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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

South Central

Examples of South Central dialect

    The dialect spoken in Kirkudbright and Wigtown (collectively Galloway) was once more distinct than it is today.  The reason for this lies with influences spreading from the north (from the Glasgow conurbation), and by means of people settling from Ireland, principally around Stranraer and Wigtown.

    In a book named Gallawa Gossip which was printed in 1901 the author, a native of Galloway, was quite critical of the apparent changes in the local dialect.  He began by making the claim that the dialect of the south west was nae wey different frae whut they speak a ower Scotland, a but Aiberdeenshire, but continued HooeverThae Ayrshiremens bringan doon their horrid Ayrshire-Eerish wi them Glesca-Eerish some folk cast; an theyr bringan baith Ayrshires an Eerish tae speak it, an itll no be lang till theres naething else in Gallowa.  A min whun there wus nae siccan gibberish, an the Glesca folk an the Ayrshire folk spak as gude Scotch as onybuddy; but tae hear them noo! ye wud think ye wur amang a ship-load o Cheenamen, sneevelin that wey.

    It was reckoned that the border between traditional speech and this so-called Glesca-Eerish was the River Cree.  One person, named Willie Scott, published a small word book about the speech of Mid-Nithsdale in 1925.  This region straddles the dialects of both the south west and the Borders.  By and large the idioms and vocabulary contained in the book reflect the Scots of other regions.



    Scots has been spoken here since the Middle Ages. The dialect is known as South Central Scots, though speakers usually call it Scotch or Scots.


    The dialect covers Nithsdale, South Ayrshire (from the town of Ayr southwards), Stewartry and Wigtown,. It is bounded to the east by the town of Dumfries and includes within it Castle Douglas (Carlinwark), Crossmichael (Crossmickle), Dalbeattie (Dabaittie), Dalmellington (Damelintoun), Girvan, Kircudbright (Kirkcoubrie), New Galloway (New Gallowa), Newton Stewart and Stranraer (Stranrawer).


    The dialect of this region shows influence coming in from further north, from West Central, and, in Wigtonshire, there has been some influence from Irish migrants. In Nithsdale people traditionally said blaa and craa instead of blaw and craw (blow and crow) and through most of the region dialect speakers use pronunciations such as gyid, min, shin (good, moon, shoes). It is common to hear certain things in the dialect contracted in speech. For example, in the, on the, and at the become ie, oe, etc, as for example ie toon or ie mornin (in the town and in the morning). The most famous of the poets in Scots Robert Burns was born and bred in this dialect region. His family home at Alloway (Allowa) is now a museum. Other writers include William McDowall and the late William Neill.