We confess to getting a teeny bit carried away with the Succession (Scotland) Bill, what with its gruesome murder and all. I blogged about it last week and the bill is featured again in today’s post written by one of our Sub-Editors:
What would you do if you met a vicious intromitter? Mentioned in proceedings on the recently passed Succession (Scotland) Bill, the term might sound like it’s describing a distant relative of Roald Dahl’s vermicious knid, but in fact it refers to a Scots law concept—here’s a definition from the Judiciary of Scotland website:
Vitious Intromission The taking of possession of property of a deceased without authority. A person who does this is liable for all the debts of the deceased.
As self-confessed word nerds, the first thing Official Report staff did on encountering the vicious intromitter was to look it up in the dictionary. We love to delve into an unusual term—and especially to debate how to spell it.
In this case, we had a choice between “vicious” and “vitious”. While the venerable spelling “vitious” had an old Scots Parliament act—the Vitious Intromitters Act 1696—on its side, the more standard-looking “vicious” had our house dictionary, Chambers, and the Oxford English Dictionary in its favour. After some non-vicious debate, we were persuaded by the more modern orthography and chose “vicious”.
This is just another small illustration of the fascinating question of how language changes – or doesn’t change – over the centuries. Though we have some way to go to match the more than 200 years of historical House of Commons Hansard, we hope that over the decades the Scottish Parliament’s Official Report will build into a rich resource for those studying language use, too.