What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

On watching Scottish football (soccer)

For several years, our local public television station carried pre-recorded Scottish football (soccer) games at midnight each Saturday. I am a soccer (football) fan and when I accidentally ran across one of the games, I was hooked. I even became something of a Rangers’ fan and would wake up everyone in the house with a loud shout when they landed one in the net. It became a weekend ritual for me to stretch out on the couch and watch those ninety-minute broadcasts.

Although the games were usually pretty lively, part of the draw for me was listening to the announcers. They were speaking English. They were describing events that were fairly self-evident. Yet, I was unable to comprehend a single word that they spoke with the exception of an occasional “Guhl!” It was baffling. Yet, I knew they were speaking English. I had watched games announced in Spanish, French, and Italian, but I could readily accept that the words spoken in those languages would simply bounce off of my brain without leaving a mark. I, generally, just turned the sound off and enjoyed the action on the screen. But these guys were speaking English!

Sure, they had an accent. This should not have been a problem. I grew up in the Midwest with a Southern grandmother who called my dad a "damned Yankee" till the day she died. I have no trouble with baseball announcers from New York, college football announcers from Louisiana, or hockey commentators from Canada. I live in a country where the President thinks the word “nuclear” is pronounced “nook-que-lur”. English and Irish football announcers are perfectly intelligible to me. English-speaking accent-blessed broadcasters from Jamaica, Brazil, and Japan present no challenge. My German neighbor was always easier for me to understand than my teenage son. What is it about a Scottish accent?

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not blaming those announcers, their country of origin, their speech, or their excellent football. Judging from the rhythm of the enthusiastic exchanges that came out of my television’s speakers, I would guess that they were providing insightful and interesting commentary. No, I blame myself. When Mike Myers used a Scottish accent in cartoons like Shrek or while playing Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movies, I struggled to catch about every third word. Even though I think that he will always be the best James Bond ever, I have to really concentrate to figure out Mr. Connery’s clever repartee. My theory is that I have a double recessive for the “Scottish Non-Comprehension” gene. I can’t roll my tongue and I can’t understand anyone who speaks with a Scottish accent. I blame my genetics.

I enjoyed watching those games. I missed them when the station decided to discontinue airing them. It was great physical football. Puzzling over what the announcers were saying only added to my enjoyment. It was multi-level entertainment. It was like combining a game of scrabble with a good baseball game on the radio or playing chess while watching the Super Bowl. What more could any Scottish accent challenged man want?


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