Document 1498

A Study into the Knowledge and Use of Scots Amongst Primary Pupils on Upper Deeside

Author(s): Sheena Blackhall

Copyright holder(s): Sheena Blackhall




BSc. Hons. (Psych)
Open University

September 2000


To my kinsman, Dr Gordon Booth for giving up his time to assist and encourage me. To Martha Booth, for letting him.


I would like to express my gratitude to the following people who assisted in their own unique ways towards the completion of this investigation:

Dr Robert McColl Millar for his supervision throughout the composition of this report

Dr Gordon Booth for his suggestions and encouragement

Dr Colin Milton for his comments and advice

Tony Glendinning for his assistance with statistical analysis

Barry Morris, Edward Wright Computing Centre, for lending his expertise

All head teachers, teachers, pupils and subjects who agreed to be interviewed or participated in any way.

The Directors of Education of Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire respectively, for allowing me to approach the schools within their jurisdiction.

Also, I wish to acknowledge the support of the University of Aberdeen in providing the Studentship to allow me to proceed with the study.


The latter part of the twentieth century brought immense social and cultural change to the area of Upper Deeside. The aim of this sociolinguistic investigation was to study what effect this has had on the speech of 119 primary seven pupils within the community.

The hypothesis to be tested was that the extent to which four characteristic North East Scots phonemes were used by 119 primary seven subjects in the Upper Deeside area of Aberdeenshire would vary from speaker to speaker according to the number and nature of links they had with the North East area. This was tested by constructing a system of kin link scoring designed to gather the following data, awarding a score of one for each ticked kin link.


The kin-links were composed of various social network strands. Three of the links were familial, and identified which of the subjects had at least one grandparent born in the North East, if one or both of their parents were born in the North East, and ascertained whether or not the subject was born in the North East.

The remaining three links were social, based in the wider community, and identified whether or not the subject was a member of at least one local club or society, if they were attended a local church, and whether or not they had at least one local friend.

The four phonemic variables to be studied were

/ i / as in een, heed, steen, reed, skweel
/ f / as if fin / fan, faa, far, fit, fite
/ a / as in blaa, snaa, waa, craa, staa
/ ʌi / as in chyne, swyte, spyle, swyte, wyve

The research revealed that familial kin-links were crucial in transmitting characteristic North East use of the four specified phonemes in the area of Upper Deeside. Gender had no significant influence in the transmission of Scots pronunciation in pupils' speech, nor did place of birth or membership of leisure clubs or local groups.


(Pages 1-37)

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Pictish and Early Gaelic in the North East Area
1.3 Post-Pictish North East Speech: Various Influences
1.4 The Co-Existence of Scots and Gaelic on Upper Deeside
1.5 The Scots Speech of Upper Deeside
1.6 Past Records of Speech. Upper Deeside
1.7 Attitudes to the Speech of Upper Deeside 1998-2000: Extracts from interviews with pupils and teachers.
1.8 The North East Area: Some Dialect Chararacteristics and Boundaries
1.9 Summary and Conclusion

(Pages 38 - 56 )

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Labov: 1972:New York (Socio-economic grouping as a variable)
2.3 Trudgill:1975:Norwich ( Parental influence as a variable)
2.4 Romaine: 1978 :Edinburgh (Gender as a variable)
2.5 Reid: 1978: Edinburgh (Social situation as a variable)
2.6 Macaulay:1977: Glasgow (Social mobility as a variable)
2.7 Payne: 1980: Philadelphia (Dialectal influence as a variable)
2.8 Milroy: 1980: Belfast (Social network as a variable)
2.9 Pollner: 1985: Livingston :A Scottish new town (Population origin as a variable)
2.10 Macafee:1994: Glasgow (Age difference as a variable)
2.11 Hendry: 1997: North East Region (Incomer influence as a variable)
2.12 Summary and Conclusion

(Pages 57 - 83)

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Aims of Study
3.3 Procedure Phase 1
3.4 Procedure Phase 2 (The Pilot Study)
3.5 Procedure Phase 3 (The Rural Study)
3.6 The Sample Area
3.7 The Four Linguistic Variables
3.8 T.Test
3.9 Results of T.Test
3.10 The Kin-Link Categories
3.11 Situations where Scots is used
3.12 Conclusion

(Pages 84 - 93)

4.1 Discussion
4.2 Conclusion
4.3 Recommendations

(Pages 94 - 98)

