What’s in store for Doric?

Radio Studio microphone

You find me just back from recording part of the opening episode of a new series for BBC Radio Scotland with my old pal and fellow-Doricist, Robbie Shepherd.

In the programme, Robbie and I have a chat with presenter Mark Stephen about Doric, its past and its future. Robbie and I also have a good-natured ding-dong across the table about our differing views on its current state. Robbie feels passionately, and quite rightly, that an awful lot of good work is being done by ardent supporters of Doric throughout North-east Scotland.

I feel equally strongly that although all these groups are doing sterling work in schools, social events and competitions, it can never be enough until there is proper political support for Doric and the Scots language as a whole in the Scottish Parliament, along the lines of the patronage and funding enjoyed by Gaelic and the Gaels.

Doric and Scots need fewer academics sitting in committees and more linguistic activists, like Gaelic has, who are prepared to go for the political throat until we get what we deserve. Then, and only then, will Doric have the wind at its back, instead of constantly in the faces of people around the region who are doing their best to keep it going.

I was also a little shocked at a statistic mentioned by Jenny Perry, the producer of the series, who said that eight out of 10 Aberdeenshire farmers she had spoken to were keen on Doric. That means that 20% of Aberdeenshire farmers see no use for Doric, which disappoints me tremendously.

Even 20 years ago, nobody could have contemplated that things would come to such a pass for the dialect. If so many farmers in Aberdeenshire, the heartland and the core occupation for Doric speech, are now indifferent to using it, klaxons should be going off somewhere.

With at least one Doric society having shut in the last year; Birlinn Books, the biggest publisher of Doric, selling off its back stock and not taking on any more Doric titles, and the obvious lack of Doric spoken in school playgrounds these days thanks to global culture, I am not at all optimistic.

You can hear our thoughts in more detail in the first episode of Our Story, which goes out on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, July 1. You can also catch it immediately afterwards on BBC iPlayer.

Filed Under: AberdeenAberdeenshireDoricFeaturedScotland


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  1. Maree Friend says:

    An Aberdonian by birth I came across the items by Norman Harper whilst looking for the word ‘smorin’. I have lived inEngland for almost 50 years but still use Doric words almost daily, much to the amusement of my grandchildren. Thanks Norman for keeping the Doric alive.

    • Norman says:

      Well, if you’re still using the words with your grandchildren, I’d say you’re doing just as much to keep the dialect alive. Many thanks for getting in touch.

  2. Trish Gordon says:

    Norman, I came across your website whilst trying to find out if there is/was! a Doric society in Edinburgh? I’m a Huntly Quine originally, and love hearing Doric spoken. I’d be keen to try and establish an Edinburgh branch if that was feasible…..
    Hoping you can help
    Kind regards

    • Norman says:

      Trish, I don’t know of one, but I suggest that you get in touch with the Scots Language Society ( lallans@nullhotmail.co.uk ) and speir them. If they don’t know of one, either, the chances are that it doesn’t (yet) exist.
      Meanwhile, if any Edinburgh readers know of an Auld Reekie Doric group, formal or informal, or would be interested in trying to start one, please let me know and I will happily act as go-between.

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