Seven spoken curses from the Scottish Highlands
Some people say that swearing is a sign of low intelligence and a lack of creativity, but those people can f*ck right off.
That said, if we compare the filth we spout today to the curse words of yesteryear we will see not only a lack of f-words (though they did exist) but a lot more emphasis on the CURSE part.
Hundreds of years ago in the Gaelic speaking Highlands and Islands of Scotland, imprecations (or spoken hexes) were commonly used. And while, when spoken in English, they don’t exactly roll off the tongue, they are just as colourful and as savage as the f-bombs we drop today.
And so, because there are times when you really need to swear but could be fired, punched or excommunicated for doing so, here are seven gloriously G-rated curse words you can use at weddings, funerals and children’s birthday parties:
1. “Nach faicear toradh ad ìm, no ìm ann ad bhainne.”
Apparently popular with old women in the Highlands, this is a handy alternative to: “Eat sh*t!”
2. “Bùrn du ort!”
When you know that black water is waste water from the toilet, this one becomes a handy alternative to calling someone a “piece of sh*t”.
3. “Tigh do sheamar dhuit!”
Life in olden times was, to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes ‘nasty, brutish and short’ and your grandparents didn’t live to ripe old ages like they do now. With that in mind I suspect this particular hex was the old timey version of: “f*ck off and die”.
4. “Bàs gun sagart ort!”
In a deeply religious and superstitious part of the world, this curse basically condemns someone to “go to Hell!”
5. “Gu ma h-anamoch dhuit!”
Not late as in for a train, nor late as in pregnant, more late as in dead. This imprecation is another way to tell someone to F-off and die.
Y’know, in case you needed one.
6. “Sian do ghonaidh ort!”
This curse is telling someone to take their sword, scythe or sabre, and use it on themselves.
However, should you find yourself cursed by another before you have a chance to deliver your own verbal death-stroke, you can respond with –
7. “Toradh do ghuidhe far“
Which is basically the “I’m rubber your glue, your words bounce off me and sticks to you” of the medieval Scottish Highlands.
Unfortunately, despite tireless research, I haven’t found the Scottish-Gaelic version of “That’s my name, don’t wear it out.”
But I’ll keep looking.
all imprecations were taken from:
Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, by John Gregorson Campbell, 1900