I grew up in southern England, and now live in Scotland. There are many interesting and well-known quirks of usage that differ between Southern English English and the various Scottish dialects and Scots, but one that I've never heard discussed, and one that is so subtle that I can't quite put my finger on it, is usage of the adjective sore.
In Scotland, sore is pretty much synonymous, and interchangeable, with painful. The OED definition seems to agree, and I get the impression that American usage matches this.
But when I moved to Scotland, I found that some standard Scots usages of sore seemed slightly jarring to me. In my idiolect growing up, some things could be sore:
- Grazes, cuts and burns are sore.
I'm sore all over from staying out too long in the sun. (This is an unlikely situation to occur in Scotland.)
- Aching muscles are sore.
I'm still sore from yesterday's workout.
- There are fixed expressions sore head, sore belly̧, sore loser which are always acceptable.
However, other usages, typical in Scotland, seem subtly off, or at least non-idiomatic, to me.
- [on seeing someone being punched in the face, or falling over] That looks sore! where my idiolect would have had That looks painful
- The bruise on my arm is sore where I'd have The bruise on my arm is tender
I can't quite put my finger on the rules for sore in my native idiolect. I thought maybe it was related to the location of the pain (on the skin rather than internal), but I wouldn't have described a bruise as sore. Maybe it's related to the origin or severity of the pain, but I'm really not sure.
I can't find any evidence online to support the restricted usage of sore in my native idiolect. Does anyone else recognise this or know anything about it?