Expat living: how hard is it to understand a Scottish accent?

I have to admit, after the first terrible weeks in Scotland, when I struggled to find a job, when I missed London and my friends, and when the weather was horrible, I am now slowly falling in love with it.

Edinburgh is an amazing city, it looks like a city from another century. And Scots, the Scots are so friendly. They are always interested in knowing your story and background, they suggest where to go, what to see, what to eat, and which whiskeys you have to try.
They are much more open to talk than English people and they always laugh about it if you, let’s say, can’t really understand what they are saying…
The Scottish accent is difficult to understand. It’s so different from everything I have ever heard as well. I have to concentrate a lot when I speak to someone with a very strong accent, but even concentration doesn’t help if the person next to you is a bit drunk.

As I work in a pub, this has lead to some funny situations, as usual when accents, foreigners and alcohol are involved.
What happens when a Scottish man walks into a pub, and asks an Italian girl for six pints of Tennents, which sounds exactly the same as Guinness, if said with a strong Scottish accent?
Well, what happens is that he is going to have to repeat himself at least three times: “Guinness”? “Tennents”! “Guinness?” “Tennents!” And finally point at the beer.
And the Italian girl might, for a second, think that he actually said ‘sex’ instead of ‘six’. Ah those accents!

What happens when a Scottish girl walks into a pub and asks an Italian girl about the name of the street? Well, it will happen that the Italian girl, new in town and not used to the Scottish way of pronouncing things, will answer: “We are in Cockburn Street!” pronouncing every letter, much like the London tube station Cockfosters.
And there she is, the Scottish girl, laughing at the Italian girl, saying: “Darling, you say Coburn Street, not Cockburn!”
So there you go: the Italian girl now knows where her pub is and won’t get confused again.
Aye, as the Scottish say.

You can practice hearing different accents with our international English teachers!