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Nouns

Nouns are words used as the name of a person, animal, object, place or quality, or a collection of those.

The gender of nouns is not gramatical, but is indicated by their meaning. Nouns are either male, female, common or neutral depending on whether they denote a male, female, either sex or an inanimate object.

Singular nouns.

Some nouns have different forms for male and female.

Male
Female
boar
boar
sou
sow
brither
brother
sister
sister
bull
bull
cou
cow
cowt
colt
filly
filly
drake
drake
deuk
duck
dug
dog
bick
bitch
eme*/uncle
uncle
auntie
aunt
faither
father
mither
mother
guidman
husband
guidwife
wife
grandfaither
grandfather
grandmither
grandmother
keeng
king
queen
queen
lad
boy
lass
girl
loun**
boy
quean
girl
man
man
wumman
woman
neffae
nephew
niece
niece
staig
stallion
meir
mare
tuip
ram
yowe
ewe

*eme is the maternal uncle.
**loun and quean [kwəin] are typical of Northern Scots varieties.

Machines, ships and boats etc., countries and the like often take the feminine and are addressed by the pronoun she.

She's late the day. (The bus)
The bus is late today.

Regular plurals are formed by adding s.

haund - haunds
hand - hands
kirn - kirns
churn - churns
pirn - pirns
bobbin - bobbins

Note that in words like knife, laif, life, thief, wife the Scots plural is regular.

knifes
knives
laifs
loaves
lifes
lives
thiefs
thieves
wifes
wives

If the singular noun ends in a sibilant (hissing) sound it takes the ending es, or where the noun ends with an e, s, to form the plural.

hoose - hooses
house - houses
rash - rashes
rush - rushes
catch - catches
catch - catches

A few plurals are formed by adding se, especially where the sense is collective.

oo
oose
woolen fluff, dust
taw
tawse
a leather strap with thongs
you
youse
you

Some nouns are usually or only used in the plural, or they have a special meaning when used in the plural.

ess
ash(es)
nowt
cattle
bellaes
bellows
parritch
porridge
breeks
trousers
plainstanes
pavement
brose
soup
severals*
several
broth
soup
shears
scissors
duds
rags
tangs
tongs
lichts
lungs
 

*Severals refers to several persons or things.

Some nouns are only used in the plural. Accompanying verbs are used as if to denote their constituent parts.

The parritch! The're real guid the day.
The porridge! It is really good today.
Thir kail will be ower cauld.
This broth will be too cold.

Scots contains a number of irregular plurals. Some of the more common ones are:

Singular
Plural
cauf
calf
caur
calves
cou
cow
kye
cattle
ee
eye
een
eyes
fit
foot
feet
feet
guiss
goose
geese
geese
loose
louse
lice
lice
man
man
men
men
moose
mouse
mice
mice
owse
ox
owsen
oxen
shae
shoe
shuin
shoes
tuith
tooth
teeth
teeth
wumman
woman
weemen
women

Older forms brither (brother) - brether(en) (brothers) and tree (tree) - treen (trees) existed.

Some nouns, mainly referring to animals or foodstuffs, have the same form in singular and plural.

Singular
 
Plural
 
birse
bristle
birse
bristles
cod
cod
cod
cod
deer
deer
deer
deer
fish
fish
fish*
fish
gait
goat
gait
goats
groose
grouse
groose
grouse
gryce
pig
gryce
pigs
herrin
herring
herrin
herring
horse
horse
horse
horses
pease
pea
pease
peas
saumon
salmon
saumon
salmon
sheep
sheep
sheep
sheep
swine
pig
swine
pigs
troot
trout
troot
trout

The plural fish represents a mass of fish. The plural fishes represents a quantity of individual 'fishes'.
Note: A scissor (a pair of scissors).

Leuk at aw thae fish.
Look at all those fish.
A hae five fishes.
I have five fish(es).

Many nouns take the same form as the verb with which they are connected.

