Aye … It Means Yes

scots1 lang

If I were ever to be endowed with a super power it would be to speak any language. Lame, or possibly geeky you say. Well, the next time you’re out at that fancy French restaurant and can’t decipher a amuse gueule from a fromage then ask yourself how lame it is to know what the heck you’re ordering. Ah, I can see you nodding your head in agreement.

But it’s not always a foreign language that can throw us. Sometimes it’s plain English with the added twist of an accent or those special words specific to one region. Ever visit Scotland? Good luck, my friend. Good luck.

I absolutely adore the Scottish accent. Maybe because I’ve seen Braveheart one too many times, but that burr sends me into a tizzy every time. I’ve had the privilege of visiting this breathtaking country twice, and boy were my ears put to the test. I like to think I kept up pretty well, but I left a few conversations with a simple nod and smile having no idea what they were saying. So, should you find yourself among the heather I’ll give you a few words that should set you right with the locals and separate you from the ignorant tourists.

Aye-yes (can also be used when encountering pirates)

Nay-no

Auld Reekie-Edinburgh (pronounced Edinbura. Bonus points if you can roll the ‘r’)

Bairn-child (not to be confused with barn, although with children it’s not hard to do)

Bawbee-half penny (please don’t ask me to do the conversion to $$)

Braw-handsome (throw in a little wink when you say it)

Cairn- heap of stones marking a particular spot (a must to prove you were there)

Coo- cowcoo

Dram- a Scotch (as in the drink)

Ken-know

Kirk-church

Loch-lake (as in Loch Lomond)

Neep-turnip

Oxter-armpit

Sassenach-Englishman

Wabbit-exhausted (I think Elmer Fudd came up with this one)

 

In case you’re wondering where I got these gems, they’re from a fabulous little book I found while traveling through the Highlands. A tiny 40 page flip book that a list of Scottish to English words compiled by Mary Kean. So if any of these words get you a strange look, blame her.

Have you come across any strange words in your travels?

keep-calm-and-fake-a-scottish-accent-6


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

19 Comments

  1. Tom Threadgill

    Freeeeeedoooommmm! Oh my gosh. I can’t even watch BBC programs because I have so much trouble with accents. I’d love to see Scotland though. My in-laws have been several times and say it’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing, J’nell!

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Scotland is beautiful so don’t let the accents deter you! They’re very understanding about American’s lack of an ear for catching on. Just don’t ask what’s going on under the kilts. You might get beat up. Or an eye full.

      Reply
  2. Patty Wysong

    Woot! I can get bonus points for being able to roll the R. And I needed it. LoL. Wabbit is a hoot. Never ever would’ve guessed that one.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Gifted indeed if you can roll those rrr’s. Maybe we should bring some of these over into the American lexicon. Then you can always use wabbit.

      Reply
  3. D.L. Diener

    I ken yer meaning, lass. And aye, Scotland is a beautiful land, though I’ve only been through Edinburgh. Have you read Liz Curtis Higgs’ novels set there? :fluttery sigh: She was my first introduction to most of those terms and now, heaven help me, really- I need it, I’m editing a novel set in Ireland. I did visit, once, but too quickly. And you are right, just the slightest twist of tongue or cheeks, or how and when the mouth opens when a word is said changes the whole thing and sounds as foreign as Spanish once did to me. But I enjoy the digging in and learning. As I’m sure you do, too.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      I’ve yet to read Miss Higgs’ books, but sounds like I need to simply to imagine the brogue. Girly sigh. Coming out of the Edinburgh airport, the first thing someone said to me was ‘Taxi, darlin’?”. I squealed. Still do when I think about it 🙂 My husband is very understanding.

      Reply
  4. Nancy K. Sullivan

    One of the first things we were taught on a long-ago trip to Hawaii was the difference between a Luau and a lua. Hint: you never want to “brag” about getting to go to the lua. Great post. I would LOVE to visit Scotland some day!

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      So I had to look up lua after you mentioned it. Martial arts? That sounds kinda cool actually, if we’re talking about the same thing. And if I had those skills, I’d brag about them all the time.

      Reply
  5. April Gardner

    Oxter?? LOL Hadn’t heard of that one! Thanks for the wee lesson in Scots-speak. 🙂

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Oxter is pretty unique, isn’t it? Not sure I’d use that one myself, but at least I’ll know they aren’t insulting me if I ever hear it.

      Reply
      1. April Gardner

        Ha! True that. The wordsmith in me had to look it up. It comes from “axis” or “axle” which makes sense. 🙂

        Reply
  6. April Gardner

    J’nell, I just swung by your bio. We were stationed in Germany from ’99-’05 and in England from ’05-’09. Loved. It.

    And I’m pretty positive hubby and I have a picture in the EXACT location in Scotland as you have in your pic on your bio. We pulled over on the side of the road in the Highlands and, overcome by the scenery, snapped a few shots. Am I right? Is that the location of your pic?

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      That’s so cool! I would love to have been stationed in England. We took a tour of the Highlands so we got lots of great pictures in some of the most beautiful places ever created. That photo of my husband was taken on the isle of Skye. Probably one of our favorite places on the tour. Did y’all have a favorite spot?

      Reply
      1. April Gardner

        Aaaah! The Isle of Skye. We never made it there. Boo! We saw SO much while we lived in Europe, but there is an endless list of I-wish-we’d-had-the-time places.

        Are you guys still in the military? We’re coming up on year 17, so there’s a teeny tiny chance we’ll make it back over to Europe before it’s all said and done.

        BTW, visiting England? Amazing. Being stationed there? Not so much. You did way better with Germany! It was hard to go from Ramstein to Lakenheath. Not much beats Germany. 🙂

        Reply
        1. J'nell (Post author)

          We got out after 4 years. Long enough for us, but I sure do miss all the traveling. There was nothing like hoping on a place or in a car in being in France or England in an hour.

          Reply
  7. Joanne Sher

    Oh, J’nell – I had forgotten how much I loved your posts! Fun to learn these words (that I have already forgotten LOL Good thing the Internet is forever, eh?? ;)). Have never been to Scotland, but would LOVE to see it. Some day maybe…

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      How wonderful to hear you love my ramblings! I’ll try to keep them entertaining and enlightening for you. Please please go to Scotland. You won’t regret it.

      Reply
  8. Karla Akins

    Hey, J’nell, where’d you get that flip book? I want a copy! I love reading Scottish-flavored novels! Thanks for the fun post!

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Hi Karla! Thanks, I try to keep it interesting. I got that book several years ago on a trip through the Highlands. Since I think everyone deserves a trip to Scotland, you should head over there and grab your very own copy!

      Reply

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