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Scottish accent(s)

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  • Scottish accent(s)

    For an acting class I am supposed to acquire some UK accents. What is the difference between an Irish and a Scottish accent? In the movie Braveheart Mel Gibson, who obviously had been coached, spoke with an accent that we in the US would normally consider to be an Irish accent. In addition, the actor who portrayed the warrior from Irelend spoke the same way William Wallace did. Finally, how common is the trilled R in spoken English in Scotland?
    Thanks for the help.
    Bob Redman

  • #2
    For an actor you have very poor ear if you couldn't tell the difference between Mel Gibson's accent and that of his Irish sidekick.

    There is no such thing as a Scottish accent. Scotland has regional accents just as every other country does. A person from Glasgow speaks very differently from a person from Aberdeen and both are completely different from someone from the Western or Northern Isles.

    I know that doesn't answer your question. All I can suggest is that you rent a few movies (Trainspotting, Local Hero, Carla's Song, Breaking The Waves, My Name Is Joe, Gregory's Girl, and many more) and listen to the actors. Also notice the differences between the accents in the various films from the different parts of Scotland.


    • #3
      Actually, I have a pretty good ear. I am a German teacher, speak French and Italian as well, have lived for 20 years in Europe, and have always carefully listened to the way people speak. In addition, I play and teach recorder (straight, wooden flute), an instrument with a notoriously unstable tone, i.e. it is practically unplayable for someone with a bad ear.

      I'll rephrase and amplify the question. Is there a reason why Mel Gibson's accent, and also that of the actor playing Bruce, sounded Irish to me, other than that I have a bad ear? Is it possible that some regional Scottish accents are basically the same as some regional Irish accents?

      Bob Redman


      • #4
        Sorry, but... no. I cannot think of any place in Scotland where the accent "sounds Irish".
        Maybe you should try to watch some Irish films such as "The Commitments", "The Van", "The Snapper", etc as well to help you distinguish.


        • #5
          In parts of south Ayrshire the accent is very similar to the accent spoken accross the Irish sea in north-west Ulster however apart from that Scottish accents are clearly distinguishable from Irish accents.


          • #6

            Okay, I'll reply as another American. There is HUGE difference between Scottish & Irish accents - both of which are lovely. Depending on the region: West coast of Ireland is low and rolling, they say "thunderstorm" like "tunderstorm" and "Thursday" like "Tursday"...they also say "tremenjus!" Dublin (East coast) is a bit more sharp (Dube-lin), imagine less of a roll...Go see "Angela's Ashes" for Irish accents...also because it's a great film & book.

            Scotland - at least Edinburgh, which I am more familiar with, rolls their "r"..."grrreat"..."garrrls" for "girls", it's as if the words are more broken into syllables that in Ireland. Go listen to Sean Connery, though his accent is faint, I would say.

            Hope it helps and I didn't upset any Scots out there!

            Hindsight is 20-20.


            • #7

              Thanks for the input.

              I have just watched the video "Local Hero" starring Peter Riegert and set in a village on the coast of Northern Scotland. There is a variety of accents featured in this movie, but some of them are indistunguishable from what passes for an Irish accent here, and there are many features in all of the accents of the villagers which are also typical of Irish. Please explain someone.


              Bob Redman


              • #8
                I have no explanation for your hearing Irish accents among Scots actors. Scots and Irish are both Celts and have many similarities, but I've never before heard of someone finding the accents hard to distinguish.

                The reason you tend to get a variety of accents in "Scottish" films is that the pool of Scottish actors is quite small and you tend to get actors from many different areas appearing together. In most cases the director and producers are not Scottish and may themselves not notice (or care about) the differences between their actors' accents. As long as it's Scottish, it's good enough for them! This is often why you'll notice a difference between the accents of the stars and the extras. The extras will be recruited locally and will most likely have authentic local accents, whereas the stars are more likely to have originated elsewhere.


