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The Testament of Cresseid - Image courtesy of Abbot House
Section 1 :: Stanzas 01 - 10
Section 2 :: Stanzas 11 - 20
Section 3 :: Stanzas 21 - 38
Section 4 :: Stanzas 39 - 49
Section 5 :: Stanzas 50 - 58
Section 6 :: Stanzas 59 - 66
Section 7 :: Stanzas 66 - 76
Section 8 :: Stanzas 77 - 86
Home The Testament of Cresseid Questions Study Tools Summary Notes on Poem ToC AV Teaching Notes
Study Tools > Middle Scots Language

An Introduction to Middle Scots Language
The language of Robert Henryson is not as difficult as it might first appear, particularly to anyone who has read Chaucer.
In general, consonants are pronounced as they are in Chaucerian Middle English but there are some significant differences. Some of the most important are as follows: -

  • 1. "ch" is often substituted for "gh";
  • 2. “mb" is often represented by "m" or "mm"
  • 3. "th" is sometimes represented by "d" or "dd"
  • 4. initial "h" is frequently dropped
  • 5. "ng" is often represented by "m"
  • 6. "quh" is equivalent to "wh"
  • 7. initial and final "sh" appears as "s" in stressed syllables
  • 8. a final "d" appears as "t"

In the glossary compiled by G. Gregory Smith for his 1914 edition of The Poems of Robert Henryson, some of the words and unusual spellings that occur with the greatest frequency are: -

ane a, one
ay always
but, bot without, but, unless, only, lacking, except
can does or did; to be able or to know
couth, coud, could, cowd, cowth, culd often "did"; as a verb, "was able"
eik, eke also
gar, gart, ger, garris make, do, help (modal), cause
gif, giff, gife, geve, gyf often "if"; as a verb, forms of "give"
man, mon, mone must
quha who, whoever, if anyone
quhair, quhar, quhare where, wherever, in which, when
quhen when, whenever, as soon as
quhile, quhill, quhyle, quhyll a time, a short time, until, while, as long as
quhilk, quhylk, quhilkis, quhilks which, who, whom, what, whoever
sa, so, sua, swa so, thus
syne, sen then, since, therefore, afterwards
the often read as "thee"
thir these
till until, to, for

Notes adapted Wrom: U

The Poems of Robert Henryson
Edited by Robert L. Kindrick
Originally Published in The Poems of Robert Henryson
Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University


The Poems of Robert Henryson
Edited by C. Gregory Smith
William Blackwood & Sons
Edinburgh and London

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Testament of Cresseid: Literary Background

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An Introduction to Middle Scots Language