The new BBC documentary Scotland — Contains Strong Language explores the Bannatyne Manuscript from 1568. Written by Edinburgh Merchant George Bannatyne while he was quarantined during — appropriately enough — a plague, the collection includes a poem titled "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy," an account of a duel between two poets said to have been conducted before the court of King James IV.
As Ars Technica explains:
Flyting is a poetic genre in Scotland—essentially a poetry slam or rap battle, in which participants exchange creative insults with as much verbal pyrotechnics (doubling and tripling of rhymes, lots of alliteration) as they can muster. (It's a safe bet Shakespeare excelled at this art form.)
And it is in that poem that these words were found, amidst the barbs shot back-and-forth between these poets: "wan fukkit funling."
According to Dr Joanna Kopaczyk, a historical linguistics expert from Glasgow University, that makes it the first recorded use of the word "fuck."
To me, that looks more like Scots than Middle English, although both languages were derived from Olde English. There are also some people who insist that Scots is merely a dialect of English, rather than its own language. Scots should also not be confused with Scottish Gaelic. That being said: is anyone surprised that Scotland would be home to the first "fuck?"
Scotland's claim to fame as birthplace of the F-word revealed [Brian Ferguson / The Scotsman]
500-year-old manuscript contains earliest known use of the "F-word" [Jennifer Ouelette / Ars Technica]
Image: Gareth E. Kegg / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)