You may have seen the picture I put on Instagram this weekend of our unexpectedly dramatic visit to a coffee shop. Highlight being when we took over some poor suckers table all because he dared to wave at Emmeline (who took it as an invite to come over…cue Jude follows inviting him to take the lift with us…cue Elsa running over in embarrassment, etc.)
He was Scottish. I instantly feel at home when I hear a Scottish accent as I spent many a childhood school holiday up there visiting family. My mum is Scottish and despite her not having much of an accent anymore, I still love it. I’d move up to Scotland in a second if Joe would agree but seeing as he’s never even been there I can’t really expect him to agree just yet. I’ll work on him.
Anyway, I find Scottish culture really fascinating and always laugh when I hear some of their more classic resident phrases. I don’t think there’s another country in the world that has as many inventive ways of telling someone to basically “do one” than Scotland…they have insults that other nations can only dream of.
They are genius and leave people inexperienced with the language entirely perplexed.
Can you guess what any of these phrases mean?
“Yar a wee scanner!”
You’re a little whinger/pain in the butt/nuisance. This is generally reserved for child-induced impatience. In my experience Scottish parenting is somewhat less “cotton wool” than many English versions (emphasis that this is MY experience only.) You don’t go to the doctor unless you’re literally hanging a limb, it just isn’t the done thing and medicine is only taken if you physically can’t move from the fiery temperature raging your forehead.
“Hawd yer wheesht!”
Be quiet! (“Hold your tongue” is more literal.) I might start using this as a variant of my usual SHUT UP I seem to bark a million times a day.
“Ah dinnae ken”
A classic of “I don’t know.” Depending on the part of Scotland you’re in, you could add a “like” at the end of the sentence. “Ah dinnae ken, like.”
“Awee an bile yer head”
I think this a classic Glaswegian insult, though somewhat milder than many but as rough as I’m going to include seeing as my dad reads my blog. It’s basically saying “get lost” or “you’re talking rubbish” but more confrontational or insulting than that. Literally it means “away and boil your head.” HA! Love it.
“A waste eh claes” – A harsh but unsweary (Glaswegian?) insult. Basically saying that someone is so awful that them even getting dressed in the morning is a waste of clothes. For example: “See that over there? She’s nothing but a waste eh claes.” Harsh.
“Did ye, aye?”
Is your friend elaborating somewhat on their tales from the weekend? Someone with self-importance way above their post getting onto you? This is an amazingly effective (and unusually unsweary) way of making someone feel two centimetres tall. “Did ya, aye?” with a knowing nod ends all conversations with a winning swipe.
“Gaun yersel big man”
Ending on a positive, very matey kind of compliment. If someone did something such as get a new job and you’re happy for them – “gaun yersel big/wee man” depending on nickname!
Scotland oh Scotland, I love you.