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.


At Feb 28, 2007, 3:36:00 PM, Blogger colored me said...

I had a great laugh this morning. Thanks or should I say "ta." Love the use of fanny by the way. I'm going to appropriate that one.

At Mar 1, 2007, 6:22:00 PM, Anonymous MA in MIA said...

Interesting observations. As a Jamaican who speaks proper English and who grew up and went to school with a lot of British expats, I've heard many of these terms before. In fact, I've always used "ta" and thanks interchangedly. My American-born children always thought it was a strange way to say thanks, until we went to London last year and they heard other people using it. Now "ta" is de rigeur at home.

At Mar 2, 2007, 7:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hysterical - waging a linguistic war against the letter "t"

too funny, as always,

At Mar 3, 2007, 10:16:00 PM, Blogger miss said...

Ah, if only I had the reference before i went to edinburgh. Especially the bit about fannies. I fear I may have it. The word I mean!

At Mar 4, 2007, 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Bhuidhe said...

Hi Peggy, Jane from (sunny ha ha) Italy again.

Please don't take away our precious glottal (that's glo'al) stop - it's what makes us what we are along with kiltie pipers and shortbread tins..

Thought you might like this little story: the most outrageous and incomprehensibile dialect spoken with a truly unfathomable accent is in Hawick where I have the honour of coming from.
Now languages are my bread and butter (that's bu'er)and I can even handle the local dialect here north of Milan, but one day I went into the butcher in Hawick and bought a haggis (yes I'm afraid I did). The lad behind the counter asked me:

-dye won' i' vokpocked?
I replied: I fear I fail to understand you my good man. Could you repeat that utterance please?
-dye won' i' vokpocked?
I again replied: dear sir, I am in a linguistic quandary and fail to comprehend you.
The young lady at the cash desk helpfully intervened:
- he wants to know if you want it vacuum packed.

I give up.

Hope all is going well with you Peggy.

At Mar 11, 2007, 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Peggy Brunache said...

Everyone, thanks for the comments once again. And no! I'm not converting to saying "ta"...I'm steadfast in my own identity.
In particular:
MA in Mia, thanks for chiming in! Do you plan on taking the kids back to the UK for more language lessons??
Miss-- I suppose it means further linguistical research before traveling to another "English" speaking nation, eh?
Bhuidhe-- Jane, all is going as ok. Give a call and more personal info will be exchanged. But seriously, you don't expect me to belive you actually said to the guy: " I fear I fail to understand you my good man".
Come on! I don't believe it!! Nope! Just too posh!

At Mar 11, 2007, 12:07:00 PM, Blogger Bhuidhe said...

Nah, just kidding. I said "eh?".
One I love is the archaic use of "yet" that sometimes happens in Scotland, as in "she's there yet" instead of "she's still there". Will be in touch. :-)

At Mar 16, 2007, 7:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

Or if in sunny Glasgow its
"Aye. Two plain wans in an unyin wan anaw"

At Mar 28, 2007, 9:53:00 AM, Anonymous aulelia said...

awww all of the words you used on the list just remind me of being back in the UK!! I miss being with all my friends and just shooting my mouth off with those words lol.

'Custard' and 'Ta' - Lol, they remind me of being at school :)

Peggy, if British or Scottish anglais is giving you trouble -- what about American anglais for us lol? Sometimes when I hear Americans speak, I can *hardly* understand what they are saying too :)

At Oct 30, 2007, 3:01:00 AM, Blogger Noddy said...

You'll get the hang of it soon enough quine.


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