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Encyclopedia > Doric dialect (Scotland)
Spoken in: Scotland 
Region: North East Scotland (Angus over to Nairn and Forres)
Total speakers: no official figures, but probably several hundred thousand
Language family: Indo-European
  West Germanic
     Scots language
Official status
Official language in:
Regulated by: — .
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: sco
ISO 639-3: sco

Doric was formerly used to refer to all dialects of Lowland Scots but is now usually used as a name for the dialect spoken in the north-east of Scotland. This article is about the country. ... A language family is a group of languages related by descent from a common proto-language. ... For other uses, see Indo-European. ... The West Germanic languages constitute the largest branch of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English and Frisian, as well as Dutch and Afrikaans. ... The Anglo-Frisian languages (also known as Ingvaeonic languages or North Sea Germanic languages) are a group of West Germanic languages consisting of Old English, Old Frisian, and their descendants. ... The Anglic languages (also called Anglian languages) are one of the two branches of Anglo-Frisian languages, itself a branch of West Germanic. ... This article is about the Anglic language of Scotland. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is an international standard for language codes. ... The Unicode Standard, Version 5. ... This article is about the Anglic language of Scotland. ...


Pronunciation and lexis

The main phonetic differences between Doric and other Lowland Scots dialects are as follows:

  • wh is pronounced [f] instead of [ʍ] (ie, /f/ and /ʍ/ have merged) — [fɪt] meaning "what" instead of [ʍɪt], [fa:] meaning "who" instead of [ʍɑ:] or [ʍɒ:]. In more anglicised areas such as Inverurie and Aberdeen, wh is often used[citation needed].
  • aw, au and aa are pronounced [a:] instead of [ɑ:], [ɒ:]aw, a' or aa meaning "all".
  • An a before /b/, /g/, /m/ and /ŋ/ may be /ə/ or /ʌ/.
  • ui (often anglicised oo or dialectialised ee) is pronounced [i(:)] and [wi(:)] after /g/ and /k/ e.g. abeen meaning above instead of abuin, gweed and qheet instead of guid ("good") and cuit ("ankle").
  • The cluster ane is pronounced [in], e.g. in ane and a(i)nce.
  • Initial /g/ and /k/ as in gnap and knowe are pronounced.
  • "Y" /j/ sounds often occur after certain initial consonants, e.g. "tyauve" for taw.

Doric contains a number of words not found in other dialects of Lowland Scots. Also, because it expanded into areas where Scottish Gaelic was formerly spoken, and the Eastern Highlands, it contains a few loanwords from that language, as well as Norse. Loanwords from Pictish are curiously absent, except within placenames, notably those beginning with "Pit-". Inverurie is a burgh in Aberdeenshire, Scotland approximately 16 miles north west of Aberdeen along the A96 road. ... For other uses, see Aberdeen (disambiguation). ... Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is a member of the Goidelic branch of Celtic languages. ... A North Germanic language is any of several Germanic languages spoken in Scandinavia, parts of Finland and on the islands west of Scandinavia. ... The Pictish language is the extinct language of the Picts, in what is now Scotland. ...

As with other parts of Scotland, the travelling folk maintained a distinct lexis of Doric, much of which is recorded in Stanley Robertson's stories.

Origin of the name

As The Oxford Companion to English Literature explains: The Oxford Companion to English Literature first published in 1932, edited by the retired diplomat Sir Paul Harvey (1869-1948), was the earliest of the Oxford Companions to appear. ...

"Since the Dorians were regarded as uncivilised by the Athenians, 'Doric' came to mean 'rustic' in English, and was applied particularly to the language of Northumbria and the Lowlands of Scotland and also to the simplest of the three orders in architecture."[1]

