I recently read “The Yellow on the Broom” and “Red Rowans and Wild Honey” by Betsy Whyte. (Bonnie wee Scottish lassie, isn’t she?)

Betsy Whyte

Bessie, as she answered to when she was a wean, writes her memoir of her childhood in the 1930s as part of a family of Scottish “traveller” people. Tinkers. Mist People. Gypsies. (Although they would disapprove of the ‘Tinker’ designation.) The book is wonderfully written and attempts to describe the life and philosophy of travellers. Why they live in tents and move from place to place most of the year, only settling down when they have to in winter. Working on farms, pearl fishing, making willow baskets and many other odd jobs. How they view the country hantle.

And here we are. “Hantle?” Yup. That’s cant for “people.” Her book is rife with strange words. So much so, that I became intrigued. Was this different than Scots? Yes. Was there anywhere online with a good glossary? Not really. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a thorough one at the end of Mrs. Whyte’s book. I don’t think she’d mind if I shared some of my favorite words with you, as she lamented that it was dying out within her lifetime.

The cant that Bessie spoke was unique to the Highland travellers. Irish Tinker cant, often called Shelta, or Gammon, would be completely unintelligible to her. Regardless of which group of tinkers were speaking, the purpose of cant was secret communication, often right under the noses of the country hantle or hornies (police). Two travellers could be asking a cottar if they could boil some water for tea, but if one of them notices something is amiss, they could alert the other one in the midst of speaking to the cottage resident.

What follows is a list of my favorite cant words. This is by no means comprehensive, as I have left out many other words that are included in Betsy Whyte’s books which are published by Birlinn publishing out of Edinburgh, Scotland. (This is reproduced with their permission.) As always, please comment with any thoughts or questions.

agley- in the wrong direction

anonst- unknown (to somebody) going hunting in the field anonst to the landowner.

bagle- a lazy fellow, one who breaks sexual taboos

bang- a crowd, especially domineering and overpowering people.

barming- flighty, foolish

besom- a sweeping brush, an unpleasant woman

birse- to bristle, feel annoyed or angry

bogy roll- a twist or roll of tobacco

breenge- a lunge, an attack

broonie- supposedly a very helpful spirit creature: manshaped, ugly, covered with brown hair, with long feet and red eyes. He usually attached himself to a family, nearly always millers or farmers, and did the work of ten men.

buck- a person who as taken to the travelling life, or with only one real Traveller parent.

bullyrag- to order somebody about, to demand a lot

bung- taken, jailed

burker- an intruder. Originating from William Burke who murdered people and sold their bodies for medical research at the universities. Travellers were often his target.

caber- a heavy log for tossing at the Highland Games, slang for (you guessed it) penis.

cannyways- cautiously

chuckie stane- a small smooth pebble

cleek- to walk arm in arm

conyeeched- spoiled, petted

coorie- to crouch or snuggle down

cottar- a farmworker in a rented cottage

country hantle- the settled, house-dwelling country people

Cruelty- ‘A Cruelty’ was an Inspector of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, or any official of a local authority

dander- a stroll or leisurely walk. to take a dander might mean a short walk away from camp to relieve oneself

dreich- dull, wearisome

drookit- drenched or soaked

drumly- applied to stream water, this means disturbed, muddy, unsettled. Applied to a person, it means they are confused, mixed up.

dwam- a faint or swoon

ettling- being eager or impatient to do something

fang- the venomous side to one’s nature. to go off the fang was to lose one’s temper.

forfochen- worn out

gadgie- man

ganch, ganch- to talk too much. to bore someone by talking in too much detail

gaswork cinders- coke (soda)

gie- to give. gie us a crack- give me some conversation, let’s have a chat. gie him his tatties- give him what he deserves

glaikit- silly, senseless

glaggen- the sheen over a field of grain, hay, or over a moor

glaur- mud, ooze

gloaming- dusk, twilight

granny sooker- a pan drop, a peppermint sweet

guffie- a boorish, unfeeling, cruel person

gurly- applied to water, the weather, this means cloudy, rough. So, applied to a person, it means they are grumpy, in a bad mood.

hap- to dress a child; to tuck up in bed

haver- to talk nonsense

hornies- the police

hurl- a lift on the road

in-aboot-  to enter into an encampment from any direction and move about greeting people at their various occupations

John Barleycorn- wiskey

jugal- a dog

keek- to peep

knickit- made pregnant

lee-lang – whole

limmer- a rascal or rogue, a loose girl

moich- foolish, mad

mootyay- a rabbit

nakens- Travellers

nash avree!- get moving!

oxter- armpit, to lead by the arm

paggering- a beating

peekit- sickly looking

peevie- drunk

plank!- hide!

ploops- the police

plouter- to potter about on trifling tasks

pluffen- tobacco

plukie- faced – pimple-faced

polis- the police

puckle- a small quantity

raise the wind- to earn enough to survive

rax- to stretch, overstrain

reel-rall- helter-skelter

reenge- a pot scrubber made from tying heather together

scaldified- behaving like scaldies, town dwellers of the lowest class.

