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As part of my Scottish slang session this week I explained to a group of retired French people what the word ‘Dogging’* meant.

If you don’t know what dogging is then I will explain. It is the act of going to a car park frequented by people who enjoy having sex in their cars while being observed by others. It gets the name ‘dogging’ by the tendency of these observers to use a dog lead – sans the dog – to legitimise their presence there in the case of any unexpected visits from the local police e.g. ‘Honest officer, I wasn’t staring in this car window and masturbating, I was walking my dog. Look, I’ve even got a lead, and as soon as I do up my trousers I will go and find….err…Larry, yes, Larry, that’s definitely the name of my dog‘.

I went into great detail with my students about its origins, its popularity in the UK, as well as the rules that some of the ‘doggers’ employ when they are inside their cars; flashing the lights, dipping the beams etc to signify if they want ‘company’ or not. This was following my explanation of what a ‘boaby**’ is and why one should not ‘chug***’ on public transportation.

By the looks on some of their faces I could tell that this was a new thing for them, and something that many of them found somewhat disgusting. And some of them found hilarious. These looks also told me that it wasn’t prevalent in France.

Well, that and the fact that one of them said: ‘It’s not prevalent in France’.

In my defence I told them that in the previous (Yorkshire slang) session they had asked for Scottish slang to be the focus of our next class, and so only had themselves to blame. I firmly believe that many of them now think that I’m either A) Very thorough, particularly with my mimes of what a dogger is and how they operate, as well as being someone who is prepared to take risks with the content of the ‘coursework’ I give them or B) A pervert.

This firm belief has now been reinforced even more – with a distinct sway towards option ‘B’ – after I was informed by some Scottish friends that the term dogging, in Scotland anyway, actually refers to the far more innocent activity of ‘skiving****’ off school. For those who don’t know what skiving means, it is the act of not going to school when you should, and doing something else that you prefer, unbeknown to your parents.

So as you can see, sometimes using Wikis to source your information is not the most reliable means. That being said, I doubt we would have laughed quite as much if I had used the correct – and much more innocent – term.

I haven’t told them by the way, I figure I will just let them go on thinking it means what I said it does, if I drag it back up now they really will think I’m a pervert. Plus it may lead to some interesting interactions for them if they ever visit any Scottish schools: ‘Headmaster, can you tell me what those boys are in trouble for?’ ‘Why yes madame, they were all caught dogging yesterday!’.


*I appreciate the term ‘dogging’ is not unique to Scotland, however it didn’t come up in the Yorkshire slang handout, so perhaps that one needs updating

** A penis

***To masturbate

**** Go on, someone tell me now that skiving does not mean what I said it does, and these days refers to something far more sinister and sexual, it wouldn’t surprise me