This week I'm looking for some audience participation, so clear your throats, waggle yer tonsils, and keep the hankies handy.


Not all Glaswegians speak broad Glaswegian.
Variations on words, and the way that they're spoken, depend on where the speaker comes from and their background. The dialect can be softened, refined or suppressed, although the accent usually gives the game away. But it's broad Glaswegian that we are interested in, so lets get on with it by tackling the most distinctive and confusing factor - the Glaswegian's total disdain of the letter 'T'. Crisp, clear sounding Ts are as rare in broad Glaswegian, as wicker work chairs in a nudist colony.

Take the word butter.
Did you visit 'The Glesca Patter - The Jeely Piece' 'The Glasgow Patter - The Jeely Piece' , which has the snippet of the kids singing?
Did you listen to how they pronounced the word butter? There is absolutely no trace of a 'T' in the word. It's pronounced "buh-urr" "butter" . Words ending in 'T' like 'flat' get similar treatment, the T is chopped off and replaced with a glottal 'uh', hence 'fla(uh)'.
If there are any fellow Glaswegians out there who think they can better describe this then feel free to jump in here! Try listening to the clip and you'll hear what I mean. This "uh" "Glottal Stop" sound that replaces the letter 'T' can be represented by an apostrophe, as in "bu'urr" "butter" "fla'" "flat" .

Okay let's hear you all try it. After me ... "bu'urr" "butter" ... "bu'urr" "butter" ... "bu'urr" "butter" ...
Look, some of ye are no trying! Again ... "bu'urr" "butter" ... "bu'urr" "butter" ... "bu'urr" "butter" ...
Right, let's try ... "fla'" "flat" ... "fla'" "flat" ... "fla'" "flat" ...

Enough! It's gettin awfy slimy oot there! Wipe yer faces and keyboards and catch yer breath.

This produces conversations like ...

"Ahm gaun doon eh the shoaps, dae ye wan' anyhin?" "I'm going down to the shops, do you want anything?"
Remember; 'want' as in 'cant'.

"Aye, ye be'urr ge' some bu'urr an some breid an mulk." "Yes, you'd better get some butter, some bread, and milk."

"Well ye be'urr gie meh some money fur eh bu'urr coz ahm skint." "Well, you'd better give me some money for the butter, because I have none."

Now, to save all this insertion of apostrophes, words are normally written with the 'T's intact.
But remember that when you're listening to the Patter Patter in its native broad Glaswegian, they will cease to exist.
Keep practising.


The Patter : Still on Bs

bed recess
an alcove in a tenement flat which held a double bed
It was normally curtained off for privacy.
Given the numbers of people who once stayed in these small flats, kids were often squashed into these beds like sardines.
In surviving, modernised tenements, these alcoves are now often used as small dining areas.

hopscotch, peevers
Girl's game using chalked out squares on the ground.
A total mystery to us lads, who couldn't figure out all that jumping and chanting that went on among the lassies, when they were playing this game.

very angry
"The aul man wiz beelin when eez hoarse fell at eh first fence." "My father was very angry when his racehorse let him down."

"Ah belang tae Glesca." "I belong to Glasgow."

in, inside
"Come ben eh hoose." "Come inside the house."

alcohol, drinking session
"Ah wis oan eh bevvy last night. Ah've a heid lik a sterheid!" "I was drinking last night and now I have a hangover."
Being on the "heavy bevvy" "Extreme consumption of alcohol" is to have a really good session. A "bevvy merchant" "alcoholic" is one who is persistently drunk.

old woman
"An auld biddy threw a stain at the scabby dug." "An old lady threw a stone at the scruffy dog."
Also, "Red Biddy" "very low-cost red wine" is cheap red wine.