scalpions- roguish young men, eager to work off high spirits by tormenting others

scouff- freedom, sufficient space to romp and play

screich- the first light of dawn

shan- bad. really objectionable, unsavory, causing shame

shaness!- an exclamation meaning ‘bad word’ , ‘bad deed’ or ‘bad situation’ but it can be used in many different ways

shuch- the private part of a woman

sleekit- sly, cunning

smeeked- smelling of, and cheery with, drink

snooled- made to feel low or downtrodden

souch, sough- a murmur: of the sea, a river, the wind, distant voices, birds wings…

thrang- crowded, close together

thrash- scared

thraw- to argue, to contradict

toll- a cant word for skirlie, the dish made from oatmeal and dripping

trauchled- overburdened, overworked

troosh- to humble or frighten someone

tuggery- fine clothes

walsh- dried up and bad tasting

want- When we say that a person has a want, we mean that they are otherwise quite normal, but has an obsession or distorted view about some thing (or things). Such a person is usually very touchy about the subject and the ability to recognize such a ‘want’ helps one to humor the person.

whammel- to turn upside down

wheesht!- hush! be quiet!

yirdy- a toad

younker- youngster, child

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Comments
  1. a. cameron says:

    a lot of the words you have here are not proper cant , they are scottish slang known by almost everybody , however some words are genuine, i was born into a traveling family and the cant was our first language

  2. alpinmack says:

    Thanks for your reply A. Cameron. I would love to hear about your own experiences!

    Being an American, ignorant of cant AND Scots slang, I wouldn’t know the difference. But Betsy Whyte did say that cant was made up of many words from other languages. And that depending on the situation and tone of voice, one common word could convey a completely different meaning to a traveller within earshot, even a whole sentence, without the hantle knowing the difference. SO maybe many of the slang words really ARE cant as well, depending on the usage and meaning.

    I am also interested to know which words you think are the genuine cant. Thanks again!

  3. andrew cameron says:

    hi, thanks for reading my comment , it’s been a long time since i used the cant and it’s good to see that it still exists and nice to hear that the traveller is getting some recognition , we seem to get a bad name where we go, on reflection most of your words probably are gen, like you said in different parts of the country they may use slight variations of some words. please bear in mind i was not crticising you , just trying to help, you have good books for your research , one thing to bear in mind, in the old days not many traveling people could read or write so most of the words may have different spellings in other parts of the country and pronounced differently eg, jugal —-dog, we spelled it dugall but still pronounced with a j , other words i remember –ged —be wary , lig —-road , chavy— term used for young towny or gadgie –for man—. gleekit goich (sounds like och at end meaning idiot or eejit ) radge —mad —- lowry or wind— money — blaw– to have a rest or oatmeal depending where you are–i reckon you may have heard those words before i will try to remember more. if you go on you tube there are some old traveller folk songs that have some cant in the lyrics, one springs to mind—– come all ye tramps ane hawkers sung by the late great luke kelly. (hawker– to tout for work ) i hope this helps you and once again thank you for responding.— andy Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2013 12:23:09 +0000 To: awcam@hotmail.com

  4. alpinmack says:

    Hi Andrew. Wow! Thanks again for your reply. (My son’s name is Andrew. Good name.) Language is very interesting to me, and I also enjoy my Scottish heritage, so I find this topic fascinating. I got a chance to travel around Scotland for three months back in 1999; and I remember being on a few buses and ferries in the Western Isles, and also up in the Orkneys where the locals were speaking Gaelic, or in a brogue so thick, I couldn’t understand them. I wish I knew then what I know now. I may have caught a few more words.

  5. Jsmith says:

    We shouldn’t refer to Scots words as ‘slang’ as that implies it is somehow incorrect; Scots is a language in its own right.

  6. alpinmack says:

    Thanks Jsmith. Although Andrew Cameron referred to Scots as such in a previous comment, and he is most definitely Scottish with a Traveller background, so I was just using his nomenclature. I read an article once that compared Scots to Ebonics in the US. Both are wildly divergent from the language they came from, both are spoken by a class of people looked down upon by “proper society,” and both still struggle to be recognized as their own distinct language.

  7. oddessy says:

    Mandy jans your a bunch of suving ref hantle dont jan nockrey suving cuffs manging your a gadgie like mandy mandy deeked your naggs mang you awfull shanness ya jan nockrey tell me wht i just saod you now so much blert

  8. oddessy says:

    And whyte spelled like thats a roader lav

  9. alpinmack says:

    Hey oddessy, thanks for your comment. I can’t tell you what you just said to me because I’m not a traveller, but I love your enthusiasm ( even though I think you are trying to be insulting.) And Betsy spelled her name how she does, and she was most certainly a traveller, so I don’t see what your concern is. But hey, thanks for engaging in the conversation!

  10. oddessy says:

    What besty is is a Squealer thats what betsy is and the whole point of this is so you people dont know what we are saying and alot of these words are not real some are and i am not gonna tell u the ones that are real and cameron up there doesnt know what he is talking about the cant was our first language you dont forget it and you think in it i dont care how long its been since he hasnt spoke it you dont forget it he is what we call a turk got me and there is a old joke “its called cant cause we can speak and they cant” why do you want to know so much about us anyway

  11. oddessy says:

    And name means everything by the way how you spell it and what it is and what you claim to be we know the names of our people name is everything

  12. alpinmack says:

    Oddessy, Like many Americans of Scottish decent, I am interested in the culture and traditions of my ancestors. I’m glad that you still speak the cant and I don’t have a need to undermine your culture or “break your code”. I simply found Betsy’s book intriguing and thought I would share. I’ve travelled across Scotland for three months, camping, hiking, and exploring your beautiful country and I think many aspects of Scottish Culture should be preserved and celebrated, including travellers.

