We can translate Glaswegian, nae-borra

Well, it looks like Today Translations will go down in history as the company that advertised for Glaswegian interpreters.

Since we placed the ad – in Gumtree, Craigslist and the Glasgow Herald – we seem to have generated something of a media storm.

Apart from the Herald, we made The Sun and The Times. On the BBC, we were even bigger news – the most popular story at one point on the BBC News site and the subject of live interviews on BBC Radio Birmingham, BBC Radio Lincolnshire and BBC Radio Cambridge. We even aired live on peaktime Scottish TV News.

Phew. Quite a frenzy. So what’s it all about?

Genuine advert

Let us say right here that this was a genuine ad. We might add that we also in no way wanted to upset anyone. We honestly believe there’s a genuine need for this service. For those who missed it, here’s the short version of our ad that appeared in the Herald:

“Glaswegian” Interpreters:

Translation company seeks speakers of “Glaswegian English”, with knowledge of vocabulary, accent, nuances, to meet interpreting needs of clients who find it an unexpected challenge. Email CV to [email protected].

The truth is, such a service isn’t new. It’s not long since the BBC provided Ceefax subtitles to Still Game, Scotland’s best-loved sitcom, which features two Glaswegian pensioners and has won high ratings UK-wide.

In addition, US DVDs of films based on novels by Irvine Welsh, such as Acid House, also use subtitles to help Americans along with the dialect. And Scottish sitcom Rab C Nesbitt, although popular south of the border, was known as much for its impenetrable dialect as for the number of bellylaughs it provided.

Mick McGahey

History shows us several other examples of people who’ve struggled with the particularly strong bowl of Scotch broth that is the Glaswegian accent. An article in The Sunday Times last week revealed that MI5 bugged the phone of Mick McGahey, the 70s and 80s miners’ leader, believing him to be a potentially dangerous subversive. However, the exercise was a failure because English spies listening in simply couldn’t understand his Glaswegian accent.

OK, we know McGahey was from near Glasgow. But, to the untutored ear, that’s surely accent enough. Let’s be honest, Glaswegian is riddled with curious words that make it just about a language unto itself. I’m thinking about words like bampot (an idiot), Barrbru (Irn Bru), on the randan (visiting licensed hostelries for refreshment), the morra (tomorrow), nae-borra (no bother) and, of course, “yer budgie’s deed”, which means that your trousers have failed to cover your socks.

Meet the needs of business:

Says Jurga Zilinskiene, owner of Today Translations, “I’ve lived in Britain since I was 19 and I like to think I speak English pretty well. But I still sometimes struggle to understand certain accents – and that tends to be truer in Glasgow than anywhere else. I often hear of foreigners arriving in the city, jumping into a cab and not being able to understand the language. We want to help. We want to be able to meet the needs of our clients who are doing business in Glasgow. You see, we really do go the extra mile.”

The idea might just catch on. And, who knows, with a new series of six episodes of Rab C Nesbitt currently in production, it could be sooner rather than later.

For more information on our translation services, visit / or call us on +44 (0) 207 397 2770