Scots dialect idiom for good luck

"Lang may yir lum reek wi ither fowk's coal" - Traditional saying


It's one of those odd things about language - very often we use it without understanding the background. Wishing people good luck or best wishes is one of those things - superstition and mystery wrapped up in odd linguistic fashion. Just consider the phrase "break a leg" as an example. Ordinarily most people would never wish anyone that kind of injury, but to an actor, that's an expression of hope that they'll have a good performance.

There's also a British drinks toast, "here's mud in your eye", which has often baffled me. Why wish someone impaired vision, and possibly pain? Unless one is in the habit of drinking with one's enemies, it makes little sense. Silly Brits.

Thankfully, this little expression is quite clear, provided one can plough through the Scots English. Literally, it means "Long may your chimney smoke with other people's coal". So you sit in your inglenook, warm and safe - as our favourite Vulcan might say, "Live long and prosper".

The "other fowk's coal" is possibly a reference to first-footing, a Scottish New Year's Eve ("Hogmanay") tradition in which visitors bring a piece of coal to a house when they visit. On the other hand, it could indicate generosity, or prosperity!


So, have many friends, live a long time, be warm, good luck.



I typoed "Vulvan" for "Vulcan". Can you say "Freudian slip"? I knew you could. Thanks Jangie for helping me avoid embarrassment.

http://colcam.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_colcam_archive.html

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