Rare Books in the Press: Boswell's Scottish Dictionary Rediscovered
No April fool: “A LOST dictionary of the Scots language compiled by the famous 18th century biographer James Boswell has been rediscovered after more than 200 years.” The manuscript for Boswell’s Scottish dictionary has been identified by Susan Rennie in the Bodleian Library (Oxford).
Boswell began his work in the 1760s, but never finished the dictionary which is an incomparable resource for linguistic research: “Linguistic gems run from the earliest known examples of Scots words like bubbly-jock, for a turkey cock, and dabberlock, a kind of edible seaweed, to the Scots verb to dight, to wipe. It includes gardyloo, the traditional Edinburgh warning cry for slops about to be thrown in the street, but intriguingly spells it jardelou (Cornwell)”
The discovery of the manuscript is a sensation within the scholarly and the bibliophile world, because Boswell’s drafts were assumed to be lost. Susan Rennie, leading expert in the Scots language, discovered the pages in the Bodleian Library during her researches on the Scottish lexicographer John Jamieson. The manuscript was bought by the library in 1927 as part of the Jamieson papers, yet not recognised as Boswell’s work up to the present.
On her website Susan Rennie desribes the manuscript, its discovery and Boswell’s original plan to compile a dictionary of the Scots language. Further information about the content of the manuscripts and updates on Rennie’s research will be added to the website.