Scottish word of the week: Belligut

Is this belligut biting more than he can chew? Picture: PA
Is this belligut biting more than he can chew? Picture: PA
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ARE you a greedyguts? Do you have eyes bigger than your stomach? An eater of all the pies, perhaps, as the football chant goes?

If you submit to any of the aforementioned charges, you would have been branded a belligut among Cromarty locals a few decades ago. Tautological as belligut may be, there aren’t many turns of phrase that so vividly describes someone with a waistline-expanding appetite.

Belligut is a word belonging to a specific Scottish dialect in Cromarty that, sadly, died with the last speaker of the tongue, Bobby Hogg, in 2012.

A researcher called Janine Donald set about the daunting task of recording as much of the language as she could before Bobby’s passing.

The Cromarty dialect, a mixture of Dutch and Norse, is one tailored to its community: since Cromarty is a fishing village, it has an abundance of fishing and marine-related words (eg. dolphins are ‘tumblers’; “o the teydin” means seventh fishing line).

Other wonderful oddities in the Cromarty tongue include a term for a female farm worker (‘Jenny Muck’), and ‘doorcans’, fir cones used to smoke fish.


More than words: A guide to Scottish dialect