Doric was formerly used to refer to all dialects of Lowland Scots but is now usually used as a name for the dialect spoken in the north-east of Scotland.
The main phonetic differences between Doric and other Lowland Scots dialects are as follows:
Doric contains a number of words not found in other dialects of Lowland Scots. Also, because it expanded into areas where Scottish Gaelic was formerly spoken, and the Eastern Highlands, it contains a few loanwords from that language, as well as Norse. Loanwords from Pictish are curiously absent, except within placenames, notably those beginning with "Pit-".
As with other parts of Scotland, the travelling folk maintained a distinct lexis of Doric, much of which is recorded in Stanley Robertson's stories.
The term "Doric" was used to refer to all dialects of Lowland Scots 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 the verses spoken by the chorus in Greek tragedy.
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'.
North east Scots has an extensive body of literature, mostly poetry, ballads and songs. During the Middle Scots period writing from the North-East of Scotland adhered to the literary conventions of the time. Indications of particular "Doric" pronunciations were very rare. The 18th century literary revival also brought forth writers from the North–East. Local dialect features were rare in the eighteenth century, the extant literary Scots conventions being preferred. In later times a more deliberately regional literature began to emerge.
In contemporary prose writing Doric occurs usually as quoted speech, although this is less and less the case. As is usually the case with marginalised languages, local loyalties prevail in the written form, showing how the variety "deviates" from standard ("British") English as opposed to a general literary Scots "norm". This shows itself in the local media presentation of the language e.g. Grampian Television & The Aberdeen Press and Journal. These local loyalties, waning knowledge of the older literary tradition, and relative distance from the Central Lowlands, ensure that the Doric scene has a degree of semi-autonomy.
Doric was used in a lot of so called, 'Kailyard' literature, a genre which paints a sentimental, melodramatic picture of the old rural life, and is currently very unfashionable. This negative association still plagues Doric literature to a degree, as well as Scottish literature in general.
The most famous novelist to use Doric in his novels was George MacDonald from Huntly, who is commonly considered one of the fathers of the Fantasy genre, an influence on C. S. Lewis and Tolkien, and a friend of Mark Twain.
Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Scots Quair trilogy is set in the Mearns, and has been the basis of a successful play and television series. It is very popular throughout Scotland, and tells the story of Chrissie, an independent-minded woman, mainly in a form of English strongly influenced by the rhythms of local speech.
A version of Aesop's Fables has been published in Doric, as well as some sections of the Bible.
The North East has been claimed as the "real home of the ballad" , and according to Les Wheeler, "91 out of a grand total of (Child's) 305 ballads came from the North East - in fact from Aberdeenshire", which makes the usual name of "Border Ballad" a misnomer put about by Sir Walter Scott.
Contemporary writers in Doric include Sheena Blackhall, a poet who writes in Doric and Scottish Gaelic, Mo Simpson, who writes in the Aberdeen Evening Express, and peppers her humour column with "Doricisms" and Doric words. The Doric has also featured on stage and television, notably in the sketches and songs of the Aberdeen-based comedy trio Scotland the What?.
For an example of Doric literature, see the poetry of Charles Murray. Here is his short poem, Gin I was God:
There is also some controversy over the use of "majesty" for a Scottish monarch.
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