  13. oddessy says:

    The thing is i was born and living in the usa but i am a scottish traveller you cannot read or see anything on tv that is true everybody thinks that we fuck old people out of money and break into houses and have fancy “scams” so to speak to rob people its not true every culture has its bums so there is people who have done these things but i can count them on my hands in america anyway in all honesty we in the usa have kept to the old ways better than the ones in the old country but you cannot understand none of your people could understand or keep our traditions alive and the ones who do rob and shit are mostley the fucking irish and turks there are three differnt breeds so what you read the bad shit anyway is most likley about them ill tell you what you tell me what you want to know about us cause honestly i am curious and like i said we all speak cant it is not dead i know more than most nowadays but it will never “die”

  14. Victoria Sutherland says:

    I am a young Scottish Traveller and have just read through The Can’t as auld Betsy Whyte put it and must admit there’s a lot of words I’ve never heard before and a lot that I know as different Can’t words but I suppose there’s not one type of Cant it changes from place to place and possibly family to family.
    I’ve never really looked into my family heritage and history but I’m quite keen to do so to provide my own kids with a bit of knowledge as they’ve never spent one night in a trailer let alone travelled or camped which I’m really ashamed of.

  15. alpinmack says:

    Oddessy, I’m glad the cant will never die. Good for you!

    Victoria, Thanks for joining in the conversation. Start the kids young. I’ve taken my young ones camping a few times, just in tents, and it was really fun. A lot of work, but fun none the less.I love hiking and mountain climbing and hope to do more with them as they get older. Cheers!

  16. real irish munya traveller sublia says:

    Oddesy you were bred from the border gipsy between scotland and england you are in no way a real scotch traveller the words you used there are not the kant but they are romnichal kant so you must be a didykie or road ref yur self the real scotch highland travellers speak a galic kant nearly the same as the irish kant they have the same ancesters and betsy whyte was a traveller ther are loads of traveller whytes in scotland canada and here in the usa that spell ther name that way unlike you she was clever jin evertyhing? and i wouldent slag the irish travellers the best of your lot are half irish traveller and also the travellers back in the countrys scotch english irish welsh have the original kants and blood lines names so remember the time you try to insult a auld woman know the facts your what they call a computer champion dodi dodi you scotch border dinlow

  17. oddessy says:

    Really dody dody huh dinlow ha so what are you by your name i would say a conekman by your manging id say a turk i can trace mine to glasow and aberdeen cuff i can rocker rummnis thary irish and mang scotch and no they dont spell it that way its white not whyte i got white in me blert as for the old manishy she could fall infrobt of a screev and mully manging ref hantle cant and as for being a computer champion the differnce between ref chavs and us is i can find your panny arse mang me your lav chicken shite ill give you a awful lickin

  18. oddessy says:

    And its jan not jin

  19. oddessy says:

    You said you was in the u.s. So here is the thing i have a feeling you are one of two things one a irishman who doesnt know how to pronounce scotch or you may be crew in that case a barny would be useless cause you would simply sue me but im gonna tell you this boy im one of those people who dont let anyone away with what they say or do so if you feak my nags your lav im not gonna fly out to ya but i will see you at one point or another and when i see you we settle this like gadgies not manging shaness over a suving deal like manishies but you think hard on it boy and if you post me back with saleks but no lav ill jan what ya are all i want is a name and age that is it

  20. mincer gyuk says:

    Ok oddesy u are definatly rulya i couldent give a flyin conya what ya do if you give insults in english or the kant ya tharied ba about the old beure not that i realy give a conya i had nothing else better to do than look this conya up on da internet so do whant to act lika a gomy gyuk or tharry mang somthin sensable if ya dont i hope live a long life and make loads of chad soonie ya sham oh yea im a gyuk now so u just make me laff its panny ass not arse

  21. oddessy says:

    Ha i knew it was a irishman and arse and ass is a matter of preference know listen im a asshole i know that i came on here to tourcher some ref hantle not to argu with a traveller i cant be deaved to tell you the truth i dont know who you are and i never will we have most likely seen one another unless youre a greenhorn but i know youre on here to do the same so have a prosperous year and i hope you dont get stardied

  22. mincer gyuk says:

    keka oddesy i dident even know them greenhorns know how to use a laptop but most likey if we everdid meet it was passin in the oppist direction of the road and im up near canada way so i know who i bump into and would you buy a load of bent merchindise for the right vonder

  23. ....travler girl says:

    Haha oddesy these yins are a buncha pannyfied refs that don’t jan there arse from a hole in the wall lmao who’s your Hantel I am scotch 🙂 I can’t belive the scene with these reff radges haha have a Barry day

  24. ....travler girl says:

    Half these words are made up this Betsy radge is a panny god is reffs so blued with their life’s they have to jan what all us white faced travlers are gribbing also that’s probably a dirty Turk manging all that shite I jan your a travler oddesy
    Pay no heed to plukey moi up there lmao

  25. ....travler girl says:

    Just to clarify again the words Betsy was saying not you lol

  26. mincer gyuk says:

    Hi traveller lockin ya like the tharyin on this inik my jills is munya for to tharie the kant the munkrie needgie is gradgie this site so anyhow i am a fullbred american IT not a rag head road ref neejash tharie or jan mang my jills lockin ha

  27. oddessy says:

    Thank you travler girl i knew i wasnt the only scotch chat to deek at this shite im a D by the way. And i know all these ref hantle want to jan all our chatry and mang they are interested in our culture they are radge as a brush lol. And that one has got to be a turk deekin to sell me shan chatry lol. What about you btw whats your breed

  28. ....travler girl says:

    Haha I jan right that Turks off its test snake oil anyone haha my Hantel are w’s from America theses reff Hantel are such pannys wanting to jan all about us so they can get us all gobbled Like were radges that would tell lmao and that Turk don’t jan shite haha I couldent even understand a word it was manging haha all I’ll say is someone needs spell check XD lol it’s always nice to meet a real scotch travler on these bammy sites instead of Turks and reffs pretending lol 🙂

  29. oddessy says:

    I know like the chats manging ” im half traveller on my mothers side ” and the one going on about never living in a trailer its comical and some of these words i mean “want” of all things to have up there LOL and speaking of a want i think the turks got one its manging rumnis and irish its a wee bit confused doesnt jan wich one it coms barryier and doesnt jan what it wants to be and by the way turk i jan why you was narky about me shreding the old roader must be your breed shite might be your neizmort lol and now your trying to be all wide with a real rakly manging all barry about your naggs but what you are is a big CUFF

  30. oddessy says:

    Naggins dont jan why your black face is on here anyway go shine your neizmorts crystal ball

  31. oddessy says:

    Another thing thats comical is you jan these ref hantle are deeking at what we’re manging and then deeking at the chat right akie to try and figure out what we are saying LOL. We have basically taken over this chat LOL gadgie who gribs on it hasnt manged nockry haha. And to all you other people if you want to know what we are saying try Consulting the damn book up there you damn boggin providers

  32. oddessy says:

    And by the way traveller girl my hantle are in the east what about you

  33. real irish traveller mincer gyuk says:

    Neejash i was tharien two beurs the whole time mabey they have the same jills two big feeks i rekon traveller lockin and that other thanum is munkrie neegie they want to check there big gammy gowls berfore they tharie shaness about irish mincers and real scotch hiland mincers mang all the conya ya want suvin rakley dinlows

  34. oddessy says:

    Are you bammy your trying to mang scotch irish and rumnis you daft old eat

  35. oddessy says:

    And who in f*&ks name says “i reckon” who are you gary f#@$n cooper i swear to god chav you would eat the bark off a tree wouldnt ya

  36. ....travler girl says:

    Oh my god what a bunch of radges it seems Irish is a Turk lover probably it’s breed haha these yins are a buncha pannys I’m just gloying at those to bams making a radge out of themselfs they can go pagger themselfs for all i care haha there both Turk lovers hell they probably are Turks and those radges manging that us scotch are Shan please today them two are lower than pond scum were the Barry yins eh? Lol these bams need put in there places

  37. oddessy says:

    I WAS CENSORED WHAT KIND OF SH&TE IS THAT ALPIN YOU NEIZMORT SUVIN LARP

  38. oddessy says:

    Ow sh*$ there is three of them “real traveller mincer gyuk ” and the others just ” mincer gyuk ” and then ” real irish munya traveller soblia ” i didnt notice cause they all spell in that same illiterate fashion lol learn how to spell you load of thumps read a suvin book

  39. alpinmack says:

    Oddessy, It’s all here in my site guidelines:
    I wanted to put up some guidelines so people know what to expect. This is my my personal blog with my personal opinions. If you agree with me, great. If not, also great. Leave a comment. But I will not tolerate comments that:

    are abusive/ mean spirited towards myself or other commenters

    are racist, sexist, etc.

    contain excessive foul language.

    I reserve the right to alter and edit theses comments as I see fit.

    If you can’t control your comments, You won’t be posting here at all. And that goes for everyone here.

  40. alpinmack says:

    Yeah. See? That last one? Not approved.

  41. oddessy says:

    That is not funny you (deleted)

  42. alpinmack says:

    Hey. My site. My rules.

  43. oddessy says:

    You power hungry swine you think your real smart dont you well remember a fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool you cuff

  44. oddessy says:

    I shall not have my thoughts censord by you that is just unamerican

  45. alpinmack says:

    I’m not power hungry, and never claimed to be wise. I just want everyone who posts here to be civil. You notice I haven’t called you any names?

  46. alpinmack says:

    If I could censor people’s thoughts, what a talent that would be. I bet I could find a job in government. But I can control what words people freely choose to volunteer on my own blog. If you don’t want your post censored, find a way to express your ideas without swearing or calling people names.

  47. oddessy says:

    Are you asking me to change my aggressive nature because you say so you have offended me sir

  48. alpinmack says:

    No. In fact, you can be as aggressive as your nature warrants. But if you try to post the outcome of your aggression on my blog, I will tame it as I see fit, as we have already witnessed.

    I actually value your input. I am excited that other real travellers have commented on my meager and semi-ignorant post. I just want to keep our discussion civil. That’s all. So, Thank you.

