Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh’

While Scotland is nominally an English-speaking country, it will occasionally feel more appropriate to make mental quotefingers and think of this northern half of the British Isles as an “English-speaking” region.  Fresh–and drunk–upon my arrival in Glasgow from Reykjavik, I had an exchange with an employee in a traditional Irish pub that initially left me scrambling to reply in Icelandic.  When I realized she was simply speaking English with a strong regional accent, I knew that I’d need some help with the local lingo.   Here are the seven phrases and words that will help me to survive and reproduce in Scotland, the second country on my trip around the world.

Don’t be this guy.  Keep reading.  

1.  Hello/ Hi.     “Hallo [incorrect: Lali-ho]/Awrite.”

Many Scots have a good sense of humor, so don’t fret a casual greeting.

2.  Yes/No.     “Aye/Nae.”

Alternatively, just nod your head. 

3.  Do you speak English?     “Dae ye speak Anglish?”

If you’re angling for a fight, the fish will nibble this hook.

4.  Where is…?     “Whaur is…?”

Example:  “Whaur is ma Pabst Blue Ribbon?”

5.  How much?     “Hau much?”

Example:  “Hau much is ma Pabst Blue Ribbon?”

6.  Delcious!     “A pure like it!”

I’ve never heard this personally, but “pure” looks to be a slang adverb of degree.

7.  Thank you.     “Thenk ye.”

You’ve just been helped and/or fed.  Congratulate your partner on becoming a bit more internationalized.  If you are carrying prize ribbons or certificates of achievement, give one to your new friend.

Notable customs:

  • Kilts, often associated with Scotland, originated in the wool designs worn by Highlanders in the 16th century.   This is in no way to be confused with the leather jacket of Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander, an Immortal possessing a healing factor and fluency in several extinct languages who, after being born in 1592, later starred in a popular 1990s television live-action drama.

He also had the ability to impregnate with his gaze.

Hono[u]rable mentions:

I need to practice my Scottish.   “A need tae practice ma Scottish.”

I don’t understand.   “A dinna kin.”


Home to nearly seven million sheep and one very elusive sea monster, Scotland officially combined with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1707 to form the political Megazord of Western Europe, the United Kingdom.  An oft-stereotyped cultural island lying on the northern end of the actual British islands, it should go without saying that there is much more to Scotland than kilts, red hair, and bagpipes.  Regardless, this does not deter the millions of Americans who proudly trace their vestigial 1/128 Scotish ancestry through several generations.  Upon arriving for a vacation in Scotland, or rather, “the home country,” these overzealous armchair geneologists are keen on asking local waiters questions like, “Who is your clan leader?” and, “How many battleaxes do you have in your personal collection?”  Weary of being mistaken for dwarves larping outside a World of Warcraft server, the Scots have adapted their sense of dark humor into a suitable response for these American tourists:


Don’t get them started on Braveheart.

A Scotsman (Willie McDougal) teaching a traditional Scottish greeting to students in Springfield, USA.

Local Name: Scotland (United Kingdom)

Language:English,” Scots, Scottish Gaelic

Capital: Edinburgh; pronounced EH-DIN-BRAH

Population: 12,022,100 (6,800,000 are sheep)

Area: 78,782 km2

Government: Constitutional monarchy; local devolved government headed by a First Minister

Currency: British Pound; symbol GBP. 1 GBP = US$1.60 (Feb. 2012)

Economy: Highly diversified in manufacturing, fisheries, shipbuilding, oil and natural resources, services, and whisky

Notable International Enemies: Bart Simpson; the English rugby team


 The White cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scottish golf courses, surrounded by Blue: the lesser ideals of justice, truth, and the perseverance.

Famous For: Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster; kilts; bagpipes; haggis; Auld Lang Syne; Sean Connery

Not Famous For: The world’s shortest scheduled commerical flight (1 min 14 sec); Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; ferrying the Enlightment on the shoulders of natives Adam Smith, James Watt, and logarithms

Obligatory Tourist Detours: Edinburgh, the national capital; Glasgow; the Highlands

What US$20 Can Get You: Around 3-4 pints of ale; ~15 cans of Irn-Bru; admission to a handful of castles

Quick History Recap: After King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England (and not the other way around) in 1603, the two countries were united under a single crown and innumerable walk-into-a-bar jokes.  In 1995, Groundskeeper Willie referred to the nation of France as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.”  Even the English thought that was a pretty good one.