(Pages 99 - 147)


i.1: A Map illustrating the approx. linguistic situation in the North East circa 1800 (taken from Horsburgh)
i.2: Grampian Region. Taken from O'Dell and Mackintosh
i.3: The Dialects of Scots. Taken from the Scottish National Dictionary

iii.1 :mean scores correct out of 40 per kin group category
iii.2 :kin-link scores and mean phoneme scores
iii.3 :population stability (rural)
iii.4 :population stability (urban)
iii.5 :social networks (rural)
iii.6 :social networks (urban)
iii.7 :Scots speakers known to pupils (rural)
iii.8 :Scots speakers known to pupils (urban)
iii.9 :employment patterns (rural)
iii.10 :employment patterns (urban)
iii.11 :situations where Scots is used



Any examination of linguistic variation is incomplete without an examination of the social variables at work within the community, although geography, gender, age and occupation have all been used as markers of variance. For the purpose of this study, the focus centred upon social network, (exemplified by Lesley Milroy's social network analysis, 1980 : 40-54) and the characteristic North East use of four selected phonemes. This was surveyed amongst 119 primary seven pupils in the Upper Deeside area of the Aberdeenshire Highlands. North East Scots, referred to locally as Doric, is a distinctive variety of Scots, and this introductory chapter will explore the historical forces which have formed these differences specifically in this small region as the general history of Scots has been excellently covered elsewhere by Aitken (1979) and McClure (1988) Subsequent chapters will deal with related research, methodology, and a discussion of the findings.

Early dialect studies investigating the speech of Upper Deeside were relatively limited in their scope (Ellis:1889) (Astor:1971) concentrating very much on vocabulary. The science of sociolinguistics has developed since then, and more recent investigations into language have tended to concentrate on phonological variation over different conditions as a more sensitive means of charting those subtle soundshifts that distinguish one linguistic group from another.

Some North East words have made remarkably long journeys across time and place. In the course of an interview exploring the covert and overt prestige of Gaelic, Scots and English in the North East, Millar made the point that the area has always been more fluid in terms of population, and by implication linguistic influence, than is generally supposed:

...I think too much is made of the North East of Scotland bein a static society, because it's never been static. The farming tradition seems bred intae the land, but maist o the North East o Scotland's maybe 250 year auld. (R.M./S.M. 7:12:99)

The idea that the North East is static, then, is patently a myth. Many different peoples have come as 'incomers' to the North East, have settled, and made it their own over the passage of time, bringing languages with them which have left traces to a greater or lesser degree in modern North East Scots.


Murison (1963:197) suggests that any study of North East Scots might properly go back to the Ogham inscriptions of the old Pictish stones, if anyone could be found who could translate them. Wainwright, however, cautions against exloring too far back, as ' problem is at once so seductive and so treacherous as that of the Picts... only the confident and the careless will today venture into this graveyard of rejected theories (1955:13). Macafee (1997:198) mentions the word peat as of probable Pictish origin, as well as month, 'the mountains of the eastern Highlands', now 'Mounth', whilst Watson (1984:xiv) noted that the local place names of Upper Deeside showed few definite traces of Pictish. When asked where they were most in evidence, he replied that there were 'Pit' farms in Cromar and further east, and also listed the words Aber and Monadh, but he cautioned that they were British as well as Pictish (A.W/ S.M. Nov 99). Horsburgh described the Picts as:

an ancient people who were apparently an amalgamation of pre-Celtic and Celtic cultures. Their language was at least partly P-Celtic...Adamnan and Bede tell us that in 565 and 710 the Picts needed interpreters when communicating with the Scots and the Angles ( Horsburgh 1994:7-8)

He concluded that they settled mainly in Fife, Angus, and the coastal areas of Aberdeenshire and Moray. An interview conducted by Middleton with McClure into issues surrounding Scots, began by examining the Pictish question:

... in the course o the historical study ye made o the language, ye pynt oot that the North East wis populated mainly bi Picts, fa kept baith Romans an Saxon invaders at bay. Eventually this gaed wye of course tae Gaelic-spikkin Scots. This suggests a slightly different pattern o linguistic development in this region frae areas further sooth...Dae ye think that the Pictish language has survived at aa as an influence in the area, or has it bin erased aathegither?.

No, except in place names like Aiberdeen itsel, an one or two place names wi pit. That's the only trace that's left o Pictish. The generally accepted idea is that Pictish was superceded by Gaelic. When Kenneth McAlpine became king o the Picts as well as king o the Scots(843) not long after that the Pictish language must have disappeared. The Picts must have just adopted Gaelic, and the Pictish must have vanished. And then, nothing but Gaelic would have been spoken here for a while. The Anglo Saxons would have started coming up the east coast and what became Scots (though it wisnae as yet Scots) would hae been established, and gradually superceded Gaelic. So in very early times the linguistic history o the North East is different (D.M./S.M. 28:10:99)

Murison cites place names prefixed by Kin- and Inver- as examples of the new language (Kincardine o Neil, Kindrochit, Inver, Inverey, Invercauld, are Deeside instances) and goes on to describe how completely Gaelic had permeated the area with nearly 90% of North East place names of Gaelic origin, (1963:197) such as Bennachie, Lochnagar, Cairngorm, Mormond, Braemar, Ellon, Inverurie, Kintore.

