Skip to main content

Teach yourself Doric - the little known Northeast Scottish Language



Doric? A Scottish Language?

Prior to my arrival in Scotland, I was aware that living in new countries means getting used to new accents. Many do realize that the Scottish accent can be quite strong, especially when its an accent from the highlands, or perhaps a Glaswegian accent.

However, I live in Aberdeen. The third largest city in Scotland with a population just over 200 000. Aberdeen is an old shipping town with a language all of it's own - and that language is called Doric. Okay perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. Not everyone speaks Doric, nor is it a distinctly different language. A better description of Doric is that it is a dialect. You will see what I mean...

Getting started with Learning Doric

While living in Aberdeen, I've taken on a few different temp jobs. I remember with my first position, which I started only a couple weeks after arrival, I was quite enthused when I started hearing "aye" instead of "yes" or "yeah" or "uhhuh". A wonderful little Scottish phrase to indicate an affirmative response, or merely just that they're listening.

Now It's time to learn Doric

We'll start with some question words.

faa? who, whom?
faan, fin? when?
faar? where?
faas? whose?
fit? what?
fit wye? why, (sometimes) how?
foo? how, (sometimes) why?

Visiting North East Scotland?

Doric weather forcast

Some Doric Idioms

Dinna get yir dander up!
Keep calm!

Ye dinna tell me!
How remarkable!

As thick in the heid as dirt in a bottle
Lacking intelligence

He jist opens his moo an lets his belly rummle
He talks nonsense

Faan's she better?
When is her baby due?

More on Aberdeen

Greetings, Responses and Small Talk

Foo's yirsel; fit like; foo are ye deeing?
How are you?

Nae bad. Fit like yirsel?
Well, thank you. How are you?

Gie's yir craak
Tell me your news

Fit's aa the claik
What's the tittle tattle

We'll need tae hae a newse
We must have a chat

Scroll to Continue

Came awaa intae the body o the kirk
Come and join the rest

Additional Sayings from Commentors (Thanks!)

Mony a mickle maks a muckle! (Many smaa things mak a big thing)

Sair fecht for a half loaf! (It's a hard struggle for little reward)

Nae cast a cloot or may be oot! (Don't put yer winter clies awa till efter May, ciz it can still be cal)

A great Scottish/Doric poem - Haggis, Haggis Neeps & Tatties - complete with subtitles!

Time for some fun? Translate this...

A phrase to translate into English - post your responses in the Comments section!

Fowk bide in hooses. Is your hoose a big hoose? Ay, it is. Oor hoose is an affa big hoose. Is the Toon Hoose a smaa hoose? Na, it's nae. 'E Toon Hoose is nae a smaa hoose.  'E Toon Hoose is nae a hoose avaa. 'E Toon Hoose is faar ye get a cooncil hoose. Fit's mair, it's faar 'e cooncil sets.  The kirk is God's hoose. It's teem maist o the wik, bit only half teem on a Sunday. A shoppie is faar ye get yir messages. Ye pit yir messages intae pokes an pit 'e pokes intil a plastic buggie.


orra loon on February 14, 2015:

Country an fisher is nae exact the same- (see Buchan claik)....bit mair n'mair is accented English wia puckliue wirdies and fowk think it's Scots......weerin' awaa ,I doot......

inverted (Germanic?) grammar fae the aal times is gey near gone.....thon's the wey the gaels crys us Sassenach (=Saxon Spikker)-jist ging ower tae Denmark/Norway/North German coast or even biities o the Netherlands an ye'll fin' we spikk (and think) neerer tae them than mony fowk sooth o the Humber......

hennyquine on February 13, 2015:

Jings, come frame Peeterheid misael, spik the Doric aa the time at mi work, bus driver in Aiberdeen, some o the folk i pik up arr afa funny, thir aa fur coat an nae drawers.

orra loon on October 23, 2014:

-o, aye ......thon budy speirin' fits 'weel vrocht grun' ...... -thon mist be a rhetorical query,surely- as maist fowk ken gey weel it's a well worked piece of ground'....(hardly 'hard' a'vaa !).

orra loon on October 23, 2014:

Ah weel,quine, mibbe nae weel kent awaa fae Buchan,bit faan ye get ootby a pucklie, ee'll seen fin' thers aiberdonians tee fit'll get some raivelt wi fit they ken as teuchter spiik. ...

