Contrary to what you may have heard, the Scottish temperament is not particularly fiery; however, certain things can irritate or annoy locals. If you are visiting Scotland and wish to avoid causing unintentional offense, we have compiled a list of 15 things not to say (some of which are meant in jest)!
‘Irn Bru? No thank you!’
This orange-colored, super-sweet soft drink is so deeply ingrained in the Scottish psyche that it has even taken a front seat (or stand!) in political campaigns. So refusing a glass is unacceptable. Many Scots also swear by its incredible ability to cure hangovers, despite the fact that it stains everything it touches orange and contains enough sugar to rot the Loch Ness Monster’s fangs. That leads to…
‘Of course Nessie doesn’t exist!’
Haud your wheezing! Every Scot is aware of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. This is an undeniable fact; even Saint Columba witnessed the beast. The size of Loch Ness is sufficient to conceal a large and timid monster. Nessie attracts tourists from all over the world to the shores of Loch Ness, all eager to capture photographic evidence of the monster’s existence and spend money at local souvenir shops…
‘Oh, you live in Inverness, do you know my friend Craig?’
Although Scotland is a small nation, that does not mean we all know one another! Inverness is a city with a population of tens of thousands, and Scotland as a whole has a population of nearly 5.5 million people — more than Norway! (However, it should be noted that there is a distinct possibility that we do know Craig!)
‘It always rains in Scotland, right?’
In actuality, it does not. There is a great deal of precipitation, but it is primarily concentrated in certain regions, such as the west coast, while other regions receive significantly less. The fact that Scotland is located further north than the rest of the United Kingdom distinguishes it from the rest of the country. As a result, Scotland enjoys significantly more daylight hours in the summer, which increases the likelihood of even more sunshine. It is entirely possible to experience all four seasons in a single day in Scotland; therefore, you should bring sunscreen. In Glasgow, this type of weather is referred to as ‘Tapps-Aff’ weather, which literally means ‘tops off.’
When a person learns that they are Scottish, they often make a terrible Mel Gibson Braveheart impression. With the thorny independence issue never far from the surface and a politically reenergized populace in the wake of the 2014 Independence Referendum (also known as IndyRef), such a cry may spark a lively political debate!
‘You Scots are all tight-fisted and miserly.’
The stereotype of the thrifty Scot who carefully hoards their last dollar is undeniable. In contrast, the reality is quite the opposite. Being frugal is not synonymous with stinginess, and there are centuries-old traditions of hospitality and generosity. This stereotype has actually made many Scots fear being labeled stingy, and you may witness a hilarious argument in a bar over whose turn it is to buy the drinks — not because they don’t want to pay, but because they do, in order to avoid the miserly label!
‘Is this money real?’
Yes, our banknotes are distinct from those of England; yes, they are legal tender; no, they are not “funny money”! In addition to using Bank of England banknotes, Scots also utilize currency with distinct designs from The Royal Bank of Scotland, The Bank of Scotland, and The Clydesdale Bank.
‘What do you wear under your kilt?’
This is akin to asking a person what underwear they are wearing, and is therefore not in good taste. Regarding kilt attire, each individual has their own preference; some wear underwear, while others do not. Given the weight of wool in most modern kilts, contrary to what you may have heard about kilts flapping in the wind and exposing the wearer, this is also unlikely.
‘Andy Murray, British tennis champion/Andy Murray, losing Scot’
This is a major concern for many Scots, who watch as the tennis prodigy from Dunblane is claimed by Britain when he wins and cast aside when he loses. On occasion, he has been called English. Can we Scots not have him constantly, whether we win or lose? The Scots have a few other notable athletes, but fewer than larger nations, and they are justifiably proud of Andy’s accomplishments, title or no title. Obviously, this also raises the issue of explaining the distinctions between Britain, the United Kingdom, The British Isles, England, and Scotland, but that is a topic best left for another time.
No. Scotch is a type of whisky, while “Scots” is a woman. Or man. They are not Scotch! If uncertain, “Scottish” is the best option.
‘Isn’t all your food deep-fried?’
Yes, we did invent the deep-fried battered Mars bar and possibly a number of other deep-fried delicacies, but Scottish cuisine is quite unique. As a result of Scotland’s exceptional seafood, soft fruits, beef, and foraged mushrooms, the current restaurant scene is so exciting. As a nation, the United Kingdom has come a long way since the days of beige plates.
‘Aren’t you all stuck in the past?’
Some people continue to believe that Scots lack electricity, running water, and the internet, but this is not the case. In fact, Scotland has a long and illustrious history of invention and innovation, with many of the everyday objects we take for granted having been invented here. This tradition continues today with world-leading initiatives in green energy, such as the record-setting tidal array off the coast of Orkney.
‘You’re Scottish? I bet you like a drink?’
Yes, Scotland has a reputation for being a nation of heavy drinkers, but this reputation is based on the country’s past behavior. Modern Scots prefer quality over quantity, which is a good thing given that they produce the best whisky in the world, outstanding gins, and superb craft ales. Add to this the proliferation of wonderful coffee shops and delectable non-alcoholic alternatives, and it is clear that the stereotype of the drunk Scot is no longer accurate.
‘So is Scotland a part of England?’
This is a dreaded question for all Scots! No, Scotland is a distinct country from England. It is not the best idea in the world to refer to a Scot as English; they share many similarities with their cousins south of the border and love them dearly, but they are also extremely proud of their own identity and heritage. Listen to the accent, or err on the side of caution and assume that every local you meet in Scotland is Scottish, as not all of them were born there; Scotland is a small, hospitable nation.
‘Och aye the noo.’
No. Just don’t. Stop immediately. Thanks.
Topic: 15 Things You Should Never Say to a Scottish Person
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