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Irish word 'scutch'?

GUEST,Lorraine 19 Jun 06 - 07:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jun 06 - 07:54 PM
Snuffy 19 Jun 06 - 08:02 PM
Declan 19 Jun 06 - 08:03 PM
Brían 19 Jun 06 - 08:18 PM
GUEST,Andy 20 Jun 06 - 09:09 AM
Paco Rabanne 20 Jun 06 - 09:10 AM
Bunnahabhain 20 Jun 06 - 10:32 AM
GUEST, Topsie 20 Jun 06 - 11:17 AM
Fergie 20 Jun 06 - 11:36 AM
open mike 20 Jun 06 - 02:20 PM
Ferrara 20 Jun 06 - 02:46 PM
alison 20 Jun 06 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,thurg 21 Jun 06 - 12:33 AM
Fiolar 21 Jun 06 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh 21 Jun 06 - 11:50 AM
Bunnahabhain 21 Jun 06 - 12:56 PM
GUEST 21 Jun 06 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,Lorraine 22 Jun 06 - 07:59 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jun 06 - 01:07 PM
Jon W. 22 Jun 06 - 06:30 PM
sciencegeek 22 Jun 06 - 08:12 PM
r.padgett 23 Jun 06 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,Seamus C 23 Jun 06 - 06:05 PM
Bunnahabhain 24 Jun 06 - 03:21 AM
GUEST 24 Jun 06 - 07:47 AM
Fiolar 24 Jun 06 - 08:49 AM
r.padgett 24 Jun 06 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Jacqui 25 Jun 06 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,Jacqui 25 Jun 06 - 02:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Jun 06 - 04:37 PM
sciencegeek 26 Jun 06 - 12:23 PM
Big Tim 26 Jun 06 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,stephen 01 Jun 10 - 09:58 AM
Fred McCormick 01 Jun 10 - 10:24 AM
JeffB 01 Jun 10 - 10:25 AM
Gutcher 01 Jun 10 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,JTT 01 Jun 10 - 04:48 PM
open mike 01 Jun 10 - 05:25 PM
open mike 01 Jun 10 - 05:38 PM
Gutcher 01 Jun 10 - 06:13 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 04 Jun 10 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,^&* 04 Jun 10 - 06:15 PM
JeffB 04 Jun 10 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,^&* 04 Jun 10 - 08:07 PM
LadyJean 04 Jun 10 - 11:47 PM
Snuffy 10 Jun 10 - 09:05 AM
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Subject: Irish word 'scutch'? Frank Harte
From: GUEST,Lorraine
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 07:37 PM

I've begun learning "Sarah Jane" as sung by Frank Harte from Eddie Butcher and one line by the liner notes "Though the pay is not much for gathering SCUTCH" I did wonder if it was "gathering scotch" - a type of broom? and who ever was doing the notes did not understand the accent. but... If anyone could help I would truly appreciate it.
Thanks
~Lorraine


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 07:54 PM

Scutch- Common flax (See OED). (Old French escouche)
"Common flax, which from the scutch proceeds to the heckle." Encyc. Brit. 3rd Ed.
The verb means 'to thresh'.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Snuffy
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 08:02 PM

The word appears to be English rather than Gaelic

Back in the 70s there used to be a great pub in Long Melford, Suffolk, called the Scutchers' Arms in honour of the flax workers. But now it's been converted to a very posh restaurant


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Declan
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 08:03 PM

Scutch is also a name given to a typr of coarse grass. It has nothing to do with scotch.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Brían
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 08:18 PM

A friend of mine who grew up on a farm in Co. Galway told me his father called the loose sods he would shake the dirt from scutch. He never considered there was an Irish word for it.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,Andy
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 09:09 AM

Just to add to the confusion, I believe there is a bricklayer's tool, probably for cleaning or cutting bricks, that is known in the trade, as a scutch.
Also, round these parts (South Yorkshire)it was a term for giving somebody a crack, a backhander, a smack in the gob,a clip, though I've not heard it used for some time.

Andy


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 09:10 AM

A scutch in the building world is a type of toothed bricklayers hammer.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 10:32 AM

well, there are probably a few words tangled up here. My main reference is the oxford etymological dictionary.

Scutch, as relating to fibres comes from old French, escousser, meaning to shake off, and ultimalty from the latin exquatere, to shake.

