In case you haven't picked this up already from reading my blog, I am American by birth, but moved to Scotland about 10 years ago when I got married to the person who would one day have the distinction of being my ex-husband.
One of the stranger things about living in a different country is that because my accent sets me apart from the native Scots from the minute I open my mouth, I have to do a lot of explaining to do. If only I had a £ for every time I had been asked to explain how I ended up here- well, it'd be enough to pay for a round of IVF! It can be a little disconcerting. See, I was married. Yes, he was/is Scottish. Yes, we decided to live in Scotland, funnily enough. No, I'm no longer married. We got divorced, but I stayed. He re-married, I didn't, but I have a lovely boyfriend partner thingee.
Sometimes, depending on who I am talking to, this is just a little more information than I would otherwise prefer to give away. I try, wherever possible to limit it, but it's hard, because people are naturally nosey, I mean, curious.
The solution to all this of course would be to develop a Scottish accent so authentic that nobody would be able to tell that I am not "from here." Except that I never wanted to become one of those people who walked around pretending really hard all the time, dropping little Scottish-isms like "aye" and "aw right?" into my daily patter. It's too wearing, and frankly, I have better things to do with my time that practicing rolling my RRRRs and gargling out expressions like, "It's a braw brecht moonlit nicht, ye ken?"
It is true that over time, and as you might expect, my accent has changed. The Scottish people think I am Scottish, but maybe lived in America for awhile. The Americans think I am Scottish, or they aren't quite sure what the dealie-o is.
It is a common misconception in other countries, that all Scots sound like something out of Trainspotting, or like Billy Connelly. Or, worse, like Mike Myers. People here have many different types of accents, which is sort of remarkable, given that it is such a small country. You can sometimes tell a lot about a person from their accent, in particular, what part of the country they are from but also where they went to school. It's a generalisation, and not in anyway intended as class snobbery, but quite often I notice that people with more formal education or "upper class" Scots sound much more English, or just have less of an accent. The "working classes" on the other hand tend to have much thicker, much broader accents, laced with dialect expressions like, "Away an bile yer heid ya numpty,ye dinnae ken whit yer talkin aboot."
Translation: shut up, you stupid person. Visiting infertiles, take note, it may come in handy when warding off bouts of assvice from the locals.
That's another thing, nobody here refers to an accent as a "brogue". They don't describe it as "a lilt". Those seem to be peculiarly American inventions. No, here it's framed in terms of being "broad". The broader the accent, the harder it can be to understand. Though I don't usually have any trouble, except when I go to Glasgow. But I don't feel too bad, cause even the Glaswegians can't understand each other.
When I first came here, I did find it quite hard, especially when I worked in noisy bars. I once had a job in a pub that specialised in Scottish malt whiskys. They had the whisky bottles, about a hundred of them, lined up on a shelf above the bar, in alphabetical order. Someone would come in, and ask for a nip of Glenfiddich or Lagavulin or whatever, and you'd race over to that letter of the alphabet and pull down the bottle. Assuming you could work out what that first letter was meant to be. There were some whiskys with spellings quite different to the pronunciation. For example, Bunnahabhain, I always had trouble with that one, especially when the punter in question was slurring.
"I'sh like ah, ah ah. Voonahanone, pleashe".
At which point I would stand there with my thumb up my ass until somebody who spoke Drunken Scot would come along to rescue me. Another time, when I was working in a restaurant, a woman came up to me and said, " Canape?"
Canape, I thought. How odd. You've already eaten. Is this some funny custom whereby you finish off your meal with an additional tasty morsel?
"Canape?" I replied. "Mmm, no, I don't think we serve those."
"No, canape," she repeated.
"Look, I already told you," I sniffed.
"NO!" she shouted at me, "CAN. AH. PAY." This was accompanied by waving money in my face. Oh. Can I pay? Of course you can, thanks. What, no tip?
E. has a beautiful accent. The first time I ever spoke to him was on the phone, and I remember wondering if the person attached to that voice could be as delicious as he sounded. Wasn't I pleased to find out that, yes, this was the case. The funny thing, I am so used to his accent now that I almost don't even hear it anymore.
Except the other night, when we were having dinner with a side dish of infertility chat. You know, I got my period, blah blah, pass the potatoes, blah blah, shall we adopt if I can't get pregnant, blah blah is there any more wine and what is your opinion about donor sperm? At which point he said it. I practically dropped my second helping of meatballs.
"I think a lot about what my baby will be like," he said.
"Wait, say that again," I begged him.
"My baby. Say "my baby" again."
"My baby?" he repeated.
Gasp, swoon. Utterly delicious. I wish I could capture it for all of you on an MP3 or something. He says it very quickly, and comes out sounding roughly like "ma bee-bee" with equal emphasis on the first and second syllable. Ma bebe. Our bebe.
No matter what the accent, coming out of his mouth, it sounds so beautiful to me.