“The Glasgow accent was so strong you could have built a bridge with it and known it would outlast the civilization that spawned it.” - Val McDermid
“Working-class”, “rough”, “unattractive”. These are a few words that have been used to describe Glaswegian in aw of its glory. The stigmatisation of Glaswegian has existed for years, stemming fae a working-class prejudice that branded our accents as bein as hard and as crass as the exterior of the city of Glasgow itself. Coming fae Glasgow, and attending uni here, av often found that av had tae make sure to subtly tuck away my weegie lingo whenever a step foot on campus. Not necessarily for fear of being misunderstood, as students from elsewhere try to peer through the thick fog of the ayes and naws of the Glaswegian accent, but more so tae feel as though a belong intellectually in higher education, avoiding any existing stereotypes that annoyingly seem tae follow my accent everywhere.
Most Glaswegians, and Scots speakers for that matter, find themselves on a linguistic continuum. Language shapeshifters almost, sliding between Scottish Standard English and Broad Scots depending on where we are and who we’re wae. Classism is also deeply rooted within this continuum, with Scottish Standard English being spoken more commonly by the “educated” and “middle class”, and Broad Scots, or in this case, Glaswegian being more commonly used by the “working class” and having connotations of being far less professional and academic. A mind being in school and being told and hearing on countless occasions tae “speak properly”. This, of course, meant to speak in any variety of English that didn’t scream “working class” so as tae fit into a society and a system that favours the bourgeois.
"Most Glaswegians, and Scots speakers for that matter, find themselves on a linguistic continuum, sliding between Scottish Standard English and Broad Scots depending on where we are and who we’re wae."
These lessons and societal rules that a learnt about my accent made my initial introduction into higher education an extremely self-conscious one. Aware that if a were to speak how a would normally, my peers would potentially brand me as rough or uneducated. A longed to hear my tutors say a friendly “Happening?” when they arrived at seminars, or even to hear my course-mates suggest a wee “swally” efter class. Over time, and like a parrot, a even embarrassingly began to mimic the main accent that a heard on campus – aye, a spinelessly succumbed to the Glasgow Uni accent. Riddy. For a while, a felt as though a was living two separate lives. Like the Hannah Montana of the West End, a arrived on campus with my “no way man” and “that’s sick bro” ready to unleash on my uni pals. Then a wid jump the train back home and shake off that metaphorical blonde wig, transforming intae wee Miley who didn’t pronounce the “t” sound in “butter”. Not hearing an accent like mine in academic spaces contributed to my feelings of not belonging at university and higher education, a feeling all too real for not just Glaswegians, but working-class students everywhere.
"Like the Hannah Montana of the West End, a arrived on campus with my “no way man” and “that’s sick bro” ready to unleash on my uni pals."
A never truly thought or felt empowered by my accent until a started to see it in places it would previously have been shunned. Television and literature seemed to be territory reserved for speakers of Standard English and that well-known BBC accent. The popularisation of programmes like Still Game and Limmy’s Show were actually kinda revolutionary for me growing up and seeing that successful people can have Glaswegian accents – “no way man, that’s sick bro!” Another major contributor to my pride of place in my accent has been through discovering Scottish literature. Chris McQueer, a current favourite of mine, writes short stories in his books Hings and HWFG in a Glaswegian dialect. His stories sometimes feel like am at an efters, and someone sat next to me is chewin my ear clean aff with some far-fetched story about a friend of a friend, and a pure love it!
Whenever a hear a Glaswegian accent, a feel a sense of belonging and identity that for so long a tried my best to hide to avoid being stereotyped. Am no trying tae sell yous a tea towel or a postcard with “BAWBAG” written on it, but a really do think that we’ve outgrown the “hard-man” stereotype associated with it and have made room for Glaswegian tae be used in environments and industries where it wasn’t always welcomed. Glaswegian is sexy, and anyone who disagrees can actually Get Tae F-
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