Scots into Strine

Over the weekend, I was off being taught how to teach English. It was a bit exhausting, admittedly, because it was a 20-hour course, but it was fun and I learnt a lot and got to “teach” a few lessons to the class.

One of the activities we did, though, was aimed at getting us to understand what it’s like to be an intermediate learner reading a text and understanding most, but not all, of the text. In order to simulate this, there were about ten Scots words interspersed throughout the text.

(I could already understand about 80% of them, but that’s not the point. Actually, I have a slight problem with Scots in that I can read and understand it just fine, and know a lot of the words and phrasing quirks, but sound like an idiot when I try to speak it. Maybe I just can’t get the accent right. But let’s not talk about that now…)

But, funniness of a text with random Scots words aside (I chortled to myself the whole way through the first time – I wasn’t expecting it), what was even more hilarious was the list of translations/definitions my class came up with:

Birled roon – spun around
Blether – chinwag
Braw – bonza
Crabbit – cranky
Fankle (in a) – tizzy, tiz
Gallus – cocky
Richt (+ adjective) – dinky-di
Skiver – bludger
Teuchter – country bogan
Wabbit – dead beat
Wheesht – oy, listen up!

Sigh. Australians. What do you do with them? Who else would translate one set of dialect words into another dialect?

Just as a final note, some of these translations happened once we got a bit silly. By that, I mean “dinky-di” and “bonza”. A lot of the other words, such as “cranky”, “tizzy”, and “bludger”, really were the first translation the class thought of – although, personally, I said that “skive” is the same here and the translation of “blether” is “blather”. Apparently that’s just me, though.

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2 thoughts on “Scots into Strine

  1. Jennifer says:

    I did an activity similar to this is a teacher’s workshop. It really gives some perspective huh!

  2. Rachel says:

    I wasn’t entirely convinced. At the time I did the course, I was a student at the German school, so pretty much everything I did in the classroom involved not understanding exactly about 10% (sometimes more) of what was written in front of me.

    Right now I’m doing a Gaelic course that is *entirely* in Gaelic, from telephone classes to all e-mails, so I’m getting used now to reading a bit of light correspondence and stumbling across a word I simply don’t know. With the Scots words, most of them are pretty intuitive to the average English-speaker, I’d think, and particularly in context when spoken. You can hear “she was in a fankle as she hurried to get ready” and know what it’s about – that’s very different to working in your second or third language and running across an unknown word. Especially as none of the words were really key to understanding the sentence.

    One of the better activities of the weekend was simulating complete beginnerness in a language – although I think it would have been better with a native speaker and a real language. I suppose if you just have a weekend, you can’t actually teach people a language to intermediate level.

    A long-time language-learner myself, I’m still of the opinion that someone should not teach his own language until he’s learnt a second language – just to understand what the students are going through.

    Given it was a course run by a British company, I wonder what they do for this activity when they run the workshop in Scotland?

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