Is English different in Scotland? Will I understand?

Sometimes, a person who is considering an English language holiday here asks me: “Will I understand your accent?”.

My daughters and I are English.  We moved from England to Scotland a couple of years ago. We speak an easy to understand, “received pronunciation”, English.

What about our neighbours here in central Scotland?

A fair proportion of them have moved here from England, and have English accents.  Those born and bred in Scotland may speak with a Scottish accent, and may use some words that are typically Scottish.  Different regions have slightly different accents. The strength of the accent generally depends on the social class of the speaker. For instance,  members of the Scottish upper class often speak in “received pronunciation” English, whereas the middle class have a light Scottish accent.

The language traditionally associated with the Highlands of Scotland – Gaelic – is encouraged by the Scottish government, but you are very unlikely to hear it spoken here.

Visitors tell me that they have no difficulty in understanding the majority of Scottish people that they meet here.  But you may pick up the odd new word. “Wee”  (for “small”) is a genuine favourite.  And whereas an English person will tell you where they live, a Scottish person will tell you where they “stay”.

One of the great things about Scotland is how friendly people are here – most people you come across are keen to chat – which is good English practice!

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