You parliamo Glasgow? Bus driver learns Polish to teach workmates the local lingo
IT IS Glasgow's unique tongue – unintelligible to many native English speakers, let alone the city's burgeoning population of east European immigrants.
Now, a Scottish bus company has taken steps to teach their Polish drivers "the Patter" to help them understand their passengers, in the vein of Stanley Baxter's famous Parliamo Glasgow sketches.
Phrases such as "Geezan aw day tae the toon" ("May I have an all-day ticket to town" and "Wanan'a hauf please" ("One and adult and a child please" ) are frequently heard on the city's buses.
Now an award is to be presented to one employee who learned basic Polish to help teach foreign drivers the mysteries of local words and phrases.
James Lillis, 55 – who has driven buses in Glasgow for 30 years – will tomorrow be honoured at the STUC conference in Perth for his novel approach at First Glasgow, the city's main bus operator.
Education secretary Fiona Hyslop will present the fourth annual Helen Dowie award for Lifelong Learning, sponsored by learndirect scotland.
Nearly one in ten of First Glasgow's drivers and other staff are foreign, including 90 at one depot alone. Most are Polish, but some are from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
As well as driving the No44 between Eaglesham and Knightswood, Mr Lillis also runs First's workplace learning centre in Glasgow, where he is a representative for eastern European bus drivers for the Unite union.
Mr Lillis has notched up a ten-week Polish course, and stayed with the father of one of his colleagues in Poland.
Mr Lillis said: "When new employees come to Scotland and hear the Glasgow accent, it can be a problem.
"We help them translate and understand Glaswegian so they can do their job. It's a brilliant thing to help others grow in confidence as they strengthen their everyday skills."
Mr Lillis said the language problem which east European drivers faced was not learning English – but Glaswegian.
He said: "A lot of them understand normal English, having been taught it at school, but when they come the Glasgow, they cannot make out a word people say.
"They expect people to speak English such as 'the black cat walked across the road', so find it very, very strange the way people in Glasgow talk.
"They have trouble making out the meaning of phrases such as 'big man' and 'nae bother'."
Mr Lillis said in other parts of Scotland, regional quirks such as "bairns" in Aberdeen and "ken" in Edinburgh have to be explained to non-Scottish staff. South of the Border, migrant workers found passengers generally easier to understand – but they had to contend with rhyming slang in London, he said.
Johann Lamont, the Labour MSP for Glasgow Pollok , where Mr Lillis lives, said: "I was delighted to learn of James' fabulous success.
"His role in developing the learning centre and his tireless work in supporting his fellow Polish workers to integrate within their community is an inspiration and speaks powerfully of everything that is best about trade unions and trade unionists."
PARLIAMO GLASGOW (Updated for Polish bus drivers)
Izata marra on yer barra, Clara? – Is that a marrow on your barrow, Clara?
Sanoffy cauld day – It is an awfully cold day
Whirrarerrtreatyeat – Advert for Birds Eye food.
Zarraburdorahairy – Is that a nice young lady or someone less attractive?
Geeza punna burra furrra murra – Give me a pound of butter for my mother
Geeza barra choaclate furra wean – Could I have a bar of chocolate for my child
Plrrt on ra slate I'll pay yez efter – Put it on credit and I'll pay you later
Wan and three weans to Scotstoun – A single and three halfs to Scotstoun
Wan tae the Croass – A single to Charing/Anniesland, etc
Gie's a hon wi the messages – Please help me with my groceries.
Wharlla stick ma wean's buggie? – Where's the space for my child's pushchair?
Awayyego, it's nivir that dear! – It can't be that expensive!
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