How to do a scottish accent – How to do a Scottish Accent

How to do a Scottish Accent

Just as England has many different accents, Scottish accents can also vary according to the region. In this series– I help you to recognize the importance of breath, the relation of your tongue to your speech and you’ll see there’s a muscular side to it all. Let’s get started:

As you embark on learning new accents and dialects, there are a lot of great resources out there.

1. One terrific resource is Gareth Jameson:
2. Andrea Caban is lively and fun:
3. There’s nothing like watching the real thing. In this case, the accent is lighter (he’s been in the US for a while), but you’ll get a nice feeling for the sounds and rhythms. Plus, it’s a great bit. Watch it a few times and then practice along. See what you think about his premise. . . it’s rather spot-on:

One of the best things you can do is work with individual phrases, repeat them until you feel comfortable and natural, and then record and listen to yourself to see if you’re hitting the mark.


Video Transcript:

How to do a Scottish Accent – Part 1 – The R Sound

Hello, I’m Patrick Munoz. I’m a Voice and Speech Coach. Today, we’re going to take a trip to Scotland and work on developing a Scottish accent. Now, the first thing you should know about a Scottish accent is that there are many variations depending on the region, so we have different regions varying from Edinburg, to Glasgow, to Aberdeen, and also to The Highlands.

The next thing you want to know is that the Scottish sound is a very forward sound. It’s a very muscular sound in the mouth. Now, in American English, the sound is sort of in the middle of the mouth, but in Scotland, they really use their mouth to pronounce the sounds, so you get to have a little more fun with it with a more muscularity.
Now, let’s move into an individual sound, and the first sound we’re going work on is the R sound. Now, in the Scottish accent, it is a tapped R sound. So a tapped R is kind of like one touch of a trilled R. Let’s first of all practice the trilled R. (Trills) And while you’re doing this, this is good practice for developing the flexibility of your tongue. One more time. (Trills.)

Great. Now we’ll do a single touched or tapped R. (Tapped R sound) The three words we’re going to practice this sound are right, great, and better. So let’s try the word “right” first. Right. Right. Right. *using Scottish accent* The word “great”. Great. Great. Great. *using Scottish accent* And finally the word “better”. Better.
Now in the Scottish accent depending on the place, and depending on the person, sometimes that middle “t” will be dropped so it could sound like “beh-er”. For right now, we’ll practice saying the “Ts”. Better. Better. Better. *using Scottish accent*

For this series of videos on the Scottish accent, we’re going to work on a certain phrase, and that phrase is, “I wish to speak better today,” or actually, “The thing is, I wish to speak better today.” So let’s try that one part of the sentence on, “Better today.” Repeat after me, “Better today.” And one last time, “Better today.” Good!
Well, you are on your way to developing a Scottish dialect. For more information, or to book an appointment, please reach out to me on my website at or tweet me @TheVoiceZone.

How to do a Scottish Accent – Part 2 – The i Sound

Hello, I’m Patrick Munoz. Today, we’re going to continue developing the Scottish dialect. Now, I don’t know if my kitty cat Grayson is going to make another cameo appearance as he did in our latest installment, but the sound I want to focus on today is the “i” sound as in “is”. To recap from our last episode, remember that there are many variations depending upon the region for the Scottish dialect, so as you develop the Scottish accent, make sure you know where your character is from. Secondly, the Scottish sound is very muscular, so place your tongue forward and make sure you really use your articulators to say these sounds. Good.

The sentence we’re using for this series is, “The thing is, I wish to speak better today.” So, let’s look at the “i” sound as in “is” and “wish”. The “i” sound can become like “eh” sound as in “men”. So instead of saying “is” with this “i” sound, we’ll say, “Ez.” And we’ll try with three different words. We’ll say is, this, and wish. So first off, “is” becomes “ez”. Repeat after me, “Ez. Ez.” The word “this”. “Thess. Thess.” And the word “wish”. “Wesh. Wesh. Wesh.”
Putting it all together, and having fun, having some drama behind it, “The theng ez, I wesh to speak better today.” And we’ll just do the part of the sentence that has those words in it. “The theng ez. The theng ez.” And now, “I wesh to speak better. I wesh to speak better.” Very good.

You are now on your way to developing that Scottish dialect. For more information, to book an appointment, please reach out to me on my website or tweet me @TheVoiceZone.



