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)

Joe's Violin | 2017 Oscar Nominee | The Screening Room | The New Yorker

In the short documentary “Joe’s Violin,” a Holocaust survivor donates his violin to a local instrument drive, changing the life of a schoolgirl from the nation’s poorest congressional district.

French Cultural Institutions Providing Free Content Online [via Loren Stephens]

Check out this newsletter, Frenchly if you don’t already get it.  The links go to all kinds of cultural events including a nightly concert with the Paris Philharmonic. Vive la France pendant ce temps de covid.  

Culture in France is like a garden that grows year-round. But in times of confinement, when gardeners can’t tend to their flowers and the earth grows cold, it’s comforting to know that there are a few greenhouses in full bloom. These museums and performance venues are just a few of the ones offering wonderful online content right now, to make your time at home a little more enriching.


The Alliance Française in New York will be holding a virtual CinéSalon series through the end of the month called, “Nest of Spies: France’s Top Secret Agents.” Films will includes Les Patriots, Le Grand Blond avec une chassure noire, and Le Caire, Nid d’espions. La Cinémathèque française, the Paris movie theater and museum of film, has made available hundreds of talks and interviews with the greatest minds in film. Considering that it houses one of the largest archives of film documents in the world, their repertoire is fairly exhaustive.