  49. oddessy says:

    Ha you get more than two travellers in a room and a argument is inevitable

  50. mincer gyuk says:

    Yes real irish traveller mincer gyuk real munya irish traveller sublia are myne it was just apreference as to what name i used but you oddesy and traveler girl are one and the same person you can make up what ever name you like i will know its you by your insults as i stated before the best of the scotch travellers are related to the irish wich i am but you gest right i know all the irsh kant some of the english and scotch im no rag head road ref by the the way your reacting i woulld make good bet that you are or at best a country roadie that knows a little kant your still a computer champion by that i mean running down irish and bad mouthing old weomen alfa mick who ever you this is a great site with out the likes of aka oddesy

  51. oddyssy says:

    You know there is no point in me saying im not traveller girl because you wont believe me but i mean if i was going to fabricate a fictional character even for just the purpose of insulting you i would have come up with a more creative name than ” traveller girl” no offense intended traveller girl i mean even my present name Odyssey wich i got from the name of a poem wich if you can tell me the name of ill give you a shiny nickel but i doubt someone who spells like you would know but anyway this is very humorous because in fact im not her but i am one person who happens to be a scotch traveller and am willing to prove it any way you seem fit wich i am sure will be some childish Elementary level question like ” what does barry mean ” because that is most likely the extent of your knowledge of scotch cant so fire away turk give me your very best word that youll most likely get from the old dreprived roader who has written this dreadful piece of literature whom the general censor call a ” book” i am waiting patiently for your well written reply in that beautiful illiterate way yours truely Johnathan . D Esquire. Ps go scran your neizmorts blert

  52. oddyssy says:

    Was that civil enough for you alpin because i know you are a authority on such matters and i truely hope you have sensed the sarcasim provider

  53. oddyssy says:

    Ow and by the way turk its *mine* there is a space between the a and the preference it not “apreference” also the term is ” one in the same ” not “and” you also spelled the word “guessed ” wrong you spelled “gest” wich in a sentence like ” i was only speaking in gest ” means in joke or fun also it would be ” make a good bet ” notice the “a” and “whoever you are” notice the “are” learn how to speak properly you lowly rag head turk

  54. White faced travler girl says:

    Good god that idiot actually thinks I’m you Odessy to the illiterate road reff/ turk with a moi that deeks like a kallys arse watch who you insult I’m a bad bi@$ when I get started you who is probably a huge fudgey scranner that cannot comprehend there are two white faces scotch travlers on this sickly reffs blog my god also your mix of cant/ Turk/leprechaun is very amusing I jan your deeved your neizmort is a kally and your father is a reader probably never outa stardey and your Hantel probably wanted to abort you before you even breathed one breath on this planet…..
    Odessy I jan my user name on this blog is Shitey lol If Any other name I may have chosen would have given hints to my identity and hell who wants that you don’t feek your real lav to rip into some reffs lol I bet this ref that owns this site won’t feek my comment up haha watch and deek lol

  55. White faced travler girl says:

    Ps I changed my name lol your quite right travler girl is very unoriginal I was going for practicality lol also I think your name is beautiful which poem is it from as I am certain there are quite a few poems about oddesys and voyages :p shutting up now lol

  56. oddyssy says:

    Thank you traveller girl lol and Oddyssy by Homer is the poem it is very good long but good you should read it if you get the chance

  57. White faced travler girl says:

    Most deffinatley 🙂 I’ll have to check it out 🙂

  58. mincer gyuk says:

    Oddessy and traveller girl are definitley the same person purley by there hatred of the irish traveller i now know at first i thaught it was a weomen that was making these comments but its definitley country road ref man maybe of scotch desent because a real scotch traveller would not habour that hatred for their cousins the irish travellers also both oddesy and traveller girl make frequent use of the word turk refering the rommys wich definetley means they are the same person my previous comments had the kant in them if oddesy aka traveller girl had the slytest bit of traveller even a border scotch they would know i was irish and as for them being able to mang the scotch kant as oddesy stated himself he likes books he could have goten hold of one with scotch kant wich would explain him finding this site or maybe even beter againg ive exposed you computer champion

  59. oddyssy says:

    Hahahaha i do not hate the irish my best friend is irish i just dont like you, you are a annoying human being with abomidable grammer as for traveller girl i cannot speak for her veiws on the irish also it is “WOMAN” singular not “weomen” wich is not only spelled wrong but is plural i asure you i am not her nor she i and you i call a turk for numerous reasons one being you seem to have the same intelligence as one two it is insulting to you personaly and i believe you to be one just because you mang irish does not exclude that possibility also the fact you are useing all three in a single sentence along with your spelling of the word is not correct with the pronunciation of the word for example “sublia” wich i believe to be sobein also the term turk does not apply to rummnies but are a breed all in they’re own so this also shows your ignorance even though most turks do try to pass as rummnie but i guess the term roader would more directly apply to you so that is what i will call you primarily for now on and another thing is alot of scotch and irish do not like each other so you are also wrong about that you have no idea what you are talking about you are foolish moronic roader who does not know shit from shinola

  60. oddyssy says:

    Also please explain how you exsposed me in any way because if you have i missed it i

  61. mincer gyuk says:

    You just a clown sobien sublia different familys have there own way of speaking the kant you obviosly googled that one you trying to get me going on the turk bull you must be a rag head my spelling aint the best but i suppose it would have bin better if i was a country road ref like you read as many books about travellers as you like you will still be none the wiser keep using the oddesy and traveller girl names you are not gettin any more info till next time sianara eegit