How to Do a Scottish Accent

Last week, the trailer for Mary Queen of Scots was released to much discussion. Oscar talk began almost instantly, as did excitement over the gif possibilities warring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan presented. Robbie in full Elizabeth I costume and make-up seemed primed for either fawning profiles on the ‘ugly’ transformation awards voters seemed to love, as well as a variety of future drag show possibilities. Mostly, I found the trailer to be pretty decent, if leaning a tad too heavily on the unreal melodramatic side of the story. The thing that baffled me was something many others on Twitter were celebrating: Saoirse Ronan’s Scottish accent.

By the standards of non-Scottish actors doing Scottish, she was rather good. The problem came more with why she had it in the first place: Mary Queen of Scots spent most of her life in France. The chances are she wouldn’t have spoken like that. Granted, having Mary Queen of Scots sound Scottish made more sense than some films that just give her the ‘token plummy English period drama’ accent, but in terms of historical accuracy, it was clear that this film had other priorities.

I wondered why Ronan was doing that accent, although the effort was appreciated. Was it a personal choice made by an actress who wanted the challenge of a familiar but tough to nail accent? Did the film-makers not do the required research and just assume that she’d talk like that because her name said it all? Is Mary Queen of Scots such a national icon of Scotland that giving her the allure of ‘true’ Scottishness was the whole point of the story? Or was I the only person who cared about this, as I often am? Whatever the case, the accent still intrigued me. It’s not very common for me to see a major Hollywood production where someone talks like me, much less where they sound reasonably believable.

I’ve talked many times before about my Scottishness and how facets of my identity have been repackaged by pop culture over the ensuing decades: From Highlander romance novels to tartan noir crime stories to our major movie stars to Groundskeeper Willie himself. When you think of Scots on screen or the page, you have certain images in mind, be they kilted men rolling in the heather, grime-ridden council estates scored to Iggy Pop, or something in-between. With that comes expectations of character: Inherent fieriness, a pre-disposition for violence, a fondness for drink and public revelry, a noble savageness that inspires both fear and awe. That, to many requires, an appropriate accent, preferably rough and ready and with heavy emphasis on the letter ‘r’.

A Scots accent isn’t one many actors get a chance to do. There simply aren’t that many films or T.V. series made here, nor do the major industries in Hollywood and London choose Scotland as a backdrop of its own origin very often. More likely, we are to be a pretty landscape for a galaxy far far away or a mystical land past the white wall. We’ve also got enough of our own homegrown talent to the point where it would just be daft for casting agents to go for a bigger name who sounds like a background extra in Brigadoon.

That’s not to say there isn’t prestige to be found in going Scots. Obviously, the people behind Mary Queen of Scots think so. That’s too good a story to leave to the countless other versions made for film and television. There’s also The Outlaw King, the upcoming Robert the Bruce drama directed by a Scotsman, filmed in Scotland, starring an array of beloved Scottish actor, and centred on Chris Pine. And believe me, a lot is riding on his Best Chris ranking if he screws that accent up.

So, because I’m a good person, I have decided to bestow upon Hollywood a few hints for those stars who think the Scots accents is the next great acting challenge. Take that, extensive weight loss and bad wigs.

ONE: Pick a region and stick to it. Amateurs make the mistake of thinking everyone in Scotland sounds the same, which usually means they go for a pseudo-Glaswegian twang. This is just Accents 101: Dialects exist! I would say it would be bad form for a Brit to do the generic American accent when playing someone of a specific region but that does seem to be a default mode for some. A person from Aberdeen sounds different from someone in Edinburgh who sounds far more upper crust than someone from Inverness. Oddly, the only Scottish film I’ve seen get this right is Brave, and that even had a cracking joke about how most Scots can’t understand some of the dialects, like Doric. Saoirse Ronan’s Scottish accent is good but it’s pretty generic stuff. Getting the region right adds incredible layers to your work: Think of how iconic the clipped vowels and clear-as-a-bell enunciation of Maggie Smith’s Morningside accent in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is, and how you know everything about that character the moment she opens her mouth. Emma Thompson has a different Scots accent in Brave compared to her delightfully grotesque turn as Robert Carlyle’s mother in The Legend of Barney Thomson. The way she says ‘breakfast’ as ‘break-fist’ gives me unending joy.

TWO: Stop rolling all the Rs, for the love of… Look, I appreciate the effort, I really do. Yes, we do roll our Rs quite a bit, perhaps more than our pals south of the border. However, that doesn’t mean we extend the length of every word by two seconds through added growling. We’re people, not motorcycle engines. Keep it to a minimum, although it’s perfectly okay to never pronounce the letter T about 90% of the time. That stereotype is totally true.

