Ach aye, ya ken the wee place was hoachin, ya know

Published: October 26, 2007

Ice, ice bairn!We all know that the Scots have a knack for clever expressions. Their really creative vernacular is part of the pipe band world, too, with words like “trigger” and “blooter” peppering Scots pipe band lingo.

North Americans have been travelling to Scotland for decades now to live and play with top bands and soak up instruction and, for pipers, anyway, the solo circuit. I had my own experience with that in 1980s, following the likes of Scott MacAulay, Ed Neigh, John Elliott, Mike Cusack and others. While you’re living there you can’t help but pick up on Scots’ dialect, and, inevitably, your voice takes on some of the lilt and cadence of the accent. Sorry, like.

I don’t think I ever seriously tried to use everyday Scottishisms like “aye,” “I ken,” “dinnae,” or “disnae,” and would have hoped someone would give me a shake if I subconsciously did. I think you really have to have Scots as a first language, or live there for at least a decade to have the right to use that stuff. Otherwise, with a North American accent it sounds goofier than goofy.

You’d get a glower like Chuck D’s at Vanilla Ice in 1990.

But there are always one or two American or Canadian pipers and drummers who somehow try to talk that way. They must think that they’re blending in or something.

We can borrow and imitate the music that the Scots invented, but when it comes to their jargon, some things are best left unsaid.

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