  62. oddyssy says:

    Haha i went to the 5th grade you radge hahaha i dont need any imformation from a turk hahaha

  63. oddyssy says:

    Also i forgot to ask how would you google cant there is really no proper spelling of it and the machine wouldnt understand therefore it is impossible and as for books i dont know of any that exist i didnt even know the book above existed i seen the words ” secret traveller cant ” and “scottish tinker” and my curiosity overcome me i thought it would be funny to see what these ref hantle said and i was right it was amusing and then i was sent you someone to extend my amusement tenfold and a person so moronic in nature that knows absolutely nothing you stated that you was a gadgie now i know that not to be true you are a fool who knows nothing of what you claim to be your own cant, i am a suving scot and i know more irish cant than you a person who claims to be irish you are a child who has gotten into a argument you can not posibbly win so give up your futile attempts my victory is inevitable and i will tell you this one more time for it is getting monotonous i am not traveller girl if you continue to think so you are a even bigger fool than i thought you are reaching “meon” levels here lol

  64. oddyssy says:

    And i mean books about cant, i do not know of any that exist just to clarify

  65. Wait no don't call the cops! says:

    Hey boys my moosh said that there was a bunch of rodies in here….figured I’d stop by and tell you how happy you are

  66. Wait don't call the cops! says:

    Hey mooshes, I’ve been sun tanning on my paver while laying a driveway for the kushter vonager. Working on my six pack and combing my hair

  67. oddyssy says:

    Lol your a jearcase man

  68. mincer gyuk says:

    Oddesy your what they call a country road ref gone wrong the closist you will ever get to being a traveller is on a greyhound bus you need a good corbin set you strait your not as big a eejit as anyone would think because somehow most likey from scanning the internet or reading books you can mang a little scotch kant but some of the words are english traveller kant youve thrown the odd irish traveller kant word inn as well so u got me puzzled on that one but when your refering to me being able to do thet i grew up with scotch and english and am related to both but you have no excuse you should not be able to chat in kant unless you are complete computer nerd and studied it wich u defintley did stop pretending to be other people i have you coped you are trying to extract any kind of kant from me or any other traveller who visits the site to any one who reads this do not use the kant on this site oddesy has something to do with it put that in your pipe and smoke it country ref

  69. mincer gyuk says:

    Another thing i idident use the word gadgie it was gradgie eegit gadgie is wat you are gradgie is something else in kant but of course you couldent understand that i finnished with this bull conya ive better things to do with my time thant to dispute with a punk bitch country like you

  70. oddyssy says:

    Me thinks the turk be angry

  71. oddyssy says:

    Ow and its gauga not gradgie you suvin bam

  72. oddyssy says:

    You know what your right i dont kniw what gradgie means cause its not gauga its nothing gradgie does not mean anything unless its turk wich it most likely is

  73. Wait don't call the cops! says:

    It’s obvious that you mincer gyuck are a roader and a poor cracher that should go back to cracherville where all your scranner freinds can carb you off stop claiming Irish cause your not your obviously scotch/roader/Turk oh hey and I’m guessing by “gradgie” you mean cradgie it’s with a C a big fat C kinda like your commer mom

  74. alpinmack says:

    Mom jokes? Really?

  75. oddyssy says:

    Hey man what was that scotch crack we are on the same team you root head

  76. Wait don't call the cops! says:

    Ok ok your just a roader not scotch and yeah your moms a gam I wedged her the other day it was terrible

  77. barn stormer says:

    I will lay or spray all day every day when the chorin gets boring

  78. Glad to see you’ve got a lot of comments on this – some of them are more or less saying what I was aiming to say anyway.
    But, firstly, I really loved Betsy’s first book – I haven’t read the second one yet – is it as good?
    I’ve always had an interest in folks who want to lead a different lifestyle as I’ve striven to be different all my life in some way or another too. My mother said wanting to be different all the time would get me into fights at school and it did – but I’m still glad I’m very individualistic.
    There are an awful lot of sources to the many of words listed above and cant seems to alter a lot of them slightly and then use them (as happens with most languages). Examples are: agley, thrang (must surely come from throng) and anonst – we hear those in regular use in Cumbria (and possibly Northumbria too). So they’re just northern really and will have come from some of our most distant ancestors going back to Viking times and so on.
    A lot are in common use in the Scots language, e.g. besom (that, even in England), dreich (the weather in Scotland most of the time ), drookit (what you get when you walk the mountains in Scotland most of the time ), keek, polis (Glaswegians use this), puckle, gie (Aberdonians use this), gloaming. Cannyways sounds Geordie (Newcastle) as they say canny a lot.
    I enjoyed your post though and it’s prompted a great discussion. My favourite cant words were: shaness, misteen & cutty semmit – loved those
    Carol.

