Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Scots As She Is Spoken! - Edinburgh Fog
When I was writing my short story Edinburgh Fog, one of the things I really wanted to capture most was the particular rhythm of the way people speak in Edinburgh. The characters in the story are young, modern, city-dwelling Scots. They’re more ‘T In The Park’ music festival than ‘tea with the laird,’ and let’s be honest, would be more likely to play rugby for England than spend their precious free time on a Highland holiday!
That doesn’t make them any less Scottish, though. These are people I know and love - fiercely proud of their Scottish history and heritage, and they look forwards, not back.
One thing that’s common to us Scots the world over is our vernacular language – the special words and phrases from childhood that we still use in our everyday speech right now. It doesn’t matter how grown-up and sophisticated you think you’ve become – some things never leave you. I’d like to share some of them with you now, and maybe you’ll start using them too!
Coorie up / coorie in - My favourite Scottish expression. To coorie up is to cuddle or to snuggle up tight, the way my kids do with me when we settle down in front of a warm fire on a cold night, preferably with a thick blanket wrapped around us. It’s about keeping the cold away, and being not just warm, but safe too.
Similarly, coorie in is what you do when you dive under the bedclothes on a chilly winter’s night and curl yourself up into a little ball till you’re as warm and cosy as toast. You’re safe and sound in your own little nest where nothing can touch you, not even the bogeyman. It’s a lovely expression.
Aye, right - You’d think the obvious translation of aye, right would be ‘yes, that’s correct,’ wouldn’t you? Wrong! Aye, right is just the opposite. Delivered with a sideways look and a voice dripping with sarcasm, it means variously ‘That’ll be the day,’ ‘pull the other one,’ or ‘I should co-co.’ A well-aimed aye, right, pal will pierce any misplaced enthusiasm, pathetic chat-up line or political rhetoric deeper than the sharpest dagger.
If you really mean, ‘yes, that’s right,’ you’ll need to employ ‘aye, right enough’ or ‘you’re right there.’
Numpty - This, in my opinion, is the best word ever invented to describe a twit, a moron, or anyone who’s view you simply don’t hold with. (see ‘political rhetoric,’ above.) Funnily enough, it’s often used immediately after aye right – Aye right - awa’ ye go and dinnae blether, ya numpy!
Stoater / stoatin’ - Nothing to do with stoats…! But rather, glorious expressions of appreciation, admiration and /or enjoyment. See that bairn o’ yours, she’s a wee stoater! is an entirely acceptable way of describing one’s appreciation of the beauty of an acquaintance’s female offspring. Similarly, that wis a stoatin’ night oot last night could be translated as ‘what fun we had on our visits to various purveyors of wines and spirits last evening!’
If time is short, you can reduce it to one word and you won’t lose one iota of meaning – Stoatin’!
Glaikit - Confused, gormless, a bit dim. Can either apply to a habitually brainless individual, or to a person merely temporarily in such a state, eg, ‘are you in need of need some further enlightenment on a particular subject, my friend?’ can be rendered as Whit are you staundin’ there sae glaikit-lookin’ fir? Whit a numpty!
NB for the sake of variety, the word eejit! is entirely interchangeable with numpty.
Scunnered - Nothing describes that feeling of being thoroughly and completely fed up and cheesed off as the word scunnered, and is often followed by the speaker’s fervent desire to ‘skip school’ or ‘skive off.’ Thus, this job’s got me scunnered, I’m awa’ for a skive. Dinnae tell the boss!
Nippin’ or nip - To pinch between finger and thumb. Mammy, she’s nippin’ me! It’s also used to describe a headache, particularly one due to the effects of over-indulgence – whit was ah drinkin’ last night? Ma heid’s nippin’…!
Nae borra, pal! - You’re welcome, my pleasure, no worries. Speaks for itself.
Aw, naw! - You really have to draw the words out to get the full effect. It’s ‘oh no!’ of course, but somehow it has so much more impact. Heard all over Edinburgh when the winter weather becomes even more inclement is Aw, naw – snaw!
