The Scots are notoriously difficult to understand for those who haven't become accustomed to the accent. A fairly strong accent (depending on where in the country you are) combined with the generous use of slang words means that those from other countries are often left stumped in the middle of conversation, forced to nod and smile politely or repeatedly ask for clarification.
To prevent you from landing in this sticky situation when you visit Scotland, we've compiled the most-used slang words and phrases that you're bound to hear while there.
Let's start off easy — 'aye' is the general Scottish word for 'yes'. It can and will be used in the exact same context as 'yes' or 'yeah', which is pretty much the only way to distinguish it from 'I' since they're both pronounced the exact same way.
This is probably the most common slang word, as there are many, many Scots who would only ever say 'yes' in a professional situation, and hardly ever 'yeah'.
'Ken' is specific to certain regions of Scotland, most notably Ayrshire in the South West and some places further North. Even other Scots will sometimes be surprised by the use of 'ken', because it's definitely not country-wide.
'Ken' simply means 'know'. If someone says, "Ah ken,", it means, 'I know.' No one is quite sure how the Scots got around to using this in place of 'know', but it's a pretty common one in certain regions so depending on where you're visiting, you may just hear it pretty often. And now you'll be well-prepared to translate for everyone in your party!
8 Get Tae.
This is a less friendly one. The Scots can be stereotyped as aggressive people and the truth is, they're not intrinsically so but like any place, there will be people who can lean on the bad-tempered side and don't necessarily want to be bothered. Rather than telling someone to go away, they're likely to say, "Get tae."
And that's exactly what this means: go away.
In more violent terms, it can sometimes be followed with a curse word which is a much harsher way of informing someone just how fast to leave the situation. But often, it's just these two syllables, and a clear sign someone wants you to leave them alone.
Unless you're visiting at the end of July or beginning of August, chances are, you're going to encounter this weather. Scotland isn't super familiar with the sun and even when it is beaming down, the air is usually cold and crisp. More often than not, though, it's going to be drizzling with rain, so be prepared and take a rain jacket or umbrella. Even if it seems like the entire day is going to be sunny.
And the correct word for this miserable weather is 'dreich'.
'Braw' actually has slightly different meanings depending on who's using it, but the context is pretty much the same: aesthetically pleasing. 'Braw' can mean beautiful or pretty and be used to compliment a person, or it can be used for a painting or building — or it can even be used for the weather, when it's one of those rare beautiful, sunny days.
5 Tannin' The Bevy.
It's no secret that Scots like their alcohol. Whether you believe that the Irish or the Scottish invented whiskey (there's some debate), both of them love it, and it's not just whiskey that the Scots love. Beer, spirits, wine, doesn't matter — we're pretty fond of it all, to be honest.
But they're unlikely to describe themselves as "going out for a drink." More often than not, they're going to be going for a bevy" which is another word for getting drunk. Usually extremely so. 'Tannin'' is a word often placed before it, which simply means to drink quickly.
All the better to get drunk faster, right?
4 Gettin' Some Scran.
And what do you do the morning after a bevy? You get some scran.
This means food. Often it means greasy, hangover-style food, or a lot of it, but it can be used to mean anything. To be honest though, the Scots don't generally used this word to describe a portion-controlled salad. It has to be good, indulgent food to merit the word 'scran', otherwise you're just not quite using it right.
While you're over there getting some hangover food, make sure to include a tattie scone with breakfast. You won't regret it.
3 Going To The Pictures.
Saying, "let's go to the movie theater," in Scotland would be considered a very American thing to say. Even saying, "go to the cinema," might be considered unduly posh. What's said in Scotland is 'going to the pictures'.
It makes sense — you are looking at pictures (well, sort of).
2 Getting The Messages.
This is another strange one that most people probably wouldn't get, and the one that often draws strange looks from non-Scots. 'Getting the messages' doesn't mean fetching the mail or checking your phone, as one might guess — it actually means to go and do the grocery shopping.
It comes from writing down a grocery list and someone taking the 'message' to get the food but even then, we can understand how it seems like a stretch. However, Scots in a lot of regions of the country were pretty much brought up on this phrase, and it's stuck. You don't grocery shop — you go and get the messages.
1 He's A Bampot.
Another insulting and slightly aggressive one to finish off the list! This simply means 'idiot' or 'crazy' or is just, in general, a derogatory term for someone considered stupid. It's a fairly silly word but it's one that the Scots have incorporated in their day-to-day life and although it might sound fake it is, yes, one they actually use.