I’m not a native of the county of Angus, and quite often I hear the odd word or phrase that completely bamboozles me.
Take, for example, the other week when there were carnival rides at the public park.
I drove past with my boyfriend (a Brechin born and bred man) who explained: “Oh look the switchies are here!”
In that scenario I could use my Sherlock Holmes detective skills to work out what he meant, but I’d heard the phrase before and had absolutely no clue that ‘switchie’ was a term for carnival rides.
When I lived in Aberdeen, we never had travelling carnivals because there was Codnonas at the beach.
When I lived in Invergordon (a quiet town in the Highlands), the only time there was carnival rides was at the Highland Games. Occasionally the people that ran the rides would set up the waltzers or another ride, and there was no term for it, you just used the name of the ride.
Once my boyfriend used the term “bairnie”. To me, that’s what you call a small child, but apparently in Brechin, and probably Angus, it’s a term for a tantrum.
Once I learned that, hearing my boyfriend say that someone threw a bairnie didn’t have the same level of shock attached to it.
Every town has its own phrases for things. My Dad is from Wick, so he will often comment on the noise of the scorries in Aberdeen.
Scorries is the Caithness term for seagulls (and also the nickname for Highland league team, Wick Academy), but I had to have that explained to me as well.
My first few days of primary school in Aberdeen, I was so curious to meet this Ken boy everyone talked about.
I even asked my brother and sister and they had no clue who Ken was either. It was my Dad who gently explained to us that Ken wasn’t a person - it was the Aberdonian word for ‘know’.
Thinking back on it now (it was 20 years ago), I can put it down to being too young.
However, it is amazing how much confusion can be stemmed from not knowing the local slang.
I had to advise someone once that to refer to something as a ‘beaut’ in Aberdeen would only lead to trouble, as despite the kindness behind it, it has always being used in a derogatory way.
During a visit to Wick several years ago, my Dad and I spotted several plaques on the street and walls of local words and their translations - which I thought is an excellent way to avoid embarrassment.
Perhaps I will write my own for Brechin words to keep me right?