It is recorded ( Horsbroch 1997) that the three divisions of East, Mid and West Mar were under the jurisdiction of a Gaelic mormaer/earl from early times, and his findings suggest that the eastern sector was predominantly Germanic in speech from around 1300, the Mids o Mar continuing as a frontier linguistic area for a long time, but the West of Mar, at Braemar and Inverey, as the location of a Gaelic speech community until the 1930s. Presumably the mormaers of Mar would have needed to be tolerably fluent in Gaelic, Scots, and possibly even Latin and French to rule such a linguistically complex area. Certainly, in early times the languages in use on Upper Deeside would have been far greater in variety than those of today, as Horsbroch has noted in maps showing the extent of Gaelic speech throughout the North East in preceding centuries.


Grant (1925:57-58) observed that 'The dialect of the North-East of remarkable for its peculiar phonetic development...Its area stretches from the valley of the Dee to the Pentland Firth, and includes four sub-dialects'. He goes on to describe the origins of the Deeside people, calling them 'a composite race, their most distinct elements being Pictish, Gaelic, and Anglian, with a slight admixture of Scandinavian, Flemish, and Norman blood'. Historically, then, the area has had waves of incomers, bringing their own distinct linguistic influences with them, as will now be explored in greater detail.


McClure (1988) contends that the death of King Alexander III (1249-1286) was the catalyst which caused Anglo Saxon or Inglis as it was known in Scotland, to take precedence over Gaelic in Scotland. Circa 1200 Inglis farm names were commonly found in the North East of Scotland. By this northern name, Inglis, which registered its distinctiveness from southern English, the language was known for three hundred years. John Barbour (c1320-1395) deacon of Aberdeen for forty years, wrote his epic poem The Brus in Inglis in 1375, whilst based at St Machar's Cathedral Aberdeen. It was not until 1513 that a writer of significance, Gavin Douglas, used the term Scottis to describe the language. However, this language shows evidence of linguistic influence and borrowings from outwith Britain, from the wider European community in the course of its interactions with Scotland and the North East.


There is evidence of Scandinavian influence in North East Scots. Aitken acknowledged the influence of the Scandinavian languages on Scots, as does Millar, who was for a time employed as a lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and also Telemark College in Norway. Based on his knowledge of Scandinavian languages, Millar described their effect on the speech of the area as follows :

The Scandinavian languages have had an immense influence on North East Scots in two ways. There's what's called a heavily influenced secondary contact dialect, with the Scandinavian invasion of the North of England in the Viking period. Also, North East Scots had its own peculiar contact with Scandinavian languages, probably from the Middle Ages where there was always a great deal of contact between here and particularly Bergen....And during that period you could say that certain lexical features are common to both. The most interesting one perhaps, is the word stoo or styew, for dust, which is like Scots or mainstream Scots stoor. That's a Norse borrowing, but stoor is a lot older in terms of borrowing than styew... R.M.M./S.M. ( 7:12:99)

Murison (1963:198) also remarked on the Norse contribution to North East Scots:

By far the greater part of the vocabulary of this part of Scotland is, however, derived from the speech of the North of England...a composite based primarily on Old English or Anglo-Saxon but with a large admixture of French and Scandinavian words brought by the Danes and Norwegians who had first raided as Vikings and later peacably settled in the Northern counties. It is to this Scandinavian influence that we owe such distinctions between, for example, English church...and Scots kirk


As Norse words entered Deeside speech indirectly, Latin became available via Christian missionary work, and in the writings of mediaeval churchmen and scholars. During the early part of the last millennium Latin was the language of preference in Scotland for state documents. The Records of Aboyne (1230-1681) contain many Latin documents translated into Scots. A typical charter appears on the third page written in Latin, on behalf of James II in favour of 'George Lord Gordoune, of 200 mercates of the lands of the Lordship of Obyne (Aboyne), dated Edinburgh 10th March, 1459-1460...Jacobus Dei Gracia Rex Scotorum.'

In the village of Braemar spiritual matters were conducted in Latin for half of the local population. The old name for Braemar was Kyndrochit, and the village was composed of two settlements, Auchendryne on the west of the Clunie and the Castleton on the east. At the end of the 18th century, most of Auchendryne were Roman Catholics, whereas the Protestant famlies stayed in the Castleton. The majority of the villagers were then Gaelic speakers.


