The name’sh Holmeshhh. Jonathan Holmeshhh. And you’re an awfu braw lassie, by the way. Just pure dead gorrgeous. Fancy a chip?
Finding yourself weak at the knees? You’re not the only one. A survey of 1,000 people, commissioned by the dating site eharmony, found that the Edinburgh accent was ranked the third most attractive in the world. Experts have credited it to ‘the Bond effect’, based on its association with Sean Connery’s Edinburgh-honed accent.
As an Edinburgh native with the accent to match, I find this surprising. In fact, considering my own love life, I find it sshhocking.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not James Bond. Going out with an Edinburgh lad is not all witty repartee and cocktails over a game of Chemin de Fer. It’s “awright hen?” and a sausage supper on the Royal Mile. In the rain.
Nor am I Sean Connery, who sounds like no Scottish person I know. Connery’s voice is luxurious – every elongated ‘shh’ a bed of glorious static, every word delivered like snow twisting into more snow. In contrast, I sound like a magical gnome, trapped in a drainpipe, promising you wishes if you set me free.
The association of Scots with deep, masculine voices can be traced back through Bond to the adventure novels of Walter Scott, and forward to modern TV and film sets. Ser Jorah Mormont’s magisterial Edinburgh accent (provided by Iain Glen) made him the only man manly enough to wear a leather kilt in Game of Thrones. Our voice shows up again and again in the mouths of Vikings, Klingons, and – yes – dwarves. Anything violent and hairy.
But it’s the particular variety of Scots that people love that most raises an eyebrow, Bond-style.
The Edinburgh accent is far from adored in Scotland. Glaswegians are continually telling us we ‘don’t sound Scottish’, among other less kind descriptions. (Gosh aren’t they a funny bunch? The Glaswegian accent is ranked at number 8, by the way.)
And yet, away from Scotland, everyone seems to love it. At the risk of going all Braveheart on you (and let’s not get started on Mel Gibson’s Auscottish accent), I’d suggest there’s a power dynamic at play here. Edinburgh has traditionally got its cultural and political prominence from its links to England. As such, our way of speaking, named ‘Scottish Standard English’ (guess where the academics who named it were from) is designed to be easily understood by you, the English.
Scottish Standard English is at the opposite end of a ‘linguistic continuum’ from what you would call ‘Broad Scots’. We speak comparatively slowly. We’ll even laugh at your jokes, you Sassenachs. It’s a way of speaking designed to be understood by an occupying culture. (Not that that has helped me in London, where polite smiles and confused nods greet most of what I say.)
But most of all, my anger is directed at my countryfolk – specifically these sexy Scots misrepresenting us. I share an accent and the same flowing red hair with the likes of Sam Heughan of Outlander, but there the similarities end. I look like the failed experiments that led up to his creation. Our voices are already designed to ingratiate us with our English overlords. We have given enough to be understood. Expecting me to take my shirt off too is a step too far.
I am all for people listening to Scots. But wanting me to be sexy? You mussht be joking.