Doric to be taught at university for the first time

Students at the University of Aberdeen will be taught the north-east dialect's history and vocabulary.

Doric to be taught at university for the first time Getty Images

Doric will be taught at university for the first time – in a bid to put the Scots dialect on equal footing with other languages.

The north-east dialect is spoken by 49% of people in Aberdeenshire and now students at Aberdeen University will be taught its history and vocabulary.

Dr Thomas McKean, the director of the university’s Elphinstone Institute, which researches and protects the North East’s distinct cultural heritage, hopes the course will elevate the dialect from its associations with humour and place it on an equal footing with other European languages.

Dr McKean said: “It’s about building a parity of esteem of the language so that it is thought of in equal terms with other European languages.

“Doric has rules, it has vocabulary and its speakers have a certain way of looking at the world – that goes with any language.

“If you lose any language or lose any aspect of a language, you lose something that is unique. 

‘It is important that the university is connected to its region.’

Dr Thomas McKean

“The university is an institution of the north east of Scotland so it is important that the language is reflected within the walls of the university. 

“It is important that the university is connected to its region.

“The course is also about taking the language seriously as a cultural asset.”

Doric has a long history in literature, songs and poetry as well as humour.

Dr McKean said there was a great tradition of Doric humour but that a “balance needed to be redressed” in order to empower the language.

He said: “Many people associate Doric with humour, and rightly so as there’s a great tradition of self-aware humour here, but if it is only seen through this lens, the power and status of the language is soon undermined.

“Dialects become associated with humour and lose currency as languages to be used for ‘serious’ things, like civic life, science, serious media. 

“By putting it on the stage at the university, we go some way in redressing the balance.”

He said rather than being ‘old fashioned’, Doric was widely spoken by young people with a study into how Doric is used in social media underway at Banff Academy.

Aberdeenshire Council has also drawn up plans to introduce teaching of Doric in its schools.