Scotland, the brave. Scotland, the special.
And it is so, in this wonderful region, English has an accent and a slang so special that sometimes you get to think that it is a completely different language. It is not by chance in fact that the Scottish film “Trainspotting”, had to be subtitled so that the North American audiences could understand what Marc Renton and company were talking about.
Unfortunately, in real life people do not come with subtitles, so I wish to offer you a list of Scottish words that will make your life in these green lands much easier if you decide to visit.
Lassie and lass
Although in the rest of the world “Lassie” reminds us of a famous dog from a TV series, what this Scottish word means originally is girl and the word ‘lass’ is used for boys.
It is pronounced ‘Ay’ and it does not mean that somebody is getting hurt: It means ‘yes’. It is a word so widespread that it is frankly strange to find a purebred Scot saying ‘Yes’. (And if he does, it's because he may have English blood in him).
Everyone who speaks English knows that “Hen” is the “female of the chicken”. In Scotland, however, it is an affectionate nickname given to girls. In fact, bachelorette parties are called “Hen Parties” here.
“Loch” means “lake” and it is pronounced ‘loh’. Never, never ever, will you find a Scot who calls, not even by accident, a lake by its English name. A Scottish lake is always a loch.
If you ask for directions to Lake Ness you’ll probably get some weird looks by locals.
Everyone knows that Ken is Barbie's boyfriend, true that. And Ryu's friend in the Street Fighter videogame. A Scottish man will know this too, but you must also know that, in this region of the UK, it means “to know”. Ya ken? (You know?)
Hoos “Hoos” means “Home”. At this point, you will have noticed a particularity of the Scottish speaker: The fewer syllables you can use to say something, the better (and you thought English was already cutting short!), but as you may know Scottish people are infamous for being stingy!
One will think “I know the answer to this one!”, “It means Juice!,” sorry to disappoint. Well, yes, but only if you expand the concept of juice as much as the Scots do so do not be surprised that a Scot says “juice” while pointing at a bottle of beer. Drink and do not be impolite.
Bonnie is not the name of a lady but it’s the old Scottish word for “nice” or “cute” and its pronunciation is ‘Boni’.
In the Scottish slang it’s also not uncommon to find Celtic words which are used in the everyday language. Some popular ones are:
Bruadarach is a visionary, a dreamer. And Scotland is full of them.
Saorsa means freedom and Scottish people believe that Saorsa is the most important treasure a man has.
Although in order to master the Scottish language you will need years of practice, at least with these words and expressions it will not be as if everyone around you spoke an alien language.