The term "Doric" was used to refer to all dialects of Lowland Scots as a jocular reference to the Doric dialect of the Ancient Greek language. Greek Dorians lived in Sparta amongst other places, a more rural area, and were supposed by the ancient Greeks to have spoken laconically and in a language that was thought harsher in tone and more phonetically conservative than the Attic spoken in Athens. Doric Greek was used for the verses spoken by the chorus in Greek tragedy. This article or section should include material from Dorian invasion The Dorians were one of the ancient Hellenic (Greek) races. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... Section from Shepherds map of the British Isles about 802 AD showing the kingdom of Northumbria Northumbria is primarily the name of a petty kingdom of Angles which was formed in Great Britain at the beginning of the 7th century, from two smaller kingdoms of Bernicia and Diera, and... Lowland-Highland divide The Scottish Lowlands (a Ghalldachd, meaning roughly the non-Gaelic region, in Gaelic), although not officially a geographical area of the country, in normal usage is generally meant to include those parts of Scotland not referred to as the Highlands (or Gàidhealtachd), that is, everywhere due... This article is about building architecture. ... This article is about the Anglic language of Scotland. ... A joke is a short story or ironic depiction of a situation communicated with the intent of being humorous. ... Distribution of Greek dialects, ca. ... Beginning of Homers Odyssey The Ancient Greek language is the historical stage of the Greek language[1] as it existed during the Archaic (9th–6th centuries BC) and Classical (5th–4th centuries BC) periods in Ancient Greece. ... This article or section should include material from Dorian invasion The Dorians were one of the ancient Hellenic (Greek) races. ... For modern day Sparta, see Sparti (municipality). ... Attic Greek is the ancient dialect of the Greek language that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... The Greek chorus (choros) is believed to have grown out of the Greek dithyrambs and tragikon drama in tragic plays of the ancient Greek theatre. ... For other uses, see Tragedy (disambiguation). ...

Use of the term Doric in this context may also arise out of a contrast with the anglicised speech of the Scottish capital, because at one point, Edinburgh was nicknamed 'Athens of the North'. The upper/middle class speech of Edinburgh would thus be 'Attic', making the rural areas' speech 'Doric'. For other uses, see Edinburgh (disambiguation). ...

Doric literature

North east Scots has an extensive body of literature, mostly poetry, ballads and songs. During the Middle Scots period writing from the North-East of Scotland adhered to the literary conventions of the time. Indications of particular "Doric" pronunciations were very rare. The 18th century literary revival also brought forth writers from the North–East. Local dialect features were rare in the eighteenth century, the extant literary Scots conventions being preferred. In later times a more deliberately regional literature began to emerge. Middle Scots describes the language of Anglic-speaking Lowland Scotland in the period 1450 to 1700. ...

In contemporary prose writing Doric occurs usually as quoted speech, although this is less and less the case. As is usually the case with marginalised languages, local loyalties prevail in the written form, showing how the variety "deviates" from standard ("British") English as opposed to a general literary Scots "norm". This shows itself in the local media presentation of the language e.g. Grampian Television & The Aberdeen Press and Journal. These local loyalties, waning knowledge of the older literary tradition, and relative distance from the Central Lowlands, ensure that the Doric scene has a degree of semi-autonomy. Grampian Television is the ITV franchisee for the North of Scotland, based in Aberdeen. ... The Press and Journal is a daily regional newspaper serving the northern areas of Scotland including the cities of Aberdeen and Inverness. ...

Doric was used in a lot of so called, 'Kailyard' literature, a genre which paints a sentimental, melodramatic picture of the old rural life, and is currently very unfashionable. This negative association still plagues Doric literature to a degree, as well as Scottish literature in general. The Kailyard school of Scottish fiction came into being at the end of the nineteenth century as a reaction against what was seen as increasingly coarse writing representing Scottish life complete with all its blemishes. ...

The most famous novelist to use Doric in his novels was George MacDonald from Huntly, who is commonly considered one of the fathers of the Fantasy genre, an influence on C. S. Lewis and Tolkien, and a friend of Mark Twain. George MacDonald (December 10, 1824 – September 18, 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. ... Huntly is a town in Aberdeenshire in Scotland, formerly known as Milton of Strathbogie. ... For other uses, see Fantasy (disambiguation). ... Clive Staples Jack Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an Irish author and scholar. ... Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humanist,[2] humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. ...

Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Scots Quair trilogy is set in the Mearns, and has been the basis of a successful play and television series. It is very popular throughout Scotland, and tells the story of Chrissie, an independent-minded woman, mainly in a form of English strongly influenced by the rhythms of local speech. Lewis Grassic Gibbon (13 February 1901 – 7 February 1935), born James Leslie Mitchell, was a Scottish writer. ... Kincardineshire, also known as The Mearns (from A Mhaoirne meaning The Stewartry) is a traditional county on the coast of Northeast Scotland. ...

