The Library, Glasgow

Glaswegian Patter

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!


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