-An' 'Hub's needin fowk tae eese recht grammar-bit whilies aul farrant Doric ( blendit Norse/aul-middle English (Northumbrian,onywaie) his a grammar mair nor german -an likli pucklies o'aul' Dutch ,forby fits inverted fae fit modern Engish eesage an' winna be recht til a'abidy.... Fan I wis awa in NorrowayI coud read e paper,weel,the maist o't, in less than a 6month...aa'an Danish tae(though they spik mair nor the dutch and is nae sae easy as Norwegin -but fan fowk shared and shouted fae boatie tae boat across the same sea fir a thoosan 'eer (an landed fish/traded in the Hansa group,etc)-fit else wid ye expec'? This London thing is jist the last 2-3hunner year. I'v aye felt mair at hame in north Germany,Netherlands or Scandinavia than iver sooth o'the Humber.

There's a gey few Doric sites on UTube (you Tube??) nooadays and plenty fun for aa'bdy....(try the doric rapper an'fars ma mince?'). Fowk in Ayrshire mibbe hae the nearmst tae doric noo,an aa the media an ga'an awaa fir wirk means the hale things some dilutit an mixed in we fit they cry 'Lalans'.....(I niver herd o 'gadgie' till the 70s and hid aye thocht o'ot as an Edinburgh tinkie expression,bit it's fairlie in aiberdeen schoolyairds noo.).

Anither thing that's erodin' Doric is the technologies o moderntmes -A gey bit o' aal conversation wis aboot the fairm life and country weys....Yokkin' time an ' Lowsin time ,for example.

-Yiv likely heard that Glaswegin fitbaa fans spik o aiberdonians as the 'furry-boots'people as the fist or second question often centres on ''faar aboots is sik-an-sik'' ,or ''faar aboots are ee fae?''

Weel weel,....awaa tae sort thi nowt aynoo.......

PurpleZebra on October 21, 2014:

I live in a town in the southeast of Scotland and though you wouldn't expect it most people talk like this but no more one writes like that so it's really weird seeing it written down and because I wasn't actually born in Scotland I can speak normal and scots so when I accidently speak scots to an English person it's really funny

BeatriceAnn on July 20, 2013:

ah wiz brocht up tae spik pan loaf, ere ye didna get a good jobbie

Twitchy on December 09, 2012:

... wait, what?

Rhiannon on October 02, 2012:

I am from Elgin, and was always shouted at by my teachers when i would speak doric, which i picked up from my mum and granda.

Granny Mac on April 04, 2012:

Eberdeen my erse! Awa an bile yer heed!

Trey on February 01, 2012:

Doric is a dialect all right, but not a dialect of English! It's a conservative dialect of Scots, which is a separate language from English, though in practice Scots and English are mixed together. In the southwest US, people codeswitch between English and Spanish, and you can often tell which bits are which if you speak one or the other. But if they were switching back and forth between Spanish and Portuguese, it'd be harder to tell what's what. That's why some people thing Scots, or Doric, is a dialect of English, or a form of slang. It sounds similar to English because it's so closely related. Look up "Scots language" in Wikipedia (or check out the Scots Wikipedia!) for more info.

Christine on December 28, 2011:

Hi, how do you say Happy New Year in Doric? I am Australian living in Aberdeenshire and want use the Doric dialect as I love the sound of it. Thanks.

