In this new SR feature, editors of the Dictionary of the Scots Language
are kindly supplying us with a Scots word of the month.
This month, the word is:
Famously described by Hugh MacDiarmid as 'hauf like a bird and hauf like a bogle', bubbly-jocks have graced the Scottish dinner-table since the 16th century. In the Calendar of the State Papers
relating to Scotland and Mary Queen of Scots (1571), we find: 'Wyld foules of dyvers sortis sic as pertrikis, phasenes, turky cockis', although here the reference may be to capercailzies, sometimes known as wild turkeys.
The Scots name of bubbly-jock, or bubbly-cock, is first recorded in The Collected Writings of Dougal Graham
, who died in 1779: 'His nose was like a bublie-cock's neb'. According to E.B. Ramsay's Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character
(1858), it became embedded in the vocabulary of the nobility: 'Her Grace turned to him and said, "Rax me a spaul [shoulderblade] o' that bubbly jock"'.
Figuratively, 'to be sair hauden doon by the bubbly-jock' is to be oppressed with too much to do, a condition we can relate to in the run-up to Christmas. Imagine then the chore of plucking, stuffing and cooking the bird described in the Aberdeen Evening Express
(2002): 'The biggest Christmas bird in Scotland is set to be sold off in an exciting Christmas auction. Weighing in at a colossal 67 pounds, the Inverurie-bred turkey is set to feed more than 100 people'.
Such a feast gives added force to this invitation from John Galt's The Entail
(1823): 'I request and hope ye'll bide wi' us, and help to carve the bubbly-jock, whilk is a beast... that requir't the skill o' a doctor, the strength o' a butcher'.
There was always a range of size to suit all appetites. The Scottish Historical Review
refers to a supper consumed in 1671: 'a paire of twrkies 8s'. By contrast, Edinburgh Burgh Records
for 1688 record: 'Tame foul... the best turkie cock to be sold for £2 2s.
Scots Word of the Month is written by editors of the Dictionary of the Scots Language. You can sponsor a word from this national archive as a special gift for a loved one or friend. More information about word sponsorship is here.