How to Do a Scottish Accent

Learn how to do a Scottish accent from voice and speech coach Andrea Caban in this Howcast video.

Here are some tips for a general Scottish accent. The first thing we look at is the oral posture. What’s the oral posture of a general Scottish accent? You want to bring your tongue tip all the way back, but you’ve got a lot of action still in your lips and in your jaw. Unlike a Russian accent where you pull your tongue all the way back, and you don’t move your lips a lot, you pull your tongue back all the way, and you get sort of a Scottish feel to the accent.

Let’s take a look at some Scottish sound changes. In Scottish, the Rs are very often tapped. "The room was very bright" becomes "The room was very bright." The room was very bright. Give that a shot. The A diphthong two-element vowel sound in English, "A," becomes pure, becomes a single vowel sound in a Scottish accent. "Play, take, a," becomes "play, take, a." It’s fun to play with a liquid "U" sound in your Scottish accent. Duty. News. Duke. You can go really far with it, and you’ll sound like Mike Meyers. Duty. News. Duke. Or you can knock it back. Duty. News. Duke.

Let’s take a look at that "ah" "aww" transition in the Scottish accent. In American English I’d say "got, shot, knob, " but in your Scottish accent you’d say, "got, shot, knob." You hear that glottal at the ends of the sounds, so instead of "got," you get "got." That’s a sound that’s very characteristic of a general Scottish accent, that glottal sound at the end. "ah ah ah"

The "OO" sound in American English. I can’t put this good book down. "OO, oo, oo, oo" becomes "I can’t put this good book down." You can find that sound. It’s a fun sound to make, "OO." You can find that sound my making an E, "E," and then wrapping the lips and kind of sucking the sound back into the middle of your mouth a little bit. So you get "E, OO. OO" I can’t put this good book down. I can’t put this good book down. Give that a shot.

What’s the musicality of a Scottish accent? The room was very bright. You get a lot of glottals. It’s a strong accent. Emphasis is usually with volume and less with pitch variety. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to some native speakers and train your ear to recognize what you hear in the musicality, and what can you learn about Scottish people by the way that they speak.