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, 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.
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
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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.
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.
James Kelman's 1994 novel How Late It Was, How Late is written largely in Glaswegian dialect from the point of view of Sammy Samuels, a 38-year-old ex-convict who wakes up blind after a drinking binge and a fight with police. The novel won the 1994 Booker Prize.
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.
Alleged 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, infiltrating the traditional Glasgow patter. For example, th-fronting is commonly found, and typical Scottish features such as the post-vocalic /r/ are reduced, although this last feature is more likely to be a development of Central Belt Scots origin, unrelated to Anglo-English nonrhoticity. 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.
The linguist John C. Wells, a critic of the media reporting on Estuary English, has questioned whether Glasgow is being influenced by Cockney speech. He claimed that journalists had misrepresented the prevalence of th-fronting in Glasgow and that there is no evidence that th-fronting originated in London. He also wrote that all dialects change over time and that change does not mean that the Glasgow patter will disappear.
- Menzies, Janet (1991), "An Investigation of Attitudes to Scots", Scottish Language, 10: 30–46
- 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.
- Is TV a contributory factor in accent change in adolescents? - ESRC Society Today
- Cockney creep puts paid to the patter - Evening Times
- 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.
- Speitel, H. H. & Johnston, P. (1983). ESRC End of Grant Report "A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Edinburgh Speech."
- "BBC NEWS - UK - Scotland - Soaps may be washing out accent". bbc.co.uk.
- 'We fink, so we are from Glasgow' - Times Online
- Scots kids rabbitin' like Cockneys - Sunday Herald
- - Faculty of Arts, University of Glasgow Archived 30 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/glasgow.htm Glasgow puts an accent on Estuary with comments by John Wells, 26 February 1999