Scottish word of the week: Disneyland

The Disneyland resort in Hong Kong. Picture: David Roark/AFP/Getty Images
The Disneyland resort in Hong Kong. Picture: David Roark/AFP/Getty Images
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IF you think that Disneyland only refers to the world’s most famous theme park, then think again

How has Walt Disney’s world-renowned resort found itself as an entry in a Scots dictionary? In Ian Crofton’s A Dictionary of Scottish Phrase and Fable, Disneyland refers to “any institution or workplace where nothing runs as it should, so-called because ‘this disnae work an’ that disnae work’, and so on”.

It’s difficult to be certain of its origin, but it may have been coined via a gag cracked at the expense of the Daily Record in the early 1970s. Its then-editor, Derek Webster, oversaw the Record’s challenging (and, at the time, widely derided) transition from hot metal printing to computer typesetting that would allow the Glasgow-based paper to print in full colour.

Roy Greenslade of the Guardian points to an unattributed quote which appears to make light of some teething problems the paper encountered:

“Why is Anderston Quay known as Disneyland?

“Because this disnae work, and that disnae work.”

Webster, who died late last year aged 87, had the last laugh. Other newspapers in the UK quickly followed the Record’s lead, and the paper’s circulation rose above that of its nearest competitor, the Daily Express.

If Disneyland is a uniquely Scottish way of disparaging inefficiency or fecklessness, then its closest cousin will be a little more familiar. Most football fans, for example, will have made light of the ineptitude of a “Mickey Mouse team”.