Your Language Lesson: Scottish-isms


Before I headed over here I got told to “watch out” for the Scottish accent.  That it’s almost like they are speaking a different language.  Most of the time when I’m in the city I can understand just about everything.  But in the rural communities, the accent gets thick and my deer-in-the-headlights look resumes.  I have a list of Scottish words and sayings that I have been accumulating in my little notebook.  But first, let’s try some of these phrases.

“Then let us pray/That come it may/As come it will for a’ that/That sense and worth/O’er a’ the earth shall bear/The gree’ an’ a’ that/For a’ that an’ a’ that/It’s coming yet for a’ that/That man to man/The world o’er/Shall brithers be/For a’ that.”

So, this one is easy, other than the fact that it’s a bit of tongue twisting poetry.  Here it is as translated:
“Then let us pray
That come it may
As come it will for all that
That sense and worth
Over all the earth shall bear
The gree’ and all that
For all that and all that
It’s coming yet for all that
That man to man
The world over
Shall brothers be
For all that.”

I was lost on the “over all the earth shall bear the gree'” part, so I did a little research and found that it is a Scottish phrase that means to endure with a connotation that you have succeeded.

Let’s try another.
“Oh, dear me/the warld’s/ill-divided,/Them that work/the hardest are, aye/wi’ least provided,/But I maun bide/contented,/dark days or sine/For there’s no much/pleasure livin’/affen ten and nine.”

Another fairly easy one, with a maybe a few trip ups for you, here’s the translation:
“Oh, dear me
The world’s
ill-divided
Them that work
the hardest are
with least provided,
But I must bide
contented,
dark days or since
For there’s no much
pleasure in livin’
after ten and nine.”

Again, I personally had to use a little internet research to fully decipher this one.  Perhaps a little obviously, the “aye” on line five is kind of meant like a “yes, it’s true.”  “Maun” is an old scottish word for “must.”  On line 9, you’ll see in the picture it looks like what I wrote down as “sine” is written like “fine,” but back in the day their s’s looked like our current day f’s.  So I translated this into “sine” and the best matching definition I found is “since.”  So I took this to mean, “the dark days, or what’s happened before then-either is fine.”  Perhaps, if a Scot reads this, they can help clarify 😉


Here is yet another.

“O wad some pow’r/The giftie gie us/To see oursels as/Others see us!/It wad frae monie/A blunder free us/An’ foolish notion”

So this one is a little tougher:
“Oh would some power
The gift give us
To see ourselves as
Others see us!
It would from many
A blunder free us
And foolish notion.”

If you didn’t get it before the translation, I feel like it’s kind of a “duh” moment.

Now, let’s try my favorite.
You’re reading that right.  No fancy fonts or unreadable markings.
“The lairdi frae his muckle hoosie spies the watters whaur his fush wull rise.”
Now this is in true Scottish.

Carol actually had to explain this to me, because, as you can see, it’s virtually all Scottish words.
And luckily, I forgot what Carol said.
So thanks to what remains of my memory and some helpful google insight, here’s the translation:
“The lord from his large (many?) house spies the waters where his fish will rise.”
This bench was actually placed in front of an old mansion next to beautiful Loch Leven, a large Loch in Fife.  Once she translated it for me it all made sense.

So now that that fun game is over with, let’s try a few Scottish words I’ve picked up while I’ve been here.  I’ll put them into context for you.

“Hiya!” Term for hello.  Used and understood everywhere, but used as the standard greeting in Glasgow. It seems like 99% of the people use it there.
“Yes, I can do.”  -Yes I’ll do it.
“Well, I’d buy that, but it’s quite dear!”  -expensive
“If we dig up that dirt I don’t know that the ants will be chuffed.”  -pleased
“It’s half ten, go get your cuppa!” -ten thirty  -cup of tea
“We went to the pub for lizz’s offski do.” -going away party
“Aye, we’re fair skint.”  -broke
“Alright, is that you?  I think that’s me.”  -Is that everything you needed?  That’s all I needed.
“Well, the pigs stay in that pen, ken?”  -Old gaelic word for “know.”  In this context: got it? or you know?
“Ach!  These wee beasties are everywhere!  I cannae deal with it!” -insects, bugs -can’t also said and spelled the same way for didn’t (dinae), wasn’t (wisnae), etc.
“How’s your weekend, hen?” -an endearing term for a girl
“Where are you going the now?” -now Scottish people just put a “the” prior to “now.”

And because I feel obligated to mention it:
“If is wisnae for your wellies you’re feet would be soaked!” -rainboots

Alright, that’s all I got for now.  Thanks for reading!

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