  79. oddyssy says:

    Carol you are a dingbat

  80. lol says:

    golune lol

  81. Faith Hope Love says:

    Im a “Scotch” traveller , 100% born and raised. I know we don’t like the reff hantle in our business but heres the deal, with TV shows like my big fat gypsy wedding and all the radginess you see on the news, it doesn’t help to come on web sites like this and start a barney with the reffs. It just makes us look like a buncha bams. I think we already have enough to deal with in that way. If the hantle want to learn about us, at least don’t let them think were all radgy. We’re not always looking for a barney, we’re not all thieves. Most of the ones I know are good family people that love the Lord and keep quiet to themselves. Don’t make us look even worse to the reff hantle than we already do. They know we exist, theyre gonna be curious. Not much we can do about it but be civil and let them realize we’re just people that want to raise our families and be left in peace.
    I used to know a wee reff girl that lived next door when I was wee. She went to the same church and the same school we all did and she knew the travellers. I saw her years and years later outta no where. You know what she said? “I saw that TV show my big fat gypsy wedding. I told my husband, I lived next door to travelers half my life. Theyre NOTHING like that. Theyre nice, clean living, God fearing people.” …. THATS the kind of stuff they should know about us, if theyre gonna know about us at all let it be because we feed the homeless, for our revivals and our talented singers that sing for Jesus. So stop the radge cracks. Its not much different than blowing up the town with the choring and ruining it for all the normal people.
    God Bless

  82. John Logan says:

    I hate them gyspys boy I would love to meet one give him a piece of my mind

  83. alpinmack says:

    I have a feeling you will get a piece of theirs soon.

  84. Oddyssy says:

    Well mister logan aren’t you scary haha you cant afford to give us a piece of your mind you need the wee bit you got

  85. the celt feen says:

    hi i have read some of the comments which are interesting to say the least , i think travellers have come a long way in the last 50 or so years from from wagons tents to trailers and to houses big and small i am refering to travellers in the uk i am a traveller what kind is my bussiness but i think from all the hardships travellers had years ago they will never forget that and what they came from sometimes the life of a traveller can be hard but what can you do just keep going to get by i dont think there is a breed of people on the planet earth that gets as much bad publicity as what travellers do ,i dont know how many times i heard people say there all the one but i know there is bad among us the same as every breed of people but there is also alot of good honest god fearing people among us too who dont need the negative press but there will come a day where the ones that do harm wont be able to do it nomore and then rest of us will have it a bit of peace , also alot of travellers have gone astray and let the tv shows ruin them i never in my life left a country person no any gammon or anything about me when we were able to keep to our selfs for 500 year or more we should still be able to do that , i dont know where the travellers are going in the next 50 years but by the looks of things they will turn into country people by the way there carrying on but there are still a good few like my self who will stick to the old ways mixed marry with yer own and keep yer self to yer self the way it should be this is only my opinian god bless all.

  86. Rory A says:

    Scots is a language in itself and in no way slang.
    Please see below .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language

  87. gardenerdave says:

    Lovely, fascinating article, books which tell of a life no longer lived by a woman no longer living are of great importance to the new generations of travellers and hantle looking into the past.
    They never hear the yorlin’s song, nor see the flax in bloom, for they’re aye cooped up in hooses when the yellow on the broom.
    They show an appreciation the natural word.
    which many people have no connection with.
    The truth o it aa she kent better than ony
    Baith nakens and hantle share rowans and honey.
    Allow for tolerance as travellers and non still share the same hardships of life.
    Now gone is the life now gone are the days that bessie led down old byways, but sing and dance and make her proud shes a traiveler so shout it loud!
    be pleased that people are taking an interest in the traveller culture. An opportunity to share and gain a lost respect.

    a much admired lady who let the world see into her life and the much miss understood culture which she belonged.
    Like it or not these books will one day be the closest thing many will get to living a life on the open road.

  88. teainabowlie says:

    Oddyssy ye could start a scrap in an empty room, i may not be a traveler but i am at least a born and bred Highlander, and as for the author being a squealer, everyone in the Highlands uses words of the cant and has done for many years, they don’t talk in full cant but parts of it are used so obviously there are many squealers dating back from many years ago, if you think the cant can be kept a secret in the year 2015 then go bile yer heed wumin!

  89. Mac says:

    EEs gills is nae jannin till whit I`m wheezing till ees naggings, Cov.

  90. lynn flaws says:

    It’s funny that we hiv the sam wirds here in Orkney x

  91. rumplestilskindeery says:

    It’s good to here that the ( Kant)or(cant) is still talked to this very day it’s said that the young generation today have there own words for the ancient language of the Kant I do believe it’s for the people that has toned the roads and byways for thousands of years and there are many words and story’s from the campfire to the caves in clampdown I herd and and tell my own children it will never die there story’s that my greatgrand mother told me as a boy just before she was murdered in calender but the traveler was not believed to be worth the time and money to be investigated so it’s best to keep it to one and magic come at a cost deery

  92. Peter McMillan says:

    Im a scottish american traveler and most of these words are still used today in the US (some ive never heard of) and others now have differnt meanings and there are many new words. Scottish cant isnt necessarily dead we all still use the language amongst each other but english is our main language. It was interesting to read all of these words ive never seen im gonna show my naskels(parents) and see if they know any of it. Like the other guy said we do get a bad rep from society but like any other group there is bad apples i guess. I plan on going to the old country to meet some of my breed(cousins) and will use these words and see if they still use them. Thanks for posting this.

  93. alpinmack says:

    You’re welcome. Thanks for your comment. Enjoy Scotland. I’d like to go back again someday, but with weens and nay money, it will be some years yet.

