Two nations – divided by a common language

A stookie

Wiki can’t agree on who actually said the UK and the USA were two nations divided by a common language (take yer pick from George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde or Winston Churchill), but the phrase is entirely apt when applied to Scotland and England.

I didn’t realise until I pitched up on the shores of the south coast just how Scottish I actually am.

And by that, of course, I mean just how Scottish I sound (the hankerings for square slice have abated but thank the lord they sell Bru down here).

Like Rab C Nesbitt after 14 pints is how one newly-found Sassenach* friend described it. But she said it so charmingly that all I could say in return was “braw!” (Note to self: stop wearing a bandage round napper and suit jacket with simmit when dining out in Brighton)

That, of course, is just the accent. And no-one has ever better described the effect of that accent on southern ears than the Proclaimers in the genius that is Throw The ‘R’ Away.

Tho Stanley Baxter’s sublime Parliamo Glasgow is timelessly funny.

And Chewin’ The Fat’s Taysiders In Space makes me cry with laughter.

Of course, according to surveys, the Scots accent is one of the most pleasing on the ears but which Scots accent? Cos there are hunnerza them from the gallus Glesga wan to the fit-like Aberdonian to the soft tones of the Islands to the mid-Atlantic twangs of exiles such as Sir Sean and Lulu. Och, dinnae get me startit.

But even more bamboozling to southern ears are the endless supply of Scots words I fling into everyday conversations in an unconscious manner.

And it is unconscious – most of the time.

I do try to tease Debbie by dropping in random Caledonian expressions but her years sharing a flat with another Scot have armed her against such machinations. Not only that, she gets her own back by speaking in broad Peterborough at me. And we think our accent is bad …

Irn-Bru – the greatest cure for a drouth … and a hangover

If Debbie can learn, I thought, why not teach the rest of them so they can understand when I converse with some of the Scots most beautifully onomatopoeiac words and phrases. And so began my Scots word of the day on Facebook (it was only 3 weeks ago – I’m making it sound this is a life’s mission).

And now I’m going to share them with everyone else on the blogosphere and beyond … aye right.

What I hoped for when I posted them on Facebook was that non-Scots would comment, perhaps even adopt the language themselves or share their own dialects and local quirks.

The reality is that only my Scottish friends post and argue with each other (and me) over spelling, definitions and usage. It’s great fun.

I’m no font of all (or any) knowledge on the spelling, definitions and usage of the words and phrases I’m posting – they are just those I know best, the ones I use and where I use them. So sicken you!

Here are the words I’ve chosen so far. I’ll add them to each new blog as I post it. It will be a Jockumentary, if you will …

Scots way-hay

Gallus adj: self-confident, daring, cheeky., stylish, impressive. Eg: I feel dead gallus driving about in my new van

NB: to non-Scots, the use of dead here is also as an adjective, to mean ‘very’ or ‘extremely’. We use it a lot. A lot. In fact, we’re dead keen on using it all the time.

Glaikit adj: stupid, foolish, daft. Eg: She’s awfy proud of her son but there’s no denying he’s a right glaikit-looking bugger

Sleekit adj: sly, sneaky, crafty, cunning. Eg: David Cameron comes across as right sleekit, so he does

Clype n: a telltale, informant, grass. v: to tell on, to inform. Eg: The class clype dobbed us all in when we hid the teacher’s belt

Today word is not a word at all but instead a phrase, frequently uttered by my Nana Traynor: 12 o’clock and no’ a bed made

Translation: Where on earth has the time gone?

Variations include: 12 o’clock and no’ a wean washed

Dwam n: a daydream. Eg: I was in such a dwam I missed my bus stop

Guddle n: a mess, untidiness, a state of confusion. Eg: This house is a total guddle this morning

Pruch n: a perk (usually associated with a job), booty, plunder. Eg: The pay in this job is pants but the pruch is great

NB: I think this is an Ayrshire-only expression but one my mother picked up and evangelised among Glasgow folk

Scunnered n: a strong dislike, an aversion, disgust, boredom. Eg: I am completely scunnered by the shocking treatment of Neil Lennon by not just morons with scarfs but by the allegedly educated ones with laptops and microphones

Bumfult n: a ruck or fold in clothing, making it appear bunched up. Eg: I couldn’t get out of bed this morning cos the quilt was aw bumfult

NB: this word has caused the most debate on Facebook, mainly cos it’s all in the pronunciation. The jury is still out on the spelling and I’m still trawling t’interweb to find someone saying it on Youtube.