A version of Aesop's Fables has been published in Doric, as well as some sections of the Bible. Aesop, as depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel. ...

The North East has been claimed as the "real home of the ballad" [2], and according to Les Wheeler, "91 out of a grand total of (Child's) 305 ballads came from the North East - in fact from Aberdeenshire", which makes the usual name of "Border Ballad" a misnomer put about by Sir Walter Scott. For the first Premier of Saskatchewan see Thomas Walter Scott Sir Walter Scott (August 14, 1771 - September 21, 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe. ...

Contemporary writers in Doric include Sheena Blackhall, a poet who writes in Doric and Scottish Gaelic[citation needed], Mo Simpson, who writes in the Aberdeen Evening Express, and peppers her humour column with "Doricisms" and Doric words. The Doric has also featured on stage and television, notably in the sketches and songs of the Aberdeen-based comedy trio Scotland the What?. Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is a member of the Goidelic branch of Celtic languages. ... Scotland the What? were a Scottish comedy review act comprising Buff Hardie, Stephen Robertson and George Donald. ...

For an example of Doric literature, see the poetry of Charles Murray. Here is his short poem, Gin I was God: Charles Murray (September 27, 1864 - April 12, 1941) was a poet who wrote in the Doric dialect of Scots. ...

GIN I was God, sittin' up there abeen,
Weariet nae doot noo a' my darg was deen,
Deaved wi' the harps an' hymns oonendin' ringin',
Tired o' the flockin' angels hairse wi' singin',
To some clood-edge I'd daunder furth an', feth,
Look ower an' watch hoo things were gyaun aneth.
Syne, gin I saw hoo men I'd made mysel'
Had startit in to pooshan, sheet an' fell,
To reive an' rape, an' fairly mak' a hell
O' my braw birlin' Earth,--a hale week's wark--
I'd cast my coat again, rowe up my sark,
An' or they'd time to lench a second ark,
Tak' back my word an' sen' anither spate,
Droon oot the hale hypothec, dicht the sklate,
Own my mistak', an, aince I cleared the brod,
Start a'thing ower again, gin I was God.
IF I were God, sitting up there above,
Wearied no doubt, now all my work was done,
Deafened by the harps and hymns unending ringing,
Tired of the flocking angels hoarse with singing,
To some cloud edge I'd saunter forth and, faith,
Look over and watch how things were going beneath.
Then if I saw how men, I'd made myself
Had started out to poison, shoot and fell,
To steal and rape and fairly make a hell
Of my fine spinning Earth -- a whole week's work --
I'd drop my coat again, roll up my shirt,
And, ere they'd time to launch a second ark,
Take back my word and send another flood,
Drown out the whole shebang, wipe the slate,
Admit my mistake, and once I'd cleared the board,
Start everything over again, if I were God.

Recent developments

2006 saw some interesting developments on the Doric front. Firstly, an Aberdeen hotel decided to use a Doric voice for their lift. Phrases said by the lift include "Gyaun Up" [gʲɑ:n ʌp] (Going up), "Gyaun Doun" [gʲɑ:n dun] (Going down), "atween fleers een an fower" [ə'twin fli:rz in ən 'fʌur] (between floors one and four) [3]. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Maureen Watt of the SNP took her Scottish Parliamentary oath in Doric. She said "I want to advance the cause of Doric and show there's a strong and important culture in the North East." [4]. She was required to take an oath in English beforehand. There was some debate as to whether the oath was "gweed Doric" [gwid 'do:rɪk] or not, and notably it is, to a certain extent, written phonetically and contains certain anglicised forms such as "I" rather than "A", and "and" instead of "an": Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Elevator (disambiguation). ... Maureen Watt, born in Aberdeenshire, is a Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland. ... The Scottish National Party (SNP) (Scottish Gaelic: is a centre-left, Social democratic political party which campaigns for Scottish independence. ... For the national legislative body up to 1707, see Parliament of Scotland. ...

"I depone aat I wull be leal and bear ae full alleadgance tae her majesty Queen Elizabeth her airs an ony fa come aifter her anent the law. Sae help me God"

There is also some controversy over the use of "majesty" for a Scottish monarch.

Select vocabulary

The most distinctive, and common Doric phrase is - "Ay ay, fit like?" (Ay Ay, whit like? - "ay" is sometimes spelt aye[2]) - "Hello, how are you?"

