Many actors are faced with audition parts that require an accent that they may be familiar with but have not had experience with actually speaking. Learning how to recreate an accent is a useful tool to have and can be an impressive addition to your resume. One popular accent you may encounter a need for is a Scottish accent. There are a few dialects to note that vary by region. This is not too different than doing “American” accents that are varied depending on where in the country you go. A Scottish accent you will likely find is that of the Glasgow region, which you can notice in plenty of Scottish actors. This fact brings up the question of how to do a Glaswegian accent.
This article will help give you some direction on how to do a Glaswegian accent so that you can learn it, practice it, and wow the casting directors at your next audition.
8 Tips on How to Do a Glaswegian Accent
Tip 1: Listen and Observe
An effective way to begin to learn any accent is to observe native speakers. When you are learning how to do a Glaswegian accent, you may want to consider listening to interviews of former footballer and manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Another high profile individual you can easily find movies, interviews, and examples to listen to is of actor and comedian Billy Connelly. Both of these individuals have a native Glaswegian accent. While observing recordings of them listen to their accents and notice the nuances, timber, and inflection in their speech patterns. However, listening is only part of the equation. You need to watch the way their mouths move. Are their jaws tight or lax? How open and expressive are their lips? Learning these differences will make it easier for you to pronounce and imitate the accent convincingly.
Tip 2: Practice What You Observe
Once you familiarize yourself with how the accent sounds and how the native speaker forms their words, it is time to put it into practice. Be sure to set your oral posture correctly. To do this set your tongue’s tip farther back into your mouth than you are used to. This will help give you the more guttural sound found in Scottish speakers. Keep your mouth movements fluid and loose. Then, pull the recordings back up and repeat back short sentences in the accent. Use a recording device to record yourself speaking the sentences. Then, listen and compare your accent to those on the video recording. What can you improve? Use the comparison to adjust your speech. This is a terrific way to learn how to do a Glaswegian accent because you can repeat this over and over until you are satisfied with how you sound.
Tip 3: Glottal T Stops
One distinctive feature you will find with a Glasgow accent is the use of a glottal stop. A glottal stop is when the airstream you make during speaking is abruptly cut off back in your throat, similar to a choke. It is then quickly recovered and released causing a sort of pop or cough. Many dialects use this phonetic feature. In different Scottish accents, including Glaswegian accents, you will find glottal stops in place of sharp “t” sounds. For example, “bottle” will sound more like “bo-ul.” Listen to glottal stops and then practice using them instead of “ts” in your sentences.
Tip 4: Pronunciation
• When learning how to do a Glaswegian accent, you have to adjust your pronunciation of many words. When you think of American English, you may note that there are pairs of words that sound only slightly different. For example, the word “fool” and the word “full” each have their own pronunciation, albeit a very slight one. In a Glaswegian accent, they have the same sounding like, “fool.” Thus, while speaking in your new accent, you will want to pronounce “u” sounds as “ooh.”
• Another difference to note when speaking in the Glaswegian accent can be found at the end of words. If the word ends in a letter “g” it is usually dropped completely. Think of the word “running.” A Glaswegian speaker will pronounce it, “runnin’” instead.
• Next, think of words containing the letter “o.” These will be replaced by an “ae” sound. Pronounced “ah,” you will hear the “a” emphasized. The word “not” will be pronounced “nae.” Words with an “ooh” sound get replaced by this near open front unrounded vowel shift to “ae” as well. Practice saying words like do, no, octopus, and noodle.
Tip 5: Practice without Prompts
Learning how to do a Glaswegian accent may be uncomfortable in the beginning, yet, it is imperative that you practice in order to get better at it. The next step would be to practice without having to directly imitate a speaker. Read the daily paper or your favorite story in your new found accent. Continue to record and critique yourself, making adjustments where necessary.
Once you feel confident, enlisting the help of your friends and family is a great way to slowly step outside of your comfort zone and build up that confidence. Your friends and family will likely be receptive to helping you practice your accent. However, they may not give you the best constructive criticism. This is still a great way to wet your feet in speaking to others with the accent. As you become more confident in your ability in front of others, you may move on to speaking in front of other actors who will be better at giving you suggestions on improving. It is also a good idea to try to keep the accent turned on as you go through your daily life.
Tip 6: Further out of your Comfort Zone
This next tip is both fun and useful. After you have decided that you have pretty much mastered learning how to do a Glaswegian accent, you can take it on the road to be sure. Find a café or store that you do not often go to. Once there order your meal or drink using your accent. Carry on a small conversation with the barista or waiter. Often, you can tell how well you are doing by the reaction you receive. If the waiter seems confused or suspicious, you may need a bit more practice to sound more convincing. If you are doing well, you may even get the waiter to ask you where you are from. You can use this opportunity to get in some great practice. You can also “let the cat out of the bag” and let the waiter in on why you are speaking in an accent. Doing so can lead to you receiving some terrific, unbiased, real-time feedback. Otherwise, you can finish your visit by continuing with your accent and getting in some good practice time.
Tip 7: Have a Visit
This next tip may be out of reach for many actors, However, immersing yourself in the language and culture that the accent you are learning belongs to is a very efficient way to learn to sound authentic. After all, who knows your faking it better than a native speaker? If you can fit in and not give away your faking the accent in a town where they speak it natively – then you have indeed mastered it. Not to mention, being within the culture amid the speakers means you will hear the accent constantly and even without trying, emulate it better. This, of course, is a more reasonable tip if the accent you need to learn is not too far from home or if you are up for a high profile gig.
Tip 8: Voice Coach
They are not just for singers. If you have worked with a vocal coach for a musical production, this will not be something new to you. Vocal coaches are in the business of helping you sound a certain way for a part or to nail an audition. Hiring one can really take the burden out of learning how to do a Glaswegian accent. This is because they already know what one sounds like, how to assess your skill level, and what to do to get you to an authentic sounding accent. That knowledge will streamline your learning by eliminating research you would otherwise have to spend time doing. A coach can give you vocal exercises and immediate feedback that will help keep you from forming any bad habits and focus on improving your weaker areas. So, if you can afford one, a vocal coach can be a godsend.
You can also watch this clip for a visual and auditive representation of the accent:
Learning how to do a Glaswegian accent can be daunting but do not let that deter you from throwing your hat into the ring for a role. Take the time to follow these steps and you will be well on your way to having an authentic sounding accent.
Have you ever needed to learn a new accent from the ground up for an audition? What tricks helped you learn it? Please leave any additional tips below for fellow actors learning this new skill.
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