Horsbroch describes Norman French (1997:72) as a term which embraces '...both families who were actually from Normandy and those who were of Norman culture but English or Scottish in upbringing.' Generally three sources of French influence have been identified in Scotland, Norman French, Central French and the Franco-Scottish link known as the Auld Alliance, forged between John Balliol and the French King in 1295, which remained intact until the Reformation in 1560. Bon Accord entered the language during the period of the Auld Alliance.

The Norman-French influence on Upper Deeside was probably stronger than that of Latin. After the English Princess Margaret married King Malcolm III (1057-1093) the Normans quickly established themselves in Scotland, where they were welcomed by Malcolm and his English queen. Michie (1872:286) refers to this Anglo-Norman influence as a presence which 'meant the triumph of the new feudal ideas over Celtic tribalism'... and goes on to describe a linguistic hierarchy which consisted of French speaking Norman barons with their English-speaking stewards and bailiffs, and ecclesiastics who conducted Christian services in Latin, ruling a largely Gaelic speaking peasantry, a truly polyglot society. He names the Norman incomers to Deeside as Durwards, Irvines, Bissets, Burnetts, Frasers, and Gordons. In the Records of Aboyne, the arrival of the Bissets is chronicled as follows:

Of the proprietors of Aboyne prior to 1230 little is known. The lands seem to have been aquired at an early period by the De Bysets, a powerful Scoto-Norman family who were brought from England by William the Lion (1165-1214) and rose rapidly into royal favour. (Records of Aboyne 1230-1681)


Other incomers arrived to settle and become part of the North East linguistic community. Scottish kings had a policy of encouraging Flemish weavers and tradesmen to settle in Scotland, 'to process the wool, skins and flax of the countryside' (Murison,1963:198). Naturally, their Dutch language travelled with them, giving us crannie, cweet, dubs, loon. (Low German and Dutch, could of course, be equated) .In the 14th century, Scotland had established strong trading links with the Netherlands which flourished for 400 years. Horsbroch describes the influx of Flemings arriving from Flanders :

... as traders along the eastern coast. Their language was, and is, one of the varieties of the language known in English as Dutch (German) and in their own tongue (since the 15th century) as Nederlands. (Horsburgh 1997:72)

The Records of Aboyne (1230-1681:309) give a colourful example of how one particular Fleming came to be connected with Deeside, specifically the area of Cromar. Johan Crab was originally a pirate, who so incensed the Count of Flanders that on November 1319 that nobleman threatened to break him on the wheel if he could have him apprehended. Crab was also a military engineer, who apparently designed a war machine which devastated the English troops during the seige of Berwick. The last reference to Crab, places him in Aberdeen, where he is disputing rights to land in Cults, Cromar. Over the centuries, Crab became Craib. Craibs were farming on Strathmore, Cromar, from the 1700s. The process continues today: several Dutch families have settled in Cromar as oil working commuters, whilst in Aberdeen itself there is a residential area known as 'Little Holland'.


German has also influenced North East Scots in the past, in particular one variety of German, Low German, as Millar explained in the course of an interview conducted at King's College. Millar gave a detailed analysis of the sociolinguistic links:

You've got to think in two forms of German, what in German is called Hoch Deutsch and Nieder Deutsch or Platt Deutsch. One of the dialects of Hoch Deutsch is present day standard German. It has little or no influence upon North East Scots primarily because no native speaker of High German would have had much to do with the North East of Scotland.

Low German, Nieder Deutsch, has had some influence upon North East Scots for a variety of reasons. Low German and its close relative Dutch are spoken just across the North Sea from us, so it would make sense. The North East in particular has a long trading tradition with the Hanseatic league, and with the Hansa towns separately, particularly Lubeck and Hamburg. And indeed, some of the most impressive buildings of New Aberdeen like Provost Skene's house and so on were probably built with money from the Hansa trade.

There is one feature of North Eastern speech and particularly Aberdonian speech which is possibly Low German or Dutch, and that is the use of the diminutives. Now, Scots in general uses diminutives a lot more often than English, as in 'he's a wee laddie', or 'she's a wee lassie', but the almost blanket use that people particularly from Aberdeen city make of the diminutive can be immensely irritating to other Scots speakers, because it can seem as if they are talking down to you...which they're not. This hoosie and so on is possibly a Low German influence, because certain dialects of Dutch in particular...not standard Dutch, but certain dialects of North Holland Dutch, add diminutives onto every noun, or nearly every noun, when they are speaking. And these would be probably one of the most likely contact dialects. So the answer is that there is little or no present day influence from Low German, but the Low German influence is tangible in North East Scots. (R.M.M/S.M.7:12:99)

Murison (1963:202) analyses the subtleties of this North East diminutive form. It can express contempt, as in mannie, intimacy as in bairnie, familiarity when a farmer is addressed as the name of his farm, as in Hillie, and as the extreme example of littleness, in 'a little wee bit housockie'.


