Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Speaking Giberish.

I read a wee online discussion here  the other day, about what makes people English vs British? As a proud Scot, I threw in my two pennies worth, but I must have offended someone (moi!!??) as I got deleted.  Anyhow, that is not the point, but it did start me thinking about a few things.

Last year on International Day at the 'w' thing, I turned up wearing the St.Andrews flag proudly as a sarong, Braveheart blue painted on my face and my university shirt (grasping at straws...but a bit hot for tartan tights!) and I was surprised at how many people didn't realise I was Scottish.

Having lived abroad for more than half my life, my use of language (as well as my accent) has become 'international'.

My mum always says that my first language was 'Giberish'  (not meaning offence) but I picked up an accent from living in Gibraltar and that I spoke in a sing-song voice. (I just found a definition of Giberish on-line and I love it - "A language that is not known as one, but it is. It's easy to learn but you have to learn it from someone that knows it really good!" Ha! Hysterical!)

I never seemed to pick up a Scottish accent, even though my parents gave me regular Scots lessons around the kitchen table and still buy me dish clothes with phrases that any good lass should be able to pronounce!
"Awa' an bile yer heid", I would tell them. (...Yeah right!!)
It obviously didn't work, well, it did a wee bit, but I've always wished  to be more easily identifiable as Scottish.

The English language has changed, it has become more 'international', just like accents.
At a braii (a BBQ)  hosted the other night by Belgium and South African friends we began talking about this. A frequently returned-to subject actually.
I ask my American pupils to use their 'erasers when correcting errors', and use 'trash' as well as 'rubbish'. British English has probably Americanised because of all the TV shows, and although many people wouldn't chose to use certain vocabulary from across the pond, we usually (speaking generally) understand its meaning. I say usually, because my teaching partner is American and I give her some stick; even though  we 'hussle' with the "kids", when she talks about her "soccer" matches, she is honestly talking a whole other language! And vice-versa, there is great confusion and funny looks when I ask for a poly pocket (it is a slimy) or a rubber!

Anyhow, there I go speaking Giberish again...back to my vague point...

I love accents. I love Scottish accents. I wish I had one.

Recently, at the England vs. Scotland rugby match, (that I watched in the Irish pub in Kampala), someone asked me who I was supporting. As I don't have a passport stamp on my forehead, or a can of Irn Bru permanently in my hand, or a strong accent...I think I should wear my tartan tights more.


  1. Love this blog, so thoughtful and I'm enjoying reading about your adventures in Africa :) I've never been and am planning my first trip. Thanks for posting.

  2. Ha! I am English born and bred Surrey girl and you are Scottish :)


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