Last week I received the exciting news that my short story, The Whole Hog, is to be published in Northwords Now – the literary magazine of the north. I’m a writer - I’ve had a short story accepted – what makes that so special? Well the reason I’m thrilled is because it’s the first short story I’ve written in Doric.
WHAT IS DORIC?
But what is Doric? Unless you live in Scotland then it’s unlikely you will be familiar with the term. In the past, even the majority of Scots paid little attention to its existence. Yet earlier this month Doric shook off its status as a local dialect and was officially recognised as Scotland’s third language, to be acknowledged alongside English and Gaelic.
WHERE IS IT SPOKEN?
|Cullen Viaducts, courtesy of|
Neil Donald Photography
Doric is the native tongue (or mither tongue) of northeast Scotland, being spoken from just north of Dundee to around Elgin in Morayshire. In the 2011 census, 120,000 people – half the population of Aberdeenshire – identified as Scots/Doric speakers, compared with only 57,000 Scots who use Gaelic.
Doric is a fabulously expressive language. It is the language I speak at home with my parents and in-laws but, as a school child, found it was banished to the playground, strictly forbidden in the classroom. For my parents’ generation, communicating in Doric in front of a teacher led to them receiving several whacks of the belt.
For years the use of Doric has been on the decline and, as young people moved away from the northeast to study or find employment, was probably even considered a dying language.
A dear friend of mine, and Professor of Sociolinguistics at Glasgow University, Jennifer Smith, has made studying the changes in the use of Doric throughout the generations, a major part of her life’s work. My relatives and friends, from the area, have spent hours with her research team – happy to help.
But the good news is that in recent years the decline in the understanding of Doric has slowed.
WHY THE RESURGENCE IN INTEREST IN DORIC?
There are a number of reasons for the resurgence in interest in a language that can be tricky for non-speakers to understand. One of the main contributing factors is that now it’s compulsory for Doric to
|Joyce Falconer starring in Morna Young's Doric|
play Aye, Elvis
Aberdeen University recently launched a series of Doric night classes, as well as Doric writing workshops. In March of this year, it hosted a performance of Handel’s Messiah sung in Doric.
This summer, MornaYoung, a young playwright from the northeast, took Doric to the International Edinburgh Festival with her critically acclaimed play Aye,Elvis, starring River City actress, Joyce Falconer.
Dr ShaneStrachan, recipient of the prestigious Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, has written his debut novel, Quines at Sea (Girls at Sea), partly in Doric. It is currently with leading literary agent Jenny Brown, being considered by publishers.
Speaking, writing and reading in Doric is no longer confined to northeast Scotland.
THE HOLLYWOOD EFFECT
|Doric embraced by Hollywood|
in the Pixar movie, Brave
In fact in 2012, the delights of listening to Doric were brought to a worldwide audience by Grey’s Anatomy actor, Kevin McKidd when he voiced the Young MacGuffin in the Pixar movie Brave. Pixar suggested that McKidd use nonsense Scots words, but instead he opted to use Doric, the language of his hometown that he learnt from his grandfather. Pixar loved it. Hear from McKidd himself on this You Tube clip... listen now.
LEARN TO SPEAK DORIC
So why not give it a go? It’s a wonderfully rich language, written, for the most part, phonetically. As a simple starting point, the letters WH are often replaced with the letter F.
What become Fit
Where becomes Far
Why becomes Fit wy
When becomes Fan
Here are some of my favourite Doric words …
FAVOURITE DORIC WORDS
Footer – to mess about , waste time ‘Fit are you footerin aboot at'
Pellan – a fence ‘He climt the pellan’
Bosie – a warm cuddle ‘Gis a bosie’
Skelp – a slap ‘He’s gan to git a skelp’
Splooter – to spill ‘Fit a splooter yer makin’
Red up – a mess ‘Fit a red up!’
WANT TO LEARN MORE…
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in the Doric language. To learn more, a fun place to start is the Doric Dictionary online.
And if you’d like to read my FREE short story, The Whole Hog, written using the pseudonym Isobel
|Northwords Now -|
available as a newspaper, Kindle version and online
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sma introduction to Doric.
Dinna bide awa! (Come back soon!)
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