Weegie Words.

I’ve long been a fan of the Glaswegian dialect (see this post from 2003); EveningTimes (“Nobody knows Glasgow better”) has a post called “The Weegie Words: you help us list 100 words that prove you come from Glasgow,” starting with the opaque (if you’re not Glaswegian) “Happenin? You wint tae cum to ma bit cos I’ve goat an empty ra morra ‘n a fancy a swally?” and interpreting it (they don’t, however, explain the “empty ra morra,” which I’m curious about), and it’s a lot of fun. Thanks, AJP!


  1. Hmm, you might enjoy a skim through the heavily Glaswegian-scented Malky Dungeon, http://malkydungeon.com/wordpress/ . Starts with “a night oot on the randan with a Weegie Wizard”, but now seems to be exploring some of the myths and history of the scottish highlands.

  2. ‘an empty ra morra’: their parents are out tomorrow.

    an empty – an unexpected absence of parents where teenagers are left unattended and throw a party, says wikihow

  3. Many thanks — that was preying on my mind!

  4. > they don’t, however, explain the “empty ra morra,” which I’m curious about

    Two other example sentences use “morra”:

    > Here John, Heather wae the Weather said it’s gonna be warm the morra, taps aff [=shirts off] for the lads.

    > Maw (mother), gonne make me my pieces [=sandwiches] for ma work the morra.

    One other example sentence uses “ra”:

    > Ah’ll keep the edgie [=the lookout] troops. Edgie! [=Look out!] there ra polis!

    I infer that “the morra” means “tomorrow”, and that “ra” is a variant of “the” (maybe postvocalic? though Glasgow is traditionally rhotic, so I don’t know if that makes sense).

    The only example sentence with “empty” is using it as in Standard English, so for that one we have to guess. My guess is, “a day off”: that is I’m betting that “I’ve goat an empty ra morra” means “tomorrow’s my day off”.

  5. Whoops, should have refreshed before submitting. Well, it was a fun exercise anyway. 🙂

  6. Wow, the smileys are horrendous. Is this your way of discouraging us from using them?

  7. You might want to check out a sketch show called Burnistoun. There are a lot of episodes available on YouTube.

  8. Trond Engen says

    Limited evidence, admittedly, but to me ra’ (assuming a glottal stop) reads like a preposition, maybe a worn-down over at, a parallel to pon. The choice of ‘at’ with ‘morrow’ isn’t odd (what’s odd is the standard English ‘to morrow’), but it bothers me that the innovative form would be less likely to replace a’ in a set phrase.

    This reading is undoubtedly informed by the existence of parallels in Norwegian. “on” is standard, also in Danish and Swedish, but dialects have ti “out in”, ni “inside”, ta “out of, off”. tur “out of”.

  9. I took “ra morra” to be just “tomorrow” with a flapped “t”.

  10. Stanley Baxter is of course the classic entry to Glasgow dialect from the 1960s, a parody of a BBC language-learning series ‘Parliamo Italiano’:


  11. Angus-Michel says

    _Ra_ is a common Glasgow variant of general Scots _the_, Shetlandic _da_. _The morra_ is a pretty conventional Scots way to say ‘tomorrow’ (though it depends on the dialect, and _the morn_ may be more popular overall, I’m not sure).

  12. If you haven’t already come across them, you might like the “McAuslan” stories by George MacDonald Fraser (who also wrote the Flashman novels) about his time as a junior officer in a Highland regiment, many of whose soldiers were Glaswegian. There’s a great one in which McAuslan is court-martialled for abusive language to a superior: the language in question includes “glaikit sumph”, “shilpit wee nyaff” and, to everyone’s disappointment, “rotten bastard”.

  13. As Angus-Michel says: “ra” is simply “the”. There are many excellent examples in the educational Parliamo Glasgow programmes that BerlinBrian has referred to above. For instance, in the typical questions

    Whirra-helza marra?
    Wherra-helza booze?
    Whenra-helza party startin?

    or the more complex phrase [my stress mark added]

    Rapérorum tummul-tinty bed (The pair of them tumbled into bed)

  14. Thanks, that’s very helpful!

  15. My favourite Stanley Baxter Parliamo Glasgow, from 1967-ish, was “Irra pairra pears” (“Here is a pair of pears.”)

  16. Trond Engen says

    I should have been able to recognize that rhoticized ð. My native Central Scandinavian does much the same thing to clitic pronouns:

    Skurruharemeræ? = Skulle du ha det med deg? “Were you supposed to take it with you?”

  17. Alon Lischinsky says

    I should have been able to recognize that rhoticized ð

    A close cousin of the alveolar flapping that leads to the writer-rider merge.

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