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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

A Few Doric Quotes

The following quotes are intended to show the variety of ways in which the word Doric has been used in Scotland, across the years, and in various different regions of the country. Note in particular the use of the term as an alternative name for Scots, and not as a replacement, the way it is often interchanged with other terms, and its clear association with many regions outside North East Scotland until very recently. Note also the varying degrees of passion for, and prejudice against, the language.

“The country part of the parish exhibits a pattern approaching to the Doric and chaste dialect.”-         Andrew Crawford on  Lochwinnoch parish, Renfrew, 1840.

“Aw’m an Embro’ laud myself. [“Take a note on that”, as Captain Cuttle says, quhan ye’re gaun tu vrite ma beeography.] A daurna say’t that Embro’ Scotch is the pure Doric, nor that it’s impruved wi’ bein’ hashed up alang wi’ the Glesca deealeck, an’ a sprinkling o’ Fife.”-         Benjie, newspaper writer, from the ‘The Dundee and Perth Penny Post’, 1857.

“I mean o coorse, to write to ye in the same way as I wud dae if I were crackin’ wi’ ye ower the fireside, using my ain auld Doric for the maist part, no because I couldna’ manage to write gae an’ fair English, if I were to pit mysel’ till’t in earnest, but jist because I think my ain hamely Scotch to be every bit as expressive, or even mair sae…”-         Sandy, newspaper writer, from ‘The People’s Journal’ (Dundee), 1858.

“I also discovered, after a year or two, he was possessed of what Burns calls “ae spunk o’nature’s fire”, and wrote many creditable pieces of poetry, generally in English, but now and again in the good old Doric of Scotland…We kept up a constant correspondence all the time he was in the Royal Navy, and one amusing stipulation of his was that I should always write my letters to him in “guid plain Scots.”-         Alexander Thomson on his friend Alexander B McLuckie, poet of Maryhill, Glasgow, 1894

“He delighted in the use of the Doric: his years of toiling and excitement and worrying in America seemed to make it dearer to him as he advanced in life, and it uplifted his muse out of the levels, for everything which he wrote which was not in “guid braid Scots” seems flat and tame and little else than rhymed prose…”-         Peter Ross on the poet Ainslie, 1896

“For the benefit of his English readers the Author has appended a Glossary of the unusual Scotch words used in the Sketches and Poems. In a few instances it may be objected that the Scotch is not quite pure. If this be so, then it may be answered that it is correct so far as the Forfarshire dialect is concerned, and that this dialect is held to be the purest “doric” in Scotland.”  -         William J Milne –‘Reminiscences of an Old Boy’, 1901.

“…it is very difficult to get a typical Scottish child, especially in a country district, to speak English, of which he hears little out of school…but to enable him to get over his shyness and give him a start, I should not object to his using at first his vernacular Doric.”-HMI of Schools, Report by Mr Boyd about the Western Division, 1903.

“Most of the people are native-born and speak the Buchan Doric.”-         Reverend MW Wilson on New Deer parish, Aberdeenshire, 1950.

“But the dialect spoken is the broad Scottish tongue, perhaps more akin to the rugged Doric of Buchan than to the dialect of the southern counties.”-         John Mowat on the parish of Canisbay, Caithness, from the ‘Third Statistical Account of Scotland’, 1952.

“In considering the language of the people, it is interesting to note how readily the small children take to the Buchan tongue, but more interesting to hear how a smart young shop assistant, for instance, can converse with one customer in perfectly correct English, if not with a BBC accent, while at the same time talking over her shoulder to another customer in the broad Doric of the north-east. It is doubtful, however, if this same young lady could read easily the language of Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk or Hamewith.-         Reverend Ninian Wright on Fyvie parish, Aberdeenshire, 1957.

“Many older people in Paisley, as in Scotland generally, are unconsciously bilingual and, in unguarded moments, slip naturally from their normal speech into the dialect of today or the Doric of yesterday. Youth, thanks to the cinema, are better acquainted with the American tongue than their elders, and it is a common experience for the older generation to sit mystified through a Yankee film while their children rock with laughter at its humour. The Scottish Doric, however, tends to become more and more a cult of the Burns Club and other kindred associations.”-         Account of parish of Paisley from ‘Third Statistical Account of Scotland’, 1962

“Most are to be found bilingual, employing the Doric with their close friends and relatives and speaking good English in their business dealings and in conversation with strangers.”-         FA Ferguson’s description of the town of Brechin, Angus, from ‘Third Statistical Account of Scotland’, written 1952 and revised 1967.

“The Doric. Five of our former pupils have lost their places in offices, under a youth training scheme, because they either could not or would not attempt to speak standard English on the phone. If you allow the use of the Doric by your pupils in your room, you could be a contributor to what can only be described as a sorry state of affairs.”-         Memo by headmaster of Mauchline school, Ayrshire, 1985.