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Updated on Sep 1, 2020. Posted on May 1, 2015

How Well Do You Know Scots?

De ye ken the Scots leid?

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  1. 1. What does "neuk" mean, as in "East Neuk of FIfe"?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Corner

    "Neuk" is the Scots word for nook or corner. The pretty East Neuk fishing villages include Elie (pictured), St Monans, Cellardyke, Crail, and Kingsbarns.

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  2. 2. How would you translate the top line of this Robert Burns poem?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: not alone

    "But Mouse, you are not alone In proving that foresight may be vain: The best laid plans of mice and men Often go wrong."

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  3. 3. What does "brae" mean?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Hillside or steep slope

    In the lowland Scots dialect "brae" means a steep bank or hillside, as in: "A figure was spied struggling up the brae."

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  4. 4. How would you translate the middle two lines of this section of the Gruffalo (Scots version)?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: The fox took one look at the Gruffalo. "Goodness gracious!" he said, "Cheerio, little mouse."

    "Help ma boab!" is a catchphrase of the Scottish cartoon character Oor Wullie. When he's in trouble he usually shouts: "Jings, crivens and help ma Boab", which roughly translates as: "Jesus, heavens and help me God."

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  5. 5. We've (roughly) translated a movie quote into Scots. But what movie is it from?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Dirty Dancing

    The quote is actually a translation of "nobody puts Baby in the corner". All together now: "I've hud th' time ay mah life, an' uv niver felt 'at way afair."

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  6. 6. What does "stramash" mean, as in: "There was a big stramash at the ceilidh"?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Commotion/uproar

    The dictionary defines stramash as: 1. an uproar; tumult; brawl vb (tr) 2. to destroy; smash [perhaps expanded from smash]

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  7. 7. How would you translate this saying?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Never discard any of your clothing before the end of May.

    Cloot means cloth or clothing, and the saying essentially means: "It's not taps aff weather until June": Sage advice that more of us should follow.

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  8. 8. You see the Scots word "Auchen" in a lot of place names, but what does it mean?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Field

    Auchen is a common prefix in the Lowlands, and is thought to originate from the Scottish Gaelic word "achadh", meaning "field of the..."

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  9. 9. In this Robert Burns poem, what does "sonsie" mean?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Attractive and curvaceous.

    Sonsie comes from the Gaelic words sonas, meaning luck, but its meaning changed to describe someone who is jolly, healthily plump and attractive. In short: It's all about that bass.

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  10. 10. What does the saying "It's a sair fecht" translate as?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: "It's a hard life".

    "It's a sair fecht" literally translates as "It's a sore fight", but is used as an expression of despondency meaning: "It's a hard life" or "that's life".

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  11. 11. If someone told you they were "Drouthy", what would you do?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Offer them a pint

    Drouthy means thirsty, though it's usually used to describe a need for an alcoholic drink. In his poem "Tam o' Shanter", Burns described Hogmanay as a time when “drouthy neebors” gather to see in the New Year in a booze-fuelled haze.

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  12. 12. What does this phrase mean?

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    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: I wish you well for the future.

    This phrase quite literally means: "Long may your chimney smoke", but is used to wish people good fortune at Hogmanay, essentially saying: "May you never be without fuel for your fire".

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  13. 13. What about this phrase?

    Flickr: owenhr / Creative Commons
    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Look after the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.

    "Many a mickle makes a muckle" tends to be used to mean "many small things add up to one big thing" and is usually used in the context of money: "Look after the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves".

  14. 14. And finally: What would you do if someone told you the weather was "driech"?

    Flickr: 72486075@N00 / Creative Commons
    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Correct answer: Put on two extra jumpers and find an umbrella

    Dreich is a particularly useful Scots word that means dreary, miserable, wet, bleak weather. As in: "It's a cold, dreich August day again."

    smg.photobucket.com / Studio Ghibli,

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