Scottish Poetry Selection
- Scotch Words

Here is part of a poem by Robert Leighton which, in the course of complaining about "Scotch words" manages to provide explanations for a fair wheen o' them (a lot!). The rest of this long poem consists of a dialogue between a servant who asks if the lady guest would like a "pig" (meaning an eathenware hot water bottle) to warm her toes. The lady assumes she means the farm animal and is most offended!

Scotch Words

They speak in riddles north beyond the Tweed,
The plain, pure English they can deftly read;
Yet when without the book they come to speak,
Their lingo seems half English and half Greek.

Their jaws are chafts, their hands when closed are neives,
Their bread's not cut in slices, but in sheives,
Their armpits are their oxters, palms are lufts,
Their men are chields, their timid fools are cuiffs,
Their lads are callants, and their women kimmers,
Good lasses denty queens, and bad ones limmers,
They thole when they endure, scart when they scratch;
And when they give a sample it's a swatch,
Scolding is flytin', and a long palaver
Is nothing but a blether or a haver.
This room they call the but and that the ben,
And what they do not know they dinna ken.
On keen cold days they say the wind blaws snell,
And they have words that Johnson could not spell,
And when they wipe their nose they dicht their byke,
As imph'm which means - anything you like;
While some, though purely English, and well known,
Have yet a Scottish meaning of their own:
To prig is to plead, beat down a thing in cost;
To coff is to purchase, and a cough's a host,
To crack is to converse; the lift's the sky;
And bairns are said to greet when children cry.
When lost, folk never ask the way they want -
They speir the gate, and when they yawn they gaunt,
Beetle with them 's a clock, a flame's a lowe,
Their straw is strae, chaff, cauff, and hollow, howe;
A pickle means a few, muckle is big;
And a piece of crockery ware is called a pig.

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