Billy boy
old term, derived from William of Orange. Normally heard in the singing at "auld firm" "Glasgow's premier team" football games between Rangers and Celtic. (sorry no links to that one!)
Also, once a way of establishing someone's religion.
"Are ye a Billy or a Tim?" "Are you of the Protestant or the Catholic faith?" The term "Tim" "Catholic" being the Catholic equivalent.

black affrontit
offended, ashamed
"Mah knicker elastic snapped an mah drawers fell tae mah knees! Ah wiz black affrontit." "The contruction of my low-budget underwear failed me. My embarassment was acute!"

well played
"Jimmy goat up fur eez turn at eh darts an eh played a blinder." "James played well at the darts."

hit someone really hard
"Jimmy hid jist enough eh the insults fae the guy, so eh jist turnt an blootered im!" "Tiring of the other person's verbal abuse, James swiftly terminated the conversation."

a Rangers supporter

a wooden cart made out of old wood and wooden boxes, old pram wheels, nails and string.
I always knew them as guidies.
Made famous by the 'Sunday Post' character - 'Oor Wullie'.
something ending ubruptly, usually because things have suddenly gone wrong
"The gemmes a-bogey." "The situation appears to have changed radically."
"Eh wiz in the pub wae eez fancy bit an eez aul lady cim in. She wiz beelin! Iz soon iz eh saw urr eh knew eh gemme wiz a-bogey!" "He was entertaining his mistress in the local hostelry when his wife came in. She was very angry! As soon as he saw her he knew the game was up!"

Well, mah battery's gaun flat, so eh gemme's a-bogey till ah hae mah piece.


First posted on 19 October 2003.


Just back from a week in the Outer Hebrides. If ye think Glaswegian Patter Patter is bad, ye want tae try unnerstaunin the Gaelic!

So far in this series we've looked at words, pronunciation and spelling used in The Patter The Patter but I've only briefly mentioned speed.
A few years ago (well, more than a few actually!) I was on an instructor's training course in Cheshire. I was having great difficulty in being understood - not an asset on an instructor's course! I had curbed the Glasgow dialect but my accent was broad and I put the blame on that. I was put right by the course director (A Yorkshireman!). He explained that he saw my accent as a distinct advantage - it attracted immediate attention and interest.
The dialect I could keep on top of, by keeping to English, and avoiding 'Glaswegianisms'. The problem, he stressed, was the speed at which I talked. He encouraged me to slow down and give people time to follow what I was saying.
I passed the course and went on to become a senior training officer. I owe a lot to that guy.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that Glaswegians talk fast. Very fast!
The Scottish comedian, Stanley Baxter, capitalised on this in the 60s with a TV show containing sketches called 'Parliamo Glasgow'. These were a parody of a serious Italian language programme of the time, called 'Parliamo Italiano'.
Stanley's scriptwriter (I forget his name) represented the speed of Glesca Patter by taking out the spaces between words, and compressing whole words, and even sentences together.
Stanley Baxter delivered it brilliantly and did much to bring The Patter The Patter to the attention of the national public.

It went something like this;

A common word used by Glasgow natives is "Geeza" "Give to me" .
This is used in the form of a request, as in
"Geezaahnurrawaniraehingsourerr" "Give me another one of those things over there." and translates as ...
"Give me another one of those things over there."
It may be welcomed with the ancient cry of "Whodaeya!" "Who do you ..."
"Whodaeyahinkahmurryerbliddyskivvy?" "Who do you think I am, your servant?"
The young man on the receiving end of this rebuff may react by saying ...
"Awayanbileyerheidyacrabbitsod!" "Go away and 'boil your head', you irritable person!"

I'm afraid Stanley did it so much better than me. But this gives you the idea.

A quick mention. Lobey Dosser (the 'Calton Cowboy' for those who don't know of him) was a creation of late cartoonist Bud Neill.
He transplanted Glasgow's Calton district into the wild west and made Lobey it's Sheriff.
His two legged horse, Effie, and the master villian Rank Badjin, joined a host of other characters in the imaginery Western town.
A "lobey dosser" "Doorstep Itinerant" , by the way, is a tramp or down and out - "dosser" "rough sleeper" - who hangs about, and sleeps in closes or entrances - "the lobey" "the hallway" - to buildings.
Lobey is now less known but was on a par with such icons of Scottish cartoonery as Oor Wullie and the Broons.
For those interested in Lobey and his gang try


