Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland in 1773
(at Ostig in Sky):
In an unwritten speech, nothing that is not very short is transmitted from one generation to another. Few have opportunities of hearing a long composition often enough to learn it, or have inclination to repeat it so often as is necessary to retain it; and what is once forgotten is lost for ever. I believe there cannot be recovered, in the whole Earse language, five hundred lines of which there is any
evidence to prove them a hundred years old.