It’s all about Scottish-English this week. Here is a guest blog by Nick Gillard about English spoken by “Weegies“.
I was born in Glasgow (Scotland’s largest city) where English is spoken but not quite as we know it, Jimmy*.
Like Liverpool, (perhaps Glasgow’s closest cousin) over 50% of “Weegies” are Irish Catholic in origin (potato famine refugees) and that means while only a few miles down the M8 from the Capital City, Edinburgh, we could not be more different in the way we speak.
Glasgow instantly challenges you with fiercely abrasive consonants whilst Edinburgh charms and beguiles with the neo-Classical beauty of her modulated vowels (think Miss Jean Brodie in her prime). And it’s not a friendly rivalry either. “Edinburgh isnae bad but Glasgow’s miles better, by the way …”
Above all, Glaswegians make the English language funny. They pride themselves on it. And delight in phrase making and the rhythm of words. It’s no coincidence the Celtic cities of Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester are all musical ones. You may not understand us though. It can easily confuse and disorientate the first time visitor. It’s not just that the accent is thick. And it is – extremely at times. But it can often escalate into a kind of Celtic (or Rangers) Creole – an impenetrable Gorbals Swahili.
In fact, when I first moved to England – two things struck me immediately. Taxi drivers will not accept Scottish pound notes regardless of how you reason with them. But more to the point, when you do reason with them they do not understand what you are saying. Accent and money were so different that the fundamental structures of life fell apart even before you’d left Kings Cross station.
Scottish national treasure, Stanley Baxter must have had a similar experience. “Parliamo Glasgow” remains a tour de force to this day – rejoicing in the diversity of the English language in a pre-Billy Connolly/Rab C Nesbitt world.
Take a look big man/wee man (delete as appropriate). That’s my patter…
* When conversing in licensed premises in the city and have temporarily forgotten a person’s name, it is perfectly acceptable vernacular to address them as “Jim or Jimmy” regardless of gender.Email this Post