The King’s English
I watched a movie last week, “Filth” – one of the many colorful British slang terms for the police – which featured a cocaine-addicted, drunken police officer – pictured above giving the young man a lesson in Scottish manners – with a troubled past and the language of a Glaswegian sailor from Sauchiehall Street, although the film takes place in Edinburgh.
I do not recommend the film, it has few redeeming features. I found it interesting as it gave me a glimpse of Scotland in general and Edinburgh specifically, and three of its streets: Princess Street – the main drag through Edinburgh, Rose Street – where all the pubs are, and The Royal Mile – the road that leads up to Edinburgh Castle. It is not with pride that I confess which I most frequented.
Above, Edinburgh Castle from Princess Street.
Below, The Royal Mile, parts of which go back to the 1400’s.
After viewing the movie, I went to the International Movie Data Base – imdb.com – to see what others had thought of the film. As is usual, some lauded it while others hated it. The main theme, though, seemed to be the search for subtitles for the movie.
Subtye-uhls? Arr youse takin’ th’pish oot o’us? Subtye-uhls?!? D’ye no ken the King’s Unglish? Whit d’ye need subtye-uls furr? (Cat’s furr. Ever seen it oan a dug?) Ye daft chuchters, they ah spoke Unglish.
Well, I guess saying that they spoke English is a bit of a stretch. They used English to speak Scottish. Big difference.
I grew up with it. Forty years after being in Canada my father – as well as my Uncle Charlie and Uncle Peter to this day – still sounded like he did the day he stepped off the boat. In fairness, I guess I have to admit there are a few Scottish words that have never been incorporated into the English language. Such as…
Bumfle – Hummock or ruck in cloth or other soft material. “Oh look ma carpet’s aw bumfled.” (This is my favorite as I was completely astounded to learn that this word was not actually in the English language.)
Chuchters (used above) – a country bumpkin
Cludjie – the toilet
Cuddy – a horse
Didnae – Did not. “It wisnae me miss, ah didnae stick his heid doon the cludjie, honest.”
Drookit – Soaked to the skin. “Ah’ll need tae get hame an dry aff, that rains got me drookit.”
Foosty – Dank, damp, what happens if you don’t dry off after getting drookit.
Gliff – a fright, scare. “Ooh, ah didnae see you lurkin err, you didnae hauf gie me a gliff.”
Haud yer wheesht – Shut up! I was told many times, “Haud yer wheesht, ye wee midden.”
Jeely Piece – a jam sandwich
Ken – to know, understand. “Ah ken whit ah wid dae.” (I know what I would do.)
Lug – the ear. “Ah’ve goat a sair lug.” (I’ve got a sore ear.)
Messages – shopping, generally for food. My Nana would say, “Ah’ve goat tae go furr mah messages.”
Muckle – an amount. “There’s no ower muckle.” (There’s not very much.)
Neep – tumshie. That explained it, didn’t it? Both words mean ‘turnip’.
Maybe the commenters on imdb.com were right. Maybe most people do indeed need subtitles. I guess that makes me bilingual.
I’ve just come down from the Isle of Skye
I’m not very big and I’m awful shy
And the lassies shout when I go by
Donald, where’s your troosers
Through the streets in my kilt, I’ll go
All the lassies say hello
Donald, where’s your troosers
A lassie took me to a ball
And it was slippery in the hall
And I was afraid that I would fall
For I hadnae on my troosers
Now I went down to London Town
And I had some fun in the underground
The ladies turned their heads around
Saying, Donald, where are your trousers
To wear the kilt is my delight
It is not wrong I know it’s right
The Highlanders would get a fright
If they saw me in the trousers
The lassies want me every one
Well, let them catch me if they can
You canna take the breachs (britches)
Aff a Highland man
And I don’t wear the troosers