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Do you speak Old Scot?

Old Scot looks a lot like English, but what about words like wad and strunt? Go ahead, see if you can read the Robert Burns' poem, "To a Louse."  If you have trouble, you can consult the Glaswegian dictionary at:

And another one here:

or look at the version of this poem posted at:  

where many of the words are  underlined and you can see a definition if you place your mouse cursor over them.

Just remember, this poem is talking to a louse (a blood-sucking insect) crawling on a rich woman during church services.  Not your usual topic for a poem.

For more information about Robert Burns, visit:


Robert Burns

Robert Burns


An older language used in Scotland is Gaelic.

Here's a website with links to Gaelic dictionaries:


John writes that Glaswegian is not to be confused with Old Scot even though there are similarities. His letter follows.
Way back then the Scots predominantly spoke Gaelic with a little hint of "Norse" words, left behind from when Norsemen raided and settled in the islands North of mainland Scotland (Shetlands etc). The Auld/ Old Scots language derived from Gaelic and Norse.
After a royal decree from King James VI (Scotland), King James 1st (England) the Bible was translated from Latin into English in 1611.
At that point the English language started creeping into the lowlands of Scotland and started to spread wider the more the bible was read by ministers and priests. Eventually it became the predominantly spoken language but Scots used certain words of their own mixed in with English i.e. Hoos ..... House.
Glaswegian is quite simply a dialect. Granted it does sound a little similar but Glaswegian is really a mix of Gaelic, Irish, Highland Scots, Lowland Scots, and any other accents that arrived in Glasgow when it became the industrial capital of Scotland.
It is common for anyone not from Glasgow to not have a clue of what's being said when one Glaswegian speaks to another.
In fact my wife, who's from Chicago, understands me perfectly until I speak to family and friends from Glasgow. He he he.
I know this a bit long winded but like all Glaswegians I tend to rattle on a bit   :-)
Slainte Mhath



To A Louse

On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet, At Church

By Robert Burns, Scotsman, in 1786 

Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?

Your impudence protects you sairly;

I canna say but ye strunt rarely,

Owre gauze and lace;

Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely

On sic a place.


Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,

Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,

How daur ye set your fit upon her-

Sae fine a lady?

Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner

On some poor body.


Swith! in some beggar's haffet squattle;

There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,

Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,

In shoals and nations;

Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle

Your thick plantations.


Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,

Below the fatt'rels, snug and tight;

Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,

Till ye've got on it-

The verra tapmost, tow'rin height

O' Miss' bonnet.


My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,

As plump an' grey as ony groset:

O for some rank, mercurial rozet,

Or fell, red smeddum,

I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,

Wad dress your droddum.


I wad na been surpris'd to spy

You on an auld wife's flainen toy;

Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,

On's wyliecoat;

But Miss' fine Lunardi! fye!

How daur ye do't?


O Jeany, dinna toss your head,

An' set your beauties a' abread!

Ye little ken what cursed speed

The blastie's makin:

Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,

Are notice takin.


O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

An' foolish notion:

What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,

An' ev'n devotion!





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