Move over Irish-English … It’s time for Scottish- English week! Here is a guest blog post from Vikki Reilly on what it’s like to speak (or should I say weep) Scots.
I cannae help the way I speak. Well, I suppose that’s not really true, I’ll admit to having a ‘telephone voice’ like everyone else. (Which is deeper too. Funny that.) Still, even then, I often have to repeat myself, or correct people. (‘No, not Becky, Vikki … Vikki … with an i … Yer alright, it’s just ma accent.’ Oh, for a pound every time I have that conversation!)
I can help the way I write, though, but, when it’s allowed, I’ll slip into typing how I speak. It’s comfortable, it’s easier; my thoughts seem to make their way to my fingers faster and smoother. Not only that, but I feel people can catch my tone and meaning in a way that isn’t possible in Standard English; punctuation can only take you so far. I refuse to use those smiley faces (not that I criticise those who do!). And some Scots words just seem to mean the word more than the Standard English word. To me, anyway …
‘Did you see that film last night? I wis greetin’ ma eyes out by the end.’
To greet, in Scots, to cry, in Standard English. But to greet means the word so much better, don’t you think? It’s a more emotional word. I can see the tears streaking the cheeks and hear the gulpy breaths. It sounds, OK, I’ll say it, a wetter, snottier word. In a good way. To cry, though, I understand the word, I know what the word signifies, but it seems only that, a signifier, a functional word.
‘Nae offence, but I think he’s a bit glaikit.’
Glaikit, in Scots, gormless, in Standard English. Now, I like the word gormless. I think it expresses what it means very well, I can picture the blank expression, the shiny, empty eyes. But I also think it’s too affectionate and forgiving. What I like about glaikit is the harshness of its sound; you can really get stuck into the k in the middle. It emphasises the stupidity, and articulates the contempt, more effectively.
‘Ugh, that’s clarty.’
Clarty, in Scots, dirty, in Standard English. Like glaikit above, clarty has the harshness, the judgement that dirty doesn’t express. Dirty, to me, is far too polite! I also like how clarty can be made into a noun – a dirty person is a clart.
‘Shoogle it about a bit.’
Shoogle, in Scots, shake, in Standard English. And yet, shoogle is a more specific kind of shake: it’s the gentle shake you give your presents under the tree, or of a key in a difficult lock. It’s a less violent action, although it definitely doesn’t cut it as a rock ’n roll number … shoogle yer tail feather, anyone?
I realise there’s a fair chance I’m absolutely havering (another great one!) here. This is only how I think about language. Scots-English, to me, not only expresses the heart of me, but expresses more than just language, more than these letters on the page. These words, to me, they just sound right. Anyway, I need to stop bletherin’ now, as there is a word limit, and I could go on and on …