When I first moved to Scotland as a student in Edinburgh, I had to ask most Scots to please “say that again?” I took a part-time job as a receptionist and, of course, I answered all the phone calls. I always felt so embarrassed to ask them to repeat what they said. I thought to myself, “Are they speaking in English? I’m pretty sure I understand English really well. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.” Eventually, I realised that I could hack my brain into being able to understand most of the conversations.
The first short “i” in a word is said with an “e” sound. The “e” is not as hard a sound, like in elephant. It’s kind of in between the “i” and “e” sounds, but leaning more towards “e.”
- I hear “Isn’t this nice?” as “Esen’t thes nais?”
- I hear “Don’t be silly!” as “Don be selly!”
- I hear “That’s brilliant!” as “Thas brelliant!”
This isn’t a trick to be able to copy the Scottish accent. I just used this to hack my brain into being able to break down the accent quickly and understand what they’re saying in real time.
This was something I had to actively keep in mind while talking to a Scot. But I promise, once I was able to wrap my head around it, it was A LOT easier for me to understand English with a Scottish accent.
Also, this only works on people from Edinburgh. Glasgow is another animal all together. I’ve lived in Scotland for about 2 years now (about 10 months in Glasgow), and I still have a hard time understanding the really heavy Glaswegian accent. Glasgow slang is another creature as well. I’ll probably write about that when I actually get the hang of it.
I’ll share more accent hacks in future posts 🙂