I must admit that I have wondered the same, though of Germanic Europe more generally.
SourceProfessor Ferenc Szasz argued that so-called rap battles, where two or more performers trade elaborate insults, derive from the ancient Caledonian art of "flyting".
According to the theory, Scottish slave owners took the tradition with them to the United States, where it was adopted and developed by slaves, emerging many years later as rap.
Professor Szasz is convinced there is a clear link between this tradition for settling scores in Scotland and rap battles, which were famously portrayed in Eminem's 2002 movie 8 Mile.
He said: "The Scots have a lengthy tradition of flyting - intense verbal jousting, often laced with vulgarity, that is similar to the dozens that one finds among contemporary inner-city African-American youth.
"Both cultures accord high marks to satire. The skilled use of satire takes this verbal jousting to its ultimate level - one step short of a fist fight."
The academic, who specialises in American and Scottish culture at the University of New Mexico, made the link in a new study examining the historical context of Robert Burn's work.
The most famous surviving example of flyting comes from a 16th-century piece in which two rival poets hurl increasingly obscene rhyming insults at one another before the Court of King James IV.
Titled the Flyting Of Dunbar And Kennedy, it has been described by academics as "just over 500 lines of filth".
Professor Szasz cites an American civil war poem, printed in the New York Vanity Fair magazine on November 9, 1861, as the first recorded example of the battles being used in the United States.
Professor Willie Ruff, of Yale University, agreed that Scottish slave owners had a profound impact on the development of African American music traditions.
Comparing flyting and rap battles, he said: "Two people engage in ritual verbal duelling and the winner has the last word in the argument, with the loser falling conspicuously silent."
Could it be possible that the Scottish, who were often used as slave overseers in the South, taught black slaves "flyting" as a way of keeping them from physically fighting each other? Taken together with the African-American tradition of "the dozens it seems possible.
Author John Leland describes an alternate etymology. He writes that it is a modern survival of an English verb—"to dozen"—dating back at least to the fourteenth century and meaning "to stun, stupefy, daze" or "to make insensible, torpid, powerless." The object of the game is to stupefy and daze with swift and skillful speech.