Scottish incomprehensibility - really?

Old May 23rd, 2006, 06:17 AM
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Apropos nothing in particular…… The Queen is outside my office right now (she’s visiting the British Library). She’s as Scottish as I am (her Mum was a sweaty too). Perhaps I could go and ask her?
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 06:32 AM
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Ah, but I know what it means....
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 06:37 AM
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So do I – Winchester in my case. (although were it not for Rebus I wouldn’t have the foggiest)
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 06:43 AM
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My first visit to Scotland had me eagerly listening to the delightful cadences of Scottish-accented English (for want of a better term)... until I came to Skye. I had a very pleasant conversation with the garralous B&B owner for about 20 minutes. I only caught a word here and there. I think it was mostly the idioms I wasn't used to, but he spoke rather fast as well.

My favorite BBC America show is Monarch of the Glen. One of the main characters (Lexie) is from Glasgow, and has a nice thick accent. I can 95% of the time understand her fine, but occasionally flip on the mute to get close-captioning -- usually to discover it is some slang I'm unfamiliar with, like 'soldiers for your breakfast' or 'he's a wee bampot!'.

I have a harder time understanding Bostonians
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:12 AM
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"Barmpot" may be Scottish but "soldiers for breakfast" is a general UK term: it just means strips of toast to dip into the yolk of your soft-boiled egg (you'd be unlikely to meet anyone who means it in any more literal sense).

I didn't realise rhyming slang occurred in Edinburgh as well...

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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:27 AM
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Well I’m taking Irvine Welsh’s word for it, but he seems pretty authentic. He uses all sorts of other slang eg Schemie for chav, labdick for dibbles, wifie for biddy and so on.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:30 AM
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Once you get the cadence (rythym) of a language down, then you can understand people better. Sometimes a fast Scottish talker can be so difficult to understand. But once you are immersed in understand the cadence, things can go smoothly.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:37 AM
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English is not my first language, and I understood much better people in Edinburgh than I did in London
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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Our first visit to Scotland (1999) was a two week overview jaunt around the middle bits of the country. We really didn't have any trouble understanding people when they were speaking to us, although we were glad that we went to Glasgow last; we found the accent was thicker there. (When we were out in public places and heard Glaswegians speaking to each other, we couldn't even tell the language was related to anything we'd ever heard. I guess it was a combination of speed and word usage.) I have been back to Glasgow several times and haven't noticed the accent as much as that first trip. Maybe I've just gotten more used to it.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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Get a copy of "Trainspotting" -- the novel, not the movie, and if you understand everything, no problem.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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The language in Trainspotting made perfect sense to me as I was born and brought up in Edinburgh and East Lothian. When my English granny used to come up and stay with us, it was hilarious watching her try and have conversations with the local ladies in our village as it was obvious she couldn't understand a word they were saying! The accent where I was brought up is pretty strong and certainly isn't "put on" in order to bamboozle the sassenachs.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 09:29 AM
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I haven't been to Scotland yet, but my DH has a very good friend who grew up there. He was a little difficult to understand at first and the phone conversations almost impossible. It didn't take long for me to catch on and now it's no problem.
On top of that, he has friends from Lafayette and Houma (I grew up in New Orleans). When you put all of them together and add some alcohol, those heavy cajun accents get a little harder to understand. It's amazing to believe they are only a 2 hour or less drive away.
My favorite accent experience was in Cork. We were in a pub late one night and asked the local boys to teach us how to curse. They were tickled by the request and more than happy to teach us some slang. They even went so far as to show us the tone, correct Cork accent and body language to go with the cursing. I'll never forget it.
Have fun in Scotland. I'm sure you will have a good time learning some new words.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 10:16 AM
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One of my DH's and my fond memories of our trip to Scotland 9 years ago was of having breakfast at a wonderful little B&B (that was also a cattery) and conversing with the husband of the owner. It took both of us to carry on the conversation - I could understand about half of what he said, and my DH seemed to understand the other half, so we had visual cues for each other when the other should respond. But that was the only time we had any trouble with comprehension!
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 10:33 AM
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(Hmm, my reply got lost. Is there site wierdness going on again? Pre-apologies if this is a double post.)

Good comprehension test for Scottish accents: try watching "The Thick of It" on BBC America. It's been described as a cross between West Wing and The Office (Brit version), and it's hilarious.

One angry character, Malcolm, is part of what they refer to as the "Caledonian Mafia" -- I can just about follow Malcolm, but last night there was another Scot who was much harder to understand (maybe from Glasgow?!!) Maybe because they use a lot of slang and political terms/names that are unfamiliar, but they also talk at top speed. Kind of the anti-Cajun, right uptowngirl? ;-)
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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Re Glaswegian accents;

I recently posted a trip report on our stay in New York on the USA board (although I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't get round to completing the report ).

Anyway, part of the report covered the difficulties New Yorkers had in understanding our Glaswegian accents. If you're interested you can find the report here;

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34778469

Scroll down to the part timed at 06:45 pm on 03/30/2006 for the section on accents.

Jim
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 04:40 PM
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Jim

I rarely read the USA board but after clicking your link I've just read one of the best and funniest reports. Well done Big Man!

The Stanley Baxter quotes brought back so many happy memories.

Joe
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 04:49 PM
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Jim... FiNISH THE REPORT ON NEW YORK!!!
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Old Jun 8th, 2006, 03:13 AM
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My (English) wife of some 13 years has no trouble understanding me EXCEPT:-
1. When I'm on the phone to my parents/friends from back home

2. From about 5 minutes after crossing the border INTO Scotland right up to 5 minutes after leaving again (so she says...)

3. When I'm watching Chewing the Fat, or Rab C, or something similar...

My daughter has no such problems though.
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Old Jun 8th, 2006, 12:12 PM
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If you can translate this joke, you will have no difficulty in Scotland

Wee Glesca wumman goes intae a butchershop, where the butcher has just
came oot the freezer, and is standing haunds ahint his back, with his
rear end aimed at an electric fire.

The wee wumman checks oot the display case then asks, "Is that yer
Ayrshire bacon?"
"Naw," replies the butcher. "It's jist ma haun's Ah'm heatin'."
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Old Jun 8th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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LOL almcd, thanks to my grandfather who was a Scot..got it!!!
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