Sunday, February 25, 2007

I Thought They Spoke English in Scotland??!

Ok, so, as a tourist in Scotland, you probably travel around a bit and the moment you open your mouth to say anything, it's understood that you're a foreigner-- locals speak politely and are oh-so helpful. More importantly, they let you think that they speak ENGLISH.
However, the longer I'm here, the more I'm understanding that the Scots speak multiple languages, and English is just one of them. What's worse, is that the longer I'm here the more I'm expected to understand what the hell everyone is saying when they are NOT speaking English.
People, some of it is Scottish Gaelic but not all of it is. There are the terms that most of us outside of Scotland have heard and know: "wee" for small; "aye" for yes; and "lassie" for girl. There's also "bonny day" for anytime the Scottish temperature rises above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and there's no rain for a minimum of 30 minutes.
(my friends, it really rains A LOT here).
And EVERYONE says "Hiya!" for hello and "Cheers!" for thank you.

Yet, there are considerable regional differences in local tongues that isn't anything like anyone else speaks anywhere else! For example, what people speak in the Aberdeen region is undecipherable--often to other Scots!
But really, I'm in the dark with everyone once they get comfortable around me and slip into their usual language.

Last week, a friend of Andy's mom asked me "How's the babby?"

She pronounced "babby" the way we would say "bobby". So, I'm wondering what the heck and hoot is a "bobby"? I don't know a "bobby"!

After having a good chuckle at my expense, everyone else spoke up and explained that she was asking about my baby. Great. Thanks. Glad you could all laugh about it.

Last November, a friend called to cancel plans to meet up in Glasgow because her partner had the "lurgy". I briefly hesitated and said, "oh, that's a shame. Well, maybe next week!"
Apparently, it means the flu.

Even my g*dd*mn husband does it to me from time to time. He'll ask for something. I hand it to him. He mumbles "Ta".
"What's 'ta'?" I ask.
No response.
My blood pressure starts to rise as I search for the nearest thing to throw at his damn Scottish head.
"Hey! What the fuck does 'ta' mean??" I am almost yelling.
Finally, an answer.
"Ta means 'thanks'," he (reluctantly?) answers.

Then why not say thanks?! I start grumbling to myself and then I hear another mumble from Andy...something something "crabbit".

I didn't feel like asking again. So I looked it up online-- turns out "crabbit" means angry.

And it's terribly frustrating to me.

When the Scots get to drinking and feeling really comfortable, you'll hear a conversation like this:

"Wana bridie?"
"Aye. Twaplaineens an aninginan ana. Ta."

"Do you want any bridies [savory pastry] today?"

"Yes please. I would like two plain ones and an onion one as well. Thank you very much."

See what I mean??

I'm considering getting a Scottish dictionary--although that doesn't help with the English words that are used differently than the way we use them in the States. I've come to accept that the Brits in general have staged a secret linguistics war against any word that has the letter "t" in the middle of it.
They refuse to pronounce it.
I have no idea what is so wrong with the letter "t"; I don't know what horrible act it committed, but they refuse to say it.
These words and every other like it, is pronounced without the "t".

But at least, I do know what they are saying.

Sometimes, we use the same words but with completely different meanings.

Two days ago, I learned that the Scots only use the word "rock" for "boulder-sized" geological mineral matter. In Scotland, you can't throw rocks. You can't lift "rocks". "Rocks" are too big to move.
Here, you can only skip "stones".

Here are some more Scottish/British uses of English words that are different from US:
Scots/British--US equivalent
television "series"-- in the US, the new set of episodes that starts in the Fall or Spring of our favorite shows are called "seasons".
"purse"-- a lady's wallet
"pants" -- women's panties
"biscuits" -- cookies
"dinner" -- lunch
"tea" -- dinner/meal
"bottle" -- courage
"crack" -- a good time
"fanny" -- buttocks [fanny is the Brits word for "pussy"--and I don't mean kitty]
"?" -- dinner rolls [They don't know about soft, delicious dinner rolls here. And don't bother trying to find Pillsbury crescent rolls either!]
"pudding" -- dessert
"custard" -- pudding
"jumper" -- sweatshirt/sweater
"Bob's your uncle"-- said at the end of a sentence to mean "and that's it!"
"Camp" -- something that is effeminate or gay

The list goes on and on. And so does my confusion.

My language lessons and adjustment to Scottish life hasn't gotten easier.