Lang May Your Lum Reek

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Jan 1

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Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Lang May Your Lum Reek"

The classic Hogmanay greeting, "Lang May Your Lum Reek," literally meaning β€˜long may your chimney smoke’, is also the best way to wish someone a long and healthy life. And should you choose to augment this classic line, you can append "Wi' ither folks coal! (With other people's coal!), an add-on said to have originated in Edinburgh!🏭

Lang May Your Lum Reek

Lang may yer lum reek is a Hogmanay greeting, implying "May you never be without fuel for your fire!", but more literally translates to "Long may your chimney smoke!"

 

This phrase is one of the better known "Scottiscisms."  According to those who study this sort of thing, Scotticisms are generally divided into two types: covert Scotticisms, which generally go unnoticed as being particularly Scottish by those using them, and overt Scotticisms, usually used for stylistic effect, with those using them aware of their Scottish nature.

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Perhaps the most common covert Scotticism is the use of wee (meaning small or unimportant) as in "I'll just have a wee drink...". This adjective is used frequently in speech at all levels of society.

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An archetypal example of an overt Scotticism is "Och aye the noo", which translates as "Oh yes, just now". This phrase is often used in parody by non-Scots and although the phrases "Och aye" and "the noo" are in common use by Scots separately, they are rarely used together. Other phrases of this sort include:

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  • Hoots mon!

  • It's a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht (a phrase popularised by the music hall entertainer Harry Lauder)

  • Lang may yer lum reek (as above)

  • Help ma Boab! (a phrase consciously borrowed from the comic strip character Oor Wullie)

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Many leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, particularly David Hume, strove to excise Scotticisms from their writing in an attempt to make their work more accessible to an English and wider European audience. In the following passage, Hume's contemporary James Boswell famously and scathingly pondered upon the reasons why the Scots and the English were not always mutually intelligible:

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"It is thus that has arisen the greatest difference between English and Scots. Half the words are changed only a little, but the result of that is that a Scot is often not understood in England. I do not know the reason for it, but it is a matter of observation that although an Englishman often does not understand a Scot, it is rare that a Scot has trouble in understanding what an Englishman says... It is ridiculous to give the reason for it that a Scot is quicker than an Englishman and consequently cleverer in understanding everything. It is equally ridiculous to say that English is so musical that it charms the ears and lures men to understand it, while Scots shocks and disgusts by its harshness. I agree that English is much more agreeable than Scots, but I do not find that an acceptable solution for what we are trying to expound. The true reason for it is that books and public discourse in Scotland are in the English tongue."

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Hmmm  ...

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At any rate, here's a list of Scotticisms in everyday use:

 

  • Where do you stay? meaning "Where do you live?" Possible answer: "I stay in Dundee"

  • Whaur dae ye bide? meaning "Where do you live?" Possible answer: "I bide in Fife"

  • A dinnae ken meaning "I don't know"

  • D'ye no ken? meaning "Don't you know?"

  • A'll see ye up the road meaning "I'll accompany you some of the way" (or meaning "I'll see you at home")

  • A'm gaun for the messages meaning "I'm going shopping for groceries."

  • A'm black-affronted meaning "I'm very embarrassed"

  • A'm droukit meaning "I'm soaked" (usually from rain)

  • She's ages wi' him meaning "She's the same age as him"

  • Gie's a shot then! meaning "Let me have a turn now" (for example, children playing)

  • Are ye thinking o flitting? meaning "Are you thinking of moving house?" (cognate to Norwegian flytte, to move [house]).

  • He's gaun his dinger ower it meaning "He's in a rage over it"

  • Ye're an awfu blether meaning "You're an awful gossip"

  • Ye're havering meaning "You're talking nonsense". Also Stop your havers![10]

  • A'll gie him laldie meaning "I'll give him a serious telling off"; also Gie it laldy! meaning "Give it everything you've got!"

  • A'm feeling a bit wabbit meaning "I feel I'm a bit lacking in energy"

  • A'll see ye Monday next meaning "I'll see you a week on Monday"

  • A'm just after being tae the doctor's meaning "I've just been at the doctor's"

  • The nights are fair drawin in meaning "It's getting dark earlier at night"

  • It's my shy meaning "It's my throw-in" (when playing football)

  • He was sat on his hunkers meaning "He was squatting down"

  • Up to his oxters meaning "Up to his armpits"

  • A wis chittering at the bus stop meaning "I was shivering with cold at the bus stop"

  • Caw canny meaning "Go easy/Don't overdo it", as in Caw canny wi the butter, "Don't use up the butter"

  • Ye missed yersel last night meaning "You missed out on a good time last night" (by not being at the event, e.g. a party or football match)

  • Dinna fash yersel meaning "Don't get worked up/fussed" (orig. from French se fâcher)

  • What (are) ye efter? meaning "What are you looking for?" or (in pubs) "What will you have to drink?"

  • Aye, right! meaning "definitely not!" in sarcastic response to a question or to challenge a presumption

  • Gonny naw dae that? meaning "Will you please stop doing that?" in response to receiving a fright, or being annoyed by a person's actions

  • Bye tha noo! meaning "goodbye, literally: 'goodbye for now'" as a way of saying goodbye (very common in some parts of Scotland)

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Should you wish some more classic toasts for Hogmanay or any occasion, click the vintage postcard below for the favourites of the whisky industry!

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Lang May Your Lum Reek
Lang May Your Lum Reek

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The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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