A Beginner’s Guide to Doric

A Beginner’s Guide to Doric

Aye, aye, fit like? Fit div you ken aboot Doric? Dinna fash yersel, just hae a wee read o’ this tae ken mair: (Hello, what do you know about Doric? Don’t worry, just read this to find out more:)

What is Doric?

While English is the main language spoken in Scotland, the nation has a wide range of different accents and dialects. Doric is the traditional dialect widely spoken in the Northeast corner of Scotland. 

The “mither tongue” (mother tongue) is spoken by one in two people in the Northeast region and can be heard over an extensive area covering Moray, Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire, and parts of Angus. There are multiple forms of Doric that exist, from Northern and Southern, Banffshire, Mearns, a farming and fishing Doric and even an urban form of Doric. The dialect has a rich history of literature, ballads, songs, poetry, and folklore. 

Its sounds are colourful, guttural, and expressive. If you listen on any street corner, you might hear, “Far ye gaaan?” (Where are you going) “Fa’s aat?” (Who is that?) and “Foos yer doos?” (How are you?).

Learning common Doric phrases

Here is a list of common Doric phrases you would expect to hear when oot and aboot:

Doric

GREETINGS
Aye, aye
Fit like?
Foos yer doos?
Aye, pechin’ awa’
Far div ye bide?
Are ye nae spikkin?

PEOPLE
Fowk
Mannie
Wifie
Fine chiel
Fine wee loon
Bonny wee quine

THE WEATHER
Fit a driech aifterneen
It’s a fine morn
It’s caul i’day
The haar’s rollin’ in

FOOD AND DRINK

Affa fine!
Hae a wee dram
A fly cup
A funcy piece

QUESTIONS
Fit’s ‘at?
Fa’s ‘at?
Far ye gaan?
Fan’s dinner?
Foo’s yer geets?
Fit wye nae?

EXPRESS YOURSELF
Wise up min!
Yer a neep heid
I’m wabbit
Hud on a minty

English


Hello!
How are you?
How are you doing?
I’m fine, thanks.
Where do you live?
Are you not saying hello?


People
A man
A woman
A nice chap
A nice little boy
Beautiful little girl


What a miserable afternoon
It’s a nice morning
It’s cold today
A sea fog is descending


Very tasty
A drop of alcohol
A cup of tea
Cake or sweet treat


What is that?
Who is that?
Where are you going?
When is lunch?
How are your kids?
Why not?


Don’t be silly
You are silly
I’m tired
Wait a second

But seeing Doric written down isn’t really the same as hearing it being spoken! Indeed, its very unique pronounciation is hard to decipher for the untrained ear. To learn how to properly speak it, listen to RGU staff exchange some of the most common phrases:

If you want to hear more, visit our Doric playlist on YouTube.

A complex and precious dialect

Spoken over a wide area, towns and villages can have a considerable number of linguistic differences. Words can vary from village to village, meaning that each village may have an incredibly niche set of words. A seagull might be called a ‘scurry’ in Aberdeen city but it’s a ‘gow’ in Buckie and a ‘pyool’ in Gardenstown only a few miles along the coast.

A subset of vernacular Scots, Doric is officially protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. But at one time, Doric was considered inferior to English, and it was common for people to be embarrassed to speak it publicly. Its rural, rugged tones and irregular verbs were often mocked and considered unsophisticated and awkward. It was once forbidden to be taught in schools, with some teachers dishing out harsh punishment for those who slipped back into their native dialect.

Recently Doric has seen a revival and is gaining more recognition and being taught at schools. It is now undergoing a pandemic-inspired renaissance, with local speakers taking to TikTok and social media to converse in their own dialect. There is a Doric TV channel, a North-East Scots language board, and an interactive cultural map to help visitors discover Doric’s living oral, cultural and social history.

How much do YOU know about Doric? (Quiz)

Now that you’ve read through our beginner’s guide to Doric, it’s time to put your newly acquired knowledge to the test! Take a crash course in the local dialect and discover some Doric words and phrases in this interactive quiz. Share your results in the comments to let us know how you got on. Good luck!

Journalism Placement with Doric TV

Ten facts about Aberdeen

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