Glasgow patter

The Glasgow patter, or Glaswegian, is a Scots dialect spoken in and around Glasgow, Scotland. In addition to local West Mid Scots, the dialect has Highland English and Hiberno-English influences,[1] owing to the speech of Highlanders and Irish people, who migrated in large numbers to the Glasgow area in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[2]

The Patter is used widely in everyday speech in Glasgow, and even occasionally in broadcasting and print. It is constantly evolving and being updated with new euphemisms as well as nicknames for well-known local figures and buildings.

In the media

Michael Munro wrote a guide to Glasgow Patter entitled The Patter, first published in 1985. With illustrations by David Neilson, and later by the Paisley-born artist and playwright John Byrne, the book became very popular in Glasgow. It was followed by The Patter - Another Blast in 1988, with The Complete Patter, an updated compendium of the first and second books, being published in 1996.

In the 1970s, the Glasgow-born comedian Stanley Baxter parodied the patter on his television sketch show. "Parliamo Glasgow" was a spoof programme in which Baxter played a language coach and various scenarios using Glaswegian dialogue were played out for laughs.

The 1998 film My Name is Joe is one of the few films recorded [almost] entirely in Glasgow dialect. As a result, the film had to be given subtitles when released in the USA.

Jamie Stuart, a Church of Scotland elder from the High Carntyne Church, produced "A Glasgow Bible" in 1997, relating some biblical tales in the Glaswegian vernacular. More recently, in 2014 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was translated into Glaswegian Scots by Thomas Clark as Alice's Adventirs in Wunnerlaun.

Popular Scottish television comedies such as Rab C. Nesbitt, Chewin' the Fat, Still Game and Limmy's Show also provide reference material, and have themselves contributed popular new expressions to The Patter.

HarperCollins Publishers produce a Scots dictionary entitled Collins "Pocket Scots Dictionary" in which it lists many Glasgow Scots words and expressions spoken in the Glaswegian vernacular. Published 1996, ISBN 000 470716-8.

Cassell published a "Dictionary of Slang" by Jonathon Green with slang for the English language as spoken in the UK, USA and worldwide including many words and expressions from Scots dialect and the Glasgow vernacular. Published 1998.

Influence from Cockney

Studies have indicated that working-class adolescents in areas such as Glasgow have begun to use certain aspects of Cockney and other Anglicisms in their speech,[3] infiltrating the traditional Glasgow patter.[4] For example, th-fronting is commonly found, and typical Scottish features such as the post-vocalic /r/ are reduced,[5] although this last feature is more likely to be a development of Central Belt Scots origin, unrelated to Anglo-English nonrhoticity.[6] Researches suggest the use of English speech characteristics is likely to be consequential on the influence of London and South East England accents which feature prominently on television.[7][8][9][10]


  1. Menzies, Janet (1991), "An Investigation of Attitudes to Scots", Scottish Language, 10: 30–46
  2. Fraser, W. Hamish; Thomas Martin Devine; Gordon Jackson; Irene Maver (1997). Glasgow: Volume II: 1830-1912. Manchester University Press. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-0-7190-3692-7.
  3. Is TV a contributory factor in accent change in adolescents? - ESRC Society Today
  4. Cockney creep puts paid to the patter - Evening Times
  5. Stuart-Smith, Jane; Timmins, Claire; Tweedie, Fiona (1 April 2007). "'Talkin' Jockney'? Variation and change in Glaswegian accent1". 11 (2): 221–260. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9841.2007.00319.x via Wiley Online Library.
  6. Speitel, H. H. & Johnston, P. (1983). ESRC End of Grant Report “A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Edinburgh Speech.”
  7. "BBC NEWS - UK - Scotland - Soaps may be washing out accent".
  8. 'We fink, so we are from Glasgow' - Times Online
  9. Scots kids rabbitin' like Cockneys - Sunday Herald
  10. - Faculty of Arts, University of Glasgow

External links

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