Black Watch: language

Black Watch: language

Language in Black Watch

Use of Dialect and Slang

  • Black Watch is noted for its use of Scots dialect and slang, which adds a layer of authenticity to the dialogue and characterisation.
  • The form of language used by the soldiers reflects their regional backgrounds and socio-economic conditions.
  • Examples of slang include ‘bampot’ (fool), ‘scran’ (food), ‘squaddie’ (soldier) and ‘roaster’ (idiot). Understanding these terms can provide insight into the cultural and social realities of the characters.


  • Use of profanity is prevalent throughout the script, expressing the raw emotions, camaraderie, and brutal realities experienced by the soldiers.
  • The strong language is not gratuitous but rather serves to reflect the harsh and unforgiving nature of war and military life.


  • A significant aspect of the play’s language is the use of humour and wit, often deriving from sarcasm, irony, or dark comedy.
  • The soldiers use humour as a coping mechanism in the face of danger and uncertainty, revealing an aspect of their psyche and bonding.

Narrative Style

  • The language used by the narrator/corporal guides the narrative structure, shifting between descriptive passages, personal accounts, and larger historical events.
  • His choice of language is different from that of the other men, more reflective and measured, providing a contrast and elevating the narrative’s emotional depth.

Poetic Moments

  • There are instances of poetic language within the script, such as the letter reading scene or the monologues about the history of Black Watch.
  • These poetic moments, while standing in contrast to the overall gritty realism, allow for emotionally charged expressions and profound contemplations about war, duty, and sacrifice.

Use of Military Terminology

  • The presence of military terminology in the language like ‘tour of duty’, ‘posting’, ‘Section 2’, ‘Snatch Land Rovers’, further cements the authenticity of the play.
  • These terms, while potentially unfamiliar to some audience members, can enhance the immersion and provide a realistic depiction of the soldiers’ world.

Perspectives on War

  • Language is used to express varied perspectives on war – from patriotism, duty, and camaraderie to disillusionment, confusion, and regret.
  • The different stances often lead to conflict and tension among the characters, revealing the complexities of their experiences and feelings.