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How To Speak Like a True Glaswegian

It’s no secret that we Scots are distinct in many ways, one of which is our strong accent. We were recently voted as having the best accent in the world! You could be forgiven for mistaking a strong Scottish accent for a foreign language. Just like English, American and Canadian accents, our accents vary by region, making it hard to define a typical Scottish accent, besides the one you often hear on TV and in movies. Here are some of the characteristics of our unique dialect that may surprise you.

The History of the Scottish Accent

Many of the words most commonly used in modern Scotland are borrowed from Scots, a 600-year-old language with Germanic origins that also borrows from Gaelic terminology. In addition to our very distinct pronunciation, grammar and expressions, Scottish English has a distinctive vocabulary. Most of the Scottish accents that you may hear come from the Lowland and Midland areas, which include more populated regions like Edinburgh and Glasgow. While we are speaking our own version of English, some of the words vary from region to region, not used anywhere else in the world. For example, in Glasgow you’ll hear the word ‘weans’ and in Edinburgh you’ll more commonly hear ‘bairns’ – both meaning small children.

How to Imitate a Scottish Accent

While we like to think of our unique accent as inimitable, but we’ll give you a few tips to make sure you have the basics right. We generally pronounce similar words the same. For example, the words pool and pull sound the same in a Glaswegian accent. Think of “u” sounds as ‘oo’ sounds. If there are two short words in a sentence, we’ll often connect them, for example ‘did not’ often becomes ‘didnae’ or ‘dinnae.’ We also lazily drop the ‘g’ sound from words, for example ‘playing’ becomes ‘playin’’. You’ll also need to learn to roll your ‘r’s’, especially in words like ‘grand’ and ‘girl’ although this is mainly attributed to the older generation.

Scottish Slang

If you’d like to learn to speak like us, you’ll have to get to grips with Scottish slang. As well as shortening words and condensing the syllables as much as possible (e.g. ‘I am not’ becomes ‘am no’) we also use colloquialisms. Instead of saying ‘go away’, we would often say ‘oan yer bike pal.’ Another popular one, adopted by our Irish counterparts is ‘up to high doh’, meaning in a nervous or anxious state. A term of endearment used very commonly across Scotland is ‘Hen’. Not to be confused with our feathered friends, Hen refers to a young female and is used as a term of affection, much like sweetheart or honey is used elsewhere.

Glaswegian Accent

Actor and comedian Billy Connolly, helped to make the Glaswegian accent famous and more recognisable around the world. While it shares phrases and traits of other variations of the Scottish accent, it is instantly recognisable to those in the know. One of the biggest indicators is our use of the ‘glottal stop’; in layman’s terms, we drop the double T sound in the middle of words like ‘water bottle’, making it sound like wa’er bo’le. Glasgow’s slang is different to the rest of Scotland too, using terms unheard of elsewhere like swally (drink), heavy raging (meaning raging mad) and scunnered (meaning tired or exhausted). There are of course much more familiar and insulting terms, but you’ll have to learn those for yourself!

The best way to learn how to speak like a true Glaswegian is to visit our gorgeous city for yourself. Our serviced apartments in Glasgow are ideally located in the heart of the city, perfect for exploring and meeting locals in shops, pubs and restaurants. Book your stay using our official website or by contacting one of our friendly team today.

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