You might be reading this and asking what? Zetland -where’s that? It’s actually the traditional spelling for Shetland (to this day, Shetland postcodes all begin with ZE). And Zuill? It’s a variant rendering of Yuill. And the famous Scottish surname Menzies is not pronounced, as you might think, “men-zays”, but “ming-is”.
What is going on?, you might ask. Scots pronunciation can be notoriously unpredictable on occasion, particularly when it comes to placenames. To get an idea, how would you pronounce the following:
This is just one of the many features of Scots that English-speakers will find unusual. There are many other peculiarities of spelling, pronunciation and vocabulary that you may come across when researching your family history. Should you find a word you don’t recognise, and think might be Scots, the best place to look is the Dictionary of the Scots Language.
Footnote: In case you were wondering, the placenames listed above are pronounced
Mill-guy, Enster (or Ainster), Fittie, Kin-uch-er, and Cull-ain
Genealogy and Family History - A mix of our news, curious and intriguing discoveries. Research hints and resources to grow your family tree in Scotland from our team.