Sheena Blackhall


Sheena Blackhall – The Spikk o the Nor East Leid


The Romans focht at Bennachie gainst Calcagus chief o a clan
His name hid reets in Celtic lore, a legendary brave swordsman
Eumenius in the third century, caad North East tribesmen the Picti
Bit verra sune the leid cheenged ower tae Gaelic, roon the Don an Dee

Lothian’s Northumbrian dialect, entered the touns o the Nor East
Wi Scots an Gaelic, side bi side, an Latin spukken bi the priest
Syne Barbour screived his poem, The Brus, a braw langamachie
An Dunbar, telt o Aiberdeen an Margaret Tudor veesitin

John Skinner he penned Tullochgorum, Doric wis fand in mony’s a buik
Whyle Willie Alexander screived his Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk
A heeze o bards in Doric follaed: Charles Murray, Flora Garry, Rorie
Violet Jacob, J.C. Milne, aa in the auld wirds, couthie, bonnie

Spukken bi fermer, fisher, baillie, orra loun, an traivellin cyaard
Jack Aitken gaed a heist tae Scots editin DOST, a michty darg
An Dauvit Murison, Brocher born, he drave the gaitherin o wirds on
Researchin place nemmes, fairs an marts, fur scholar, reader, learnèd don

A Doric Dictionar Kynoch penned. Ye’ll see wirds on First Bus gaun by
Buchan Claik bi Buchan an Toulmin-  hoards o wirds baith gleg an spry
An RGU pit online lists o wirds like hornygollach jist fur fowk tae savour
Ah Doric is a feisty tongue: an here are wirds tae shaw its flavour:

Knapdarlach, contermaschious, smarrach, clyack, strushil, braa
Hudderie-heidit, maasie, baggerel, barritchfu, hoodie craa
As lang as I’ve a tongue tae spikk, I’ll praise the wirds o my kintrie
The leid that Burns’s faither spakk, an Fergusson’s: sae swete tae pree


Sheena Blackhall is well known for her poetry and expertise on the language and culture of the North East of Scotland. From 1998-2003 she was Creative Writing Fellow in Scots at Aberdeen University’s Elphinstone Institute and in 2009 she became Makar for Aberdeen and the North East.

Author of over 100 poetry pamphlets, 15 short story collections, 4 novels and 2 televised plays for children, Sheena has also translated numerous works, including Jane Eyre, Of Mice & Men and The Gruffalo, into Doric.

The dialect of Scotland’s North East forms part of the wider Northern Scots dialect, but to many of its speakers it is known as The Doric. In both pronunciation and vocabulary, the North East is distinct from Central and Southern dialects.




<< Rab Wilson                                                                                                                                                                     Liz Lochhead >>