Verb
Noun
blame
blame
fault
lauch
lauch
laugh
stap
stap
step
stap
stop
stop
It's no ma blame.
It's not my fault.
That's an ill lauch.
That's an evil laugh.
Tak tent o the stap.
Mind the step.

Tae is often used in conjunction with nouns and verbs to form compounds implying addition, attraction, attachment and motion towards.

Ye shoud stap, the tae-brig is gaun up.
You ought to stop, the draw-bridge is being raised.
The dealer selt the gear for the tae-come.
The dealer sold the equipment for profit.
The tae-draucht o the swaw is takkin the boat wi't.
The attractive force of the waves is carrying the boat along.
The man bocht sae muckle he wis gien a bit tae-breid.
The man bought so much that he was given more by way of a discount.
He keeps his dug in a tae-faw.
He keeps his dog in a lean-to.
That's juist his tae-name.
That's only his nickname.
Lairdie's Brae, GlamisGlamis, Angus

Diminutives.

Diminutives expressing smallness, endearment or contempt are formed by adding ie, ock or even ockie to the noun (ies for plurals) and are often preceded by wee.

The wee lassie.
The little girl.
A wee duggie.
A little dog.
The wee beastie.
The little beast.
A wee bittock mair.
A little bit more.
Ye wee saftie.
You little soft headed person.
Ma wee dearies.
My little darlings.
A hooseockie.
A little house.
The wifeockie.
The little woman.
The muckle feardie.
The big coward.
The pleuchie.
The ploughman.
He's a daftie.
He's mad.

Nouns of measure and quantity.

Number and quantity are sometimes designated by nouns and sometimes by adjectives.

After cardinal numbers, nouns of measure, usually remain unchanged in the plural. The noun is usually followed by the preposition o before a pronoun, but o is often omitted before a following noun.

Twa poke o tatties.
Two bags of potatoes.
Fower acre o grund.
Four acres of land.
Three fit lang.
Three feet long.
Fower mile awa.
Four miles away.
Five hunderwecht.
Five hundredweight.
A wee bit breid.
A little bit of bread.
The wifie bocht sax pund o tatties.
The woman bought six pounds of potatoes. (Weight)
A gied him twa pund.
I gave him two pounds.(Money)
Twa gless o beer.
Two glasses of beer.
A guid wheen months.
A good many months.
Ten stane o hay.
Ten stones of hay.
She's twal year auld.
She is twelve years old.
aicht score o sheep.
Eight score sheep.
seiven dizzen o eggs.
Seven dozen eggs.
A wee drap ile.
A little drop of oil.

Nouns of quantity.

A small quantity may be expressed by:

A wee, a bit.
A small, a little.
Gie's a wee thing(ie) ile.
Give me a little (bit of) oil.
A wee titch saut.
A little salt.
Gie's a wee drap kail.
Give me a small drop of (cabbage) soup.
A tait o oo.
A (little) lock of wool.
A wee thocht whisky.
A small whisky.
A hair o aits.
A small portion of oats.
A grain soordouk.
A little buttermilk.

A few may be expressed by:

A wheen neeps.
A few turnips.
Twa-three weets.
A few drinks.
A pickle nits.
A few nuts.

A somewhat larger quantity may be expressed by:

A curn o fowk.
A few people.
A guid wheen auld wifes.
A good few old women.
A guid pickle fishes.
A good few fish.

A considerable quantity may be expressed by:

A hantle stanes.
A large amount of stones.
A great deal mair.
A great deal more.
A muckle hott muck.
Very much dung.
A daud o kebbock.
A chunk of cheese.
A nievefu bere.
A fistful of barley.
A rowth o pouts.
An abundance of young game birds.
A gowpanfu o grosets.
Two (cupped) hands full of gooseberries.

