Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Aye, right

The person upstairs is using the rowing machine again. Either that or the wolfman is enjoying a particularly languid session of self love. It’s amazing what superheroes and portly villains can get up to in the land of Gorgie.

I have lived in this flat for just over one year. In four months I will hit the four-year mark living in Scotland. Before the move over here I recall my initial vague attempts to soothe my mother’s worries with statements like “it might just be a year or two.” Essentially these were lies dressed in wanderlust robes. I always knew I would love it here. And while I still pine for many aspects of Canadian life, particularly the landscape, at the moment I cannot imagine making a home anywhere but Edinburgh.

The flourish of my accent has hit a wall. The Scottish tongue is so difficult to master and despite JP's best efforts, I am still limited to correctly pronouncing just a few words (my current favourite is the seemingly simple “aye,” which took me the past year to really get the hang of. Now I say it all the time. I tell myself to stop. I cannae. Aye right).

The only full sentence I can say that sounds remotely natural is related to working in the shop: “Do you want a wee bag?” The correct pronunciation of this question has little to do with the word “wee.” Rather, the whole thing depends on the lilt of the word “bag.” You have to draw the lower part of your jaw down and stretch the tiny word right from the back of your nasal cavity. There was one other sentence actually. Once when one of the girls at work was having lunch I managed a near perfect, astounded, almost screechy “is that all yer havin’? Crisps an’ fizzy juice?” I was most pleased with myself. If only more people would have crisps and fizzy juice for lunch, I could get in some practice.

My other much-loved word remains mingin’ which means filthy or disgusting. For example, that pile of sick that some dobber left in front of the office is pure mingin.’
My new favourite phrase, often hissed by an amused JP as we watch neds stumble past on the street below:

Mon then…

This is something a character like Trainspotting’s Begbie would say, a phrase commonly used by neds when they want to kick someone’s heid in. For instance: Mon then ya fanny. If you find that sentiment in any way offensive please don’t look up the word squadge. But for those who wish to be entertained, pop over to the Glasgow Dolmino pasta sauce videos on YouTube. I especially like the one when he says he’s gan oot to the big field and shag a coo.

One of the words I would like to learn how to say this year includes “murder” - an overused stereotype of a word, but still a bar to aim for in the world of rolling rrr’s and flattened out u’s. The question is, is it possible to learn how to say “there’s been a murder!” without ingesting hours of Taggart? I would also love to be able to naturally throw out key phrases such as “gonnae no dae that” and “how no?”

In 2009 I aim to write more about all things Scottish. I would like to describe the intricacies of the fried supper and find some way of explaining the popularity of Irn Bru, Scotland’s most popular of all the fizzy juices. JP is a Scotsman. Therefore it is part of his genealogical mandate to travel around his great country, dig his fists into the mud and absorb the blood and bones of his ancestors. This year I wish to encourage this obligation and tag along until he begins the traditional frothing rant about freedom.

The best thing is, even if you’re not Scottish, this is the year to pretend. For this is year 250th anniversary of the birth of poet Robert Burns. The Scottish government is giving it yee-haw with the celebrations, with events planned the whole year round. Just days ago, Hogmanay was welcomed in with a massive group rendition of Auld Lang Syne down on Princes Street, and soon it will be Burns Night. This is where you come in. Cut yourself a kilt, hunt yourself a haggis, cook up some neeps and tatties and join in. The big annual Burns Night is on 25 January - the bard’s birthday. All you need to know about taking part in the world’s largest Burns Supper is here: http://www.burnssupper2009.com/

I wish you a good night and I shall leave you with the first paragraph of Anne Donovan’s book, BuddhaDa. Try reading it out loud. An audio book version of her novel, “Being Emily” is also on Itunes, if you care to have a wee listen.

Ma Da’s a nutter. Radio rental. He’d dae anything for a laugh so he wid; went doon the shops wi a perra knickers on his heid, tellt the wifie next door we’d won the lottery and were flittin tae Barbados, but that wis daft stuff compared tae whit he’s went and done noo. He’s turnt intae a Buddhist.


Anonymous said...

Need to get that book for my mum.
That made me giggle, thanks.

King of New York Hacks said...

Great "wee" post !! LOL

Jacqui said...

This is fandabbydosy (ask JP about The Krankies)!

On your next visit to Canada your folks are going to need a translater.

James still rips it out of me because I can't pronounce 'Oor Wullie'.

valonia said...

My father is from Aberdeen and when I was little I used to spend a vast majority of my time being naughty - just because when angry my dad precedes every sentence with a very guttera "Och!":

"OCH! Suzanne, Whatd'ye have to de that foor?"

Ah, the fun we used to have.