[Ads-l] "sillar"? And noun or adj.?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Mon May 11 02:22:07 UTC 2015

Thanks, Robin.  I was half-way there, realizing that "sillar" could mean "silver".  I should have recognized that a Scot in New England would quickly pick up (if he hadn't already acquired them at home, as I think Scotsmen are reputed to have) the two main personality characteristics of the Yankee -- concern with making money and talkativeness about politics.  I don't know how long it would have taken me to connect "siller" with money.


      From: Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
 Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 5:49 PM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "sillar"? And noun or adj.?

"Making sillar" is simply the (possibly literary or archaic by the 19thC) 
Scottish Language version of "making money".

SILLAR and (more commonly)  SILLER are given as spelling variants of SILVER 
(sense 6 -- money in general) in the DSL.

Curiously, all the examples there are from the DOST, though the term was 
certainly current later.

Googling "mak siller" gives a wealth [!] of nineteenth century examples --  
most couthily, from 1853, “Mak siller, Jock,” said a Scotch laird to his 
son, “mak siller—honestly if you can, but mak it.”

(The above quotation was probably constructed by an Englishman:  it should, 
of course, read "Scots [sic] laird," unless he was entirely composed of the 
hard stuff.)

There's also the cliché, "Put siller in your purse ..."



Welcome to DSL, which brings together the two major historical dictionaries 
of the Scots language:

        ◾A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST)
        Older Scots - 12th century - 1700

        ◾The Scottish National Dictionary (SND)
        Modern Scots - 1700 - 2005



-----Original Message----- 
From: Joel Berson
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 7:13 PM
Subject: "sillar"? And noun or adj.?

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Sender:      American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:      Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
Subject:      "sillar"?  And noun or adj.?

I am puzzled by=C2=A0 the following:
"Among the first actual settlers from Scotlandof whom we have record in wha=
t is now the United States, were the passengers onthe ship =E2=80=98John an=
d Sara,=E2=80=99 which arrived in Boston Harbor in 1652. That therewere Sco=
tsmen settled and doing business---perhaps making sillar and meditatingspee=
ches about St. Andrew---before that time there is no doubt."
Ross,Peter.=C2=A0 The Scot in America.=C2=A0 New York: Raeburn Book Co.,189=
6.=C2=A0 Page 48.=C2=A0 [Freely available on-line from Harvard Imaging.]

The OED's definition of "sillar" noun does not enlighten this quotation.=C2=
=A0 I don;t see it as Scot's dialect for "silver", which some GBooks quotat=
ions seem to imply (e.g., "sillar sawnies", or in the OED "sillar [yellow] =
shakle").=C2=A0 And in this context I don't know whether it is a noun -- (m=
aking sillar) and (mediating speeches) -- or an adjective -- making (sillar=
and meditating) speeches.=C2=A0 Or is it dialect for "silly"? :-)

Finally, since the Harvard page is a transcription presumably via OCR, it m=
ay be an OCR error.=C2=A0 I can look at an original, but not for a few days=


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