It's easy to see how shaking off might come to describe something where you are shaking off the seperated fibre from the rubbish, or the chippings from a stone you are dressing.

There is possibly another meaning for Scutch, as the tip of a flail. Again, the shaking is clear.

The Irish farmer above is shaking the grass, which may be its origin, or it may be another variant on couch or quitch grass, which roots back to the Germanic word we now know as quick, as it does indeed grow fast.


Hopefully that answers more questions than it creates....


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 11:17 AM

And with the Irish connection, and barley being a member of the grass family: 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley'.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Fergie
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 11:36 AM

I would concur with most of the above. In Dublin, scutch is a particular type of very coarse grass.

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: open mike
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:20 PM

The verb "to scutch" is a step in the processing of flax into linen,
where the stems are chopped to remove the vegetative matter and reveal the fiber.

http://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/results.asp?image=10422715

http://www.banbridge.com/template1.asp?parent=206&parent2=212&pid=330&area=1

I am not sure how that relates to the use of the word you mention.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Ferrara
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:46 PM

From all of the above, it sounds as if the best guess would be that the singer is a farm laborer (that's given, yes?) and one of his jobs is either to help harvest flax, or to be the fellow who gathers up the waste when flax is processed into linen? At any rate he's clearly "beneath" the lady in social status which is probably why she's not paying any attention to him?


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: alison
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 09:26 PM

we were taught about this at primary school in Belfast - just before they took us to the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra. info on the scutching process and photo of scutching mill

there is a cottage there with a scutching green..... a large grassy area out the front, and a little round watchtower so people didn't pinch your flax

from memory when the flax was pulled it was spread out then left to dry out / break down on the scutching green before it was gathered up to do whatever the next part of the process was.

I have vague recollections of it being dipped in water before being spread out to dry to help it rot a bit ..... but it was a long time ago....

hence the girl in the song would have gone out to collect the scutch

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 12:33 AM

I used to sing a song about scutching; don't know if it's still back there in the recesses of my mind ... It had the refrain "There's whiskey in the jar" (no, NOT Kilgary Mountain). My understanding was that of "open mike" - the flax to linen business.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Fiolar
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 09:25 AM

When the flax was pulled,it was bound into sheaves and then soaked in water in a pond for about a week to ten days. The pond was then drained and the half rotted flax was taken out and spread in rows to dry. When dried it was then rebound into sheaves and stacked until it was ready to be taken to the mill for scutching.
The job of removing the flax from the pond was one of the filthiest imaginable and the workers stank to high heaven. In addition the water was often allowed to drain into the nearby rivers whch poisoned hundreds of fish.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 11:50 AM

Bunnahabhain, would I be correct in guessing you are originally (Smokey Joe) Larne via Cushendall now Kinvara?
             eoin


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 12:56 PM

GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh .... in a word, No. I'm part of the Mudcat gang of pedants, and am Edinburgh based.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 04:43 PM

Slanguage - Dictionary of Irish slang also gives it as a Dublin word for a clay pipe.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,Lorraine
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 07:59 AM

You guys are great. Thanks for the many definations. Not a clay pipe I think, but the flax process or corase grass fit wonderfully. Now I just have to learn all the other words. Its a great song and full of wonderful images and quirky tune. Thank you all for making it clearer for me.
~Lorraine


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 01:07 PM

Thanks, Fiolar. That expands nicely on the brief definition in the OED.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Jon W.
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 06:30 PM

Perhaps this explains why Roger O'Hehir was not thrilled to be bound apprentice unto the linen trade.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 08:12 PM

my dad was a bricklayer who grew up in Astoria, Queens (New York City) in the thirties and he would use the phrase, "don't be a scutch."
never told us what it meant... but it sure sounded derogatory.
and since another popular phrase of his was b*llbreaker, I always thought it the two might be linked...


