Doric dialect (Scotland)

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Mid Northern Scots or Northeast Scots, popularly known as the Doric, refers to the dialects of Scots spoken in the northeast of Scotland.



The term Doric was used to refer to all dialects of Lowland Scots but during the twentieth century it became increasingly associated with Mid Northern Scots.[1]

The term possibly originated as a jocular reference to the Doric dialect of the Ancient Greek language. Greek Dorians lived in Sparta amongst other places, a more rural area, and were supposed by the ancient Greeks to have spoken laconically and in a language that was thought harsher in tone and more phonetically conservative than the Attic spoken in Athens. Doric Greek was used for some of the verses spoken by the chorus in Greek tragedy.

As The Oxford Companion to English Literature explains:

Use of the term Doric in this context may also arise out of a contrast with the anglicised speech of the Scottish capital, because at one point, Edinburgh was nicknamed 'Athens of the North'. The upper/middle class speech of Edinburgh would thus be 'Attic', making the rural areas' speech 'Doric'.[citation needed] According to another source, 18th century Scots writers like Allan Ramsay justified their use of Scots (instead of English) by comparing it to the use of Ancient Greek Doric by Theocritus.[3]


Most consonants are usually pronounced much as in other Modern Scots dialects but:

  • In Buchan the cluster cht, also ght, may be realised /ð/ in a few words, rather than /xt/ as in other dialects, for example: dochter (daughter), micht (might) and nocht (nought), often written dother, mith and noth in dialect writing.
  • The clusters gn and kn are realised /ɡn/ and /kn/, for example gnaw, gnap, knee, knife, knock (a clock) and knowe (knoll).
  • In Buchan, towards the coast, th followed by er may be realised /d/, rather than /ð/ as in other dialects, for example: brither (brother), faither (father), gaither (gather) and mither (mother), often written bridder, fadder, gaider~gedder and midder in dialect writing.
  • wh is realised /f/, rather than /ʍ/ as in Central Scots dialects, for example whit (what) and wha (who), often written fit and fa(a) in dialect writing.
  • The cluster wr may be realised /vr/, rather than /r/ as in Central Scots dialects, for example wratch (wretch), wrath, wricht (wright) and wrocht (wrought~worked), often written vratch, vrath, vricht and vrocht in dialect writing.

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