THREE: Don’t worry about every word. The big mistake most actors make when going Scots is in thinking that the pure force of the accent must apply to every single syllable. You can practically see them carefully planning every beat, sure not to let a single word slip for fear that everyone will suddenly know they’re not from the motherland. There’s a wonderful relaxing tone to the Scots accent that gets lost when you’re too distracted trying to figure out its machinations, so don’t panic. Maybe cement the stereotyping further and have a drink to help loosen up the vocal chords.

FOUR: Stop saying ‘aye’. Or, at the very least, don’t make it every third word. The same applies to ‘och’ and my perpetual enemy, ‘bonny lass’, a phrase I almost never hear in real life. It probably looks great on paper to pepper your script with these monosyllabic words that seem so very Scottish. Perhaps it helps get the word count up, or maybe it’s a studio mandate because they’re worried it won’t be authentic enough otherwise. I can assure you that we are capable of saying ‘yes’ and all such variants. Actually, I think most people would be surprised by how many Americanisms have found their way into everyday Scottish and British vocabulary.

So, those are my tips. Godspeed to you, Chris Pine. We’ll be paying attention…

What hints would you give to eager actors when it comes to performing your accent or dialect? Let us know in the comments.

(Header image from YouTube)

Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

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How to do a Scottish Accent. Probably Part 1, but I maybe won’t bother with part 2. Who can say?

How to do a Scottish Accent. Probably Part 1, but I maybe won’t bother with part 2. Who can say?

Today, or was it yesterday, I didn’t “get” a joke, this is until I re-read the joke in an English accent. (Tilly, this is no criticism of you, only of me and my slow brain. Love your work). It was based on “morning” and “mourning” being homophones. Just like how that Joseph song doesn’t rhyme very well north of the border *drew back the curtain…ah-ah-ah… to see for certain…*

Not long after, a (Scottish-but-living-in-England) friend was lamenting her child’s school’s efforts to convince her child that the sound “or” should be pronounces “aw”.

You see, “aw” has no r in it. How can it be a representation of “or”?

Ah, you don’t pronounce the “r”. So, what’s the point in the “r”?

ANYWAY For the benefit of all people wanting to put on a good Scottish accent, here are the basics:

1. The Scottish Vowel Length Rule aka Aitken’s law (I think)

Although I don’t know what the rule is, as such, it manifests itself in the following quirks. In Scots the word “greed” is said with a short “ee” sound, whereas in the word “agreed”, the vowel length is longer, as in the rest of the English speaking world (except perhaps Canada). The same variation can be seen with “tide” where the vowel is short and “tied” where the vowel is long, unlike in other accents where these words are identical to the ear.

2. The Glottal Stop

Or should that be glo’al? If you miss out “t” in the middle of a word, it helps with the Sco’ish accent, particularly if you are going for a casual, informal one.

3. Pronounce the ‘h’ in ‘wh’

In most accents, the ‘h’ has been lost. So that Wales and Whales become the same thing. Alarming. And if you whine about wine, you might as well be wining about whine, which would make no sense. You pronounce it by kind of blowing a bit. Makes “whisper” a bit more onomatopoeic, I reckon.

4. Preserve the x phoneme

It is the ch in loch, Pitlochry and Auchtermuchty. It does not sound like ck. Ever. Except, sadly it is fading out a bit. To make the sound, open your mouth, raise the back of your tongue up and exhale, making a noise like a hiss of a gas lamp, over your tongue.

And now to practise, use these:

Which witch whined about the wine?

As the tide came in I tied my shoelaces.

Bottle of white wine.

To finish, I leave you with this song from The Proclaimers. Sing along now… (please suffer the few seconds of advert that precedes the quality Scottish singing)

English with a Scottish accent… is it difficult to understand?

English with a Scottish accent… is it difficult to understand?

Posted by IH Aberdeen on 9th March 2015

One of the most common questions that new students ask at IH Aberdeen is ‘Will my teacher speak standard or Scottish English?’ It seems to be a common perception for students when they are choosing a place to study… that the Scottish accent is difficult to understand. But is this really true?

Is the Scottish accent really so different?

One amazing thing about the UK, is that for such a small country, we have so many different accents!

Every UK city has an accent and its own dialect, words and expressions. Some people will speak more standard English and some will speak in dialect. And Scotland is no different.

The Scottish accent is Friendly

In fact, in a recent survey of the UK’s favourite accents, the Scottish accent featured twice in the top 10!

The number one favourite accent is ‘Received Pronunciation’, which is the classic standard English, also known as the ‘Queen’s English’.

