Howfur mony Scots wurds dae ye ken? Do you know enough Scots to read the last sentence? Scotland has two variations of the Scotch dialect: Scots and Scots Gaelic. Also known as Lowland Scots to distinguish it from the Gaelic form spoken mostly in the Highlands, Scots is Germanic like English. UNESCO regards Scots as a vulnerable language and as of the last census in 2011, it had approximately 1.5 million speakers in Scotland. The language is most familiar in literature thanks to poet Robert Burns, who wrote almost exclusively in the language. Have a look at ten Scots language words and their meanings and you might be able to start reading some your own
Haver is a verb that means to speak foolishly or to babble. It’s most well-known use comes courtesy of a pair of twins from Firth known as The Proclaimers whose “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” uses the line “And if I haver, I know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the man who’s haverin’ to you.”
You’ll this a lot around Scotland, especially if you like to go hiking or climbing, ben is the term for a mountain peak and most mountains have this in front of their names, such as Ben Nevis. Its origin is from Gaelic, where it is spelled “beann”.
Another way of saying that a person is skinny, though more accurately, it tends to refer to someone who’s tall and rail-thin. In the Scots Language edition of Harry Potter, it’s the word used to describe Harry’s aunt, Petunia Dursley.
Carfuffle, sometimes spelled kerfuffle, is a word to describe disorder. The root word “fuffle” has been part of Scots English since the 16th Century. Mostly used as a noun, it can also be a verb that means throwing things into disarray.
The bahookie is something everyone has, since it’s basically another word to describe your backside, bum, or butt. You might also see it spelled as “behouchie” and it’s a more modern term that’s more like slang than a traditional Scots word.
Dreich is an adjective that describes something as dreary and gloomy. Think of the grayest, most awful bleh day that you can, and that’s “dreich”. The word can also describe something that is drawn-out or tedious, which illicits a much similar feeling to dreary day.
Keek is another word to describe the noun and verb, “to look”. More specifically, it might be a quick look, a parting glance, or any other time when you want to look but not appear to be looking at something. If you got caught keekin’, you might feel rightly embarrassed.
You might get a hint of this word when you say it out loud. “Pellie-wally” is a Scots language way of saying that someone looks pale or unwell. It can be spelled a variety of different ways and while it sounds whimsical, the feelings you might have if you’re looking a bit pellie-wally are anything but.
In English, we might think of the world “dook” as a dunk. This can be best described as dipping in liquid, usually water. One of the most well-known Hogmanay (think Scottish New Year’s) traditions in Edinburgh when many people participate in the Loony Dook by swimming in the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth.
A bonailie is a parting drink. It might be the final drink of the night or a final drink between friends. It is often taken as a toast, whether to friendship or wishing for a good journey.