Why so little Scottish dialect, Washington Post?

The Washington Post

Anthony Faiola's article from Sunday's Washington Post is a marvelous primer on Scotland's convulsions of political independence. It masterfully traces the history, economic considerations and political forces lining up as the tiny country considers leaving the United Kingdom.

It also quotes every Scottish person as saying "ye" instead of "you."

Now, I know that the AP Stylebook expressly forbids dialect in most instances, and I'm a little concerned this might catch on with anyone covering Nicolas Sarkozy. But my only beef with Faiola's literary device is that it dips a toe in the glorious Scots accent without diving in. (Full disclosure: I'm related to many native speakers.)

Consider this quote from Alistair Hunter:

I tell ye, I’m not the kind to wear a kilt at weddings, but I am Scottish before I am British, and I know a good many of us want our rightful independence back.

Charting a middle course between Irvine Welsh's "Trainspotting," (which was published with a glossary in U.S. editions) and the work of Robert Burns, here's my best guess (fact-checked with a native) at how this actually sounded, depending on what part of Edinburgh Hunter is from:

"Ah tell youse, Ahm no the kind tae wear a kelt a' waddins, but ah um Scaw-ish befowur Ahm Bre-esh, and Ah ken menny ae us wahnt oor rightefull endypendence back.""

Reached by email, Faiola says, "Had we gone for the 'full Trainspotting' effect, we'd have needed to run subtitles!!" (Like this?)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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