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National Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Doric wis aince uised as a name for aw byleids o Scots but is maistly uised as a name for the byleid at fowk spiks in the nor east o Scotland, Mid Northren Scots.

A Doric Scots speaker, recordit in Scotland
Mid-Northern Scots
RegionNortheastren Scotland (Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus)
Native speakers
Belike several hunder thoosand
  • Doric
Leid codes
ISO 639-1Ingen
ISO 639-2sco
ISO 639-3sco

Pronunciation an lexis

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The main differs in soond atween Doric an ither Scots byleids is as gien ablo in the IPA:

  • wh is said /f/ insteid o /ʍ/ — "whit" /fɪt/ insteid o /ʍɪt/, "wha" /fa:/ insteid o /ʍɑ:/ or /ʍɒ:/.
  • aw, au an aa is said /a:/ insteid o /ɑ:/, /ɒ:/aw, a' or aa.
  • A a afore /b/, /g/, /m/ an /ŋ/ micht be /ə/ or /ʌ/.
  • ui (aften anglifeed oo or dialectalised ee) is said /i(:)/ an /wi(:)/ aifter /g/ an /k/ e.g. abeen insteid o abuin, gweed an kweet insteid of guid an cuit.
  • The letters ane is said /in/, e.g. in ane an ance.
  • Stairtin /g/ an /k/ as in gnap an knowe is said.
  • "Y" /j/ soonds is aften heard aifter parteeclar stairtin consonants, e.g. "tyauve" for taw.

Doric hauds a number o wirds nae fund in ither byleids o Scots. For exemplar, it hauds a few lanewirds frae Scots Gaelic, as weel as Norse sith it expanded intil airts whaur fowk ance spak Scottish Gaelic an intil the Eastern Hielans. But there's nae lanewirds frae Pictish, ither than in placenames, them beginnin wi "Pit-", in parteeclar.

As wi ither airts o Scotland, the traivelin fowk haed a distinct lexis o Doric, a fair bit o it recordit in Stanley Robertson's stories.

Origin o the name

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At ae time, the wird "Doric" wis uised for aw byleids o Scots as a jocular reference tae the Dorian byleid o Greek. The Greek Dorians bade in Sparta, a mair rural airt o Greece, an wis meant tae hae spoken laconicalie bi the ither ancient Greeks, uisin a wey o spikkan at wis thocht hersher in soond an mair auld farrant nor the Attic spoken in Athens. Doric Greek wis uised for the verses spoken bi the chorus in Greek tragedy.

Uiss o the wird "Doric" in this wey micht cum aboot forby oot o a contrast wi the anglifeed claik o the Scots caipital, sin at ae time, Edinburgh wis bynamed 'The Athens o the North'. The upper/middle claiss wey o spikkan in Edinburgh wad tharefore be 'Attic', makkan the rural airts' claik, 'Doric'. Contrair regions like Lanrikshire, far chenge driven bi industrial novation wis kenspeckle, the shires o the Mearns, Aiberdeen, Banff an Moray bade affa landward in nature an keepit a strang sense o thair heirship an tradeetions.

The first Scot at gied the name Doric tae Scots-spikkin wis the makar Aulan Ramsay in 1721, associatan Scots wi the landward, peasantry or wirkin fowk: it wis anither wey o sayan kintra or teuchter spik; simple, pure, an plain-spikkin. But fowk cuman efter him files eesed the name in a derogator wey, makkin oot it wis auld-farrant or couthy ayont aa. Screivars in Ingland files cryed the spik o the peasantry o Ingland Doric an-aa.

Doric wis first eesed for tae descrive the byleid o North East Scots in 1792 fan it wis eesed bi the Banffshire-born academic Alexander Geddes.[1]

Doric leeteratur

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Nor-east Scots haes a muckle body o leeteratur, maistly poetry, ballads an sangs. Whan Doric kythes in prose, it is maistly as fowk spikkin, tho this isna as common as it wis. As is aften the case wi leids on the margin, local lealties haud tae in the written form, shawin the wey the variety differs frae staundart ("British") English as opposed tae the Scots "norm". This shaws itsel in the local media presentation o the leid e.g. Grampian Television an The Press and Journal. Thae local lealties, an the relative distance frae the Central Lawlands, gies the Doric spikkers their ain wey in mony things.

The Nor East haes been cried the "real hame o the ballad",[2] an Les Wheeler seys, "91 oot o a gran total o (Child's) 305 ballads cam frae the North East - in fact frae Aiberdeenshire", makkin the uisual name o "Border Ballad" a misnomer pit aboot bi Sir Walter Scott.

Doric wis uised in a wheen o sae-caed, 'Kailyard' leeteratur, a genre at pents a sentimental, melodramatic pictur o the auld rural life, an is richt unfashionable ay noo. This negative association plagues Doric leeteratur til a degree yet, as weel as Scottish leeteratur in general.

The maist kenspeckle novelist tae uise Doric in his novels wis George MacDonald frae Huntly. He is aftimes conseedered ane o the faithers o the Fantasy genre, a influence on C.S. Lewis an Tolkien, an a freen o Mark Twain.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Scots Quair trilogy taks place in the Mearns, an haes been the foond o a successful play an telly series. It is weel-likit aw throu Scotland, an tells the storie o Chrissie, a independent-myndit quine, maistly in a form o English wi strang influence frae the rhythms o the local claik.

A version o Aesop's Fables haes been published in Doric, as weel as sum sections o the Bible.

Preein o Doric

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Gin I was God by Charles Murray

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.


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  1. McClure, J. Derrick (2002). Doric : the dialect of North-East Scotland. Varieties of English Around the World. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 24.
  2. [1] Archived 2007-03-01 at the Wayback Machine abdn.ac.uk/elphinstone/kist

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