Monday, January 17, 2005

The Scottish Accent: A Socratic Dialectic Expounding on the Significance of The Simpsons' Groundskeeper Willy

...Or, maybe just an article from the BBC showing that 73% of Scottish people are proud of their accents, compared with just 54% of the general UK population.

Now doesn't that say something about the peculiar pride and joy of being Scottish!? As a proud Scot myself, I am acutely aware of the inscrutability of much of what my dad says when heard by non-native ears. He always makes perfect sense to me because he has never sounded different. But I can see how others might not. Growing up, the three kids would always play translator between my dad and our friends who were over for dinner. It took us a while to learn that we had to translate, and we only found out because my dad finally said, "Are all of your friends 'slow'? I ask them a question and they stare blankly at me while smiling. Are you sure they're all right in the head?" Lightbulb. Must translate between the Father Ship and the Earthlings.

The UK sample as a whole ranked the Scottish accent in general, and the Edinburgh accent in particular, highly in terms of pleasantness, prestige and helpfulness in getting ahead in the job market. (Think Ewan McGregor and Sean Connery)

However, the Glasgow accent was ranked lowly in each case (think My Dad and Fat Bastard), being considered only more pleasant than the Liverpool, German, and Birmingham accents. JERKS!!! They don't know a rich, local tone when they hear it.

Some of the comments included:

* "Shetlandic dialect with Scottish undertones, perhaps Gemanic and Norwegian gutteral sounds, nasal, quite rapid when excited."

* "I do not regard myself as speaking English. I am Scottish and proud of my accent."

* "I have a Scottish accent, I probably sound very broad Scottish but I'm not."

* "Smooth Scottish accent which is soft and gentle not harsh like Glaswegian!"

* "Well I'm Scottish and proud of it and I never think of being English. Being Scottish means that you are something that no-one else can be."

I can't put it any better than that!

And PS, to my smarty pants friends who will call me on today's blog title, I know that this is not a socratic dialectic, which everyone knows ;) is defined as follows:

An exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue. For example, in Plato's dialogues, Socrates typically "argues" by means of cross-examining someone else's assertions in order to draw out the inherent contradictions within the other's position. For example, in the Euthyphro, Socrates asks Euthyphro to provide a definition of piety. Euthyphro replies that the pious is that which is loved by the gods. But, Socrates points out, the gods are quarrelsome and their quarrels, like human quarrels, concern objects of love or hatred. Euthyphro consents that this is the case. Therefore, Socrates reasons, at least one thing exists which certain gods love but other gods hate. Again, Euthyphro consents. Socrates concludes that if Euthyphro's definition of piety is true, then there must exist at least one thing which is both pious and impious (as it is both loved and hated by the gods) -- which, Euthyphro admits, is absurd.*

*Thanks to for "reminding" me about the def of Socratic Dialectic. Cause I really did know that already, you know, I just needed a memory jog. It was on the tip of my tongue. Yeah, that's it.

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