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Scots Language and French Influence
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins

Came here while following links regarding my interest in Scots dialect.  I am looking for comments on the influence of French on the language, possibly from the time of the Stuarts' French exile.  Some exaamples: Jock = Jacques; "dinna fach yer'sel"-facher(French for annoy or bother); my Scottish granny called her biggest dinner platter an "aseet" - French for dinner plate is "assiete". Any comment?

Some good thoughts here.  Thanks for your contribution to the discussion!

There has been extensive interchange between Scots and French, especially from the period of 1300s-1600s.  The French supported the Scottish independence wars in the late 1200s and 1300s and periodically over the next centuries.  France itself was under pressure form these same Anglo-Normans, who held great areas of the mainland desired by the King of Paris (later known as the King of France).

In the Puritan Revolution and Civil War.  The Royal Stuarts and other Catholic nobles, as you note, took refuge at the French Court.  There is much intermarriage between the Scots and French royal and noble families.

The more Celtic highlanders had less interaction with the Normans after the Norman invasion of 1066, than the lowland Scots, who were also mixed with the Celts to some degree.  The latter and their language were descended from the invading Anglian tribes in the Anglo-Saxon invasions from the 400s.  This language did not go through the great phonetic changes the lower Engligh dialects did.

By the late 1200s, the Normans were pretty well established in lowland Scotland and intermarried with the Scots nobility, but to a lesser extent with the highland Celts.

The Scots (Norman-Scots, mostly lowlanders, where the Scots language was strong) had more connection with the French, more interaction and intermarriage with the French than the Gaelic Scots (highlanders).  the Highlanders resisted contact and intermarriage with the Normans as well as the French, though there were some families that crossed these lines.

The Bruce
Notable among the latter is the Bruce line, which combined heritage and ancestry from the ancient Picts, Highland Gaelic Scots directly related to the original Irish settlers-conquerors, the lowland Scots, and finally the later invading Normans.  In the early 1300s, under King Robert Bruce, the French supported the Scots in their military bid against Edward I and II for Scottish independence.

The Scots were allies of the French in some of the battle fought on the continent against the Norman-English, in the long wars that finally drove the Norman English out of their possessions on the continent.

Bilingual Scots
Whole generations of Scots grew up in France and were native bilinguals in French.  This French was different from the Norman French of the Norman English and the Saxons who had to use the conqueror's language to varying degrees from the 1100s.

Norman French facilitated significant changes in the Anglo-Saxon dialects, and the dialects of English developed as a separate set of speech forms not mutually intelligible with its predecessor dialects.  You can read details in the authorities.

The French language has contributed names, vocabulary items, cultural patterns and other contributions.  Additional borrowings and influences come from Norman French, especially names and broader cultural terms.  Thanks for your good examples.

French-Scots Vocabulary
I am not as aware of specific vocabulary.  Thanks for these great words.  I had not heard the Scots words fach or aseet, but know the French and English assiete.  Fascinating!  I have not taken the time to do systematic comparison.  I am not competent in spoken Scots though I have some experience reading it.

Some similarities may be superficial or show up due to broader sources in common.

Prolific Jacques
The name Jacques derives through natural phonetic change in the speech of the Franks from the biblical name Yakobo, appearing in Italian as Giaccomo, Spanish in several forms, including Iago, Diego and Jaime (plus Santiago for St James), and is the direct equivalent of the English Jacob and James, all phonetic forms of the same source name.

It appears that the name Jacques is the source of the English name Jack, though how it got associate with John as a nickname, I do not know.  Jack also comes round full circle in recent centuries in the English-speaking world as a short form of the name Jackson, which was originally Jack’s son or Jacques' son.  This is especially associated in the United States with Irish lineages.

Different forms of the name were borrowed into English at different times and came to be considered different names.  Thus now we have the English names Jacob, Jake, James, Jack and the French Jacque, all from Hebrew Yakob/Yakov, through the Latin Jacobus or its derivatives borrowed from other languages.

Also related:
[review] Modern Celtic Delights and Insights
[TXT] Germanic and Celtic
[TXT] Models of Assimilation
[Review] Our Genetic Journey - Reviewing The Journey of Man:  A Genetic Odyssey
[TXT] The Rough Edges of Ethnicity
[TXT] Scots, Irish and English
[TXT] The Subtlety of Assimilation
[blog] What Makes a Dialect a Dialect?

For more of the Scots Tongue:
The Mother tongue - Centre for Scots Leid
     You can choose to have this whole site present in English or in Scots
History of Scotland - Wikipedia
Jordy (Geordie) Language
     Geordie is closely related to Scots, but circulates in the Enlgish cultural, political and linguistic orbit
Lallans (Scots) Language Online
Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes (UK Title: Blood of the Isles)
Scottish Language Dictionaries
Scots and Picts – BBC
Ullans – Ulster Scots Language and Literature


First written in reply to an email query 19 March 2012
Article finalized for Thoughts and Resources 31 March 2012

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2012 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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