Scottish speech

There’s more than one Scots accent, and some of them, especially in southern central Scotland for some reason, are incredibly opaque at least to my American ears. This clip features a Scottish couple who are not at all happy with one another on a daytime talk show:


Which leads to the obvious question: What if these folks were on Star Trek:


(The above is from the BBC Scotland show Chewin’ the Fat. “Ken” means to know, so appending “ken?” to the end of a sentence is equivalent to adding “you know?” “Malky” or “Malkie” is short for the name Malcolm, and in context allegedly refers to Malcolm Frazer rhyming slang for “razor.” In lowland Scots usage (especially around Glasgow), “malkie” variously refers to slashing someone’s face with a razor, head-butting someone, or severely beating someone. I won’t try to explain the other slang, mainly because most of it I can’t.)

The Scots in the following video speak a dialect I find much easier to understand, except that the fellow on camera for some reason, possibly involving alcohol, has trouble saying the phrase “purple burglar alarm” (though he had no problems pronouncing obscenities):


Finally, the following Robin Williams routine on Scottish language and golf is one of his best. (Sensitive viewers should note that there are a fair number of naughty words, or at least one naughty word said quite a lot.)


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Scottish speech — 3 Comments

  1. Back when I was doing security work at an upscale shopping/office development, the landscaping on the outside edges of the property was xeriscaped, and used a lot of cactus. Some of those cacti were in a planter near one of the property’s popular bars (which tended to keep serving customers long past the point when they should have been cut off). One of those overserved customers decided to get some fresh air, and used the edge of the planter as a bench. Where he passed out and fell backwards into the cactus.

    So I and another security officer got to peel him carefully off the cactus thorns. As it turned out, he was visiting from Scotland, and expressed his reaction in a wonderful Scottish accent:

    “Woot kinna fookin’ idjit poots a fookin’ cahktis inna fookin’ lahn’scape?”

    (Actually, he was lucky, because some of the xeriscaped areas used Cholla, the infamous “Jumping Jack” cactus. Using most cactus, okay, but Cholla? That’s not landscaping, that’s weaponized groundskeeping.)

    • Not having spent much time in the Southwest I was unfamiliar with the cholla cactus, so I had to look it up, and Eek. A computer consulting company calling itself Jumping Cholla Enterprises offers a description here of the cactus here, and in brief it’s very attractive but has spines that curl on contact with moisture, so if they pierce the skin they turn into evil little fishhooks. I also encountered a YouTube video illustrating its rather cheerful appearance in which the camera operator manages to get stuck and offers pitiable commentary on his suffering punctuated with whimpers and obscenities. This is the stuff of nightmares!

  2. Pingback: Yet another reason to like Scotland | D Gary Grady

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