Did you know that I’m in fact Scottish? You may have seen on my About Me page that I’ve lived in both Scotland and England, but I was actually born in Scotland and my parents have moved back there to retire. I was in Scotland just last week and yesterday I spoke to my parents on the phone so I’m feeling in a Scottish mood. This got me thinking about some differences between the Scottish variety of English, called Scots, and standard English. When I moved to England aged 12, I started to lose both my accent and the Scottish dialect words I used to use. In today’s podcast, I talk to you about the languages and dialects of Scotland and 4 very Scottish ways with words. The idiom, to have a way with words, means that you use words in a stylish and effective way.
Before you listen
What do you know about the languages, dialects and accents of Scotland? For example, what is the official language or languages of Scotland? Do you know of any words that are specific to Scotland?
Lowland Scotland and The Highlands and Islands = the map below shows the division between these two areas of the country
Map showing the boundary between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. By Jrockley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Accent = a way of pronouncing a language according to geographical location or social class
a broad accent = a very strong version of a particular accent
Dialect = a variety of a language that is different to standard language in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation and is spoken by people in a specific geographical location and/or by people of a particular socio-economic class
a variety of English = the English language is made up of different versions or varieties such as British English, American English, Indian English. Varieties which can be languages, dialects or particular styles.
As usual, I’ve picked out some sections for you to transcribe. Listen to them several times and write down what you hear. The answers are underneath. Good luck!
Here are the transcribed sections of each dictation. Which words or expressions did you find difficult to catch? Let me know in the comments.
Dictation 1: so you probably don’t know…or maybe you do …I was born in Scotland and I lived in Scotland till I was about 12 years old
Dictation 2: So, when you speak to someone..you know you’re speaking to someone Scottish when they say to you something like ‘oh aye?’ instead of ‘oh yes?’
Dictation 3: and my accent varies according to you know who I’ve been speaking to, what I’ve been doing
Some of my favourite Scots words and Expressions
As promised, here are some more Scots words and expressions. This is basically a selection of my favourites. We generally use these expressions when speaking informally.
blether = someone who talks a lot. In other informal varieties of English you would call this type of person a “chatterbox”.
wee = little, small, normally an endearing term “you’re a wee blether”
a wee bit = a little bit
gonnae no dae that = in standard English this would be “please don’t do that” or “stop doing that”. In Scots, the negative ‘not’ is ‘no’ as you heard in the podcast “How no?” (=Why not?)
nae bother = no problem
squint/squinty = if an object is squint or squinty then it’s not straight
In Glasgow, there is a bridge which is nicknamed “squinty bridge”, because of its curved shape. The official name is actually the Clyde Arc.
numpty/eejit = if you’re a numpty or an eejit then you’re stupid or incompetent
at the back of + time = just after + time
For example, I’ll be at your house at the back of ten = I’ll be at your house just after ten