Visitors

73. 3pm. Standing by the door.

It was a gloriously sunny day, and there were lots of people on the bus, chatting animatedly in groups with their legs clamped around department store bags. The group next to me consisted of six blond people, probably in their thirties or forties. Now, we are used to having a lot of visitors in this city, from all around the world and speaking a huge variety of languages. From what I could hear, I guessed my little group might be from a Scandinavian country – there was a salty lilt, a slight swallowing of vowels, and a suggestion of a dry sense of humour. I couldn’t understand a word, but it was clear from their faces and their gestures that they were having a pleasant day out.

It took me a full ten minutes, standing right next to them, to realise that they were in fact Scottish and speaking in English. I suppose it’s not so strange: Highland Scots probably have about as much in common with Scandinavians as with English people – maybe more. Oh, the haziness of cultural and linguistic identity when you set it against national us-and-them borders. We are composite and complex; embrace the confusion!

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One thought on “Visitors

  1. This made me smile – I had trouble making sense of Scots several times while I was travelling there. Once I got used to it, I realised I love it the way I love Irish people talking.

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