Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Sitting in my baffies

Here's another picture of the woobie, a word which has now entered my vocabulary along with "go dights" for green traffic lights.

The other day we were having a family blog-related discussion about language, sparked off by our son's using the word "outwith". I don't think that's a word that's survived in Standard English but it's quite common here. It means "outside" though is often used in a non-physical sense, eg "If you have a medical emergency outwith the normal consulting hours...." or "It's not outwith the bounds of possibility that... " I remember being at a Book Festival event featuring Garrison Keillor and he mentioned his surprise at seeing this word on a notice: something like "Please do not stand outwith the area marked for queueing".

"Queue", there's another word - fine in Standard English but not, I think, in American English. When my friend and I went to America in 1970, we had to go to a Social Security office to get a Social Security number and asked a group of people, "Are you in the queue?" Incomprehension on all sides. Mind you, our accents probably didn't help.

It's funny that even in Scotland we don't use "inwith", but instead "within". And yet we no longer use "without" to mean "outside" except in the hymn "There is a green hill far away / Without a city wall", which was always confusing when I was a small girl.

"Bauchles" is a Scottish word. It refers to baggy but comfortable old shoes. I'm fond of wearing bauchles myself. And Mr Life says "baffies" for slippers, though he's from a different part of Scotland - a whole - oohh - fifty miles away. It's not a word that my family would have used before meeting Mr Life, but my baffies are on my feet as I type.

Finally today, let's consider the word "daidlie", which means napkin. I had no idea how to spell it so I've just looked it up. I was offered: daidle, daddle, dedle, daidlie, daidle and dedley. It may come from dialect English dwile, dwoile, dowly, meaning a washing rag, and Middle Dutch dwele, a towel.

So now we know.

It was a lovely day today - sunny (though not actually warm) - and I got the garden tidied up and the grass cut. It made me feel fair joco; or as you might say, really quite jolly.


  1. in Sundayville, we DO know what "queue" means and use it to refer to non-human things waiting their turn (e.g. - documents in the printer's queue) ... when we are trying to find the back of the line, we ask, "Are you in line?"

    i can't think of an alternate word for "slippers" ... but we DO call socks with bottom grippers "pucka puckas" for the sound that they make on hardwood floors ... and we call tennis shoes (runners/gym shoes/sneakers) "bucky beaver ground grabbers" ... and comfortable shoes are "broken in" ... and napkins are "mouth wipes" ... you do NOT want to know what toilet tissue is called - bwah ha ha!!!

  2. Okay, in NZ we still queue. We have foot wear called jandals. (Thongs in other places but that can be confused with another small item of clothing.)
    As a girl singing that same hymn I am sure I thought it just didn't have a wall around it.

  3. Isabelle, listening to Wobegone tales read by Garrison Keiller is one of my favourite things....and what did you get up to in the USA?

  4. Anonymous1:52 pm

    Love discussing words and their origins. Thank you for the education this morning!

  5. The things I learn on this blog! All this time I just thought that poor green hill just didn't have a city wall on it. I loved your discussion of within and without. So interesting what we keep and what we discard.

  6. I use 'outwith' often. Even in conversation.

    But then I am a solicitor so I get to use 'hereinbeforementioned' and pretend that it IS all one word! Ha!

    Also hereinafter, herein, append, hereto....such fun.

    Lesley xx

    PS. I strive (almost) always to use clear, modern English so seldom indulge in the more Dickensian excesses of legal vocabulary but it is lovely and logical in its way. Scots Legal is even more arcane I believe.

  7. In the US, your woobie would be called a "taggie". Taggie is actually a brand name.

    Queue is one of those words that wasn't used in (my part of) the U.S., but in the past 10 years it has become more common. We still stand in line at a ticket booth (unless you're on the east coast, in which case you stand on line), but on Netflix, our DVDs and our programs for instant streaming are in a queue. (I hope Netflix makes sense to you...)