Tips on Visiting Glasgow: Know Your Scots from Your Scotch

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For delegates of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress visiting Scotland from afar later this month, here are some important tips to help you be in the know and avoid looking like a Glasgow newbie.

  • Glasgow is pronounced “Glass – go”
  • Edinburg is pronounced “Ed-in-bruh” (as in BRUsh).
  • Oban is pronounced “Oh-bun” no “O’ban”
  • Scotland is NOT in England, and if you live in Scotland, you are Scottish or a Scot (not Scotch and definitely NOT English)
  • A haggis is NOT a native animal in Scotland – you really do not want to know what a haggis is made from, but it is surprisingly tasty. For those adverse to eating random offal in a bag, vegetarian haggis is totally delicious.
  • People from Scotland are Scottish, not Scotch, that is a drink. In fact, if you want scotch in Scotland, just ask for whisky
  • Irish whiskey is spelled with an “e,” and Scottish whisky is spelled without one. This is because Irish Whiskey exporters wanted to look more posh (this is true).
  • Bourbon is NOT whisky.
  • A pudding is a heart- and artery-destroying sausage. It does not taste like chocolate.
  • Scones are flat, fried potato pancakes and you shouldn’t put cream and jam on them.
  • Glaswegians will get very upset if you suggest that all their food is battered and deep fried. Although, every Glaswegian I know says they have tried and liked deep-fried pizza and deep-fried Mars bars.
  • Hershey bars are legally not considered to be chocolate in the UK – they take their chocolate seriously.
  • Braveheart bears no resemblance to Scottish history, whatsoever.
  • The traditional dress for men is a kilt, not a skirt. The traditional Scottish costume for men has a small knife that you wear tucked into your sock. This is for dealing with people who try to flip your kilt up.
  • Nothing is worn under the kilt – it’s all in perfect working order. (This is a very old Scottish joke, that every Scot will have heard before, so don’t try it)
  • Only American tourists of the worst kind wear plaid jackets, trousers (pants) and tam o’shanter hats.
  • It’s “tartan,” not “plaid.”
  • The traditional highland tartan was basically an early form of camouflage, using dyes from traditional plants. This aided cattle rustling and raiding attempts.
  • The idea that different clans and families have different tartans is an ancient tradition dating back to …1822. Clans did often have similar colours in their tartans because of local plants used in dying, and the same weavers making the plaid, but the elaborate genealogy of tartans is something invented relatively recently.
  • The Scots actually came from Ireland. They colonized southwestern Scotland and then expanded to take over the rest of the country, dominating the Picts who lived there prior.
  • Glasgow was actually colonised by the Welsh (technically native Britons who lived in England before Anglo-Saxons invaded). There are lot of strange, unique words in the local dialect as a result.
  • The Norse also conquered western and northern Scotland and ruled it for hundreds of years – genetically, this explains the large numbers of “gingers” in some regions.
  • The scale that measures the degree to which a patient is in a coma, was developed in Glasgow.
  • James Doohan (Scotty), Christopher Lambert (Highlander), Mel Gibson (Braveheart) and Shrek do not have genuine Scottish accents. (Although, Mike Myers, who voices Shrek has Glaswegian family and can do a good accent).
  • No one says “och aye the noo” or “hoots mon” or “see you Jimmy.”
  • Famous Glaswegians actors include: Robbie Carlyle (Trainspotting, One Upon a Time, Stargate: Universe), John Barrowman (Torchwood, Dr. Who), Peter Capaldi (the new Dr. Who), Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings), Billy Connelly, Gerard Butler (300), Henry Ian Cusick (Lost), Ian De Caestecker (Agents of Shield), John Hannah (The Mummy), David McAllum (Man from Uncle), Kelly MacDonald (Boardwalk Empire, Trainspotting), James McAvoy (X-Men First Class and almost everything these days).
  • There is a police box (yes an actual TARDIS) in the center of Glasgow, that is a registered historic monument.

-These tips were provided by Dr. Chris Parsons—IMCC3 Chair, marine conservation scientist and renowned Brit.

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