The Patter : Even mair Bs

smelly, rotten
"Pit yer shoes back oan, yer feet urr boggin!" "Put your shoes back on. Your foot odour is repulsive!"
also, "bowfin" "vomit-inducing" means the same.
To represent the correct tempo the phrase would be ...
"Pityershoesbackoanyerfeeturrboggin!" "Put your shoes back on. Your foot odour is repulsive!"
Then, taking into account what we've already learned, we eliminate the Ts -
"Piyershoesbackoanyerfeeurrboggin!" "Put your shoes back on. Your foot odour is repulsive!"

Are you getting the hang of this yet?

very good
"Yer new jaiket's a brammer." "Your new jacket's very nice."

lunge forward
"Eh just breenged oot eh door an took a heider doon eh sters." "He just lunged out the door, and went head first down the stairs."

old term for Employment Bureau, former name for the Department of Health and Social Security
"Ahve loast mah joab so ahm gaun doon tae sign oan the broo." "I've lost my job so I'm going down to sign on as unemployed."

bad result
"Sorry tae hear aboot ye gettin caught fur speedin, whit a bummer!" "I am sorry to hear that you have been caught speeding. How unfortunate!"
also leader or boss.
"Kin ah talk tae the heid bummer?" "Can I speak with the boss?"

a man's cap
When refering to a short man wearing a cap one might say
"Don't staun oan ah hat, thers sumdy unner it!" "Please don't stand on that hat. There appears to be someone underneath it."

to give something a miss
originally a football term.
"Ah wiz gauny go doon the pub but ah hink ah'll gie it a bye." "I was going to go to the pub but I think I'll give it a miss."


The Patter : Thenna Cs

"Ah canny dae it." "I cannot do it."

carry oot
take-away food or drink
pronounced "kerry oot" "kerry oot"
The latter is deemed a precious item. Often purchased after leaving the pub late at night, the odds against it reaching its destination intact (especially in bottled form) is not good.
"Ah drapped mah kerry oot oan eh pavement an eh boattle smashed." "I dropped my carry-out on the pavement (sidewalk), and the bottle smashed."

motor car
"Mah dug goat noaked doon bih a caur." "My dog was knocked down by a car."

chanty wrastler
an insult someone who is reckoned to be incompetent.
A chanty is a chamber pot (or poe). To wrastle is as in wrestle.
Therefore we have one who wrestles chamberpots ?!!
Whatever the translation, this colourful term remains one of my personal favourites.
Try it next time you phone up to complain about some poor service received.
"Yer jist a bunch a chanty-wrastlers!" "You are of the group of lower-order, menial labourers!"

"Ah jist went up an chinned the waiter." "I went and complained to the waiter."

chuckie or chuckiestane
small stone, pebble
"Wha's flingin chuckies at mah windae?" "Who is throwing stones at my window?"

"Away an wash ... "Go away and wash ... (pronounced as in trash) ... yir hauns, thir clatty!" ... our hands are filthy!"

common entrance and stairs to a tenement building.
The close served/serves all residents of flats 'up that close'.
Each close carried/carries a number shared by all living there. It's important to bear this in mind when researching tenement addresses as there could be up to 20 flats/families sharing the one close and number.


coorie in
snuggle up, cuddle someone
"It wiz really cauld so we cooried intae each urra." "It was really cold, so we snuggled up together."

get what is coming to you
"Wan eh eez days yir gonnae cop yer whack!" "One of these days, you will receive your just deserts!"

corrie fisted
left handed

grumpy, irritable
"Away ya crabbit sod ye!" "Go away you grumpy person!"

Right, enough of this fur noo. Ahm away tae try an dae a wee poem fur halloween.

Top of the Page

Original postings on Scotlands People Discussion Group © 2003, 2004 Bob Wilson
Layout, editing and additional material © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016
'tachras' and 'Winding Yarn' © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016

tachras Home Page
Talk to tachras
Translate into English
Darwin's Mouse
The Annexe