lost (and found) in translation.

 It's all in the family.

It's all in the family.

Last time I saw my cousin Jack he was a painfully adorable three years old and I couldn’t understand 97% of the words that came out of his mouth. 

“Yer rooum luxks lie a wee tip.” he retorted with an astounding amount of disdain for one toddler. 

“Umm… pardon..?!” 

“Yer rooum luxks lie a wee TIP!!” 

I turned, baffled, to his Mum who was stifling her giggles.

I needed yet another Jack-to-Helen translation.

“He says your room looks like a little tip.”

“And a tip is…?”

“A tip is a dump.”


i mean, He wasn’t wrong.


Today Jack is a handsome young thirteen year old and, thankfully, I'm now able to understand much more of what he says. 

But not everything. 

Here’s a little tip (and I don’t mean a dump): if you’re visiting Scotland for the first time make sure you pick up a copy of “The Patter”.

The term “patter” refers to the dialect and slang used by a jock (a Scotsman that is). It was originally used in the streets of Glasgow, but now is common in most Scots vocabulary. In 1985, Michael Munro compiled a collection of the terms and phrases most used and published the first edition of "The Patter".

You might think it’s a tad overboard to purchase a phrase book when visiting another English speaking country, but I assure you, it's not.

Do you currently have any idea what a “chanty wrestler” is?

If someone was to ask you “Fancy a dauner tae the offie furra cairry-ootz?” would you have even the slighest clue what the fu*k they were talking about? 

ya. me neither.

The patter it turns out is actually the perfect expression of what it is to be Scottish; witty, jolly, and just a little bit backwards.

They’re a fun-loving and generous people, and boy are they proud.

I myself am damn proud to don my Scottish heritage. and in between my brief moments of confusion, I find myself pretty giddy, reveling in the scattery musicality of my kin’s tongue. It’s the sound of my Grandpa's voice that I can only remember in the deepest groves of my memory.

 I may not know that a “goony" is a nightgown or that your “oxter” is your armpit, but in a way things here make sense to me far beyond the patter.

h. x


The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet — and breaks the heart.
— Hugh MacDiarmid