Millar, in a paper which discussed Gaelic influenced Scots (of Garioch origin) in the context of pre-revolutionary Maryland contended that:

...there was a strong, stable and long lasting language contact of a diglossic nature between the Scots tongue and Gaelic in the North East of Scotland. Because of the social relationship between speakers of the two languages by the 18th century (and probably for a considerable period prior to this), the result of this contact was not a Mischsprache, a hybrid tongue, but rather one where Scots, the dominant tongue, merely took on a Gaelic flavouring in terms of phonology... (Millar 1996)

Upper Deeside was a bilingual area for many centuries. Millar points out (R.M.M / SM 7:12:99) that the initial switchover could have been from Gaelic to English. In the course of an interview conducted at Allachburn, Aboyne, (I.T./ SM 21:11:98) Mrs Isabella Thain ( date of birth 1907) the widow of a keeper on the Invercauld estate, explained that both she and her husband had been born in Braemar, and had always stayed on Deeside. Speaking of her childhood in Braemar she described the type of Scots spoken in that area:

One or two here and there spoke Gaelic, tho it wis maistly folk fae Glen Ey that spoke it, an they war Catholics. My father spoke bitties o Gaelic. Fin he first come tae Braemar tae bide, he stayed wi a wummin that spoke naethin bit Gaelic...We warna broad spoken. They're much broader spoken doon here (Aboyne). There's an affa lot o visitors, ye see, in Braemar, English an that. If ye'd spoken broad Scots they widna hae kent twa wirdies. ( I.T./ S.M. 21:11:98)

Early accounts show that Braemar in the past was a stronghold of Gaelic:

Braemar and Glengarden are the two corners in the presbytery that are most infected with popery, and where the Irish language is most current.
(Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, General Meetings III : 51)

Scottish legal records of more turbulent times describe Braemar as an area where little English was spoken. To maintain peace in the region after the Jacobite upsrising of 1745 military garrisons were established at Dubrach, Ribbalachlagan, Glen Clunie, Spittle of Glen Muick, Clova and Braemar. In October 1749, an English sergeant, Arthur Davies, went missing at Dubrach. Subsequently his body was found, and two Braemar men were arrested on suspicion of murder. Michie writes of the trial:

...we find a large number of the local witnesses, more especially the common people, giving evidence through an interpreter. (Michie 1872:284)

and Murray, in The Dee from the Far Cairngorms discusses the trial in detail (1999:16-22). It took place in Edinburgh on June 6th 1754. When Alexander MacPherson of Inverey was called to give evidence he apparently caused much amusement by relating that the ghost of the English sergeant had appeared to him and spoken 'in the Irish language'. In the last century, Watson and Clement interviewed Colin Macintosh of Braemar, who told them that when he was seven years old, in 1927:

The older folk spoke Gaelic when they came out of the Chapel on a Sunday. We young loons used to go among them an listen, it wis strange to us. (Watson and Clement 1983: 373- 404)

MacPherson also went on to describe the speech of a relative from Allanmore, Pete Ruadh:

When Pete spoke English it was pronounced differently...He didna speak real Doric, more English than that, more proper ye might say. This was typical o the older folk in Inverey, but by this time in Braemar ye wis gettin aa the ferm lads fae Sim's the Emporium, they employed quite a few men, and so ye aye got the Doric comin in. A lot o them settled in Braemar an they kent naethin o Gaelic. Watson and Clement (1983: 373-404)

Watson made the point (1984:180) that Scots became a predominant language on Upper Deeside much more recently than was the case in Buchan. He explained that the word fite (white) in Buchan, remains white west of Cromar. Again, skweel (school) was used in Buchan, but remained school west of Cromar. In a questionnaire which he responded to in November 1999, he said that in regard to the differences between Buchan Scots and Upper Deeside Northern Scots '...fewer Scots words were used.'

As Grant noted, one of the sound changes identified most closely with the North East of Scotland, is the use of f for wh, as in fa, fit, far, for who, what, where. Millar, when questioned about this in the course of an interview, put forward the theory that originally it was:

...mair than probably a Gaelic feature, because we hear it elsewhere. Ye find it elsewhere in the Gaelic fringe. Sean O'Failean, the great post-revolutionary short story writer was born Johnny Wheelan, so there's ay bin a cross-over there: an Irish Gaelic feature.

