Wherever the Road Leads

Haud yer wheesht, ye wee midden

I suppose we accept whatever happens to us in life and consider it normal, inasmuch as… isn’t everyone else’s life somewhat similar?

I’m starting to believe that maybe my life hasn’t been quite the same as most people.

A Scottish-born and raised, Toronto friend recently posted this on her Face Book page and uht goat me thunkin’…

Ir ye Scottish? Ah um. Ye ken ur a true Scot if ye can properly pronounce Ecclefechan, Sauchiehall Street, St Enoch, Auchtermuchty and Aufurfuksake. Yer used tae 4 seasons in wan day. Ye kin faw aboot pished wioot spilling yer drink. Ye kin make hael sentences jist wi swear wurds. Ye ken irn bru is a hangover cure. Ye actually understawn this message..

Ahv nae bother whutsoevurr understawndin’ aw tha’. Uhs it no’ the King’s English?

I have really enjoyed FaceBook and getting to contact people from my past. One grade school friend who shall remain nameless except to say her initials, at the time, were Elaine Joyce, said she remembered my Scottish brogue. I thought, “What Scottish brogue? I spoke just the same as everyone else in Ottawa, didn’t I?”

After reflection, maybe not.


(As an aside, the lion on its back legs, above, and in red in the center of the Scottish flag, is known as a “Lion Rampant”.)

When our family moved from Timmins, a small northern-Ontario mining town, to Ottawa, Canada’s capital in 1960, the number one influence on my accent had been my parents. Television was fledgeling in 1960, although Ottawa’s two English-speaking channels doubled that of Timmins.

It was only then I believe, that teachers, schoolmates and friends began to have an influence on the way I spoke. Only then did my accent lose its Scottish flavor.

Plus, there were subtle differences between Scottish-English and Canadian-English. A ‘thermos’ was known as a ‘flask’ in Scotland – and to me. ‘Garage’ rhymed with ‘carriage’ to me. A café is known as a ‘caff’ in Scotland. Following, ‘Nescafé’ was pronounced ‘Nescaff’.

But when the blanket on the bed was not smooth but had a fold or a wrinkle, didn’t everyone call that a ‘bumfle’? ‘Oose’ was what we called ‘dust bunnies’ under the bed.

Surely everyone knew what ‘wheesht’ meant. “Wheesht, wee man, yer father’s on the phone.” A milk wagon is pulled by a cuddie. It takes a team of cuddies to pull a stage coach. Domesticated animals are pets. Some folks like cats whilst others hae’ a ‘dug’.

An ‘eejit’ oor a ‘dunderheid’ has nae sense. ‘Messages’ are groceries and “Ach, hen, there’s nae breed” meant we weren’t having jeely sandwiches for lunch. “Whit’s fur tea?” “No ower muckle” (What’s for supper? Not very much) Sometimes we’d have neep… you know, tumshie. (Turnip)  Ah didnae like tha’.

If a mother cried out, “Who’s responsible for this?”, there would be a chorus of children claiming…

it wisnaeme

Working for the Federal Government, my father accepted a promotion to a position that was deemed bilingual. They sent him for French classes, despite his claim that he was already bilingual.

I guess I didn’t realize how right he was. Here is a terrific website to translate Scottish words into proper English.  www.firstfoot.com/dictionary  The first time I went through the list, I was in near hysterics. It contains words that I have heard or used all my life.

I had no idea that they weren’t universally used and accepted phrases. I guess Elayne was right. I did have a Scottish brogue.


ah cumfae Scotland

For those who are not from Scotland and do not have a tattoo of a Lion Rampant on your upper thigh, here is the translation:

The title “Haud yer wheesht, ye wee midden” means, “be quiet you little turd”. From the green box:

“Are you Scottish? I am. You know you are a true Scot if you can pronounce Ecclefechan (ekkel fekken), Sauchiehall Street (sucky hall street), St Enoch (saint eenuk), Auchtermuchty (the ‘chh’ sound is like you’re clearing your throat.. aow chhter muchh tea) and Aufurfuksake (oh fur fuks ache, obviously not a geographical phrase).

You’re used to four seasons in one day. You can fall about, pissed, without spilling your drink. You can make whole sentences with just swear words. You know that Irn Bru is a hangover remedy. (Irn Bru is a Scottish soft drink that contains caffeine and quinine. Its rusty color prompted the slogan, “Made in Scotland from girders”.) You can actually understand this message.

The King’s English… it’s a dawdle.



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