Scottish Independence: Vote Either Way…Just Don’t Stop Debating!

I generally have strong political opinions, but on the issue of independence for Scotland, I am officially neutral…except in one area.

I love, love, LOVE to hear the Scots talk about Independence. Or the weather. Or anything, really. That accent makes me SWOON.

I really can’t tell you WHY Scottish accents thrill me to my core–I mean thrrrrrrill me. Part of it’s that rrrrromantic rolled R, for surrrrre. Then there’s that pure “u” sound: puuuuuure. Or pewre? It’s practically unspellable. But it sure puts a spell on me.


The vowels are fun too. In the mid-90s, my family spent most of a year living in southern New Zealand–specifically, the town of Dunedin. If I tell you that “Dun” means “town” in old Scots, you will understand that Dunedin is another way of saying Edinburgh. In other words, southern NZ was settled heavily (in both senses of the word) by Scots, and they left their mark on the accent there.

I came to think of it as the Great Vowel Shift. Short “i”s became “uh”s: fish ‘n’ chips became fush ‘n’ chups. Short “e”s became short “i”s, so the grocery chain Big Fresh was Bug Frish. When the PA system at the airport called passengers to the gate for “chicken formalities,” it took us a minute to realize…oh. Right. Check in. (We still get a giggle from that.)

Then there was the time our son Mac (short for McKenzie) came home excitedly from First Form to tell us, “There’s another Mac in my class!” Later we learned the boy in question was actually named Mark. While in school, our son went by “Meck,” or, more formally, “MecKINzaye.”

(orig. image courtesy

(orig. image courtesy

Could there be a blog post about a more trivial subject? I don’t care. I find accents fascinating. Even more fascinating: what makes certain accents appeal to certain people. Ready to join in? OK, I’ll start. Here are my top ten favorite accents in which to hear English:

1. Scots (Do they really speak that way ALL the time, amongst themselves? Or is it some kind of elaborate hoax they perpetrate on the rest of the world?)

2. Russian (ever seen A Fish Called Wanda? I don’t even need to hear Russian; a Russian speaking English does it for me.)

3. Italian (OK, that’s a gimme–who doesn’t have Italian in their top 3?)

4. Welsh–ooh, gotta think about that one, eh? Hint: Welsh speakers always sound as though they’re asking a question?

5. Spanish (even fakey Spanish: “Allo. My name ees Inigo Montoya. You keel my father. Prepare to die.”)

6. Aussie/Kiwi (there IS a difference, and Kiwis get annoyed if you call ’em Aussies)

7. Londonite (but NOT fakey Londonite–“Oi, guv’nor!” drives me up a tree)

8. Jamaican–wait a minute, this should go WAY higher up on my list…but I’m too lazy to start my list over, mon

9. Downeast Mainer

10. Alabaman

Your turn. What are your favorite accents, and why? Oh, and if you’re Scottish–don’t forget to vote! Guuuud luck on that!

“That’s Enough, Now, I Mean It!” “Anybody Got a…” Different Favorite “Princess Bride” Quote?

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Ever had this conversation with a complete stranger?  You: “What is…”

Stranger: “…your favorite color? Blue! No, yellow!!!!  Auggghhhh!!!!  Hahahahaha. Man–LOVED that Holy Grail movie.”

Yeah, me neither. OK, sure, I’ve had my share of Monty Python moments, bonding in the Cultural Literacy of the Self-Consciously Weird. But for REAL satisfaction, give me The Princess Bride every time.

“I…am not left-handed.” Say no more.

I won’t go into analytical detail of WHY this movie, now 26 years old, is so culturally sticky. Is it the hyperbolic campiness–“The Cliffs of Insanity!!!”?  The goofy dialogue–“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”? The sweetness of the actors–Carey Elwes’s baby face, Robin Wright’s adorable accent,  Mandy Patinkin’s (sweet!) legs in leather? Oh yeah–I said no detail.

I will say this. I’ve had more Princess Bride moments with my students, friends, my own family, and with complete strangers over the years than I ever had with Monty Python and Star Wars combined–and yes, I am that kind of nerd.

I know that movie by heart, ok? And I have my own favorite sweet line, at the end, when Fezzik the Giant says to the princess he’s just helped to rescue, “Hello, Lady.” But I wasn’t prepared for hearing what the actor Mandy Patinkin had to say about HIS favorite line, when I stumbled upon this interview from CBS:

“The purpose of life is to embrace our fellow man…to turn our darkness into light.”

Now that just might be my favorite line of all.

How about you? What’s YOUR favorite Princess Bride line? Or tell me why YOU think this movie sticks in our hearts.