Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Archive for the tag “speech”

Referendum Fatigue, Language and Rhetoric #indyref2

If ever one was needing an example of assonance, Nicola Sturgeon is pleased to assist. Her addresses to the public, spattered with her importunate references to “independence referendum” are similarly punctuated by the contrasting vowel sound in the middle of our beloved Homeland “Scotland” perhaps even echo the true sound of Es and Os of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Ma heid is done in.


To cheer myself in advance of a few years’ worth of protracted verbal sniping between our First and Prime ministers, I thought I would indulge in a little analysis of some of the Language used by Ms Sturgeon today in her speech to the Party faithful.

I am assuming that you need no persuading that Scotland should not be dragged out of Europe by a Tory government intent on a disastrous hard Brexit.

I visualise Scotland as some poor soul being dragged along by their feet. There are connotations of unwillingness. She has a point here. (Although, when she argues this point she undermines herself. She usually says that Scotland voted to stay in the EU. But Scotland voted for the UK to stay in the EU. We had already voted for Scotland to stay in the UK (in the full knowledge that the EU referendum was going to happen.)

We are referendumed out wur nut.)

I enjoy the concept of a “government intent on a disastrous hard Brexit.” Why any government would be “intent on” anything “disastrous” is clearly nonsense. Presumably Mrs May and Co are, if anything, intent on a good hard Brexit, whatever that is.

It’s like getting your boiled egg right. Do you want your Breakfast, I mean Brexit, hard, soft or runny in the middle? Or red, white and blue as Mrs May once suggested. Whichever options are on the table, all we can be sure about is that eggs are eggs.

But instead of meeting us half way or, frankly, any of the way, Westminster chose to dig its heels in.
Our efforts at compromise with the Prime Minister met with a brick wall of intransigence.

I like these. I wonder what shoes Westminster is wearing. I get a visual of a sensible workwear shoe with a modest heel. Instead of being “dragged” anywhere, “Westminster” manages to stay put. Nice little contrast.  Lovely bit of synecdoche. Here’s how the PM manages to keep her heels firmly dug in – she is hiding behind a “brick wall of intransigence”. Brick walls to me signify frustration and pain. Something you would metaphorically hit your head off a few times before thinking, nah, I willnae bother. A brick wall of “intransigence” must be very frustrating. But it’s still a great word.

Ms Sturgeon continued:

… if she shows the same condescension and inflexibility, the same tin ear, to other EU countries as she has to Scotland then the Brexit process will hit the rocks.

Now, I haven’t ever heard of a “tin ear” (so maybe I have one). Apparently it is to do with being deaf or insensitive to subtleties (is that even politically correct to say?). And then the imagery swings unexpectedly into ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and hits the rocks. Smashing.

Passing over the opportunity to have a think about “We should embrace that scrutiny” and “a compassionate country – with a big heart and a helping hand for those in need. An open country that doesn’t pull up the drawbridge and look inwards…”, I will end with Ms Sturgeon’s closing call:

Let this message ring out today.
Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.
Repetition, more synecdoche joy and an inspiring tense choice to conclude. Very nice.
But rather than ringing out, I am more wrung oot at the thought of all this kicking off again.

How to do a Scottish Accent. Probably Part 1, but I maybe won’t bother with part 2. Who can say?

Today, or was it yesterday, I didn’t “get” a joke, this is until I re-read the joke in an English accent. (Tilly, this is no criticism of you, only of me and my slow brain. Love your work). It was based on “morning” and “mourning” being homophones. Just like how that Joseph song doesn’t rhyme very well north of the border *drew back the curtain…ah-ah-ah… to see for certain…*

Not long after, a (Scottish-but-living-in-England) friend was lamenting her child’s school’s efforts to convince her child that the sound “or” should be pronounces “aw”.

You see, “aw” has no r in it. How can it be a representation of “or”?

Ah, you don’t pronounce the “r”. So, what’s the point in the “r”?

ANYWAY For the benefit of all people wanting to put on a good Scottish accent, here are the basics:

1. The Scottish Vowel Length Rule aka Aitken’s law (I think)

Although I don’t know what the rule is, as such, it manifests itself in the following quirks. In Scots the word “greed” is said with a short “ee” sound, whereas in the word “agreed”, the vowel length is longer, as in the rest of the English speaking world (except perhaps Canada). The same variation can be seen with “tide” where the vowel is short and “tied” where the vowel is long, unlike in other accents where these words are identical to the ear.

2. The Glottal Stop

Or should that be glo’al? If you miss out “t” in the middle of a word, it helps with the Sco’ish accent, particularly if you are going for a casual, informal one.

3. Pronounce the ‘h’ in ‘wh’

In most accents, the ‘h’ has been lost. So that Wales and Whales become the same thing. Alarming. And if you whine about wine, you might as well be wining about whine, which would make no sense. You pronounce it by kind of blowing a bit. Makes “whisper” a bit more onomatopoeic, I reckon.

4. Preserve the x phoneme

It is the ch in loch, Pitlochry and Auchtermuchty. It does not sound like ck. Ever. Except, sadly it is fading out a bit. To make the sound, open your mouth, raise the back of your tongue up and exhale, making a noise like a hiss of a gas lamp, over your tongue.

And now to practise, use these:

Which witch whined about the wine?

As the tide came in I tied my shoelaces.

Bottle of white wine.

To finish, I leave you with this song from The Proclaimers. Sing along now… (please suffer the few seconds of advert that precedes the quality Scottish singing)

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