Monday, May 28, 2007

What is Doric?/Fit is Doric?

This een is gang tay be a dual post - een in Doric (this een) an an ither in English. Am going tay hay a go at tryin tay explane fit this weird dialect ahm tryin tay write in is. First aff Ah'd like tay tell ahbody thit Ahm dyslexic so dinnae get in a stooshie aboot ma spellins cos there's nay onny spell checker fir fit Ahm tryin tay de OK?

Doric is the dialect o Scots thats spoken in the Nor Aest o Scotlan. It varies a lot depindin on far aboot ye are in the region. Ah grew up in Keith half wiy atween Aiberdeen an Inverness. My Granparents lived in Ballater, an oor awa, an they iwise telt me that Ah soonded like Ah wis fae Keith. So if yer fae Huntlee or Towie or Inverurie or Stonehaven, yer Doric is aye gan tay be a wee bitty different fae other places. Fir example I wis aye telt aff by my Mum (ah wid say "mither" but she hates at an she'll nae like it if ah use at wird) fir sayin' "windee" for "window" 'cus in Crathie in Deeside they niver say "windee". Ma Granda fay time tay time wid say I soonded like a Keith kyard or a tink. The "Tinks" were travellin folk that selt stuff naebody wanted an their kids wid come tae skweel fae time tae time an they wir nivir excepted by onny oh us fa lived in the toon. Ah dinna think folk on Deeside thoucht that much oh folk fae Keith.

Keith is an odd toon. Its nae completely country an its nae a fishin toon either. There used tay be a big textile mill there ca'id "Kynochs" but they went oot oh business afore I even went tay school. So fan I wis growin up it wis a toon that wis tryn tay stay alive but wis really dyin. Culturally is wis a backwater wi nae idea oh whit wis oot in the world. But I learnt the value oh folk fae growin up there. Ah went tae skweel wi kids that didnae ken far their next meal wis comin from. Ah wis aye aware ah wis different but ah learnt foo tay get on wi as mony folk as ah could.

Ye see this doric dialect is nae easy tay pick up, especially if ye'iv nae growin up in it. Fan Ah went tay school Ah wis ca'id a snob cos Ah didnae spick doric, Ah didnae spick like abody else (we maestly spoke English at hame 'cos oh my Dad). But ma granparents did. So fan Ah wis Four an went to the skweel fir the first time Ah picked up the Keith version quick. Nae that it made muckle difference as they Ah kent Ah wis oor muckle different fae them ah tay iver be accepted.

Fir reference my Dad wis fae Inverness far they dinna spick doric (Ah've heard folk say that the best English in the hale oh Britain is spoken in Inverness) an fan my Dad first went tay my Mum's hame tay meet my granparents he didnae unnerstan a wird. Ah wis affa impressed wi ma American man bein able to decipher fit wis ga-in on aroon him fan he first went tay Deeside - he must've deen sometin richt 'cos my Grannie winted tay adopt him fae the start!!

The innerestin thing aboot Doric fir me is that it is definitely my mither tongue. Fan Ah meet a baby, even in America, Ah ayewis fine mysel spickin doric tay them an Ah divnae evin realise fit Ahm dee-in. Folk here gee me an affa queer look!!!

This one is going to be a dual post - one in Doric and one in English. I am going to have a go at explaning the weird dialect of North Eats Scots that I am writing in. First off I'd like to explain that I am dyslexic and there is no such thing as a doric spell checker so don't judge me on my spelling.

Doric is the dialect of Scots spocken in the North Eats region of Scotland. It varies depending on where you are in the region. I grew up in Keith halfway between Aberdeen and Inverness. My grandparents lived in Ballater, an hour away, and they always told me that I sounded like I was from Keith. If you are from Huntly or Towie or Inverurie or Stonehaven the Doric you speak is going to be slightly different. For example I was always told off by my Mum for saying "windee" for "window" becuase in Deeside, where she grew up, no one ever said "windee". My Granda from time to time would say I sounded like a Keith Kyard or "tink". The "tinks" were travelling people who would sell things people didn't want or need and their kids would come to school from time to time and never be accepted by those of us who lived in the town. I always thought that people on Deeside never thought much of people from Keith.

Keith is an odd town. Its not completely a country town nor is it a fishing town. There used to be a large textile mill there called "Kynochs" but it went out of business before I went to school. So when I was growing up, Keith was a town trying to stay alive when it was really dying. Culturally it was a backwater, with no idea of what was out in the world. But I learnt the value of people growing up there. I went to school with kids that didn't know where their next meal was coming from. I was always aware I was different but I learnt how to get on with as many people as possible.

You see, this Doric dialet is not easy to pick up, especially if you've not grown up with it. When I first went to school I was called a "snob" because I din't speak doric (we mainly spoke English at home because of my Dad). But my grandparents did. So when I was four and went to school for the first time I picked up the Keith version of doric quick. Not that it made much difference as they all knew that I was much too different from them to ever really be accepted.

For reference my Dad was from Inverness where they don't speak doric (I've heard people comment that the best English spoken in the whole of Britain is in Inverness) and when he first went with my Mum to meet my grandparents he didn't understand a word that was spoken. I was terrible impressed with my American man being able to understand what was going on around him when he first went to Deeside - he must have done someting right because my Granny wanted to adopt him from the start!!

The interesting thing for me is that Doric is definitely my mother tongue. When I meet a baby, even in America, I always find myself speaking Doric to them and I don't even realise what I am doing. People here give me a very queer look!!

