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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Hansard Highlights

Since 1707 Scotland has elected representatives to sit in the Westminster parliament, and Scottish members have naturally employed language from their native country. Sarah Mackie has recently put together two videos of clips of various Scottish members making speeches. The speeches are in English, delivered in Scottish accents, but the members have also occasionally used words and phrases from the Scots language. This tradition often leaves English members, who are unfamiliar with the Scots language, nonplussed, and explanations are generally required by the Hansard writers.

In both videos there are a mixture of words and phrases ranging from classical Scots, such as fankle (a muddle or tangle), Jock Tamson’s Bairns (common humanity), scunnert (disgusted or repelled), stoushie (commotion or uproar) and thrawn (obstinate), to more colloquial expressions such as hee haw, fannying, slap it in tae ye or in the name o the wee man. There are also some interesting new words coined from older forms, such as clusterbourach (a complete and utter disaster or mess with widespread fallout).

Watch the videos and see how many Scots words you know. If you enjoyed this, why not also check out the SLC’s feature on Scots as a medium of political discourse through history which includes a vocabulary list of political terminology.

What’s Hansard?

In a nutshell, this is the official record of speeches made in the Westminster parliament, London. It is named after Thomas Curson Hansard (1776-1833) who was a printer and publisher in London and who, from 1809, began publishing a record of politicians’ speeches. However, it was not until 1909 that a team was established within Westminster to keep a comprehensive account of every speech made. They retained the publication name Hansard which had been in use since 1829.