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English (Scottish) Language Day at the UN

With English Langauge Day at the UN today (4/23/19), ISI Language Solutions sat down with one of our Project Managers, Katie Nolte, to talk about some of her favorite things about Scottish culture and the English language.

Where is your hometown?

Katie: My hometown is Woodbury, Connecticut. However, given that most of us here at ISI are already well acquainted with American English, I’ve been asked to answer these questions from the perspective of my home-away-from-home, Scotland. Shortly before moving to Glendale, I lived in Edinburgh for 15 months while completing my Master’s degree. I was fortunate to learn quite a bit about the quirks of Scottish English while living with Scottish roommates and working at a local café. I hope you all find the nuances of Scottish English as charming as I do, and that you make it over there one day to dance in a cèilidh (pronounced “Kailey”) and try some haggis!

What is your favorite word and/or expression in (Scottish) English and why?

Katie: My favorite Scottish word would have to be “wee,” which I grew accustomed to hearing almost daily in a wide variety of expressions ranging from “I need a wee signature,” to “That screaming kid is a cheeky wee monkey.”

My favorite Scottish expression is “Ah dinnae ken,” which translates to “I don’t know” in standard English. I found it interesting to hear such a common verb (“know”) being replaced in every day conversation. This expression was frequently met by tourists with an exasperated, “Who’s Ken??”.

What is your favorite thing about Scottish culture?

Katie: While living in Scotland, I was lucky enough to attend a handful of cèilidhs, which are social events involving Scottish folk music, line dancing, and, of course, kilts. They’re an indispensable element of any good Scottish wedding, graduation ceremony, or holiday.

Scottish Ceilidh Dancing

What is your favorite Scottish idiosyncrasy that most people would not know?

Katie: Instead of saying I’m finished, the Scottish often use the construction “That’s me finished.”

For example, “That’s me finished with this interview.”

Another example of this phenomenon, taken directly from my experience at the café: “Stop eating haggis, Katie. Those dishes need washed!”

What is your favorite Scottish meal and why?

Katie: Haggis, neeps (turnips), and tatties (mashed potatoes) with whisky sauce. Here’s a link to the recipe, but you really should try it first: This meal is extra special because it’s difficult to find outside of Scotland and impossible to find in the U.S. (suffice it to say that foods containing sheep lung are banned here). Vegetarian haggis is also an option!

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Stack

What about your favorite song/type of music?

Katie: Shameless plug for my former Scottish roommate, Shuna Lovelle:

What’s your favorite Scottish read?

Katie: Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh. This book, and its corresponding movie, take place right in Leith, my former Edinburgh neighborhood. Those of you who are already familiar with it will be relieved to know that the neighborhood has cleaned up quite a bit since the 1990s.

What’s your favorite Scottish movie?

Katie: Braveheart, although the Scots will tell you that Mel Gibson butchered the accent. Nonetheless, it gives you a spectacular sense of the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.


And lastly, what would most people be surprised about traveling in Scotland?

Katie: Despite the seemingly endless rain, Scotland is actually an ideal travel destination in the summer. In June, you can enjoy daylight for 17 hours out of the day (3 more hours than we get here in L.A.). And if you’re lucky enough to be there for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, you’ll have the opportunity to check out more than 55,000 performances of over 3,500 different shows (including my roommate’s!). The Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, and the best thing about it is that many of the shows are free!

When you are navigating the world of different languages, including English, it can become a challenging task. That’s why having a partner who understands the subtleties inherent to any culture is key to success in translation. ISI Language Solutions has helped our clients in all target markets for over 36 years.

If you are ready to talk language, contact us today at [email protected].



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