Travel English Classes: A Guide to Spoken English in Scotland
Scotland is known for its men in skirts and the Loch Ness Monster. However, there is more to the country than this. It also offers an English vocabulary that is rich with Celtic sounds but is ultimately a unique form of spoken English that can be difficult if you are traveling.
Here is a short guide to the English spoken in Scotland if you are planning a trip there:
Key word: Haggis
This is Scotland’s national dish. It is a type of sausage made with minced meat of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. Onion, salt and oatmeal are added to give it taste and texture.
Aye means yes.
If you are told wheesht! it means “be quiet!”
Havers means nonsense.
If someone is bad-tempered they might be called crabbit.
A stupid or silly person might be called galoot.
To become excited or agitated is said to get het up.
To complain is called to girn.
An unattractive person is called hackit.
You will hear men being referred to as jimmy.
Women are referred to as hen. This is also a term of endearment.
A boy and girl might also be called lad and lassie respectively.
You will also hear a baby referred to as bairn.
Eating and drinking
Cock-a-leekie is chicken and leek soup.
A dram (of whiskey) means a drop (of whiskey).
If you hear someone asking for a heavy in a bar, it means a dark beer.
Trousers are often called breeks.
A man’s flat cap is called a cadie.
A kilt is the traditional knee-length skirt worn by men in Scotland. They are now mostly used at official ceremonies, like weddings.
New Years Eve is called Hogmanay.
A church is called a kirk.
If something is beautiful you will hear it called bonnie.
If something is small it is referred to as wee.
Lakes are called lochs.
A mountain could be referred to as a ben.
As we learn the vocabulary used in Scotland, let’s listen to one of the country’s biggest musical exports of the 1980’s, The Proclaimers, singing their hit A Letter from America. Enjoy the Scottish scenery in the video.