Not Being Understood

Spend roughly 2 minutes with me and you’ll easily pick up that I’m hard to understand. Having a Scottish accent doesn’t help matters either, with it being an accent that is naturally one of the more difficult to understand. Scottish accents are very regional. You can go 30 minutes down the road and the accent is different. Most non-Scots won’t be able to pick up on it but there is a huge difference in some Scottish accents. For example there’s a huge difference in the Glaswegian accent and Edinburghian accent – Glaswegian accents tend to be much harder to understand than the Edinburgh accent, which is also the stereotypical Scottish accent. In Scotland you can tell who’s from the East and who’s from the West rather easily. To go more regional it can be harder to differentiate such as the difference between the Dundee and Fife accent (sorry to my Dundee pals). Most will think they’re the same but there is a slight difference. My Scottish accent isn’t the main problem though. I enjoy the Scottish accent and possessing one despite how much I’ve had people abroad be like ‘ohhhh yours isn’t as strong as my Scotch pal’. Love it when people think an alcoholic beverage is my nationality! Anyhoo…

The main problem I have is that I talk too fast. It’s fucking annoying. I hate it quite a bit.

My speaking issues really started when I was really young when I couldn’t say the letters B or M due to my jaw alignment. Thankfully there wasn’t a B&M Bargains store around Ayrshire at that time or there would’ve been no chance 4 year old Swankie would be able to pronounce it. ‘Argains’ does sound like a badass store though, I should invest into that. Regardless after some orthodontics and seeing a speech therapist I managed to be able to say ‘b’ and ‘m’meaning I was finally was able say the full alphabet like all the other edgy cool kids could do. The whole fast speaking problem hasn’t stemmed from there however. Scottish people are naturally fast speakers as a whole, but damn do I take the piss.

I honestly couldn’t tell you when I started to develop fast speech, it’s just something I’ve been doing for years. It’s really natural for me to speak at the pace I do, I find slowing down harder than a males no no part an hour after popping some viagra!

My inability to ‘slow the fuck down’, to quote a tonne of people causes a lot of troubles in my life. When I’m working with a bunch of kids in outdoor education and I’m trying to explain some important stuff they need to know, such as why I’m carrying a stick around called Giraffe stick or why I’m making them wear their hats inside out -Important stuff, R.I.P Giraffe stick-. They tend to not understand a lot of the time. It’s more of an issue when I’m abroad working, not only in the outdoor education field but in all jobs I have worked.

Despite how difficult I find it and how much people don’t believe I do, I actually do try so hard not to speak fast. I do feel I have gotten better but I’m still constantly going back home and having my Mum remind me when I talk too fast. I don’t mind her reminding me as she can understand my speech more than anyone else in the world, but at times being reminded can get a little annoying regardless of who it is. I haven’t snapped her for it recently (well I don’t think I have, she’ll probs remind me I have when she proof-reads this) but I have before. I do snap about my speech a lot. I have snapped at close friends and family before. I hate snapping about it but it can be difficult not to.

My issue isn’t the fact I do speak as fast as road runner. My issue is how people act about it at times. People don’t realise what it’s like to be in my shoes. I know it sucks shit for you not understanding me and whatever shite I’m talking, even though it is usually just meaningless shite, but it’s worse for me.

Most of my teenage life I spent alone in my room, I still spend a great deal of time alone in my room. I would only really socialise well-ish when I went to hockey games at the weekend and managed to be able to sort of make steps to coming out of my shell. I wasn’t able to fully come out of my shell until I was 18 and that eventually managed to help me gain the social skills I have now. I was socially awkward for so many years and I finally found my voice. I possess the gift of the gab and it is great, fucking ‘mon the talking. To finally be able to gain some social skills and gain my voice is life changing stuff, que emotional music montage! I hold onto being able to strike up a conversation pretty easily and talk shit for hours with people very dearly.

Now with my almost 5 years of being able to socialise well, despite my high anxiety, I can tell pretty well when people don’t get what I’m saying. I can tell simply by body language and facial expression. When people’s faces go more blank and thoughtful I can tell they’re trying to process whatever I said through their brain. When people lean in a little closer, subtly move their hair from in front of their ears or subtly turn their ear a little closer to me I can tell they’re having issues with understanding me. Which is cool and not an issue. Communication is a two-way thing so if you’re having troubles that is fine, I usually don’t mind repeating what I’ve said, except when I’m trying to crack a joke as it ruins it most of the time. My jokes are usually shite anyway so no big deal. Most of the time it really doesn’t bother me as it’s a day to day part of life that I’m used to.

What bothers me the most is when people make such a big deal about it. It really upsets me. Like I said earlier people don’t realise what it’s like to be in my shoes and to not be understood a lot. I’ve had high emotional moments when alone, because of people making a huge deal about my speech and it sets me off. I get how annoying it can be for you but think about how it must feel to have been socially awkward for many years and to finally gain social skills and get to where I am now, to just get shut down and have a big deal made about not being understandable. It’s upsetting. What I’d love most is for people not to make a big deal about it and have a full group discussion for ages about how I talk fast, and how I should try not too, when I actually try hard but sometimes I just end up talking fast. It’s not as easy for me as it is for you, I find it difficult.

Now I know I’ve had a little bit of banter about my fast speech with a lot of people. I’m not completely insecure about it. I have made plenty of jokes about my speech and acknowledge the flaws through my shite patter. If I’m making jokes about it with you it means you haven’t annoyed me about it or I’ve gotten over it.

The thing you need to make sure you don’t ever do is cut me off mid-sentence like you’re an arsehole driver. That will piss me off majorly. No one likes to be interrupted, including you. It can also be a little belittling for me. I get that you don’t understand and you may be heavy invested in the intellectual discussion we’re having over why we should all shove chopsticks in our ears, but please for the love of pizza don’t cut me off mid-sentence. Like I’ve said earlier many times I can probably tell you don’t understand what I’m saying. You’ll kill the conversation dead or you’ll get annoyed at my response to you saying ‘slow down you’re going to fast’. The one time that sticks out most when this happened was when I was in a place called Cheeseworld, along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. I was in the free samples part of the store talking, with a pal, to a lady who works there and my pal cut me off mid-sentence and I, without skipping a beat, got annoyed and literally said ‘fuck right off’ in what you can guess was a lovely tone. I think we spoke not long after that as she wasn’t too pleased at me saying that aggressively to her in front of the cheese lady and we did patch things up. Still a pal of mine to this day, despite her cutting me off mid-sentence for talking too fast.

I talk a lot and I enjoy talking, I spend most of the day talking to myself or shouting profanities as something has ruffled my jimmies. At times I can get excited about talking to people or what I’m talking about which does affect my pace; I’ve been told that a few times and well aye it’s true. However, if you ever don’t understand me just let me know nicely after I’ve finished what I’ve said, again I can usually tell. Please, please, please don’t stop me mid sentence or I’ll want you to get hurt more than how hurt you were when Dobby died.

What actually sucks most about my fast speaking is that it’s the only thing in life I’m fast at. Bastard.

Swankie – 22, Scotland Founder of Loveable Loser

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