However, in second place, was the Edinburgh accent, said to be associated with ‘culture and intelligence’. Australian, Irish and Yorkshire accents made up the rest of the top 5. But the Glasgow accent featured at number 9, which means there are 2 Scottish accents in the top 10!

London and South East English accents did not feature in the top 10 at all…

Also, a recent customer survey rated Scottish accent as second most appealing, with customers thinking it is a ‘friendly’ accent.

So is the Scottish accent difficult for students? Who better to ask than our students!

Carmen Muller, Switzerland

‘In my opinion the Scottish accent is not more difficult to understand than others, especially in Aberdeen. I had more difficulty understanding people in other cities. Furthermore, teachers and host families will speak        extra clearly or adapt their speed. As long as you know that ‘wee’ in Scotland means ‘small’, you’ll be fine!’


Karoline Pachinger, Austria

‘Before I came to Aberdeen I was afraid of the Scottish accent. Would I be able to communicate with the natives?

The answer is: it’s no problem at all! The Scottish accent is very easy to understand.

I can say from my own experience that the Scottish accent is easier to understand than the one spoken in London. My host father was born in London and there are more communication barriers between us, than to the Scottish natives.

There was only one case when I wasn’t able to understand a native. It was a bus driver. The reason was that he spoke in real Scots dialect, which is only spoken by a small percentage of Scotland’s population.

So don’t worry and let yourself be enchanted by the beautiful Scottish landscape and their lovely inhabitants!’


Kamar Balgabayeva, Kazakhstan

‘I don’t have difficulty to understand Scottish accent in communication with native Scottish people,  in the shopping centre and public transport. In comparison with London it’s easier to understand Scottish people. London people have a mixture of accents and it’s not really clear or original.’


Carmen Munoz, Spain

‘It could be a problem at first but the advantage is that if you understand a Scottish person, you will be able to understand all accents! It doesn’t take a lot of time to get used to the Scottish accent.’


Paulina Jozefczyk-Kocjan, Poland

‘The Scottish accent is definitely not a problem for students studying in Scotland. You can communicate with everyone and understand him. You can speak with everyone here using standard English language, because the fact is that their language is English indeed!

Every part of the UK has its specific words, which people use there, and that’s normal in every part of the planet! You will learn these words in one month of being there.’ 

So now you know… Scottish people speak English just as well as everybody else! 


To find out more about studying English at IH Aberdeen, email us on [email protected], or call on +44 (0)1224 634006

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How to do the Scottish accent

Gareth Jameson most a híres skót akcentust tanítja meg nekünk. Videó és szöveg a leckében!

Hello, I’m Gareth Jameson. I’m an actor and a voice coach from Here are some tips for working on your voice. Now the key to any accent is to isolate the sounds that are specific to that accent.

So, when I’m talking about a Scottish accent, I’m going to talk about a very generalized Scottish version of the English language, sometimes called Scottish English. There are of course many different accents depending on whether you’re in Glasgow, Edinborough, or Aberdeen. This one is probably what we call a general Scottish accent. Now, the first thing you need to work on is your «R» sound. So, for most Scots speakers, they don’t actually use «rrrr» that we associate. It’d be very rare to hear «murder» with big long R’s. It’s much more common to roll the R just one roll, called a tapped R. Bright red, so I say bright red like that. Or saying words like butter or bird. Notice that it’s tapped, so it’s not «birrrd» or not bird, bird. Also, if you get an L after the letter R, sometimes you’ll have an extra syllable on the word so that girl becomes «girl, girl» and world becomes «world». The loveliest «girl» in the «world».

Our next feature is the vowels in bath and laugh are the same as in the vowels in trap and man. So, quite often they are different for other accents, but in this accent they are the same. Bath, laugh, trap, and man. There are little difference: Bath, laugh, trap, and man. Also, the «oo» and «u» vowels are the same. In the UK at the moment, there is a T.

V. commercial with the tag line: «Good with food». The narrator on the commercial is Scottish, so we hear «Good with food». They rhyme in his accent, and that’s the same for the «oo» and «u» sounds. So, that hook and pool are «hook» and «pool». There is no difference between the pull of a rope and the swimming pool. Pool. pool and pull are the same. Pull.

Finally, listen to this phrase which will show you a few more features. It’s not a problem if you haven’t gotten any. It’s not a problem if you haven’t gotten any. Now, this is more to do with dialect than accent and in fact, while you’re researching your accent, it is important to look up any dialect words, any words that are different in that accent than they are for other people. For example, rather of saying not, in Scots speak I might say «Not». It’s not a problem.

And rather than haven’t, «have any». «It’s not a problem if you have any gotten any.».

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