Learning the Scottish Accent
WHAT WILL YOU DOWNLOAD?
The download contains seventy-nine (79) minutes of systematic instruction in MP3 sound files. You’ll also get a printable PDF of the instruction manual. It contains summaries of the audio lessons and full transcripts of the drill words, phrases, and passages.
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
You’ll first learn a general Scottish accent. You’ll then learn to modify the style and intensity of the accent.
- Lesson 1 teaches the Scottish accent’s resonance or voice placement. In other words, you’ll learn how to move and shape your mouth to create the Scottish sound focus.
- Lesson 2 coaches you on three Scottish vowels and the tapped/trilled R as extensions of that placement feature.
- The 3rd Lesson creates the upward lilt or inflection characteristic of Scottish (and Northern Irish) speech.
- Lesson 4 teaches the Scottish vowels that most strongly embody the lilt you learned earlier.
- Lesson 5 teaches several other target vowels and consonants, including the glottal stop.
- The Final Lesson puts it all together in several drill passages. First, it reminds you about the voice placement. It then drills the pronunciation phrase by phrase before taking you to a normal speaking pace. Finally, it shows you how to soften and intensify the accent as required for different characters.
MORE ABOUT THE SCOTTISH ACCENT
Similar to the linguistic situation in Ireland, Scotland’s primary language used to be Gaelic, albeit the Scottish dialect of the language. Over the years, as part of the United Kingdom, English with different intensities of the Scottish accent become more dominant. As is also the case in Ireland, the number of Gaelic speakers has been increasing in recent decades. This has accompanied the growing nationalist movement and political attempts to secede from the UK.
SCOTTISH FOR TODAY’S ACTORS
Most of today’s English speakers are somewhat familiar with at least the general sound of Scottish speech. Many actors and TV personalities nowadays use it when interviewed (or interviewing). Among the many native-speaking Scottish actors are Sean Connery, Billy Connolly, Ewan McGregor, and Karen Gillan. Talk show host Craig Fergusson also has Scottish speech. TV watchers from the ’60s and beyond heard the accent from Star Trek character Scotty, played by versatile dialect-actor James Doohan.
- Some intensely heavy Scottish accents of the Border regions and Glasgow can be hard for outsiders to understand. Actors must find a balance between the authentic and the intelligible. The audios provide advice for avoiding problems with understandability.
- Scottish characters are not as prevalent as Irish in the world of English-language scripts. In one of my own favorite plays, all of the characters are Scots. It’s Jay Presson Allen’s adaptation of Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It also provides extraordinary roles for women. And, let’s not forget most characters in the still popular Lerner & Loewe musical Brigadoon. In light of Mike Meyers’ original performance, the title character in Shrek: The Musical often sounds Scottish. Also, as the Harry Potter play has new productions and replacement casts, Scottish is needed for Professor McGonagall auditions.
- PERSONAL NOTE: I played Arvide Abernathy in a 2011 production of Guys & Dolls. Since it’s a Scottish name, the director and I decided that he came to New York from Scotland. That was the only time to date that I myself have acted and sung with this accent.