  94. rosa alba says:

    I dinna ken if the person called JSmith who left comments was Jess, but you should read Jess Smith’s books, about growing up traveller (the generation after Betsy). Whyte wi a y is usually a traveller name, is what I was tellt.

    With many of the Travelling Fowk being settled increasingly and their bairns in school, words like panny and gadgie become more used about younger generations. I worked in schools w many traveller bairns and ken a few travellers and the words panny and gadje are in my vocabulary at times. The internet makes it more so – this use of cant among scaldies & g (gadgie may or may not be a variation on gorja)….as wi Scots you oftimes dinna ken a word is Scots till ye find a non-Scots speaker disna understaun it.

  95. Beneath the stars. says:

    alpinmack, it is a pity that some contributors have strayed from the main topic with some very immature and crude language…A few Irish Traveller gammon words,,Router=milk,,Feen anawsha=Man nearby,,Suunick=Look,,Coonick=Priest,,Buffer=Non Traveller,,Keen=House,,etc etc.
    There are so many variants to the language as befits the nomadic nature of it’s user, a coded means of expression to confuse the ears of the prying “outsider”…I am of “the road”.

  96. adeleulnais says:

    This is a great article and I recognised many words that were used by my relations. I`m looking for a word that might be Cant, I don’t know the spelling as it was always spoken. When I was being naughty but not enough to get a scalding, my Mam called me a nickum. That’s the phonetic for it. Could anyway help? And the Orcadians don’t speak Gaelic the language is Norn, English mixed with a lot of old Norse words.

  97. alpinmack says:

    I think some of the back and forth bickering is some of the best comments on here, actually.

  98. alpinmack says:

    Thanks, I’m glad you like it. I don’t recognize that word, but maybe some of the other commenters would?

  99. Shane Mathews Canada says:

    dont mang knockery to the hantle, the shan gadgee will deek

  100. Gypsyking says:

    I’m a traveller any cunt don’t like it they can f#&k off radge gorger bams

  101. macdonaldofcaputh says:

    Cant, as i understand it, is a collection of dialectical methods of communication used by traveller families of many and varied origins. It is not a written language. My husband is a traveller and has listened with great amusement while I have attempted to read out all your comments. He would like you all to know that our barricade is the best in Scotland. All of you seem to live in houses. He is going out fruit picking while I tend to our eleven children and clean the barricade. I might send our oldest daughters to the river later on to wash them. Some country hantel gave us some second-hand clothes for the weans last week. The farmer is (hopefully) getting my husband his dunt today so there will be plenty drinking in the barricade tonight. We are hoping that no shan gadgies arrive. We prefer to share our dram with our own hantel.

  102. rosa alba macdonald says:

    Nickum is standard Scots (at least in the NE of Scotland) for a bairn who is naughty or up to mischief.
    Scots is a language separate but with much in common to English – it has some different structures like the use of adverbs, forms of past participle. Doric is a version of Scots spoken in NE Scotland, but with an extensive vocabulary unique to Doric or that has died out in other areas. Incidentally much of Betsy’s cant, so called, is close to Doric inasmuch as she grew up and travelled around Montrose, Brechin etc on the verge of the area in where Doric is spoken.
    Jeannie Robertson, Stanley Robertson, Duncan Williamson, and various Stewarts all spoke a mixture of Doric and traveller cant depending on whom they were talking to (and proper English if needs be). Equally Elizabeth Stewart’s grannie (or mother) was from England I think (and/or a Townsley). However the Stewarts of Blair may have spoken a slightly different cant as they travelled more round Perthshire…but travellers also did travell and Deesire travellers would sometimes go down to Perthshire – certainly for the berries (picking berries), and mixed with and intermarried with Scottish Gypsies (from the south) and with travellers from different regions, and with Romanies and Irish Travellers – so the language changes and yet certain groups might preserve certain vocabulary, just like families in different areas had different words to or versions of the same song.

    Because the Scottish travellers of the northern half of Scotland were agricultural labourers – worked on the farms and the fields, much of the vocabulary of the travelkers us Scots argricultural vocab.

    NB Norn is more spoken in Shetland than Orkney, but is not just English with other words thrown in – it is a synthesis (as is Orcadian) that has evolved that takes from Norse and Scots reflecting the ownership of the islands…

  103. macdonaldofcaputh says:

    Interesting remarks above, and new insights (for me) regarding language/linguistics in the Northern Isles.

    Yesterday our barricade was awarded a prize. Unfortunately, the polis arrived and told us to pack up and move on before we were presented with it.

    Sighing deeply, all thirteen of us set off towards Perthshire.

    It may take a long time. We are currently in Sutherland.

  104. Marki says:

    I am a Scots Traveling hantel, knew well some of Betsy whytes relatives, some that wrote books on the subject of Travelers themselves…
    The Cant of Scotland is very similiar to the cant spoken by european Gypsies, words like panni, churi, yak, jukal for instance, to be sure the Scottish cant has old gealic words dispersed thru it, such as ossach and corach meaning mad or insane which you see Betsy using, this is only to be expected that ones language will gradually merge or blend with the native language of the land to some degree…

  105. Duncan Stewart says:

    Hi I’m a Scottish traveler and I speak the cant and a lot of that words is not can’t but Doric yes I must say a lot of the words is can’t but not all .

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