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Treasure 73: Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 1895

Historic Documents
Léa Moreau
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Historic Documents Details
Our treasure for the month of September looks at the person responsible for collating the first dictionary of the Scottish language. Born in Glasgow in 1759, John Jamieson was the son of a Scottish minister. Following his father's path, Jamieson studied theology and became pastor of a congregation at Forfar, Angus in 1781.

Alongside his ecclesiastical work, Jamieson developed a passionate interest in the development and study of language - philology. In Forfar, Jamieson briefly met Grimur Thorkelin, the National Archivist of Denmark who was in Britain researching the links between Danish and English. Thorkelin's chief legacy was the transcription and publication of the epic medieval poem, Beowulf.

From conversation with Thorklein, Jamieson set himself upon the task of recording those words he felt were exclusive to Scotland. It would be twenty years before his lifetime's work, The Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language would be published.

Subsequent revisions, amendments and abridgements refined Jamieson's original work - refuting some claims of Gothic origin, and proposing others. Our treasure is one of the revised editions of Jamieson's original work - a later edition from 1895.

View the Treasures from our Collection interactive exhibition on the touchscreen in Central, Airyhall, Tillydrone and Mastrick libraries to find out more about John Jamieson and his work.
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