Parliamo Glesga ya radge bampot?

IF STANLEY Baxter is gallus then surely Irvine Welsh is a barrie gadgie. Oh the patter, the banter and the street talk.

When Baxter, a Glaswegian comic, asked the world "parliamo Glesga?" the joke was that most folk north of the Border could. Baxter's genius was to blow away the snobbery that surrounded the use of Scots in everyday life by planting it in the middle of his primetime BBC television show.

Barrie, or Barry, is a relatively new Scots word which was first recorded in 1923. Barrie is an adjective meaning fine, big or smart in appearance, according to the Scottish National Dictionary (SND). A barrie gadgie (or gaje) is a fine fellow and a barrie manishi is a good-looking girl.

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The expression is thought to come from the Borders and was taken from the dialect of travelling people. It is in common use to this day and was repeated in author Welsh's celebration of all things downmarket, Trainspotting. Its use has extended throughout Scotland as demonstrated in Jessie Kesson's moving 1987 novel The White Bird Passes which also uses the phrase: "'A gentleman gave it to me,' Janie protested, 'with a hat on and gloves and everything, a real barrie gaje he was.'"

The traveller's influence is very strong in words used in the Central Belt of Scotland. The word nash, which means to hurry, was originally a traveler word and was in use in the 1960s and 1970s, but was only first recorded in 1988. Of course, it too surfaced in Welsh's book.The average Edinburger would describe Begby and Renton from Trainspotting as bampots. The word is thought to come from the English Barmpot, a pot for storing yeast, but has come to mean an idiot or a mad person, according to SND. One of the first recordings of the word was in Bill McGhee's novel from 1962 Cut and Run: "'Listen,' he was saying, 'are we gonny let they Soo' Side bampots think they can dae whit they like tae Calton fellas?'"

You might not agree that Renton and Begby are bampots, but you can't deny they are radges. A radge, or radgie, is defined as someone who is mad, violently excited, furious, wild, obstreperous and dates back to the 1890s. But it can also mean someone who is sexually excited, lustful or even silly and weak-minded. According to Scots Magazine, in the 1950s the adjective derives from the radger, a wild and intractable creature.

There's nothing as gallus as the patter or banter of Glasgow. Gallus is a catch-all term in use in that fine city, but does not receive an entry in the SND. It usually means good, cocky, sharp, flash or even nonchalant. For example, it could be used as "he's got a gallus jaiket" or "he thinks he's gallus".

So there you have it in a nutshell. You too should be able to "parliamo Scots" with the best of us. Why not test yourself with our quick quiz?

1. Gie it laldy

He's a bad boy

Do it with vigour

Give it away

Do you know that boy

2. That's braw

It looks undercooked

How splendid

It's very cold

The sky is blue

3. Shottie ya bam

Give me a shot

Look out you idiot

The sound of gunfire

A strong drink

4. Wir ain leid

Where’s the lead?

A pencil

Heavy metal

Our own language

Check out the answers and see how you did.

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