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Scottish and English culture and ways of life

(88 Posts)
yellowblackgrey Wed 01-Nov-17 12:37:30

I wanted to ask if IABU to think that Scottish culture and communication is quite different from the English people interact with each other. The best way I can describe it is that in England if you converse in a middle class environment being direct is considered very rude. I found Scottish people more open to strangers in general, and that people say it as it is rather than talking round and round a point. There is also less passive aggressiveness ime.

AIBU to think the Scottish society is less hierarchical than English society and people talk more openly with each other and more on the same level as well as being more open and friendly toward strangers? I also wonder if there is less snobbery and reverse snobbery in Scotland.

Dairymilkmuncher Wed 01-Nov-17 12:46:18

Woah I can see this being a bit controversial

I'm from a mixed Scottish English and foreign family brought up in Scotland and now very close with my English in laws, and yes you're right from the very limited experience I've had with just a small sample of people. I call my in laws weird (to their face) all the time for how they dance around small issues, never confront each other and would rather be passive aggressive rather than direct. I find the whole thing strange and I love them a heap. My Scottish family might be a bit feisty but you know where you stand with everyone and we aren't as easily offended.

It's such a generalisation though I'm sure there's the opposites on both sides and even though those statements are true for the families I know I wouldn't like to brush the whole of Scotland/England with the same brush....

TacoFlavouredKisses Wed 01-Nov-17 12:49:35

I'm Scottish with an English DP both living in Scotland... and think (in my very direct Scottish way) that you're speaking pish grin

yellowblackgrey Wed 01-Nov-17 12:50:23

Woah I can see this being a bit controversial I hope it isn't. Perhaps I should add that I moved to the UK 4 years ago and have lived in London but I have travelled to Scotland frequently when I had a long distance relationship with a Scottish guy before I moved to London and I always felt more at ease there. I suppose I am surprised at the differences and openly admit that makes me quite ignorant.

dangermouseisace Wed 01-Nov-17 12:51:17

I think that is a bit of an overgeneralisation as there are so many different areas of Scotland and England. And you get snooty people everywhere.

Saying that, it tallies with my experience. (west Scotland/south England)

Battleax Wed 01-Nov-17 12:53:07

I think it's more a WC v MC thing really.

wafflesandicecream Wed 01-Nov-17 12:53:13

I'm English ( northern if it makes a difference ) I don't beat around the bush I speak openly and warmly with everyone I meet.

I live down south now and i find it quite mixed in how people react to general conversation - some like it and some totally avoid it, I go to uni with a Scottish girl and she always comments she wishes she could be as honest and chatty as me, so I don't think you can generalise between English and Scottish and their communicational habits

BarbaraofSevillle Wed 01-Nov-17 12:55:26

Agree that in England, being direct is considered rude. There are so many situations where the only polite response is an outright lie, even though being truthful could literally save years of anguish, eg - someone buys you a Christmas present that you hate, but the only polite response is 'thank you, it's lovely'.

Cue a similarly themed Christmas present from that person every year for decades to come. Waste of time and money all round as said items either go to the charity shop or langish in cupboards making the recipient feel sad and guilty. Yup, much better approach than being truthful from the beginning.

Don't know if there are any class differences or regional or England Scotland differences though.

hanahsaunt Wed 01-Nov-17 12:57:02

I went to a fascinating lecture about 10 years ago by the then Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh on the huge cultural differences between England and Scotland and the effects on education. He was English and had been VC at an English university before moving to Edinburgh and this was two or three years into his appointment there. At that point I had only lived and worked in Scotland and found his insights startling; I now live and work in England and his observations were very pertinent (and derogatory to neither side).

yellowblackgrey Wed 01-Nov-17 12:59:39

"I go to uni with a Scottish girl and she always comments she wishes she could be as honest and chatty as me, so I don't think you can generalise between English and Scottish and their communicational habits" Thanks maybe it is not as I thought and there are other factors at play. I just feel that when I am around Scottish people and now that someone has mentioned it people from the north of England I feel more relaxed and able to speak naturally. Living in the SE / London I am having a steep learning curve in tiptoeing.

maddiemookins16mum Wed 01-Nov-17 13:03:46

Most of my family are Scottish, I was however born and raised in England (Scottish parents). I was teased (not horrendously) by most of my Scottish cousins as a child for being the posh English one (we weren't posh btw).
However the biggest difference I found was the openness/warmth and generosity of Scots, you'd never ever pop in and feel unwelcome and a cup of tea was never just a cup of tea, there'd be plates of buttered tattie scones and other such delights. (but maybe I was just a greedy child as that has always stuck with me). As for funerals, I've never known funerals in England where it turns into a big party by 8pm with masses of food (and lots of whisky).

milliemolliemou Wed 01-Nov-17 13:03:59

I think you're confusing the south of England and its middle class with everywhere else in Britain. As probably am I. Edinburgh has always had a large middle class and used to be super-genteel, ditto parts of Wales and Northern Ireland and the north. So you get non-confrontational people who don't speak frankly everywhere in the UK/GB who may also be "sniffy" and old school class aware. Try golf clubs in Scotland. They'll be frank about sexism, classism and not particularly welcoming to foreigners unless bearing gifts.

wafflesandicecream Wed 01-Nov-17 13:06:31

Yellowblackgrey I live near London now too, I think people are just always so much busier down here. My random conversations these days are usually started with ' ooo that's not a local accent where are you from?' Rather then a general good morning/day etc

Sometimes I wish I didn't have the accent because I must have the same conversation at least twice a day 😂

It'll admit it is 'different' down here but then I think back to being up north and there where plenty of people up there too that didn't engage in the same way as me.

