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EU > United Kingdom > Edinburgh

Scotland vs England

Edinburgh, UK (View on map)

The English-Scottish rivalry goes back a long way in time. There have been countless battles between the two people, many of which have even been the basis for big Hollywood productions. The Braveheart tradition is still present in people`s mind, even though it leads to a lot less violence these days. Football matches between the national teams revive a glance of the old days, but how does all of that go on an ordinary day?

Kate (26):

`Scots and the English have always been quite creative in finding ways to annoy each other`
Taking a Scot for an Englishman means you associate him with English stereotypes that are not perceived as very positive in the north of Britain. Scots take pride in being more open, friendly or even slightly crazy. The English, or Sassenach which is Gaelic for Saxon, are taken for for reserved, stiff and dull.

Being a pain
Kate (26, photo) tells me that the Scots and the English have always been quite creative in finding ways to annoy each other. The English once claimed the right to sleep with Scottish brides on the night following their marriage, attempting to ensure that the offspring would be at least half English. They are said to have interrupted many weddings in a vain attempt to eradicate the Scottish people.

The English are not making Scottish life as difficult now as they did in the past. That doesn`t keep Karin (26) from being annoyed when her Scottish bank notes are not accepted in England. `My grandmother used to give us a 10 pound note when we went on holiday, but whenever we tried to buy something in England, the shopkeepers would not let us. I don`t know why, it even says Sterling on them, so they are legal money. But still today, they often just reject them`, she says, still not amused by the whole situation.

The Scots, on their side, have taken their usual humour along with them to war whenever they could, showing up drunk and naked on the battlefield and scaring the English out of their pants ? so the story goes. At other occasions, the Scots have shown themselves to be very brutal and unpredictable, always operating from the position of underdog.

That challenger mentality is still present in the Scottish way of thinking of today. Most of Scotland`s accepted heroes either made a fortune abroad, or they were a strange kind of different. In both cases, they excelled in persisting in whatever they thought was their calling, however different from average that calling was.

Scottish language
The biggest difference between English-English and Scottish-English is most definitely the accent. Scots take pride in making foreigners think they are speaking Gaelic (pronounced Gallic, not Gaylic, while they in fact just put in a lot of accent to make sure they are not mistaken for English. `Yes` is typically replaced by `Aye`, and how `dinnaeken` is Scottish for `I don`t know`. `Wee` is used by many Scottish where the English would say `little`, and there are a few standard Scottish lines that are often quoted to tourists. `It`s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht`, for asking somebody to come along with you outside a pub, `Your affie bonnie` to compliment somebody in hope for more, and `A wee doch an doris`, meaning one wee whiskey for the road.

Scotland shares much of its anti-English sentiments with the Irish. Both feel like they have been oppressed by England, and apart from that, they share a large share of their Celtic traditions. Lisa (28) thinks the resemblances will not lead to any form of Celtic Union between Ireland and Scotland. `There are resemblances, for sure, but both countries are proud about their own rituals and symbols`, she says. For Scotland, that includes haggis and kilts. For the Irish it`s Saint Patrick and shamrocks. In spite of the shared love for storytelling and mythology, Scotland does not have Leprechauns. It has the Loch Ness Monster and a bunch of dragons instead.

English authority over Scotland
Self-governance features high on the Scottish wish list. Many people don`t see it as a realistic ideal though. Economic motives so far seem to win against nationalism: probably the main reason why Scotland voted against independence from the United Kingdom in a recent referendum. In the course of the last decade, London has ceded substantial decision rights to the Scottish parliament, giving the Scots at least the feeling that they have more control over their own destiny.

`The Scottish view on the British royal family is similar to how most countries would see their monarchs`, says Richard, `it works well as a tourist attraction. The Queen is not blamed for being English. And the whole royal family has German ascent anyway.` Apart from that, they take much care of touching Scottish ground on a regular basis. The Queen always attends the Highland games, and by doing that gains a lot of respect from the Scottish population.

In spite of the good intentions of the Queen, many Scots will cheer for any team playing against England in international football. They will keep eating stuffed sheep stomachs, no matter what the English think of that. They will accept the stereotypical jokes, honouring their own belief that humour is more important than pride.

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