How to Accurately Write a Scottish Accent?

To pen an authentic Scottish accent, a writer must have a good grasp of the specific dialect and language typical to the people of Scotland. The Scottish language consists of four main dialects, namely: Insular, Northern, Central, and Southern. Due to geographical scales and variations, many sub-dialects have developed over time, each encompassing specific local accents.

Understanding the Dialects

These dialects evolve over time and usage; hence it is important to understand their specificities. For example, the Glasgow Accent is a local variant of the West Central Scots accent, a sub-dialect of the broader Central Scots dialect. All these slight variations in accent need to be accounted for when writing a Scottish character.

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Writing Scottish Characters

When creating an authentic Scottish character, it’s essential to sprinkle dialogue with correct Scottish words. This not only brings your character to life but the essence of Scotland, too. Each area or region in Scotland has its distinct set of words and phrases unique to their location, making Scottish dialects and accents truly diverse and rich.

Unconventional Words

Often Scottish dialect has words and idiosyncrasies that may not be found in conventional dictionaries. For example, in Caithness, a seagull is known as a scorrie. As a writer, it’s a fine balance to maintain authenticity while ensuring your broader audience can understand the dialogue in your story.

  • ‘dinny’ for ‘don’t’
  • ‘cannae’ for ‘can’t’
  • ‘gonnae’ or ‘gunna’ for ‘going to’
  • ‘aye’ for ‘yes’
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The Language Evolution

Just as languages evolve, the words and phrases used by each generation change over time. The way a word is pronounced or the kind of words used can indicate a particular age group, and hence, helps in defining the timeline of your story. You’d also need to take into account that dialects change with geographical location as well, making Scottish accents and dialects quite diverse.


In a nutshell, to write an authentic Scottish accent, understanding the variation in dialects and being aware of the right words to use is crucial. Remember to consider the location and the period in which your story is set as these factors can significantly influence the type of dialect and words used. With proper knowledge and understanding, you can bring your Scottish characters alive, complete with an authentic accent representing the rich and diverse Scottish language.

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