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.
Monday, December 29, 2008
According to Professor Ferenc Szasz, contemporary "rap battles" (which I thought originated from "the dozens") "derive from the ancient Caledonian art of 'flyting'."