Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby StringerBell » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:40 pm

I could understand the politician in that video fine, but I had to really pay attention. And in general, that's my experience with stronger Scottish accents; comprehension in the presence of some mental effort. The milder accents are no different than Irish or Australian ones for me.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:54 pm

I didn't really follow him until he repeated the question, but then it was a lot easier.

The lad in the second clip just spoke fast. I listened to it twice, and it was easier the second time.

(I'm not a native speaker of English, but I've had some exposure to Scottish English through music and TV).
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby Ani » Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:34 am

I got the point of the question right at first & on the repeate but in both cases I know I missed words.

If I could switch my English to Scottish though I'd totally do it.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby patrickwilken » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:39 am

I have a fond memory of sitting next to an excited and very talkative six year old Scottish boy on a flight from Europe to Australia years ago. It was a totally weird experience. For about 28 hours as I sat next to him I knew he was speaking English but couldn't understand anything he was saying.

BTW: I just want to point out that the first Mad Max film with Mel Gibson was dubbed into American English when it was released into the United States in 1979. I wonder if the Americans also dubbed Canadian films during this era.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby Saim » Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:37 am

Personally I had zero trouble with the speaker in the video, but that may be the influence of register (he is speaking formal English with pretty much no lexical, syntactic or morphological differences to what I'd hear in Australia; it's entirely an issue of pronunciation). If I heard the same speaker talk to someone from the same background in a more informal setting I might begin to struggle.

Here's a transcription:

"I know from speaking to a number of parliamentary colleagues that there are still certain aspects of the Estate, including the Northern Estate, that are not great for people with disabilities. Can I ask the honourable gentleman what work is being done to make sure this place is more accessible, particularly for some of their colleagues who have a disability?

Well, very popular today. Ehm, I'm saying that a number of parliamentary colleagues who have disabilities do find it quite difficult getting around certain parts of the Estate. Given we're doing this refurbishment work, what can be done to make sure that those with a disability are able to move around more freely and [that] the place is accessible.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby Cainntear » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:58 am

The problem we have when talking about Scottish English and Scots is that everybody in the conversation is talking about something different.

English exists in Scotland in a continuum with Scots, the language that evolved from Middle Northumbrian. The speaker in the video is very definitely speaking "Scottish English", i.e. high register, school influenced English with a few Scottish features. When you go to something like Trainspotting, you're hearing something that sits between Scots and English, with many linguistic features that are not present in English (if you exclude dialects from the North-East of England, i.e. the rest of the former Kingdom of Northumbria).

The question in the title says "Scottish English", so the parliamentary speaker, not Trainspotting.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby NoManches » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:10 pm

I could not understand him that well. Maybe 50% comprehension on the first listen and 90% on the second listen. I'm a native English speaker (born in the U.S.). I understood bits and pieces of what he was sayiny but it was difficult. If I spent a day in Scotland I feel like my comprehension would be really good. A lot of times it just comes down to getting used to o the accent.


To be honest, it almost reminded me of when I listen to somebody speak Portuguese. There is enough similarities between Spanish and Portuguese where I can kind of make out words here and there, but in the end I'm left with a headache. Same thing happened here.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby Jaleel10 » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:11 am

Years of South African English and watching UK and Australian/NZ sports broadcasts had prepared me for the Scottish accent :lol:

This reminds me of when Diane Kruger struggled to understand the scouse accent xD

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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby garyb » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:15 am

I mostly speak "Scottish English" as described by Cainntear and like the politicians in the videos, especially if any non-Scots are around: standard English but with an accent. I can confirm that many non-Scots, native English speakers or otherwise, have considerable difficulty understanding me. As I mentioned in another recent thread, I did manage to tone down the accent a little when I started university where most people I met were from England and could barely understand me, but it's still there and still causes problems even when I try to speak as clearly as I can.

A big problem is sounds that can be quite different from in other standards of English. The /ɪ/ in particular is more open and tends to be misheard as an /ɛ/. I never learnt to pronounce it in the "normal" way and struggle to do so even if I try when repeating myself. The T as a glottal stop is another, although easier to avoid with some conscious effort, and our "dark L" is often not understood as an L by people whose native language only includes the "light" variant.

There are plenty people whose accents are obviously Scottish but are far more comprehensible, such as TV and radio presenters and even most of the Scottish side of my family (from the East coast). I however grew up in a mostly working-class area in the centre, so picked up a stronger and more mixed accent which is hard to lose. On the plus side, I can understand pretty much any accent from the country, even the infamous Glaswegian, although Doric-influenced speech from the North-East can be quite opaque.
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Re: Do you find Scottish English difficult to understand?

Postby tarvos » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:21 am

It depends on how thick the accent is. Mostly it's fine if it's just an accent, once they veer into actual Scots the chances of losing me are higher.
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