are a few sayings from the area where I was born and raised, the
Kingdom of Fife. It is not easy to prove that any saying belongs
to one particular district, unless of course it contains a place-name
or some distinctive feature. Nevertheless, a saying or proverb
can often reveal the character of a countryside and its people.
Bonny Scotland, Im awa tae Fife!
Sayings, such as the above, form a vital part of Lowland Scots,
and will no doubt last as long as the language itself. At their
best they are not only true and witty, they also carry a punch.
They have the flavour of antiquity, yet retain their freshness.
Fife (proverbially known as The Kingdom, though it never had a
king) can claim the first collection of Scottish proverbs and
sayings. It was made by David Ferguson, minister of Dunfermline,
in the latter half of the 16th century.
and sayings from my home Kingdom of Fife are often comic and pungent.
Here are a few samples:
will tae Cupar maun tae Cupar
A aye, better gang than be taen.
(Or, sae gang tae Cupar an be damned!)
If youre Heelant youre next door to the Fifer.
Some say the Deils deid an buried in Kirkcaldy.
Like salt to Dysart (coals to Newcastle).
Shak yer ain mats at yer ain back door.
Ilka doorstep has its ain slippery stane.
gars wit waver.
aye flees high.
deaf man will hear the clink o money.
yer wife wi her nichtcap on.
have a heid an so has a stair.
theres a Jock theres a Jenny.
Like an auld horse tae a feal dyke.
Dinna open yer mooth tae fill ither fowks.
Them that herd swine aye hear them gruntin.
Keep yer am fish-guts for yer air sea-maws.
As the auld cock craws, the young ane learns.
of these do not belong exclusively to Fife. In the matter of proverbs,
as with the flora and fauna of the Tayside region, county boundaries
mean very little. The dialects of Perthshire, Angus and the Mearns
are equally productive, and in these parts, too, a phrase passed
from generation to generation by word of mouth can often express
more than its words convey, as does a song or a ballad with its
beauty, humour or pathos.
bonny bride is sune buskit (dressed).
Auld men are twice bairns.
I can dae fat I dou; the men o Mearns can dac nae mae.
Ac scabbit sheep will smit the hale hirsel.
As auld as the Moss o Meigle.
A guid tale is no the waur o bein twice tauld.
A houndless hunter and a gunless gunner
see aye routh o game.
As guid may haud the stirrup as he that loups on.
A hantle cries murder and aye arc uppermaist.
Auld sparrows are ill tae tame.
Bitin and scartin are Scots fowks wooin.
Royet lads mak sober men.
Everything has an end and a pudden has twa.
Theres nane sae blindas them that winna see.
A thats said inthe kitchen
shudna be said in the ha.
are also many rhymes, mainly about places.
Here is one from the Glamis district:
The dowie Dean
It rins its lane
And ilka seven year
It taks ane.
has a rhyme that must have started many a treasure hunt:
Here I sit and here I see
Broughty, St. Andrews and Dundee;
And neath me as much as buy a three
In a kist !
Airdit Farm (near Logie) is connected with this verse:
Here I am and there I am;
Sometimes. I dinna ken whaur I am;
But they that catch me
Pray lat me gang,
For the Lalrd o Airdits hare I am.