Gordon on October 06, 2011:

We got it battered out of us at school and I live near Southend on Sea now but my grandchildren and visitors are always taken aback when I'm on the phone to my brother or sister in Keith or Buckie - the good old mither tongue never dies. Ahm fair teen wi this site.

lana on November 13, 2010:

hello everybody, my friend has birthday soon and I was wondering how to say "Happy Birthday" and "Nice to meat you"? thank you :)

lesley on October 21, 2010:

hey justin i grew up in strichen too

Samantha on October 03, 2010:

I'm the Chaplain for the Clan Leslie Society International (Came awaa an hae a newse on Facebook!!), and we Leslies hail from the Doric-speaking region of Scotland. This is a wonderful site and a great learning resource to those of us not reared speaking Doric. Many, many thanks!

Justin on April 26, 2010:

Although I live in the US now, I grew up in Strichen and speak Doric (wanted to make sure I still remembered it)...

Almosed fell down laughing over the weather report... Buying rock in Fraserburgh classic!

becky pirie on February 27, 2010:

fit yi sayin yi bass ;)

Califer on February 04, 2010:

Aye an e sweet william's named efter e English king Willie o Orange es caad a stinkin willie. Nyowse jist in - some chiels in brussels fae e EU Commission hae pit thir heids egither an decided Doric is nae a dialect o English bit is a lied oan its ane a wee bit like e auld Dutch an German wis like ane anither. A mean faa can tell me e meanin o e sayin "weel vrocht grun"? Tell me fit wee bittie o English aat es hehehe. (reverting to English) Thanks for starting this page I am always glad to see visitors who love the mother tongue of the North East.

Gordon on January 30, 2010:

Aye' aat's reicht Seumas' eih floo'r caa'd Daffodil eis fit we caa' a Daffie!

An weel deen tae yea "ForTheInterim" ma qwyne fur helpen tae keep oor mither toung alive!!


Seumas McCombie on January 19, 2010:

Daffodil is a daffie

ForTheInterim (author) from Montreal on January 12, 2010:

I wish I could, but I don't know that one! Maybe someone else who reads this article and knows will post it for you.

Findhorn on January 11, 2010:

Hello, please can you tell me, please, how to say in Doric, Daffodil(the flower)?

Many thanks,


ForTheInterim (author) from Montreal on December 21, 2009:

Thanks for the additions Gordon & Strawbs4ever! I've included the additional sayings in this post now :)

Strawbs4ever on December 21, 2009:

Aye the Doric wye o' spikin canna be beat by ony 'hing else quine! But it gets drummed oot a the bairns noo 'adays ciz its treated mair like slang thin a language. Drivin oot by bappit gypes thit dinna unnerstan fit its a aboot!

Gweed on ye, and hope you keep enjoyin bidin here. Some Doric sayings for ye:

mony a mickle maks a muckle! (Many smaa things mak a big thing)

sair fecht for a half loaf! (It's a hard struggle for little reward)

nae cast a cloot or may be oot! (Don't put yer winter clies awa till efter May, ciz it can still be cal)

The further North you go, there are many variations in the language and dialects that can be related to Doric.

Great post!

Gordon on December 21, 2009:

Fit Lyke'

Just to let you know' thers a Doric Channel with Poems and learning Doric Words on youtube here's the Link--

ForTheInterim (author) from Montreal on May 13, 2009:

Yes I too love it! A previous coworker gave me a book on Doric so that I could understand her better :)

It is good fun here! Went to a football match last night, and I must say, extreme profanities are for more entertaining to listen to with the Scottish accent! Instead of getting annoyed, it makes me smirk a little!

C. C. Riter on May 12, 2009:

haha, I love this stuff. I can read some of it and understand. Aye. You can read some of it in my Flying Walrus and a Naked Angel hub as 2C's, my other ego on here. It's in the second part of that that I and god converse in Scot Gaelic. You may understand after reading why I call toes dandelions, pretty ones anyway. Gie's a kiss, hehe

So you must like it there huh? Afraid they'd run me out since I'm a Campbell. LOL

Related Articles