Help wanted: Scottish dialect

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Wed Aug 12 19:38:38 UTC 2009

I agree--it's roughly based on Glasgow, but it's a stage accent, not
at all like a real one.  I will say that movie/TV representations are
closer than they were 30-40 years ago since we've all heard Billy
Connolly, Craig Ferguson et al., and some writers have maybe even
gone there, but stage dialects die hard (even when the accents they
are based on die out), and they do the trick for the average
listener.  I've seen Scottish films subtitled in this country anyway
("My Name Is Joe", set in Glasgow and very Glaswegian routinely is),
and I can testify as an American who lived in Scotland that it took
me about 3 months to get used to real broad Glaswegian, and even with
12 years of intensive study, I had to turn over one Banffshire
interview to my wife at the time (a Lothian Scot)
because I could understand only about half what the guy said (and
even she didn't get it all).  So there's perhaps an audience-related
need for this, though sometimes it makes me cringe if it's too far away.

By the way, Robert Duvall did an excellent Glaswegian accent in the
film "A Shot at Glory".  Scottish football bloggers panned it, but to
me, he sounded very authentic.  I  thought he was truer to his
character's speech than most of the ((Scottish!) actors in
Trainspotting--all except Begbie, the real "heidbanger" sounded too
upscale for whom they represented.  But broad Edinburgh, too, would
probably need subtitles for most audiences.

Paul Johnston
On Aug
  12, 2009, at 9:40 AM, Steve Kl. wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Steve Kl." <stevekl at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Help wanted: Scottish dialect
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> Have they considered asking Dan Castellaneta?
> I'd classify it as "Second City-stylized Scottish." It's default
> improv
> Scottish.
> - Steve
> On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 9:35 AM, <aallan at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       aallan at AOL.COM
>> Subject:      Help wanted: Scottish dialect
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ----------
>> From the director of membership and meetings=C2=A0at the
>> Linguistic Societ=
>> y comes the following request. If you can do it, please reply
>> directly to=
>>  David Robinson at drobinson at - Allan Metcalf
>> We=E2=80=99ve had an inquiry here from a person who=E2=80=99s
>> working on=
>>  a Simpsons (the animated TV show) 20th anniversary special.=C2=A0
>> There=
>> =E2=80=99s a character in the TV show called Groundskeeper Willie
>> who has=
>>  a Scottish accent, and these people are looking for someone to
>> weigh in=
>>  on where in Scotland Willie is from, based on his accent.
>> =C2=A0This won=
>> =E2=80=99t mean much to you if you=E2=80=99re not familiar with
>> the show!
>> =C2=A0
>> I know you=E2=80=99re the American Dialect Society, but I wondered
>> if you=
>>  had any connections with individuals who might know about
>> Scottish accent=
>> s.=C2=A0 They=E2=80=99re looking for someone to interview on
>> camera either=
>>  next week, preferably in DC or New York.=C2=A0=20
>> =C2=A0
>> Thanks!
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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