David Selfe

email - d.selfe.1@research.gla.ac.uk

Research title: The Licht Fantastik: An Historical Study of the Scots Language in Fantasy

Research Summary

My research focuses on the textual phenomenon of the apologetic apostrophe: the annotative marker, emergent in the late seventeenth century, occurring inter- and post-vocalically in Scots lexis, the most well-known function of which is to mark the corresponding location of a consonant in a Standard English cognate.

Hitherto unresearched – and heavily prescribed against by twentieth century Scots revivalists – the purpose of my thesis is to map the apologetic apostrophe’s changing historical functions in Scots and English literature, and in doing so understand what its contemporary omission can tell us about the role of editorial and printerly intervention in historical language change


  • Selfe, D. (2019), ‘Such Editorial Liberties: The Textual Afterlives of Thomas the Rhymer’, Studies in Scottish Literature, Forthcoming.
  • Selfe, D. (2016), ‘Gone and Past, Past and Gane’: Aspects of English: Proceeding of Kyoto Postgraduate Conference on English Historical Linguistics 2016, (Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University: Kyoto).


Grants & Awards

  • AHRC Studentship, £28,000 (aggregate), 2017-19. Postgraduate study.
  • RSA Support Award, £256.50, 2018. Field research support.
  • RSA Support Award, £300, 2017. Field research support.
  • Carnegie-Cameron Bursary, £4000, 2015. Postgraduate study.
  • Carnegie Vacation Scholarship, £900, 2012. Independent research.




  • International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 2018), University of Edinburgh - An Apostrophe to Scots
  • Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster, University of Glasgow - An Apostrophe to Scots  
  • Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations 2018 (Gifcon) - An Apostrophe to Escapism  


  • Reworking Walter Scott, University of Dundee - Such Editorial Liberties


  • Kyoto Postgraduate Conference on English Historical Linguistics, University of Kyoto - Gone and Past, Past and Gane: The Textual Afterlives of Thomas the Rhymer.
  • Nineworlds Geekfest, London - Panel Guest, Philosophy in Dragon Age.


  • History of Scots, Honours (guest lecture), 2019
  • English Language level 2, 2018-2019
  • English Language level 1, 2017-2019

Additional Information

Organisational Committees

  • Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster: organising committee 2018

Other Roles

  • Linguistics Editor at https://www.epicureancure.com/