Having been born in Buckie and living there until the age of six, it would seem that I have a passive knowledge of the Doric dialect.

At the age of six I moved with my family to Cornwall, taking moving house to new levels, right at the other end of Britain. In Cornwall, I was told that I speak “funny” and as a six year old trying to make new friends obviously I wanted to be “normal”. It took the grand total of around six months for me to completely lose my accent, so really not long at all, and it didn’t even occur to me that it was happening.

The only word I seem to still pronounce in Buckie accent is my brother’s name, Rory, possibly as the models I had for this were my family and they all pronounce it with that same Buckie accent. In the way that I still tend to roll my /r/’s for Rory, but not for anything else such as river or even rotary which has similar sounds, in which I use the typical southern soft-sound /r/.

It seems to have now become my token word that friends get me to say when they want a giggle. Hearing them try to emulate it also gives a giggle or two.

Travelling back up to Buckie three times a year and having my immediate family with me I was still hearing the local accent. Nobody was changing to make it easier for me!

As we started to visit less and less and my brothers’ accents also diminished. As they were older than me when we moved, at eight and ten, perhaps the longer exposure to the Buckie accent led to them keeping it longer, and after fifteen years even my mum has become more standard. I started to hear such a difference between how my mum spoke in standard Scottish and how my dad spoke in Doric. But my posh English accent had stuck. So much so that when visiting Buckie, my younger siblings had a friend round, who then remarked “you speak funny”. Turns out you can’t win with how you speak!

So now on to the point of this, the project. I have been transcribing interviews for a little over a week now and seem to be getting on well. Initially it was difficult, we were each shown in a training session how to use the Transcriber program with all the technical jargon of inputting speakers, matching the written work to the sound waves, making sure the segmentation was all correct etc. We were also provided with a transcription protocol including the various ways of how to transcribe things such as numbers and restarts etc. This protocol also includes dialectal terms. I know what you’re thinking; it must have been something like the size of a dictionary! However it just included the main words and points such as negation, and also lexical terms have been added as they have appeared within interviews. Many of the terms such as have and do, although they are often said hae and dae, are written in standard form in order that we can go through and analyse more closely at a later date.

It turns out that this internal, passive knowledge of Doric means that the conversations just seem normal to me. Even the words that are so different to English, but it’s obvious that ken means know, right? And sheen means shoes? Foul means dirty? Ain means one? No?

However some words within the interviews with the oldest generation are a struggle for me too, and that’s when the real expert, Jennifer, has to step in. For example in my first transcription I kept hearing the word piming. Now I had no idea what this meant, but apparently it means hiding, oh no wait that’s Buckie too, it means to get a telling off. Also stew means dust, who knew!