Video: Doric dialect explained plus examples

WITH recent developments in the independence debate, the north east of Scotland has now become a major focus of David Cameron’s ‘Better Together’ campaign.

With discussions now centering on the oil industry in and around Aberdeen; perhaps it’s

Video: Doric explained

Video: Doric explained

time for the Prime Minister to learn the language of the locals to help communicate his plans more effectively.

The dialect of the north east can seem almost intelligible to those without a basic grasp, indeed many outsiders who have travelled to the region will have stories to tell of the misunderstandings that occur due to miscommunication. A popular example of this being the phrase ‘Furry boots ye fae like?’ and no, this has nothing to do with liking furry boots, it is actually a question asking ‘whereabouts are you from?’.

The term Doric itself is thought to have originated as a jocular description for a regional dialect of the Ancient Greek language. The Dorians, who hailed from more rural areas, were found by Athenians to have a much harsher and laconic version of the language than they themselves used and so Doric became the term to describe their dialect.

No one is quite sure why the term spread to Scotland but it appeared around the 17th century and was mostly used in conjunction with the term rustic to describe the dialects of those living in rural areas.

Originally it found its home in the Scottish lowlands, however it did not take long to become synonymous with the north east and in particular the local dialect of Scots

spoken there.

Edinburgh was once considered the ‘Athens of the North’, so perhaps it is not a huge

leap of logic to believe that those of the north east would be considered their Dorian


The dialect itself has been used in poetry in literature and has even on a few occasions made it on to the big screen. George MacDonald, considered by many to be the father of modern fantasy, a man who inspired both J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis among others, once used Doric in several of his books.

It has been seen more recently in TV shows such as River city and even on the big screen in Disney/Pixar’s Brave in which it is used by Kevin McKidd’s character.

Recently, a hotel in Aberdeen even installed an elevator system that speaks entirely

in Doric. Phrases used include: ‘Gyaun Up” (Going up), and “atween fleers een an fower” (between floors one and four). Robert Gordon University have also compiled a dictionary for those who work in the oil industry in and around Aberdeen, to help them converse with the locals more easily.

Here’s a handy guide to some of the more useful phrases:

• Fit? (Whit?) - what?

• Fa? (wha?) - who?

• Fit wey? (whit wey?) - what way?

• Faur? (whaur?) - where?

• Fan? (whan) - when?

• Fit’s adee? (Whit’s adae?) – What’s wrong?

• Far div ye bide – where do you live?

• Louns an Quines (louns an queans) – lads and lassies or boys and girls

• Gulsochs - sweets

• Bydand – Stead fast

• Trauchled - harassed

• Forfauchen – Exhausted

• Glaury - muddy

• Gangrel – a tramp

• Bits - boots

• Breeks - trousers

• Pokie - a paper bag

• Hud yer wiesht - be quiet

• Tumshie - a turnip

Do you have any more we’ve missed? Or just have a good story involving Doric?

Let us know in the comments below.