Peely-wally - pale, pasty, off-colour. You feelin’ a’right? Yer lookin’ affy peely-wally. Some people might say that us Scots are perpetually peely-wally, with our fairer than fair complexions, or as Billy Connolly would have it, we’re not just pale, we’re pale blue.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief look at my native tongue – no need to thank me, it was my pleasure, or I should say, nae borra, pal. Despite my twenty-plus years living in England, I still use loads of these fabulous Scots words and expressions every day. They’re pure dead brilliant!
Hopefully you'll feel the same away about the following excerpt which I hope captures the rhythm and humour of those Scottish characters I know and love so well.
Edinburgh Fog is released today by Muse It Up Publishing.
When Greg Morton returned to Edinburgh, it was to follow his dream of opening the smartest bar-bistro in town. Now Tellers’ is a huge success—but the truth is, deep inside, it means little without the love of his life.
Four years ago, he left Julia Brady behind in London to realize his business ambitions in his Scottish home town. By the time he’d recognized his mistake and admitted to himself he wanted her back, the grapevine told him Julia had moved on—and Greg had to face the fact that he’d been a fool.
When Julia appears out of the blue in Tellers’, he knows the only thing he should do is walk right up to her and say hello. But it looks like someone else has their sights set on her, and he’s a quick worker.
Is Julia about to disappear from Greg's life a second time - this time, for good?
' “Another pot of coffee, boss.”
Ben shattered Greg’s getaway plans as he slapped his notepad on the marble bar-top. “And Mr. Smarty over there says could that be with hot milk, because he wants a macchiato caldo, not freddo. I told him the milk comes hot out of the machine anyway, and is Freddo no’ that wee bloke with the big feet out Lord of the Rings? Don’t get smart-arsed with me, pal, is what I really wanted to say.” Ben curled a lip and turned to face the growing crowd in the bar as he waited for Greg to top up another coffee jug. “Mind you, for a smart arse, he must have something.”
Greg glanced over at the object of Ben’s ire. “How’s that?”
Ben gesticulated with his chin towards Julia’s table. “Look at him! Manky wee ginger git, and he’s got those gorgeous babes with him. What’s he got that I haven’t?”
“Well, let’s think.” Chrissie wandered over from the other end of the bar to join in the conversation. “Wit? Intelligence? Charm and personality?” she offered, giving Greg a sly wink. Any opportunity to wind up Ben about his ways with women usually wasn’t to be missed, but tonight Greg’s heart wasn’t in it. He pulled out a wooden tray inscribed with the Tellers’ logo and set the coffee pot down. “Probably just friends from work.” He half-filled a stainless steel jug with milk, jammed it under the foamer nozzle and let it rip.
Chrissie wrinkled her nose and nodded. “He doesn’t look like the world’s greatest lover to me, Ben. Your crown’s safe, big man.”
Ben grinned as he reached for the tray. “Aye. You’re right there. Watch me go.”
Greg frowned. “Go where?”
“To show lover-boy how it’s done, what do you think?” He flicked a look over his shoulder. “Those babes’ll be nibbling their complimentary biscotti from my hand before I’m done. Man, oh, man...gimme an older woman any day. There’s no substitute for experience. What age do you reckon?”
“Twenty-nine,” Greg said, with much more precision than he’d intended to let show. “Or thereabouts,” he added lamely, relieved Ben hadn’t noticed the fact that Greg could have given him Julia’s date, time and place of birth too, had he asked.
Ben tipped his head, weighing up the facts. “A bit older than my usual conquests, but then, what’s life if not a challenge, eh, boss?” He balanced the tray high on one hand and sauntered in the direction of Julia’s table, six-pack abs and butt muscles on display, looking like a walking anatomy chart.'
Edinburgh Fog is available from the UK Kindle Store, the US Kindle Store, and in all other formats from Muse It Up Publishing.
Read more about Jane at Home Is Where The Heart Is.