A word tae the wise

Parliamo Glasgow?

See me, I just cannae get enough of it, wir Glesga patter pure cracks me up so it dis.

I’m no’ kiddin’, what can be better than listening in to a good goin’ Glesga chinwag? Honest, it’s the business. Our slang words, our bare-faced cheek and charm, and the unique way we massacre the Queen’s English, all just make me laugh, like a stank.

Aye, it’s hard, and sometimes pure murder, for outsiders to tune in to our special style of delivery. I’ve often marvelled that any incomers, let alone those with a language structure a million miles away from our guttural Glaswegian, ever manage to get their lugs wrapped round our way of speaking.

And it’s not always better when we take our style of speaking outwith these northern borders. As a novice student in Manchester, I once asked a posh, RP speaking classmate at lunchtime what he had on his pieces. “Pieces of what?” he replied in the stuck up style specially reserved for the privileged and privately educated.  “Pieces of breid, ya daft big doughball” I flung back in the style specially reserved for insecure, chip-on-shoulder, nippy wee Scottish sweeties.

(BTW this posh classmate and I quickly overcame our language barriers, and social diversity, to become best of mates, and we still are. Aren’t we, ya daft big doughball?)

There is something so unique, so colourful and so totally hilarious about Glesga speak (Bud Neill‘s cartoon with the immortal line “Sandra, ma kirby’s fell doon a stank” is my all time fave). There’s something about the way we communicate with each other using glittering wee gems of patter that warms the very cockles of this auld burd’s beatin’ heart. Glaswegian is magic music tae these wee lugs.

I love the craic, the swear words, the unique expressions, and the sheer incomprehensibility of it to anyone but ourselves. Hearing words you cannae hear anywhere else other than on Glaswegian lips is pure pleasure, so it is. And I especially love it when the dear green place’s punters make no concession whatsoever to the company they’re in, and keep galloping right on with their gallus weegie words.

So I am nothing short of a pure hypocrite when I confess that I don’t speak my mother tongue fluently all the time. It gets on my Glaswegian goat, but like everyone else, I adapt my patterns of speech depending on the social setting I’m in. Even the Word Up Wean has asked why I sometimes talk like a ned and sometimes talk posh!

There are occasions when I rein it right in and go for the style of smoothly spoken West End wordage befitting a former pupil of Hillhead High School, and would-be polished professional. At other times, the full Maryhill magnificence comes flowin’ forth as rapid and manky as the watter in the canal locks up at the Firhill Basin.

Of course, most of the time I just sit in the middle lane of the spoken word superhighway. But give me a couple of swallies, some good company, and any subject under the sun, and I’ll gie ye the craic til the coos come hame.

So, if ye’ll excuse me, it’s Friday, and ah’m away tae get honkin’ wi the big man…