Other expressions of measurement and quantity are:

She's the wale o thaim aw.
She's the pick of them all.
The feck o fowk thinks that.
Most people think so.
The hale clamjamfrie.
The whole mob. All the odds and ends.
Gie's the tither hauf.
Give me the other half.
That wis juist the tae hauf o't.
That was the one half of it.
A niver seen the likes o thae.
I never saw anything like those.
Juist a wee bit wean.
Only a little child.
The lave can bide here.
The remainder may remain here.
He'd taen the tane an she'd taen the tither.
He'd taken one and she'd taken the other.

Case.

Nouns have three cases; nominative, objective and possessive. The nominative names the subject. The objective denotes the object.The possessive denotes possession.

The nominative and the objective are the same.

Caird's Wynd, BanchoryBanchory, Aberdeenshire

The possessive singular is formed by adding 's to the nominative (insert apostrophe).

The bairn's fit.
The child's foot.
The wife's ring.
The wife's ring.
The dug's bane.
The dog's bone.
The horse's heid.
The horse's head.

Note the subtle difference in meaning of:

He said he seen a cou's heid at the door.
He said he saw a cow's head at the door.
(the head of a living cow looking in).
She said she seen a cou-heid at the door.
She said she saw a cow's head at the door.
(the severed head of a slaughtered cow).
Cuddies' Wynd, Coupar AngusCoupar Angus, Perth and Kinross

The possessive plural is formed by adding s' to the nominative.

The yowes' bouly horns.
The ewes' twisted horns.
The wifes' fylt washin.
the wives' soiled washing.
The dugs' chowed banes.
The dogs' chewed bones.
The hooses' breuk windaes.
The houses' broken windows.

Where the plural is not formed by adding s' or es' to the singular, 's is added to the nominative plural.

The men's shauchelt buits.
The men's buckled boots.
The auld weemen's clash.
The old women's gossip.

Nouns denoting inanimate objects do not usually take the possessive. In such cases a sense of belonging to, being connected with or being used for is expressed:

By placing the governing noun before the governed noun with the preposition o (of) in between them.

The heid o the toun.
The upper end of town.
The fit o the toun.
The lower end of town.

By simply forming a compound noun by placing the governed noun in front of the governing noun.

The guidman.
The husband.
A heidsheet.
A sheet for the top of a bed.
The hausebane.
The collarbone.

By sometimes inserting a hyphen is between the nouns.

The toun-heid.
The town centre.
The brig-end.
The end of the bridge.
The lum-tap.
The top of the chimney.

The use or non-use of a hyphen depends on word stress and morphological behaviour as well as individual practice.

The Trystin Tree, PortlethenPortlethen, Aberdeenshire

The verbal noun (gerund) is a verb functioning as a noun and is formed by adding in to the verb root. As in Standard English the final e of the verb is dropped.

The beirin o praisents is furthie.
The bearing of presents is pleasant.
The beatin o dugs is ill-kyndit.
The beating of dogs is cruel.
He's fond o speakin til his feres.
He's fond of speaking to his comrades.
Bitin an scartin's Scots fowk's wooin.
Biting and scratching is Scotch peoples' way of wooing.
Fleshers Vennel, PerthPerth, Perth and Kinross

Most nouns describing occupations or the person carrying out the action implied by the verb were formed by adding ar to the verb in middle Scots. That pronunciation has become /ər/, now usually spelled er. Some older forms spelled ar still exist.

lowp
lowper
jumper
cot
cottar
cottager
mak
makar
poet (verse-maker)
ferm
fermer
farmer
pent
penter
painter
flesh
flesher
butcher
saidle
saidler
saddler
jyne
jyner
joiner
shear
shearer
reaper
lee
leear
liar

Note souter, a cobbler or shoemaker, ultimately from Latin sutor.

Brewsters Close, LondonderryLondonderry, Donegal

The names of some occupations or the person carrying out the action implied by the verb, adjective or noun are formed by adding ster, which does not necessarily indicate a female agent.

gut
gutster
a female fish-gutter
lit
litster
a dyer of cloth
orra
orraster
a casual labourer
shew
shewster
seamstress
wab
wabster
weaver

Note the irregular form bak, baxster baker.


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