Origin of "Och aye the noo!"

Some English people think that this is a real Scots saying. It isn’t; it doesn’t mean anything. Its literal translation is “Oh yes just now”. No one ever says that - where did it originate?

I remember it as a supposedly stereotypical Scots expression from episodes of The Goodies in the 70s.

I thinkit goes back quite a way. I remember it being used in children’s comics in the '60s to stereotype Scots characters, and it wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t already a very common meme.

Although the phrase is pretty meaningless, both “och aye” and “the noo” are authentic Scots idioms which strike speakers of standard English as distinctly exotic. So I guess they just got coupled together as typical Scots language to identify a stereotypical Scots speaker.

For some reason I thought it was from The Goon Show, in which case it wouldn’t have to make any sense.

No cite at the moment but I suspect it is a lot older than the Goon Show in the '50s. Think Victorian Music Hall and comic Scotsmen in kilt and tam o’shanter.

And to think I thought it was something made up by Colin Mochrie from Who’s Line Is It Anyway?. (He can’t say anything else with a Scottish accent.)

But I do have a legitimate question: Why wouldn’t anyone really say it? It could be a response to a question like “Did the milkman come by?”

The point isn’t that you can’t contrive a situation in which it would be said, it’s that… well … you have to contrive a situation.

Some English people think the world is flat.
Some English people want the sectarian Scottish Pub Teams in The Premiership.
Some English people think they might bump into some Scots in South Africa next summer.

But the vast majority of us aren’t that stupid.

Crikey, someone’s got a bee in his bunnet. It’s quite a leap of imagination to read “Some” as meaning “The vast majority, including me”, and to use that as an excuse to make cheap digs.

Look mate, I have had intelligent English people, who were my friends, ask me what the phrase means.

You mean Scottish is a real language? I thought that they just made that up for the movies, like Klingon.

Aye, Scots is real an’ a’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language


Except…no, you don’t.

‘Has X been by?’ is not a contrived question. Nor are ‘have you seen Y’ or ‘have you been to Z’, or any number of other similar questions. ‘Oh yes, just now’ is not an unusual answer to any them.

The only question is if ‘Och aye, the noo’ would be a common way for a Scot to say ‘oh yes, just now’.

It’s not a question of contriving a situation to use it, but of the commonality of the phrasing.

But the way ‘comedians’ say it, it doesn’t have a comma. Even if it did, it would be pretty unusual to start the sentence with ‘Och’. Like I said, you don’t hear this phrase in Scotland.

Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I was taking it as read that, as Scheidt-Hoch said, it isn’t a common expression. Also, as I understand it, “the noo” doesn’t mean “just now” as in “recently” but in the sense of “currently” or “at the moment,” or “these days.”

It’s as though everyone thought that “Hell yeah anymore” was the stereotypical American expression: they’re all words in common use in the US, but how often are they put together just like that?

There is only one situation I can conceive of where this phrase would be used (by a real Scot, not in the hypothetical):

Someone asks you do to something you really don’t want to do, e.g. “could you photocopy this ?” and you reply “Ochhh… aye. The noo?” Except “the noo” is only used in certain regions of Scotland, in others you’d get “the now?” instead.

I’ve only ever heard fellow Scots say “och aye the noo!” in jest.