Saturday, 6 April 2013

Verandahs and beef tubs

A verandah
One unusually interesting scrap of information led to another today. The first was a review of an exhibition at the British Council in London, The English Effect, demonstrating how various words have got into the English language. One of these was the word 'verandah' which most dictionaries will tell you derives from a hindi word. Apparently not so. It is a Portuguese word, probably based on a place name, a settlement by a river in Portugal where houses had this interesting architectural feature. The Portuguese took the word and the feature to India with them, whence it returned - see the illustration above of the very first 'bungalow' ever built in Britain (in Moffat, in 1825), complete with 'verandah'. Then out of the blue came an email from Moffat hotelier Simon Tweedie with the following intriguing thought:

According to Alexander Warrack's The Scots Dialect Dictionary, the definition he gives for   deil’s beef-tub (n) is a roaring linn.

I put it to you that the Devil’s Beef Tub is a roaring linn. It is a place where a devil may take his bath. Moffat the local spa town with its sulphurous spring would reinforce this demonic theme. It is nothing to do with reivers or beef.  It is a corruption of bath tub.

  “Town in a lather over…..”  “Rubba, dub, dub in the Devil’s Beef Tub”?

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