the lottery, and partly because the lottery is being used to fund the Olympics in 2012.
    I also found a comment on a blog which suggests that the Scottish Parliament has frozen the Arts Council’s budget for the next 3 years, but I couldn’t find any information to back this up.
    Short answer, don’t necessarily blame them, they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  2. That makes sense. Thanks for the additional information.

  3. John Emerson says

    Stupid fucking Olympics.

  4. mollymooly says

    Boycott the opening ceremony unless the UK stops its oppression of the Scots.

  5. Rant warning
    A sad comment on our UK government that the arts are now being funded by selling off unwanted clutter. The whole point of setting up the National Lottery was to fund the arts, community works and charities. I’d be very sorry to lose the DSL. I find it fascinating to browse through and it turns up all sorts of etymological gems.

  6. Further rant warning:
    Sport being the new opium of the people, three weeks of drug-fuelled “Games” – brought to London to fuel the egos of a small group of ex “sportsmen” – yes Lord Coe, I’m looking at you – is draining arts funding for years. And it’s pathetic that re-development of East London can’t be done on its own merits but has to have the Olympics as the excuse.
    Off-topic rant ends – excuse me, LH 🙂

  7. Maybe the DSL and SLD could team up with the LDS, they always have plenty of money…

  8. Maybe the DSL and SLD could team up with the LDS, they always have plenty of money…
    Plenty of LSD, as we used to call the old money, eh?
    Yes, a shocking thing. Such a one-eyed dereliction of duty to our language heritage. Let’s hope there will be many voices raised against this mischief.

  9. david waugh says

    Would even the OED have been finished if it were a modern project?

  10. I’m sorry for posting an off-topic here, just thought you might be able to help me with a word I’m struggling to understand.
    It’s stufis or stufi’s, I found it in a wholesale clothing warehouse advert published in The Times in early 19th century, the advert said they had “Circassian and other stufis”.
    After a couple of ours of research I’m giving up on this.

  11. Could “stufis” be a corruption of “stuffs”? “Stuffs” would seem quite natural for a clothing warehouse. See OED “stuff” 5(a).

  12. Could “stufis” be a corruption of “stuffs”? “Stuffs” would seem quite natural for a clothing warehouse. See OED “stuff” 5(a).
    Almost certainly, Jonathan. See also OED, “Circassian”:
    2. A thin worsted fabric. Also attrib.
    1824 J. Hogg Conf. Justified Sinner 341 Rather a gentlemanly personage—Green Circassian hunting coat and turban—Like a foreigner. 1845 Lowell Offering V. 255 If cold, her gown is of ‘green circassian’. 1853 Catal. Irish Indust. Exhib. (Woollen and Mixed Fabrics) Double twills, merinos, moreens, Circassians, alpacas, etc.
    Note that the quotes are 19C, in accord with Ruslan’s source. Especially if that source is scanned, there was probably simply a corruption of the “ff” ligature to “fi”.

  13. That’s what I thought in the first place, but after finding a few examples of utilization of “stufi’s” in 19th century sources I got confused.
    I uploaded the advert here:

  14. Yeah, definitely “stuffs.” I think the f-ligature sorts were kept close enough together that it was easy to pull out the wrong one.
    And please don’t worry about being “off topic”! I welcome all language-related discussion in my threads, not to mention the occasional joke; as long as people stay away from politics and personal insults, I’m happy.

  15. I was typing my message as you posted yours Noetica, so I couldn’t see your response.
    And I also missed “OED Stuff 5a” from Jonathan’s message, sorry about that.
    All this makes perfect sense, it was ridiculous of me not to look up a dictionary for “stuff” before asking.
    Thanks guys!
    Looks like England bought our fabrics back then. 🙂

  16. ktschwarz says

    Belated update: after what must have been a nail-biting several months, the Scottish government did step up in early 2009 to fund the Scottish Language Dictionaries, and they’ve continued ever since. Details on the wheels of bureaucracy can be seen in the Scottish Government response to the Scots Language Working Group.

    As of 26 April 2022, DSL is now on version 3.0. Among various improvements, they’ve restored the missing phonetic symbol ç (see user complaints about the incorrect pronunciation transcriptions for flicht and flichter!)

    Another sign of the times: last month DSL released an Essential Scots-Polish Dictionary.

  17. Thanks very much for that!

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