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One of the main problems vistors to Scotland have is understanding the natives. Scottish language, and dialect, seems designed to make it difficult to make out. Why is this? Who can say, but this node will hopefully make it just that little bit easier to understand it, and to speak it.

As the Scottish accent is too diverse a beast to go into - the Weegie and the Shnecky accents are worlds apart, and there are so many others (Aberdonian, Orkney and the Western Isles, just to name a few) - that it will have to wait to another node before it is examined. This node looks at the pronunciation, and although there are many accents, the following rules should, hopefully, apply to all of them.

Basically the Scots speak English, oh the irony, so most of the pronunciation follows from that. This makes it easy for a large swathe of the first world to feel comfortable there. However there are a few differences with the bog-standard English. The first is there is a lot of words not really used anywhere else, sort of a slang, but with much more widespread use. Again, these will have to wait for another node. The second is that there is an extra sound in the language, not really found in England.

In English there are two main sounds that 'ch' can have. The first is the hard sound found in 'charisma', the second is the softer sound found in 'church'. Scottish has these too, but it has an extra one, the ultrasoft sound found in 'loch', and innumerable other Scottish words.

The Pronunciation Guide describes it thusly 'The digraph `kh' is the guttural of "loch" or "l'chaim"', but for me, this is less than helpful. The actual sound of the 'ch' is not made by the vocal chords, but is basically just a noisy breath, like a cat or swan hiss. This can take some time - quite a few English people, well known to this noder, still can only pronounce 'loch' as 'lok'. However once this is mastered, all the other idiosyncrasies are easy to pick up.

'R's are normally rolled to the front of the mouth, so 'car' is pronounced 'car', not the anglified 'ka'. This virtually concludes the lesson. The last thing is that many English words are modified to make them trip off the tongue more easily - so 'cannot' becomes 'cannae' (pronounced canny), 'awfully' becomes 'offy', and 'bastard' can become 'bassa'.

Hopefully, with these few tips, your time in Scotland will not be spent wondering wtf people are saying to you, or trying to make yourself understood, but actually doing things instead.

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