When looking at some older Scottish documents there are words that keep popping up from time to time which look completely unfamiliar to the modern eye. Some even contain letters that have long since vanished from our own alphabets. One of these that anyone who spends much time working with older Scots wills and testaments will probably notice is the word Abilʒement or Abulʒement.
This strange looking word has a variety of spellings according to the Dictionary of the Scots Language [DSL], including:
abilʒea-, abilyheament, abilliament, abillement; abulʒie-, abwlʒe(abolʒe-), abullʒement (abulʒemont), abulʒea-, abulʒia-, abuliament, abuliment; abuilʒe-, abuilʒie-, abuilʒea-, abuilʒiament.
The strange looking letter 'ʒ' is what is called a yogh and is often represented as a z or a y when transcribed, but the sound was originally closer to a gutteral 'yh' or 'gh' sound - this letter is the reason that the name 'Menzies' is pronounced 'Ming-us' rather than 'Men-zees' by Scots - the 'z' in the name is actually an old yogh letter which changes the way that the word is pronounced. You can find out lots of information about this little letter at the Scottish Handwriting website.
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