Monday, February 18, 2019

Word of the Week - Affront

AFFRONT v cause to feel ashamed
 
This comes from French "afronter", meaning to strike on the forehead and, hence, to insult. The French word  in turn goes back to "frons" the Latin for forehead.
Affront is not uncommon in English but should not be confused with its use in Scots where, in paroxysms of black burning shame, we have a particular partiality for the past participle.
Many the mother was regularly black-affrontit at the shortness of a daughter skirts.
 
The Scottish National Dictionary reveals some other causes and consequences of embarrassment. The theatre is none too respectable in Fergus Mackenzie's Cruisie Sketches (1893): "I'm sair affrontit that she should set the countryside speakin' in that play-actin' business". 
 
Table etiquette causes discomfiture in Susan Ferrier's Marriage (1818) "Div ye mind hoo ye was affronted because I set ye doon to a cauld pigeon-pie, an' a tanker o' tippenny ... afore some leddies"? S. R. 
Crockett in The Raiders (1894) draws attention to sartorial impropriety: "At your time o' life, Jen, to dress up for a young man, I'm black affrontit". 
 
There are various metaphors for hiding one's shame but this from George Macdonald's Sir Gibbie (1879) suggests extreme mortification: 
"I ... wuss him sae affrontit wi' himsel' er' a' be dune, 'at he wad fain hide his heid in a midden". 
 
 
THE TWA BUTTONS - BROON AND BLACK
 
The twa buttons met by chance
As roond the floor they dirrled and danced
They looked each other up and doon
Then across and roond and roond
 
“We’ve met afore” black did say
‘”On whatna year or whatna day”
“Aye we have” broon agreed.
“You on twill”!  And me on tweed”.
 
Ane Sabath day in Tamintoul
When Rab and Jock cam frae the kirk
Merry days the were an aa
In summer sun and winter mirk
 
Rab and Jess, Jock and Jean 
Hand and hand they daundered hame
With love and joy they daffed and laughed
In later years, lived as neebours, weel content
     
Ah me but lifes no quite the same sighed black
“Aye” broon remarked “Changed days indeed,
I haud up Jeanie’s stockins noo
Since her suspender it got broken”..
Ha! Ha! Ha! Laughed merry black
“I dae the same for Jess”
Thankfu’ we should be,
As love tokens
We are, unique you see”.
 
Janet MacDougall

Word of the Week Scoot - noun Squirt

SCOOT - noun squirt
 
English has scoot in the sense of ‘go suddenly and swiftly’, but the squirty senses are exclusively Scots. It probably comes from Old Norse ‘skjóta’ meaning ‘shoot’ or ‘dart’. A typical Scots usage is exemplified by J. B. Salmond in My Man Sandy (1894) : “Like’s a shooer o’ cauld water had been skootit aboot him”. The substance scooted was not necessarily liquid. Augustus Muir tells us in The Blue Bonnet (1926): “You scooted peas at tram-conductors”.
 
A scoot or scooter was used of a syringe and a scoot-gun is a water pistol used by “A wee angel sittin’ lauchin’ in the doon corner wi’ a scoot-gun in its hand” in Robert Ford’s Humorous Scotch Stories (1904).
 
Scoot itself can carry the sense of an insignificant or worthless person like the truant in Robert Leighton’s Scotch Words (1869): “The learned, pious, yet unworthy skoot Neglects his sacred trust to catch a troot!”

The Snar

The Snar
        
Nane but the road can tak us there,
 tho daybreak turns til nicht;
nane but the wuids can beild us sauf
 an the hunter gie us sicht;
nane but the hawk can chairt the win
 and shaddaes licht the way;
nane but the beasts can hear oor wuirds
 an watters mind ti reply.
 
Whauriver the muirland gies us heicht
 an the lowrie lies in its lair,
whauriver the pentit lift gies licht
 we sall follae ye there.
 
            Andrew McCallum

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  1. Scots Word of the Week