Baffies n: slippers, house shoes. Eg: Not for the first time, I left the house this morning still in ma baffies

Braw Adj: good, splendid, delightful. Eg: It’s braw to be back in Glasgow, even if it is for just one day

Blether n: someone who chats or gossips a lot; a long chat or gossip. v: to chat or gossip. Eg: It was great to catch up with Linda and Chander on Friday and have a right good blether

Drouth n: a thirst, usually a raging one. Eg: Whit a drouth I’ve got on me this morning. Where’s my can of Bru?

Skelpt v: (past tense) to strike a blow, to smack. Eg: Scottish Labour fair got their arses skelpt last night

Dreich adj: miserable, cold and wet (pertaining to weather). Eg: I can’t believe how dreich the south coast is this morning after weeks of sunshine and dry days

Sclaffed v: to strike the ground when making a shot, usually in golf, but regularly in SPL football. Eg: Och he’s sclaffed that when he should have scored

Oose n: fluff or dust. Eg: I need to Hoover under the bed, it’s covered in oose

Pech v: to puff or pant, be out of breath. Eg: Nils was fair peching after that run along the beach

Shoogly adj: wobbly, shaky, unstable. Eg: This table is awfy shoogly, fold up a beer mat and stick it under one leg

Stravaigin v: to wander, stroll. Eg: We’ve got lots of time, let’s have a stravaigin along Sauchiehall Street

Stookie n: plaster cast for a broken limb. Eg: The wean’s been up the infirmary and got a stookie on his broken arm

*Sassenach n: an Englishman or woman

5 thoughts on “Two nations – divided by a common language

  1. I love it! Should I start sprinling these into Bombshells. ‘Chanel have launched some braw new products this week’ Dwam – my mum says that! Great stuff. I mean, guid work hen!

  2. Brilliant! Pure dead brilliant even… And I love how you don’t think ‘dobbed’ requires a definition. That’s the thing about people with strong regional dialects, and Glaswegians in particular, they don’t always know which words are unique to them.

    Not like me of course. I’m perfect, I am…

  3. Brilliant, Frannie. Very funny – I love this stuff. I did something similar in my Polish mag until one of my Polish pals thanked me sincerely for helping to itroduce DScottish culture to his compatriots. Then I realised that he was taking it serisouly and started worrying that Polish readers might feel I was taking the pish. No need for such sensitivities with the Engl*sh, though. Incidentally, that mate moved to Aberdeen and the first time I met up with him after he’s moved he greeted me with: “Fit Like!” Here are the first two lessons I produced:
    AS many new arrivals to this country soon discover, a good knowledge of English
    is not always a guarantee
    that you will understand the Scots. We have our own words and expressions
    you are unlikely ever to hear in a language class.
    This column aims to help non-Scots get to grips with the rich variation of the Scots tongue. Here are a few well used words that might come in useful: LESSON ONE: GLAIKIT: Gormless. Often accompanied by ‘eejit’, meaning idiot.
    TUMSHIE: Another word for neep, or turnip. Also sometimes used to describe an eejit.
    SCUNNER: A dislike for a thing or a person. Also: ‘scunnered’, meaning fed-up with a situation.
    THON: Used to refer to an object or person.
    TA’EN: Dialectic pronunciation of the English word ‘taken’, omitting the ‘k’.
    Now you can string these words together to help you express exasperation in the Scottish idiom: “Glaikit tumshies? I’ve ta’en a right scunner tae thon!”
    Or, in English: “I’ve really had quite enough of irritating fools!”
    LESSON TWO: WEE: Small. Not to be confused with the English “wee” – the Southerners’
    pet name for urine.
    JINGS!: An expression of shock or surprise, often followed by the meaningless but expressive: Help ma boab!
    AWFY: The only acceptable pronunciation in Scottish conversation of the English word “awfully”.
    BAUCHLE: Useful term of affection or mild abuse.
    PEELIE-WALLIE: Pale, or sickly-looking.
    SHOOGLE: To shake vigorously.
    Now you can string these words together to create a sentence you might use to greet an elderly friend as they return from an energetic visit to the dancefloor: “Jings, you’re lookin awfy peelie-wallie after a’ that shooglin aboot, ya wee bauchle!”
    Or, in English: “Which pocket do you keep your heart pills in?”

    Git it roon thae English, by the way pal. See ye soon.

  4. I’ve been brought up a South’ner and am familiar with a few of these already. Don’t know where or when I picked them up. Think me mum has always used a few of these, maybe her being born and bread in Durham and spending time in Edinburgh may had some’it to do with it.

    By the way I use ‘shoogly’ for a wobbly table, or “Can you shoogle down a bit?”, when asking for someone to move down a bench or across a couple of seats in the cinema.

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