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: r.padgett
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 05:36 PM

Barnsley, England was a cottage industry weaving linen around 1850

scutch in use still meaning to 'give a backhander' smack so no doubt derived from linen weaving term

Ray


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,Seamus C
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 06:05 PM

As a child nearly sixty years ago I heard the word used in a number of agricultural contexts eg a scutch of hay was used to bind a sheaf which was then gathered in a stook; a scutch of flax was a sheaf of flax. The term probably originated from the Gaelic word "scoth" or "scoith" meaning a bundle or tuft. O'Donaill's Dictionary gives
scoth luachra - a bundle of rushes
scoth lin - a sheaf of flax
scoth ghruaige - a tuft of hair
scoth bhuidhe - kelp

I suspect the reference in the song may be to kelp gathering - a common practice, essential in some soils; very hard and very poorly paid.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 03:21 AM

Thank you Seamus C. That sounds rather likley as well.

I think I need to get a gaelic dictionary as well. My reference books never lead that way. More books are good. More books are good......


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 07:47 AM

Two dictionaries well worth having -
A Dictionary of Hibnerno- English by Terence Patrick Dolan pub Gill and Macmillan
Slanguage - a dictionary of Irish slang Bernard Share, pub Gill and Macmillan
Both easily available in paperback
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Fiolar
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 08:49 AM

Sciencegeek: Your dad may very well have meant "Scut" from the Irish "Sciota". It means a "little child" or a "contemptible person". It is very commonly used in Ireland. It has nothing to do with "scutch".


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: r.padgett
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 12:30 PM

scutch (skch)
tr.v. scutched, scutch·ing, scutch·es
To separate the valuable fibers of (flax, for example) from the woody parts by beating.
n.
An implement used for scutching

So there we have the link maybe??

Ray


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,Jacqui
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 08:13 AM

Since the verse in question is
'I was on the spot, i was deep in thought,
I had scarse commenced my woe
When the blackbird spoke from the bower scutch
My mind he seemed to know
Saying if you could fly, just the same as I
Your wings and your voice would strain
You'd be whistling shrill on the window sill
Surmising Sarah-Jane'
I personally would go with the idea of the coarse grass, which is the sort of thing I've always imagined when singing the song.
BTW Lorraine, I don't know if you've had the same problems as I did with the last verse when I was learning the song, just in case you have it is
Now the pain it is decreasing daily, and a roving she might go
She may call at 'Liza Keeley's as she passes through Myroe
She may drink from a bottle of the best, and drink to the poets name,
And I hope always she'll have happy days,that maid called Sarah-Jane.
Liza Keeley's was a bar/ale house in Myroe as was explained to me by Frank himself. It's a great song, nice to know you've picked it up.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,Jacqui
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 02:40 PM

Oops, having since sung it through to myself I forgot about the pay not being mutch for gathering scutch - this is the flax meaning I would think, so perhaps two meanings for the same word in a song?...


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 04:37 PM

21974. Wolfgang posted the version by Frank Harte back in 2000. Sarah Jane


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 26 Jun 06 - 12:23 PM

thanks, Fiolar

since the area he grew up in had populations of Irish, Italians & Greeks - I was never sure where he got it... and he's gone now -so no asking now, even if he did remember.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Big Tim
Date: 26 Jun 06 - 01:11 PM

I read somewhere that Tommy Makem's folks were scutchers in the flax industry.


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Subject: RE:old irish slang for 20 stone
From: GUEST,stephen
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 09:58 AM


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 10:24 AM

Big Tim. "I read somewhere that Tommy Makem's folks were scutchers in the flax industry."

The sleevenotes to Sarah Makem's Topic LP, Ulster Ballad Singer, 12T 182, decribe her husband Peter as a scutcher, or flax beater. I don't think Sarah's family were involved in the trade though. Her father, Tommy Boyle, is decribed in the notes as a plumber and tinsmith.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: JeffB
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 10:25 AM

To wind up this thread for the benefit of those of us who are fascinated by words, the meanings of "hit" and "work flax" are related through the OE "scutch" - "to beat lightly; dress flax". Related to "scotch", to cut. Although OE, originally a Viking word from a Swedish root.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Gutcher
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 03:01 PM

The pond where the flax was left to soak was called the retting pond
We have the remains of a retting pond & a scutchmill nearby.

Forbye the other meanings given above a scutch was a wedge that hung
behind the wheel of a cart.If a horse pulling a heavy cart up a hill
required a rest, the scutch,a wedged shaped piece of hardwood,would
be put on the road behind the wheel thus preventing the cart from
rolling back while the horse rested.

Scutch in all its various meanings is still used here in Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:48 PM

Scutch grass is what we call what Americans call couch grass.