  • "Caumie doun!" - Calm down
  • "Causey Mounth" – the road over the "Mounth" or Grampians
  • "Claik" – the Doric dialect of Buchan fishing villages
  • "Foggy bummer" – Bumblebee
  • "Fa? (wha?) Fit? (whit?) Fit wey? (whit wey?) Faur? (whaur) Fan?" (whan) - "Who? What? What way? Why? Where? When?"
  • "Far aboots?" (Whaur aboots?) – Whereabouts? (Aberdeen is nicknamed "Furry Boots City" from a humorous spelling of far abootsfurry boots.)
  • "Futret" (Whitrat) – Weasel or other Mustelid, but commonly used for ferret now
  • "Louns an quines" (louns an queans) – Lads and lassies, boys and girls. (NB "loun" or "loon" has no derogatory connotation in Doric)
  • "Min" – Man, as in "Ay ay, min".
  • "fou lang" (hou lang) - how long
  • "for a filie" (for a whilie) - for a long time
  • "gealt" - cold
  • "Fit like?" (Whit like): A greeting, essentially, "How are you doing?", to which the response is "Aye... tyauvin on." (Aye tawin on) "Fine, thanks"
  • "Fit?" (Whit): "What?"
  • "Fit ye deein?" (Whit ye daein?): "What are you doing?"
  • "Far div ye bide?" (Whaur div ye bide?): "Where do you live?"
  • "Foo's yer doos?" (Hou's yer dous?): Literally "How are your pigeons?", now used as "How are you?" A stock phrase, not so often used in speech as to send up Doric.
  • "Aye peckin": Literally "Always pecking." This is the reply to "Fou's yer doos?"
  • "Fit's adee?" (Whit's adae?): "What's wrong?"
  • "Gie's a bosie!": "Give me a hug!"
  • "A'm fair forfochten": "I am very tired."
  • The Broch - Fraserburgh also Burghead near Elgin.

A'm fair dun'sin mad - I am very mad The Mounth is the range of hills on the southern edge of Strathdee in northeast Scotland. ... There are at least two ranges of mountains called the Grampian Mountains or The Grampians: Grampian Mountains, Scotland Grampians in Grampians National Park, Australia And at least one range of hills: The Grampians in Nelson, New Zealand This is a disambiguation page, a list of pages that otherwise might share... Buchan comprises a traditional area and earldom of north-eastern Scotland. ... This article is about the flying insect. ... For other uses, see Weasel (disambiguation). ... Subfamilies Lutrinae Melinae Mellivorinae Taxidiinae Mustelinae Mustelidae is a family of carnivorous mammals. ... This article is about the mammal. ... , Fraserburgh, called The Broch in Scots, is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on the extreme North East corner. ... Burghead (Scottish Gaelic: or Ceann Bhuirgh) is a burgh in Moray, Scotland. ...


  1. ^ Drabble, Margaret (ed.) The Oxford Companion to English Literature (fifth edition) 1985)
  2. ^ The SND entry for ay has 16 citations using ay and two using aye. http://www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/getent4.php?plen=5278&startset=1191599&query=AY&fhit=aye&dregion=form&dtext=snd#fhit] The SND also states: "The spelling of this and the preceding word in Sc. is irregular, but ay = yes, and aye = always, seem to predominate. Both words in Sc. are markedly diphthongal but not identical in pronunciation. N.E.D. and Un. Eng. Dict. prefer ay = always, and aye = yes, the first of which rhymes with the ay series of Eng. words like say, day, etc., while the second does not. The Concise Eng. Dict. spells ay = yes, and aye = ever, always." [1]

Margaret Drabble (born June 5, 1939) is an English novelist. ... The Oxford Companion to English Literature first published in 1932, edited by the retired diplomat Sir Paul Harvey (1869-1948), was the earliest of the Oxford Companions to appear. ... The Scottish National Dictionary was produced by the Scottish National Dictionary Association (SNDA) from 1931 to 1976. ...

See also

Ulster Scots, also known as Ullans, Hiberno-Scots, or Scots-Irish, refers to the variety of Scots (sometimes referred to as Lowland Scots) spoken in parts of the province of Ulster, which spans the six counties of Northern Ireland and three of the Republic of Ireland. ... Shetlandic is a dialect of Insular Scots, itself a dialect of the Scots language. ...

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