I think it's more personality then geographical location in my opinion

whiskyowl Wed 01-Nov-17 13:10:17

I think it's more regional, though I agree that there are broadbrush differences.

I moved up to the north of England from the south, and my first impression was that it was the most unfriendly place ever. I thought people were being rude to me in every shop and on every street, it felt hostile, uncomfortable and upsetting. It took me years to realise that they were actually just being direct, and they were trying to have a laugh. But still now I am far less likely to try to engage with people here, because I'm frightened of being hurt by something very forthright. I realise this is my problem of adjustment, but I am still just much more comfortable in casual conversations in the south-east.

TheLuminaries Wed 01-Nov-17 13:11:07

I'm Scottish. Move to Edinburgh if you want to find the epicentre of passive aggressive snobbery and indirectness. Really, what you are talking about is aclass, not a cultural issue. A weegie from a scheme bears no relation to an Edinburgh advocate, you really cannot generalise.

yellowblackgrey Wed 01-Nov-17 13:14:03

I'm Scottish. Move to Edinburgh if you want to find the epicentre of passive aggressive snobbery and indirectness.
Oh no! This was my back up plan and one of the reasons I started this fact finding thread sad I have been looking at Edinburgh flats and jobs. Is this true? I have found people in Edinburgh generally very warm and friendly.

I do apologise if all this sounds ignorant and based in potential stereotypes.

sayyouwill Wed 01-Nov-17 13:16:46

As a general rule, people up north are friendlier. I think this also goes hand in hand with being quite direct yet unoffensive.

Mustang27 Wed 01-Nov-17 13:19:55

I’m Scottish we are all lovely grin. We are a bit of a loud bunch in general and often just say what we think even the most introverted ones lol. I have lots of English family though and they are also brilliant but I know what you mean about beating around the bush a bit they seem to offend a lot less people than I do lol.

You can easily live in Glasgow and commute to Edinburgh for work many of my friends do. Iv not found people from Edinburgh any less easy to be friendly with though.

PoppyPopcorn Wed 01-Nov-17 13:22:19

The SNP would wholeheartedly agree with you. We're very different in Scotland, our customs are different, we deal with people differently, we speak differently and we're nothing AT ALL like those foreign people south of the border. In fact, we're SO different that it makes total sense for us to be completely separate and an independent country. hmm

OP you are talking rubbish. I am Scottish, living in Scotland, married to someone from England, inlaws are English, we've travelled extensively throghout the UK. Some people are lovely, some are arses. There are just as many arses in Glasgow as there are in Bristol. People in the north (which my MN standards seems to start around Leamington Spa) are in general chattier and more open - you're more likely to find someone to chat to on a Glasgow train than a London one. But that's about as far as you can take that generalisation.

StigmaStyle Wed 01-Nov-17 13:24:03

Move to Edinburgh if you want to find the epicentre of passive aggressive snobbery and indirectness. Totally! I'm from Yorkshire and I grew up with directness/bluntness, but it was always very warm, friendly and funny bluntness. I find Edinburgh culture/communication quite cold, negative and aggressive - often passive-aggressive. BUT I am much more at home in Glasgow, where it's much more normal to be direct. (Still not as friendly as Yorkshire though!)

citychick Wed 01-Nov-17 13:24:23

I'm Scottish and have lived in the south of England for more than 20 years.

I am very direct, and yes, I do find my English friends somewhat reserved. However, am sure there are plenty of direct speaking English out there. Maybe I haven't met them yet.

I was raised, though, to reply to "how are you?" With a polite, "very well, thanks" no matter how I was feeling. Some friends are quite happy to rant on about their illness.

there is plenty of snobbery in Scotland. The north/south/east/west divide for example. I am though, quite happy to converse with anyone from any walk of life. I think we are generally, a pretty friendly race. smile.

whoputthecatout Wed 01-Nov-17 13:26:05

Hallo OP: I'm English. Bollocks. Is that direct enough for you? grin

caoraich Wed 01-Nov-17 13:28:21

Taco is right - tis pish! grin

I think it's impossible to generalise. I'm Scottish from a rural area in the far North and now live near Glasgow. I found people here almost abrasive in their directness when I first arrived. Where I'm from you wouldn't ask so many questions or engage a shop assistant in a full scale conversation about your upcoming bowel surgery/divorce/employment tribunal (all things I've overheard!)

However when I've met people from the SE in London I know they've found me quite direct too.

I have family in Yorkshire and they're much more like my Glaswegian friends! In summary, it's all relative.

I do think people saying those from Edinburgh are unfriendly are being OTT. I just finished a year-long secondment there and the people were perhaps less in-yer-face but were all friendly, interested and not at all stuck-up.

citychick Wed 01-Nov-17 13:29:41


I also agree. Whilst I love the city of Edinburgh, It's the most impossible place to live if you are not born and bred in Edinburgh.

My DB lived there and gave up after a while. He found it very inward looking. a bit like Dublin really wink

GherkinSnatch Wed 01-Nov-17 13:32:59

Nah. People in different parts of Scotland have different ways of putting things, but just the same as people from Yorkshire have their ways and people from Bristol have theirs. We're not Different.

You'll get middle class enclaves just like you get anywhere else in the UK.

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