Barbour writes quh. Noo that's an interestin development. It doesna mean tae say he said it, but he certainly writes it. That suggests that in the 14th century ordinary North Easters were still sayin / / bit that f wis a rural feature among Gaelic bi-linguals. (R.M.M./S.M. 7:12:99)

Horsbroch (1997) described the linguistic situation on Upper Deeside near the end of the 18th century as 'a complex jigsaw, where Gaelic was 'generally spoken', the 'vernacular idiom' of Crathie and Braemar, Tulloch and Glengairn', and Murison (1963:198) noted that some Gaelic words which have crossed over into Scots are 'more peculiar to the North East' such as connach and shargar. Watson and Allen in their study into the place names of Upper Deeside traced the decline of Gaelic in the region:

The place names show few definite traces of Pictish, the Celtic language in the North of Scotland before Gaelic came from Ireland. Most place names even in lower Deeside are of Gaelic origin. People west of Dinnet still spoke Gaelic until 1500-1600, but Gaelic has since been replaced by lowland Scots and English (Watson & Clement 1983). Only a few folk brought up west of Ballater have any Deeside Gaelic left, and none uses it fluently. Most local people speak lowland Scots. They learn English as a secondary language at school, and incidentally at home through radio, television newspapers and books. They use it in ordinary conversation only when talking to foreigners, English people, and Scots who do not understand lowland Scots speech or choose not to use it. Lowland Scots has predominated at the east end of the area, and similarly Gaelic at the west end until its fairly recent decline and now precipitate collapse. Lowland Scots names occur most commonly in the east and least in the west, and conversely Gaelic died soonest in the east and latest in the west. The area is unusual in Scotland for its history of Gaelic and Lowland Scots as the two main languages.' (Watson and Allan 1984: xiv)

Responding to a written questionnaire, Watson gave further insights into the features of Deeside speech as it he observed it in the course of the 1984 study:

During your research you found examples of the Deeside use of the dipthong ei, as in Abein (Abyne) for Aboyne, and in Cambus o Mei for Cambus o Mey. Can you give other examples of this and any other Scots speech peculiarities within the region?

Re. the diphthong ei, this may not be a Scots influence but rather a Gaelic sound... quite common in Inverey, Glen Ey, Ey burn, Bynack....The Scotticising and Anglicising of the Gaelic area was speeded up by Lowland teachers and ministers. For example and aunt of my father's from East Buchan (Tyrie area) was the teacher at Inverey for a few years. (N.B. Miss J. MacDonald, Braemar Gaelic speaker (far more fluent than Mrs Bain) can be heard on tape 25/7/63 at the School of Scottish Studies Ref PN 1963/12 (S.M./ A.W. Nov. 1999)


The earliest study into the peculiarities of Deeside Scots speech was published in 1889 by Ellis in Vol. V of his work, On Early English Pronunciation (1869-89). In the London home of Sir Peter Lumsden of Tarland he met a woman from Tarland, Jean Findlater, and jotted down her speech. He asked Jean to read from an example of Tarland dialect which had been written down by Mr Innes of Tarland, who had met local people who had lived on Deeside in the second half of the 18th century. The records of Upper Deeside pronunciation therefore go back over 200 years. Words in Mr Innes's speciman include the following: gaaderin, asseer, baist, Ley o Maamore, eychty, mail, whereas Jean Findlater's later pronunciation of the words are given as ...gaitherin, assure, beast, Park o Maamore, aachty, meal.

An example from Mr Innes's 18th century Tarland speech speciman runs as follows:

It wisna aft we streeve at the baa, tho' thir wiz pilgyt i' the tail o' the toolyie that day, bit we gree't fine aftir't, an' gin Shanks hidna been foozinless stram, he widna latten Breece skrim 'im that day.

(Words in bold are now obsolete).

A local landlord, Astor, produced a further short study of the speech of Cromar in 1971 He gives caul for cold, fa/wha for who, fat for what, far or faur for where, and fan, fen/fin for when etc


Though relatively scarce, some historical references can be found regarding the language used by preceding generations of Upper Deeside people in the target areas included in the overall survey later contained in this investigation. Given below, are historical descriptions of the speech of the key villages, and their locality.

Birse, Finzean

The Rev Joseph Smith, recording information on the parish of Birse in The First Statistical Account of Scotland recorded that Gaelic was still spoken in Birse at the close of the 18th century, although 'The English or Scotch language is generally spoken; a few inhabiting the forest understand the Gaelic, but these came originally from the upper part of the country' (XIV 1791-1799: 429). Otherwise, Aboyne, Birse and Finzean would have been almost totally composed of Scots or English speakers from quite an early period.