Blackbirds wouldn't have been singing from the grass. Blackbirds only sing when they're up in a tree. When they're on the ground they're looking for worms.

I suspect that the word 'scutch' is a mistranscription. It certainly wouldn't rhyme with 'thought', never mind the ill-sense of the whole thing.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: open mike
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 05:25 PM

glad to see the reference to Swedish and Viking.
see : http://www.roseindia.net/articles/fine-swedish-table.page

now what is Beetling? http://www.derryvisitor.com/P3223-Wellbrook-Beetling-Mill-Cookstown.aspx

there is info (U.K.gov't document)here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/growing/crops/industrial/pdf/flaxhemp-report.pdf

including:

Long flax fibre are fibres that are at least 50 cm long after scutching when arranged in parallel strands.

FLAX fibre and tow Linum usitatissimum Broken, scutched, hackled etc. but not spun. Traditionally, FAO has used this commodity to identify
production in its raw state; in reality, the primary agricultural product is flax straw.

Hurd Short fibre and other stem materials that can be used where
short fibre and cellulosic material is required.

Ret or Retting The process whereby either natural fungal and microbial action, enzymes or chemical solutions are used to cause a break down of the cells surrounding the fibre cells, so releasing them for cleaning and processing

Scutching The process in which the longer bast fibres are separated after retting from the woody core (shiv q.v.) parts of the plant, and
other non-fibre material. In essence the stems of the plants are
subject to combing by drums of steel blades.

Tow The short fibre component of flax, hemp and other bast fibre
plants. It can be spun into yarn, or used as a material like cotton
wool

Isn't there also a reference to "Hal and Tow" in several songs??


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: open mike
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 05:38 PM

oh,yeah, the Swedish connection..
here are some fotos from Skansen,theliving history museum,
showing a scutching "machine" the multiple wooden paddles
come down on the flax to break the woody parts and reveal
the fiber. http://skansen.mediaprod.se/pages/?ID=680


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Gutcher
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 06:13 PM

The mention of tow {rhymes with plough} in song brings to mind an old
chorus worked up into a 4 verse song by BURNS

      THE WEARY PUND O TOW
Ch. the weary pund, the weary pund
    the weary pund o tow
    I thought my wife wud end her life
    before she span her tow.

    The tune was also an old one by the time of Burns.

    Joe


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 11:34 AM

I'd guess that some of the meanings of "scutch" &c give us the still-common expression about escaping, or getting-off, "scot-free", i.e. without a mark, literal or more frequently metaphorical.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,^&*
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 06:15 PM

"scot free" comes from an old (Scandinavian?) word for a tax. The other, arachic useage you sometimes here is in reference to "scot and lot".


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: JeffB
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 06:39 PM

Yes, that's right. I had always assumed "scot-free" meant unscathed, or perhaps a reference to Scottish border reivers getting away with someone's cows, but it seems this "scot" was an Anglo-Saxon word meaning a tax or compulsory payment.

Seamus C put up an intriguing post on 23rd May about the Gaelic word "scoth", and it hardly seems possible that it doesn't fit in somewhere (mind you, I don't know what scoth sounds like). The Vikings nearly took over Ireland at one point, though I think they were mainly Danes rather than Swedes; could Gaelic "scoth" be a loan-word from a Scandinavian language? Are there any Scandinavian words found in Irish? Is this a shocking example of blatant thread-drift?


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: GUEST,^&*
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 08:07 PM

JeffB
You're right to be instinctively doubtful about the SOUND of "scoth" in (Irish)Gaelic! The effect of the "h" is to silence the previous consonant and, since the "o" is short, the sound is roughly "sk-uh".

SeamusC was quite correct in quoting O'Donaill's dictionary though the examples he gives are not the current primary meaning of "scoth". I'll need to think about that...

There are, as far as I know, some Scandinavian loanwords in Irish though not many, Again, I'll need to check to find some examples.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: LadyJean
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 11:47 PM

There is a flax scutching festival in Ligonier, PA. which is just down the road from me, every September.


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Subject: RE: Irish word 'scutch'?
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 09:05 AM

As regards the meaning of "scutch" as a chock or wedge for a waggon wheel, in the Peak District we used to call it a "scotch", and we might also use a stone or other object to "scotch" something (prevent it from moving)


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