For those English speakers - Doric is often referred to as the "Fit, Far, Fan" language becuase of the preponderance of those words. "Fit" means "what; "Fan" means "when"; and "Far" means"where". So the sentence "Fit fit does 'is shoe fit?" means "Which foot does this shoe fit?". There is a whole "Scotland the What" skit on this - "breeks" spelt T_R_O_U_S_E_R_S, "breeks". Doric is traditionally an oral dialect and rarely written down. So it demonstrates the clear division between the hierarchy of written and oral language and the hierarchy of English over Scots. Interestingly writing this post, when I swapped to translate into English the voice in my head suddenly sounded very posh and not all that unlike HRH Queen Liz II !!

11 comments:

Katie said...

I'm totally fascinated by this language because I've never heard it before. I haven't really been to North East Scotland except for one trip to Aberdeen. Do you have any suggestions of places to go in that area? Adrian and I have always meant to go exploring there.

A Paperback Writer said...

I have zero trouble reading this (except I'm a little bit fuzzy on "kyard" -- I looked at the English on that word, but I just gathered it's a native from Keith. Right?). Perhaps I'd have to concentrate harder if I heard you speaking it.
At any rate, I'm glad you wrote in Doric. I enjoyed it. :)

Gwen said...

I'd love to hear you talking to Queen Liz in Doric. I wonder what she'd make of it. A very interesting post.

The Good Woman said...

Brilliant! I'm heading up north in a few weeks time. Now at least know to say 'fit?' when I don't understand a word I'm hearing...

ashley said...

As Father Jack would say, Feck.

I have a headache extremely similar to the one I got reading "Trainspotting".

Cursed Tea said...

Katie - Glad your getting the jist of the fact that the central belt is only a part of Scotland - most visitors or even expats who come to live in Scotland rarely see the whole country. You should go and explore Deeside and Aberdeen - if you like hiking the Grampian mountains are worth it. When there make sure and have a "buttery" or a "rowie" (same thing two names)....

Pprbckwtr - Glad you enjoyed it

Gwen - my grandfather worked for Queen Liz II as the head farmer on the Balmoral Estate. Of course she paid him a pitance. My grandparents often spoke doric (what my Grandfather would call his "army English") to the Queen - all be it watered down. Prince Charles still drops by sometimes for some of my Granny's strawberry jam!

the good woman - fit? Enjoy the North East (remember its ONLY in the north EAST - if you use it in the west they'll think you are nuts!!!)

Ashley - exactly!! Feck indeed. I heard there were versions of Trainspotting in the US with subtitles in English!!! (trainspotting is easier to understand than doric though).

ashley said...

I kinda almost got Trainspotting in the movie...then I tried to read the book, which is written in Doric. Ay yi yi.

Cursed Tea said...

ashley - my favourite Trainspotting bit is when Ewan Mcgregor's character says "Scotland is the lowest of the low. England is full of wankers but we, we were colonised by wankers!" (not an exact quote but you get the jist)....

On a side note Dazza bought a DVD player without my knowledge when I was stuck in Scotland and he was here (the first year of our marraige - sucked). Becuase I had told him not to buy a DVD player (he normally chooses the cheap ones that break....) he bought me a nice DVD of a film I might like to appease me - only he bought TRAINSPOTTING!!!!!

Anonymous said...

am fae Peterhead!, i spik Doric too

aye=yes
fit=what
nit=not
dinna-don't
loonie-boy
quine-girl
scurry-sea gull
deein-doing
ken- you know
beastie- insect
aright- okay
dee- do

some words lol ^^^^^
;) :P

Anonymous said...

Arite? Ah spik a puckley Doric. Am fae a wee village ca'd Oldmeldrum. Bit ivnoo am bidin wi ma Ma in Ellon. Ah spik proper English bit ma Granda spiks Doric frae the Neebra (Newburgh) an ivnoo al spik the Doric Ah ken frae him. As far as Am concerned its a real language. Ah mind at scweel we wisnae alood tae spik Doric. A'wis we hid tae say "YES" niver "Aye" ye ken? Ah hink ats affy rang - a bairn should be alood tae spik its hame mither tongue, an fa speers at ye itherwise jist ask him fa decideds fits richt and fits rang? Language isnae affy weel defined onywye. Ah dinnae care ava, fir as fowks as thinks yer yeesless speirin onyhing else bit the English o the Queen. Ach weel ahv sed eneuch fir noo bit ah ken its a real important question an naebody should be SNOBBY aboot local dialects/languages. People fa say, ye should a'wis spik proper English dinna ken fits fit - Niver be hinkin ye inerstan fowks cares and a' aboot their wyes ciz yer nae richt maist o the time. Individuality is a bonny hing. We should cherish oor Local Dialect and Language. Lang bide Doric in Aiberdeen. Cheers fowks.

tarran said...

im fae aberdeen and like i stayed theree mast o ih life. naebody wid let me spik doric sae i wis braight up spikkin' "proper englsih" but now ah live in ih big Brazil and o falla came op tae me and asked for me tae talk in scottish, ah like, i widnae normally spik like 'is cause nae enn wid understand me, so tae people here there like, woah, ye spik tae poshly. ahm like nae really mate, cuase if i did spik te ye like 'is nae enn wid understand me like.. sae ah spik like "proper englsih" all ih time.

Btw we dont really use the work feck.. just fuck...