Wednesday, September 24

A Wee Knackered Numpty: the Language of Scot tourism with Glen Moyer

I’m Glen Moyer, one of the estimated 50 million Scot Diaspora living worldwide. When 2014 was declared a Scottish Year of Homecoming I decided it was the right time for me to visit and explore my Scottish ancestry. As with any overseas trip there was a lot to do –develop an itinerary, book a flight, find accommodations and so on. As an American preparing to visit Scotland for the first time, there were also a number of practical issues to consider. For example,

• Currency conversion – figuring out the Pound to the Dollar.
• Driving on the left – and doing it from the right hand side!
• Haggis – to try or not to try, that was the question!

Not high on my list of concerns though was language. After all, the Scots speak English, right? Then I remembered George Bernard Shaw having written, “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” Could the same be true of America and Scotland?

I vowed to pay particular attention to the language of those ‘locals’ around me. I kept an open ear for any words or terminology that might seem foreign to me, in spite of our shared use of the Queen’s English.  I was not to be disappointed! Herewith then is a list of a few of my favourites gleaned from my travels…

• Wee – a seemingly universal term for anything tiny, or small, or insignificant, as in – I’ll have a wee sample of that, or there’s a cute wee lad or lass, and of course as in, a wee dram.

• Pished – intoxicated, or what happens when you’ve had a wee dram too many.

• Weesht – When someone says, ”would you just weesht?!”, they’re asking you to be quiet, to hush, or shush!

• Blether – rhymes with tether but means to gossip or to just ramble on in conversation.

• Bonnie – pretty or attractive, as in, it’s a bonnie day, or even Bonnie Prince Charlie.

• Braw – beautiful.

• Dreich – if it’s not bonnie or braw it’s likely dreich – miserable, cold, gloomy.

• Drookit – if you’re out on a dreich day or night chances are you might get drookit – meaning drenched or soaked through.

• Knackered – my favorite of all the words I brought home with me. It means exhausted, or to put it in American slang, “plumb wore out” or “rode hard and put up wet!”

• Numpty – an idiot or a fool – usage can vary from very gentle, almost endearing, as in – “Oh you big numpty!”, to quite harsh, as in – “you idiot, you numskull, you numpty.” It’s a very expressive word and in fact, in 2007, it was voted Scotland’s favorite word!

• Eejit – not difficult to figure this one out – it is as it sounds – idiot!

And what’s a travel blog without travel photos? Here are a few that illustrate how I learned the proper use of my newfound vocabulary…
Upon my arrival in Glasgow, while adjusting to driving on the ‘correct’ side of the road, I turned what should have been a 15-20 minute drive from the airport to my first week’s accommodations, into a 3-hour tour of the Clyde Bank area. Finding my way eventually, a fire and a wee dram from the welcome hamper made everything OK. I did not know it then, but I was indeed a “wee, knackered, numpty” at that moment!
On the one day I set aside to tour Edinburgh, the weather was indeed dreich!
Nevertheless, I pressed onward to find the historic Forth Road Bridge. Thanks to the dreich weather, I call this shot, “The Bridge to Nowhere.”
 After taking the bridge photo, I parked nearby to enjoy a light lunch. Being ignorant of Scottish parking meters, I was rewarded with a £60 parking ticket. Right, that’s me sorted – feeling like a right eejit!
Fortunately there were far more braw and bonnie days than dreich ones during my three-week Homecoming visit – like this one that had me feeling like a real “Monarch of the Glen."
My final hours in Scotland were passed as they should be, with friends at a pub. Well, with a newly made friend at the airport hotel bar anyway. My #Scotlandhour friend Sam Kilday joined me for a goodbye toast. When we finally parted I was far from pished, but I was able to close my eyes for a final time in Scotland with a smile on my face and a wee buzz in my head!

During my visit I also learned that a number of Scots still speak Gaelic – an entirely different linguistic challenge – and one I shall leave for another time!

For more about my Homecoming 2014 visit to Scotland, see my blog...

1 comment:

  1. Great wee article. In 'The Kingdom' of Fife we are accused of sticking the man's name 'Ken' at the end of sentences and then a 'like' - and that's way before Facebook days.

    8 weeks today until our 18 month career break today, Ken, Like!