lost (and found) in translation.
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.
“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.