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What are typical characteristics of Scottish English? I was wondering if a native speaker could give some advice or impressions on this. For me, Scottish English speakers can be difficult to understand, even if I can understand well most speakers of British, Australian and American English. In your perception/view/"ears": are there any characteristics a non-native speaker could pay attention to, in order to better understand a Scottish speaker? For instance: in terms of accent, vocabulary, typical expressions and so on. Your feedback will be very welcome. Many thanks for your attention - and please correct me any English mistakes or misuses!
Feb 14, 2017 9:49 PM
Answers · 8
I can give you a few pointers, and hopefully others will supplement them: aye= yes; a wee = a little; lass= a girl; bonnie= beautiful, dunny= does not. There are many such Scottish words- some also taken from the Scottish Gaelic Language, so you have to look them up. One grammatical observation: they tend to use multiple participles, e.g. 'my hair needs a washing' (elsewhere 'to be washed'); 'he needs a beating'. Look up other grammatical features. The accent: the 'r' is heavily rolled. The main trick to understanding them is to realise that VOWELS are VERY different from vowels in any other English accent. But the differences are at least, of course, consistant. (This is a trick to 'getting' accents more generally) So: 'not'= noooort, 'heard'= hard ('a' here like 'u' in 'bucket' (London pronunciation), 'r' is rolled), 'bed'= biiid, 'witch'= wuch etc. Also you will have noticed that in the Scottish accents some vowels are VERY long ('man'), and some are extremely short ('which'). If you really want to understand them I suggest that you take the time to write out all of the vowel sounds of the English accent that you are familiar with and write a phonetic equivalent for a Scottish accent. This will serve as a sound map. Once you have done that you can map that, for example, the sentence: 'The title of the video' becomes 'The toytl oorf the vudeeoo'; or 'we made our own language' becomes 'we meeeeyd urrr oooown laaangwch'. Lastly, remember that there large variation amoung Scottish accents. Best of luck. By the way, I personally find Scottish accents sublimely beautiful. Listen to traditional poetry. If you are really interested read about the Scots Language, and the Irish Gaelic Language.
February 14, 2017
Depending on how heavy the accent of the speaker is, Scottish English can be hard to understand even for native English speakers of the USA, England, and Ireland. I am friends with one Scottish family who pronounce their words very clearly, and they are easy to understand; but I have met some people I have had to work to understand. Really, the best way to get your ear used to different accents is to expose yourself to those accents. The dialect has a few differences from American English. I think it is a variant of the British English dialect (as Scotland is just north of England), but someone from England could tell you more about that than I can.
February 14, 2017
A few points to add to what L P Waters wrote: Scottish English tends to prefer pure vowels, unlike many accents of England which use a lot of diphthongs; in Scotland the distinction is generally made between "w" and "wh" (pronounced /hw/ or /ʍ/, or even /ɸ/ or /f/ in some places, as in the Aberdonian greeting "Fit like?", meaning "How are you?" (literally: "What like?")), which has been lost in most of England, so "witch" and "which" are not homophones, as they are in England; there is a distinction between /ʌ/ and /ʊ/, as in southern England (but unlike northern England), though /ʊ/ is pronounced the same as /u/, so "put" and "putt" are not homophones (as they are in neighbouring parts of England), but "pull" and "pool" are; there is no distinction between /æ/ and /ɑː/ as there is in England, so "Pam" and "palm" are homophones. Don't worry if you find Scottish English difficult at first, people make a big deal about the difference between "British" and American English, but in fact in classifying varieties of English the main division is between Scottish English and everything else, the British (really English)/American divide is much less significant.
February 15, 2017
Many linguists consider Scots to be a language in its own right rather than a group of dialects of English
February 15, 2017
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