Scottish words of the week: The Dundee dialect

The RRS Discovery, eh. Picture: TSPLThe RRS Discovery, eh. Picture: TSPL
The RRS Discovery, eh. Picture: TSPL

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THE differences between dialects and dictionaries in the various regions of Scotland can be small, but equally, small words can mean big trouble. This is the case in Dundee, where one two-letter word can cause a world of confusion.

Eh. This simple word has a range of different, completely contradictory meanings. Depending on the context, ‘eh’ is either a substitution for the personal pronoun or a sign that a question’s being asked. That is unless it’s being used in its third form, as a noise made as the speaker is grasping for another word, or perhaps it’s being used as a way to affirm what’s just been said.

Add another letter, and you have ‘peh’, the Dundonian pronunciation of ‘pie’. It’s another small step from there to ‘ken’, Dundee’s word for ‘know’. The ‘eh’ sound prevails across the Dundonian dialect, but once you grasp it you’ll soon ken whit’s whit, eh.

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Some of our favourite Dundee sayings, words, and phrases as suggested by our friends on Facebook

• Teckle - Very good, entertaining

• Circle - Dundonian shorthand for a roundabout

• Pletty - The open-air communal landing at the back of a block of tenement flats.

• Closie - The stairwell in a block of flats

• Belter - An unintelligent or foolish individual

• Skelp - A smack or slap, normally directed towards a ‘belter’

• Pan - To smash or break, as in “pan in a windae”

• Kettle-biler - An unemployed man, or househusband. There was much more work for women than men when Dundee’s jute mills were running - men would stay at home and have a cup of tea ready for their wives’ return home.

• Cundie - A drain cover

...and some slang about Dundee

• Dundee United - Nigerian slang for an idiot, as revealed on a BBC documentary about the country’s capital Lagos in 2010.

• Have we missed any of your favourite Dundee words or phrases? Let us know in the comments

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