The Library, Glasgow

Glaswegian Patter

Parliamo Glasgow!

Remember Stanley Baxter Parliamo Glasgow TV program? Click Play for a bit of pure nostalgia - or use it as a guide to the lingo! (we take no resposnsibility for external content!)

Glaswegians have been known to speak quickly and often loudly. So don’t worry if it sounds like someone is shouting at you – they are (hopefully) not being aggressive though it may sound like it! If you can't understand what is being said then ask for the person to repeat slowly what they have just said. Glasgow is known for its friendliness so most should be happy to repeat themselves.
Glasgow has a strong Celtic language connection due to the influences from Lowland Scots, Gaelic Highlanders and Irish Gaelic. Glasgow's "patter" or "banter" has evolved over the years and new words and phrases are often heard.

Here also is a tongue in the cheek guide to some words you may come across during your visit to Glasgow and their meanings!

"Aye" - yes
"Bam" or "bampot" or "bamstick" - an impolite term for a silly or annoying person
"Besom" - a cheeky or 'bold' woman.
"Glaikit" - If someone is glaikit, they look (or are) oblivious, stupid and out of it.
"Gallus" - notably brave, or even cocky
"Eejit" - an impolite term for a person who has been incredibly stupid.
"Haw" - roughly equivalent to "Hey" and used to attract someone's attention
As in "Haw Jimmy"
"Jimmy" Roughly equivalent to the term "mate" for a male.
"Hen" As above for a female.
"Pure (brilliant)" - Very
"Minging" – smells bad or tastes bad. As in "that was minging" Can refer to an ugly person – "He/she is pure minging"; Also used as a term for drunkenness – "I was well minging Friday"
"Ned" - Allegedly, this stands for "non-educated delinquent", which sums it up nicely. Most neds are harmless but some are aggressive, particularly after drinking some "Buckie".
"Manky" - unclean, filthy
"Mental" - Tough and crazy, as in "Watch out, he's pure mental, by the way"
"Mary Doll" - Wife or girlfriend, not necessarily called Mary.
"Pished" - drunk or intoxicated.
"Tumshie" - a silly person – similar to "eejit"
"Wean" (pronouced "wane") - baby or child
"Wee" - small

Glasgow slang can sound more complicated than it is thanks to the addition of meaningless phrases like "by the way" "man" "dead". Such that a simple question like "did you enjoy yourself last night" may be answered by "Aye it was pure dead brilliant by the way".

Now that you are acquainted with some of the dialect, here is a bit of practice for you! This is the words from a song by Adam McNaughton who is a celebrated Scottish Folk singer (heard of the Jeely Piece Song?). Apparently some or all of the following was quoted by Prince Charles at the opening of the 1988 Glasgow Garden festival.

Hope it helps!


Scottich Band "Where is the Glasgow I used to Know"
by Adam McNaughton

Oh where is the Glasgow where I used to stay?
With the white wally closes done up wi' pipe clay.
Where you knew everybody, ground floor tae the third,
And to keep your door shut was considered absurd.

Where are the weans that played in the street?
Wi' a jorrie, a peerie, a gird wi' a cleet.
Can they still cadge a hudgie or dreep aff a dyke?
Play hunch cuddy hunch, kick the can and the like?

And where's the wee shop where I used to buy
A quarter o' totties, a tuppeny pie?
A bag of' broke biscuits, a wee sodie scone.
An' the wummin aye asked, "how's yir maw gettin on?"

Where is the Tallies that I knew so well?
That wee corner shoap where they used to sell
Hot peas, a macallum, ice cream in a poke?
You knew they were Tallies the minute they spoke.

And where is the cludgie that wee cosy cell?
The string fae the cistern..I remember it well
Where I sat wi' a caunie and studied the rags.
A win fur the auld firm, a loss fur the Jags.

Where is the tramcar that once did a ton
Doon Great Western Road on the old Yoker run?
The conductress aye knew how tae deal wi' the nyaff.
"If yir gaun then comeoan....if yir no...well gitaff"

I think o' the days o' my tenement hame
We've got fancy hooses, but they're jist no the same.
I'll swap your gizunders, flyovers and jams
Fur a tuppeny ride on the old Partick trams.

Gone is the Glesga that I used tae know
Big Wullie, wee Shooie, the steamie, the Co
The shilpit, wee bachle, the glaikit big dreep
The ba's up the slates, and yir gas oan a peep.

These days wurnae rosy and money was tight
The wages hauf finished by Setterday night.
But still we came through it and weathered the ruts.
The reason is simple, oor Parents had guts.
With acknowledgements to Adam McNaughton.

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