Scottish Vocabulary

Gaelic is a Celtic language that is still spoken as a second language in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. Estimates put the figure of Gaelic speakers throughout the country at around 60,000. The last decade has seen something of a revival of the language, due to the encouragement of both education and broadcasting authorities. However the majority of people are most likely to come across Gaelic today in the form of place names. Words such as glen, loch, eilean and kyle are all still very much in use. English remains the principal language of Scotland. However the country’s very distinct education, religious, political and judicial systems have given rise to a rich vocabulary that reflects Scottish culture. Many additional terms in current usage are colloquial. English as spoken by the Scots is commonly divided into four dialects. Central Scots can be heard across the Central Belt and the southwest of the country. As around a quarter of the population lives within 32 km (20 miles) of Glasgow, West Central Scots is one of the most frequently heard subdivisions of this dialect. Southern Scots is spoken in the east of Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders; Northern Scots in the northeast; and Island Scots in the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

Pronunciation of Gaelic Words

Letters Example Pronunciation
ao craobh this is pronounced similar to oo, as in cool
bh dubh “h” is silent unless at the beginning of a word in which case it is pronounced v, as in vet
ch deich this is pronounced as in the German composer Bach
cn cnoc this is pronounced cr, as in creek
ea leabhar this is pronounced e, as in get or a, as in cat
eu sgeul this is pronounced ay, as in say or ea, as in ear
gh taigh-òsda this is silent unless at the beginning of a word, in which case it is pronounced as in get
ia fiadh this is pronounced ea, as in ear
io tiocaid this is pronounced ee, as in deep or oo, as in took
rt ceart this is pronounced sht
th theab this is silent unless at the beginning of a word in which case it is pronounced h, as in house
ua uaine this is pronounced oo, as in poor

Need to know Phrasebook

Words in Place Names

ben mountain
bothy farm cottage
brae hill
brig bridge
burn brook
cairn mound of stones marking a place
close block of flats (apartments) sharing a common entry and stairway
craig steep peak
croft small plot of farmland with dwellings in the Highlands
dubh black
eilean island
firth estuary
gate/gait street (in proper names)
glen valley
howff a regular meeting place, usually a pub
kirk a Presbyterian church
kyle a narrow strait of river
links golf course by the sea
loaning field
loch lake
moss moor
munro mountain over 914 m (3,000 ft) high
strath valley/plain beside river
wynd lane
yett gate

Need to know Phrasebook

Food and Drink

Arbroath Smokie small haddock that has been salted and then smoked
breid bread
clapshot mashed turnips and potatoes
clootie dumpling rich fruit pudding
Cullen Skink fish soup made from smoked haddock
dram a drink of whisky
haggis sheep’s offal, suet, oatmeal and seasonings, usually boiled in the animal’s intestine
Irn-Bru popular soft drink
neeps turnips
oatcake a savoury oatmeal biscuit
porridge a hot breakfast dish made with oats, milk and water
shortie shortbread
tattie potato
tattie scone type of savoury pancake made with potato

Need to know Phrasebook

Cultural Terms

Burns Night 25 January is the anniversary of the birth of the poet Robert Burns, celebrated with a meal of haggis
Caledonia Scotland
ceilidh an informal evening of traditional Scottish song and dance
clan an extended family bearing the same surname (last name)
first foot the first person to enter a house after midnight on New Year’s Eve
Highland dress Highland men’s formal wear including the kilt
Hogmanay New Year’s Eve
kilt knee-length pleated tartan skirt worn as traditional Highland dress
Ne’erday New Year’s Day
pibroch type of bagpipe music
sgian-dubh a small blade tucked into the outside of the sock on the right foot worn as part of the traditional Highland dress
sporran pouch made of fur worn to the front of the kilt
tartan chequered wool cloth, different colours being worn by each clan

Need to know Phrasebook

Colloquial Expressions

auld old
auld lang syne days of long ago
Auld Reekie Edinburgh
aye yes
bairn child
barrie excellent
blether chat
bonnie pretty
braw excellent
dreich wet (weather)
fae from
fitba football
hen informal name used to address a woman or girl
ken to know; to have knowledge
lassie/laddie a young woman/man
lumber boyfriend/girlfriend
Nessie legendary monster of Loch Ness
Old Firm Celtic and Glasgow Rangers, Glasgow’s main football teams
wean child
wee small
..................Content has been hidden....................

You can't read the all page of ebook, please click here login for view all page.
Reset