I am a Scottish Msc student at an English university in the South of England. During the mere month or so I have been here I have already had many an occasion of English students on campus and locals in the pubs thinking it’s perfectly acceptable to pull out tired old ‘och aye jimmies’ and ‘braw moonlicht nicht the nichts’. The refrain ‘Why cant you just speak normal English like everyone else?’ has also been heard from someone in my department during a night out. These same people recoil as if burnt when challenged on the matter, not seeming to understand that those from another country within the UK could possibly have another accent or language. How could that ever be possible in Greater England?
Most obviously have no malice behind these exchanges; however, it is at best lazy discrimination of those they share the United Kingdom with.
Before presenting my research at a conference the chair of the session (and head of the organisation running the conference) introduced me but instead of introducing my position or the title of my paper thought it more relevant to tell everyone that “Dave is from Scotland, so he is going to try to speak very slowly and clearly for us all so that we can understand him, isn’t he?”. I responded that I could deliver my paper in Scots if they would like to which they replied “yes you like to think you have your own language don’t you?”
I think a few of the audience were also quite shocked at this but the majority thought it was quite funny. I always find it surprising that this would happen at an applied linguistics/sociolinguistics conference! Stuff like this happens to me frequently at conferences and it consistently strikes me as odd that linguists (mostly old, white and English…) assume that I’m not aware of my own speech or think I’m incapable of speaking in a way in which people can understand me.