Ballater, Tulloch, GlenMuick

In the parishes of Glen Muick, Tulloch and Glengairn in 1758, local parishioners were complaining bitterly 'at the presence amongst them of men who knew little or no Gaelic' (Withers, 1984:139). Yet The Records of Invercauld (1547-1828) include the following account from a Mrs Calder (1791-1882) who was the daughter of the local carpenter at Ballaterich when Byron stayed in the area during the summers of 1795-1797. Although a little girl at the time, she remembered him very clearly, not in Gaelic, but Scots:

he was a very takin' laddie, but no easily managed. He was fond of coming up to see my father's shop, and particularly fond of the turning-lathe, but he wadna haud his hands frae ony o the tools...My father couldna lay hands on him, and he wad tak nae tellin.

In The First Statistical Account of Scotland (Glenmuick, Tulloch and Glengairn) the Rev George Brown gives a clearer picture of the linguistic jigsaw, and not a particularly flattering one:

Their language is English, except in the upper parts of the parishes of Tulloch and Glengairn, where some of them use a barbarous dialect of the Gaelic amongst themselves, but they all understand the English. (XIV 1791-797:505)

Middleton (1888) described the situation in Ballater at the beginning of the 19th century, as Gaelic gave way to Scots:

For some years...after Mr Brown's appointment (parish minister from 1791-1818) a Gaelic sermon was preached on the Communion Sunday in the churchyard, while an English sermon was being delivered in the church. And the very last use of the language in the service of the church would appear to have been on the Communion Sunday of the year 1809, when a Gaelic psalm was sung. (Middleton 1888:18) Some local Ballater folk were sorry to have lost the Gaelic language, as Watson and Clement discovered when they recorded an interview with William Downie in Ballater:

My father wis number nine o the family, the youngest, an my uncle Duncan Downie was one o the oldest. Atween that time the Gaelic died out. My father wis very disappointed that he didna hae the Gaelic. He wis born in 1870 and Duncan Downie in 1840. (Watson and Clement 1983 : 373-404)

Crathie, Glengairn

The fact that the last Deeside Gaelic speaker, Jean Bain, died in this area as recently as 1981 makes Crathie a very interesting study. During an interview, her son Rob gave some examples of how language distorts and decays. Rob was born on the 16th of June 1930 at Braemar, but raised at the farm of Daldownie, attending Crathie school. 90 children attended the school alongside him. Currently the roll stands at under 20. He remembered little of his mother's Gaelic:

Feasgar math..I canna mynd a lot o't. I niver pickit up a lot o't, like... Funny thing wis, the last puckle years fin she wis dottlit, she widna spik onything bit Gaelic. She wis five year auld afore she could spik English, an she wis born in London. Her folk wis doon there wirkin wi toffs...they war frae Mar Lodge. She wis born til't. She could write it an spikk it an aathing. Bit I canna..(...) Ciamar a tha wye wid ye spell that noo! There's a lot o't back tae front, tee. Ardach, here, that's high place. Delnabo's the haugh o the cow. Fin ma mither wis doon at Abyne in the last two year o her life, there wis a nurse there that spoke it. That's the only wye they could makk heid nor tail o her, Campbell, the banker's wife, she come frae the islands like. (R.B./ S.M. 13:6:99)

The interview contained a further example of language erosion:

My father (Charles Middleton of Aboyne,1907-1988) eesed tae fish the 'Sharn Jock', (a pool in the Gairn) bit naebody's iver heard o't.

The 'Charn Deoch' ! That means the cairn o the trough. There wis a steen troch cut oot o a single steen. Twis aa one piece. An twis for watterin horses gaun by at the roadside.(R.B./SM 13:6:99)

Rob Bain gave further evidence of the Gaelic legacy with the following anecdote:

There wis a fairy hill aboot Daldownie, wisn't there?

I wis six year auld afore I left there. Ay, the fairy hillock, the Sheean. There wis an auld lad there declared he heard them playin the fiddle inside that hillock. Ay, he firmly believed it.(R.B/S.M. 13/6/99)

In The First Statistical Account of Scotland the Rev Charles McHardy describes the local speech quite sympathetically, acutely observing that linguistic stigma is usually linked to social stigma:

The language generally spoken is the Gaelic. Most of the people, however, understand so much of the English as to be able to transact ordinary business with their neighbours in the Low Country. It was once thought an object of political attention to use means for eradicating this ancient language from the Highlands of Scotland. It is to presumed that the legislature now entertains very different views. For experience has fully evinced that there are no better soldiers in the day of battle than the Highlanders, and that honour, humanity, decency and good order are not incompatible with the use of the Gaelic. (XIV 1791- 1799:469)

