When we signed up Irvine Welsh’s first novel, Trainspotting, I joked that it was going to be Norton’s first foreign-language publication, so dense is the author's deployment of contemporary Scots demotic, a rich brew of industrial-strength profanity and slang. The book is written with the highest fidelity to the language of the Edinburgh housing projects or “schemes” that Irvine Welsh grew up in — an important factor in the almost nationalistic fervor that the book has engendered in Scotland. So it was with some trepidation that we broached with the author the idea of a glossary for American readers who might feel the need for some linguistic training wheels, but Irvine pronounced himself “agnostic’’ on the notion — which we took as a green light.

The following document was begun by my assistant, Sean Desmond and me, who doped out many of the definitions from context, and it was vetted and completed by Irvine Welsh himself. Impress your friends with your correct usage of such terms as radge, square go, biscuit-ersed and, of course, the all-purpose term of aggression and/or endearment, cunt before the film Trainspotting hits American screens this summer. In fact, so closely did screenwriter John Hodge and director Danny Boyle (both Scots, incidentally) hew to the language of the book's characters that one scene uses standard English subtitles to excellent comic effect. It's a barry film indeed and it will unleash a blast of raw Edinburgh energy throughout the world.

                — Gerald Howard, Editor, W.W. Norton