                • #9
                  Hi, I would agree about Scottish and Irish accent's being different, and regional, but would also like to add that I can see (hear?) the similarities between both.

                  All I can suggest is that you listen some Irish films to get the feel of the Irish accent so you can hear the differences.


                  • #10
                    when I think of a scot accent

                    when I think of a good scottish accent

                    I think of the guy on braveheart. I believe his name was SŤamus, the Red bearded guy with the battle axe.

                    I love the line where he says

                    "they couln a gree on thy colour of shyte er ya bline"

                    Just love that, and I think that was the most genuine man in the entire movie.

                    Then again I am just a lil Sioux Indian boy, and don't know much about Scotland

                    washtai kola, Hoka hey
                    (walk the good path, today is a good day to die)


                    • #11
                      ideas about your problem, redman....

                      Possibly your problem, redman, is the problem that you're american (don't get offended, so am I), or at least I assume you are... You're obviously not Scottish or Irish, anyway...
                      Here's where that becomes a problem, hon... have you ever actually had a person from Scotland speak directly into your ear? Probably not... the problem is probably your conception of the label that goes with that accent... Why do you say that Scottish accents sound Irish? perhaps because it's easy to pass one off as the other to us pathetic uninitiated americans (or whatever you are) who don't know any better... do you call it an Irish accent because that was the accent in the movies you watched over the years where the character(s) were supposed to be Irish? and would you be able to catch those sneaky movie producers red-handed if they decided to pass off a Scottish actor as an Irishman? (or vice versa)

                      I know that when I do watch braveheart, I can hear a difference in the accents between Wallace and his friend, (a quite distinct one, actually---I have to agree with the others on this one...) However, If I just heard one of them speaking, I'm not so certain I could tell which accent they were speaking with...(except for the fact that I know just about every line in the film **sob** [wipes nose] i luv that movie waaaahhhhhh......) but, well, you know what I mean...

                      by the way, the big guy's my favorite too....


                      • #12

                        It's really quite funny about the whole accent question, I see people agreeing that there's a difference between Glasgow's lingo, to Aberdeen's. Of coarse there is! Just as in the States there's a difference in speech, slang, metaphors, and in all else from New York to Texas. I think that It was the priest there on Barra who is a native Alba Gaidhlig speaker who said " Because we speak the Gealic our accents in English will sound softer and more likened to Irish than the Brandied trilling brougish of the lowland cities. Even in Gealic from Skye to Shetland, there are marked differences even from old to young, and age to age. So it goes with language and it's evolution. Alba Gaidhlig gu brath Dia leat. Tioraidh an-drasda. Griogair


                        • #13
                          Gaels of Scotland

                          I don't think they ever spoke Gaidhlig in the Shetland Isles. It was a Norse province for a long time, as were the Orkneys.

                          The main differences in Gaeldom are between Lewis and everywhere else. Copan teatha or cupa ti, uachdar or barr are just a few of the examples I've found in the language wars between N Uist and Lewis.

                          As for accents, Scots accents and Irish accents are completely different, and then there are a range of very different local accents. I mean, I'm only 15 miles outside Glasgow but I would say I have more of a Clydesdale accent than a Glasgow one. The main accents in Scotland I think would be Glasgow area, Edinburgh area, Dundonian, Aberdonian, Highland and Stirlingshire.
                          Open up The Original Pipe Box!


                          • #14
                            Re: Gaels of Scotland

                            Originally posted by daibhidh

                            The main differences in Gaeldom are between Lewis and everywhere else. Copan teatha or cupa ti, uachdar or barr are just a few of the examples I've found in the language wars between N Uist and Lewis.
                            Islay seems to have also have differences from "standard" Gaelic (the Gaelic you see in the "Teach Yourself" books).


                            • #15
                              Hello to all....

                              Hi Redman..

                              as the others have said, Scotlands accents are variable...I'm from Dundee....Have never heard the Dundee dialect portrayed on TV or big Screen.....but it would be a big challenge for you to attempt....

                              Cheers to you all