My salad dressing days

Getting reacquainted with the mother tongue
June 20, 2006, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s funny the things you forget.

I had plain forgotten some of the linguistic nuances that are to be found in the motherland. Things like:

‘Whereabouts do you stay?’
Rough translation: ‘Where do you live (permanently)?’

‘Dinnae fash!’
Rough translation: ‘Don’t get yourself in a bother!’
[OK, I’ll admit that no-one I know says either phrase, but some people I’ve overheard in shops do.]

And then I was in a charity shop yesterday when I overheard a group of elderly women talking about an absent friend.

‘See Cathy that used to work here? Took a cyst in the leg, so she did.’

Important linguistic rule for elderly Edinburgers when discussing illness: ailments and diseases are ‘taken’. My grandmother was forever telling me that ‘wee Jessie took a heart attack’ or ‘Alfie took cancer of the bowel’. (This sort of phrase was usually whispered and accompanied by much head shaking and sucking of dentures.)

However, she failed to be persuaded by Motherhen that the treatment one of her friends was receiving for cancer was ‘CHEMOtherapy’ and not ‘CREAMOtherapy’. Although that may have been a linguistic quirk unique to her and/or based on her penchant for chocolate eclairs from Jenners.

But my favourite thing as a kid was listening to the Gaelic programmes on TV. What entertained my sisters and me greatly was that very often you’d find a random English word (such as ‘mortgage’ or ‘coffee’) plonked smack bang in the middle of sentence of melodic Gaelic.

Anyhoo, as you might expect, I’m working on some key phrases, which I thought I would share with you:

Tha mi ag iarraidh aran-coirce.
[I want some oatcakes.]
Because oatcakes are delicious.

Tha caoraich ann.
[There are sheep.]

A bheil am plèana seo a’ sol gu Steòrbabgahg?
[Is this plane going to Stornoway?]
You’d be surprised how often one is called upon to say this.

And, of course, everyone says ‘och aye the noo’.


7 Comments so far
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What about that “moonlicht nicht tha nicht” or whatever it is.

I had a Scottish boyfriend who would say it for me whenever I asked.

Comment by Martha

Has anyone called you “hen” yet??


Missing you and the chicklets though. London just ain’t the same…

Comment by the plate invigilator

hen is what I found weird. Especially as used in the phrase ‘hen’s bicycle for sale’.

And then the use of the word juice which brings out the obnoxious in me (I’ll have a juice of the coca cola tree, my good man).
Juice = not juice
Fresh juice = juice but not fresh
Freshly squeezed juice = fresh juice



Comment by GreatSheElephant

Yep, ‘juice’ – very annoying. irn bru was never squeezed out of anything. And is not even drinkable. Fact.
And saying ‘outwith’, and pronouncing ‘proven’ to rhyme with woven.
I argue with my scottish boyfriend about this stuff all the time.
Ah, the delights of cross-cultural relationships.

Comment by Anna

but proven does rhyme with woven? Doesn’t it? How should I say it then.

Outwith I quite like and use darn sarth quite regularly to the confusion of all.

Comment by GreatSheElephant

Oo, fit like, quinie?

I once learned the Gaelic for ‘the gurnet is plentiful today’. However, there’s never been much cause to use that in Zone 2, so I’ve forgotten it again now.

Comment by patroclus

Can’t wait to hear it someday. 🙂

Comment by Kyahgirl

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