Let's Talk About | Scottish Stereotypes

August 19, 2013

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Hello ♥

What's the first thing that pops into your head when you think of Scotland? Maybe it's the beautiful countryside and wildlife or world famous actors such as Sean Connery and James McAvoy. Maybe, if you're a football fan it's the recent 3-2 defeat to England. Or perhaps you have a more stereotypical impression that we are haggis eating, irn bru and whisky drinking, red headed (or ginger) alcoholics who don themselves in kilts regularly and are tight with their cash.

Film and television, in particular, has an awful way of stereotyping the Scots. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are plenty of other nationalities who fall prey to the narrow minded thoughts of many screenwriters and directors. If I hear that there is an American film set in Scotland, I cringe.  Often, the accent is hammed up to the point where even I struggle to understand them and you can bet that at some point there will be the mention of haggis and men strutting about in kilts. Remember Made of Honour? If you thought that was a good representation of Scotland then I'm afraid your sadly mistaken. Also, see Braveheart? Most of the story was made up purely for the movie, Mel Gibson did the worst Scottish accent I have ever heard and most of it was filmed in Ireland. Oh yeah, and the scene about the Battle of Stirling Bridge was missing the all important bridge!

Yes, I am fiercely proud to be Scottish (and a bit Estonian!). Hearing bagpipes being played does give me chills and, yes, seeing my other half in his kilt at a wedding is always a pleasure but, as stereotypes do, there is such an exaggeration on all things Scottish that I just have to sort a few things out.

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Food, drink and alcoholics
Scotland is well known for whisky, Irn Bru, haggis and shortbread.  Whisky (notice it doesn't have an E in Scotland) is one of the country's biggest exports but it doesn't mean that we are all whisky drinkers, or alcoholics. It is true that when my dad was younger he did indeed work in a whisky distillery but I don't think I have tasted anything quite as disgusting. Irn Bru, however, I do love. The bright orange drink made by Barrs is one of my go to drinks when I'm out. If you haven't tried it you should.

Now haggis is something I'm not so keen on any more. I used to enjoy it up until a couple of years ago where I just kind of went off it. People turn there noses up at haggis due to the whole cooked in a sheep's stomach history when, in fact, most commercial haggis nowadays is made in a casing much like sausages. It's really not all that disgusting. And yes, shortbread is just too good.

It won't surprise you that there are a range of accents in Scotland. After all, you don't expect a Londoner to have the same accent as Liverpudlian or someone from California to sound the same as a New Yorker.  So surely you won't be amazed when I tell you I don't have a thick highland accent that is difficult to understand. Of course, I do have a Scottish accent (although up until the age of about 18 I just couldn't hear it) but I am we'll spoken. That being said, there are plenty of people with worse accents than me but that happens in every country and shouldn't be generalised. Also, we don't all go about saying things like "och aye the noo" or "I ken that", I'm sure people do. Just not the people I know.  I do love a lot of the words we use in Scotland that maybe aren't used elsewhere like "playpiece", "wee" or "dreich".

Other than at weddings, sporting events and the occasional busker, bagpipes really aren't a normal occurrence. Not everyone can play them or is in a pipe band, although both my dad and my other half played drums for their pipe band when they were in the Boys Brigade growing up. Yes, they give me chills and I love them while belting out Flower of Scotland but if I heard them all the time it would do my head in.

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My other half's kilt, Cameron of Erracht Tartan

Breaking News: not all men wear kilts. Again, other than at a wedding or sporting event, it is rare to see anyone wearing a kilt. My other half owns his own kilt in which he looks rather dashing in if I do say so! In our eight years together I have see him wear it a total of... about six times. 

There is a misconception that the Scots are grumpy, tight fisted people who are always up for a fight. Apparently we aren't particularly generous people which isn't true but, then again, who isn't a little more money conscious in this current economic climate?  Although I can't disagree that there are plenty of people like this, in my experience, the people of Scotland as a whole are generous and kind. 

Anyway, that was a long rant about stereotypes. Have a missed any other common stereotypes of the Scottish people?

 I'm looking to perhaps turn Lets Talk About into a weekly or every two week series but I need more topics to discuss! If you have any in mind please leave a comment or you can email me or contact me on twitter!

Until next time!

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  1. They aren't allowed to import haggis into the US - not really sure why. Luckily I can get my Irn Bru fix in the US - one of the posher supermarkets has it in the British aisle section. Although i'm not Scottish I was somewhat raised on Irn Bru living in the north of England as it was always in the stores. Although the price for a single can here is ridiculously expensive ... but worth it for a treat!

    1. I can imagine it would be pretty expensive. The price of imported food over here can be crazy! I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't have Irn Bru. Haha

      Debi x


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