How would you answer “Fit like ma loon?”

Me I stood and let my jaw drop, wondering what language it was. In fact it turned out the question was in English. Or at least the variant of it spoken in the north east of Scotland. I was asked the question when introducing myself to a family I was to stay with in a small town on the Spey Valley.

As a Scot myself, growing up in Ayrshire, I had become aware that there was lots of common language there that completely bamboozled English friends. But I hadn’t realised there was such a variation of vocabulary within Scotland itself. After all it is a very small nation which has two distinct languages – English and Gaelic. And while I had occasionally found some accents a bit difficult to get, I had never really had any trouble with understanding vocabulary.

Later in life when I got involved in the business of translation I began to see just how much these regional variations could matter. Spanish is spoken is Spain itself but also throughout a large part of South America. But that doesn’t mean that what makes sense in Madrid will be equally understood in Buenos Aires. Likewise with Portuguese. A Brazilian friend, who always thought he spoke perfect Portuguese, found himself struggling to be understood on holiday in the Algarve.

But I digress. Back to my predicament when meeting my landlady in the north east of Scotland. It turns out – as I came to realise during my stay there – that what I should have replied is:

“Nae sae bad quinie, fit like yasel?”

Or in plain English she asked me “How are you sir” and I should have replied “Not bad, how are you madam?”

One Reply to “How would you answer “Fit like ma loon?””

  1. hi, i don’t agree with your translation nor response

    loon = boy, not sir
    I am going to assume you were younger than her, also she would have had more status than yourself as she was your landlady.

    I would never use quine, and especially not quinie with someone such as a landlady, unless you are good friends and joking around. Quine refers to a girl or young woman, never madame. Wifey refers to a woman; married or not.

    Fit like ma loon = what are you doing my boy.

    nae sae bad quinie, fit like yasel.= not so bad girly, what are you up to yourself?

    Angie K

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