In 1705-6 the three Gaelic-speaking parishes acknowledged as such by the synod of Aberdeen were Crathie and Braemar, Glenmuick, Tullich and Glengairn. Scots or English would have been the main speech heard in Crathie from the early 1900s. The last time that Gaelic was used in Crathie church was said by a local man to be in 1922 'bit only a few auld shepherds doon frae the hills could spikk it.' Watson and Allan noted :

...many names remained Gaelic but with Scotticised or Anglicised pronunciation; only a few old people still pronounce them according to the Deeside dialect of Gaelic. Others became translated or otherwise changed into Lowland Scots or English. Many Lowland Scots names have also altered to English ones. All three processes still continue as one can see by comparing how old and young people pronounce the same names. (Watson and Allan 1984:180)

Logie-Coldstone and Lumphanan

Withers (1984) described the parish of Logie Coldstone as Gaelic speaking around the period 1765-69. It is now the richest Scots speaking area on Upper Deeside. Logie Coldstone can be found to the west of the parish of Tarland. Logie-in-Mar and Coldstone were united in 1618. However, it has always been a scattered rural community. In the late 19th century, children attended a small school at Migvie in the area of Logie Coldstone, located in the middle of a moor. Latin was part of the curriculum at that time, and an old lady, Lizzie Philip (died 1964), whose father farmed the Home Farm of Hopewell in Migvie, recollected the following lines from her playground days 80 years before:

Amo amas I luved a lass an she wis tall an slender
Amas amat she caad me flat an dang me ower the fender

Lumphanan has been more thoroughily researched. Michie (1872:287) traced the place name of Camphill in Lumphanan back through time. In 1872 (when he was conducting his study) it was pronounced Camfel locally. However, in 1696 it was written Camfield, but in 1480 it was set down as Camquhyle, very close to the Gaelic Cam choille (sloping wood). In The First Statistical Account of Scotland (XIV1791-1799:602) the Rev William Shand remarked that 'None of the parishioners speak or understand Gaelic, though the names of most places are said to be derived therefrom.'. The Second Statistical Account of Scotland (1843 Part II: 1086), includes a speciman of Scots from the Lumphanan witch trials (1596-1597, (Spalding Club vol i p.49), given by the Rev John Ross, minister of Lumphanan of a report on the accused witch, Agnes Fren:

Scho is indyttit to haiff taine thrie heiris out of her avine kawis taill, and to haiff cuttit the sam in smal peiceis, and to haue puttine it in heir kowe's trouch, quha thairefter gaiff milk and (the) nychtbouris nane.(1843:1086)

And in The Third Statistical Account of Scotland in the section dealing with the County of Aberdeen, Deeside District, Lumphanan, the Rev Francis Donald gives a sample of the local speech from a local man circa 1952, strongly Scots in character:

There's unco little freedom jammed in atween twa neebors, an nae oot-rin at the back for hens or bees. I cud aye tak abeen £20 a year oot o the gairden i' the auld place; an noo here A'm abeen £20 a year extra for rent an taxes. (1960:397)

Tarland, Coull, Cromar

Local trials can yield interesting material in the search for linguistic clues. Michie (1872:28) scrutinised the names of women tried for witchcraft in Cromar at the end of the 16th century for evidence of Gaelic influence, and gave the following interpretations: Ferusche (now Ferries) : Gaelic (mac)Fer(gh)uis Spaldairg: Gaelic, dearg (red) Trachak : Gaelic dimunitive -ag eg. Sinnag (wee Sheena). He also recorded that the name of one of the elders at the trial was Auchan Glas (Gaelic, Eachan:Hector, Glas: grey). However in a tour of the region in 1769, Thomas Pennant considered the Tarland area to be virtually Gaelic-free:

Cromar is the entrance into the low countries; the Erse language has been disused in it for many ages, yet it is spoken six miles west in Glengairn. (The Records of Invercauld 1547-1828 : 386)

Tarland held frequent well attended markets, so it is unlikely that the situation would not have been as polarised as Pennant suggested. Indeed, Diack, collecting material on Deeside in the 1930s, found this local saying:

Theagamh gu faic mis' thu fhathasd an Turlann, is muc dhubh air do chroit: I may see you yet in Tarland, with a black pig on your back ( Diack 1944)

Having discussed the history of the speech of the Upper Deeside area, the next section will explore children's attitudes to the language that they hear around them, and the type of speech which they claim to use in particular situations. As Gumperz noted :

code-switching is perhaps most frequently found in the informal speech of those members of cohesive minority groups in modern urbanising regions who speak the native language at home, whilst using the majority language...when dealing with members of groups other than their own. The individuals concerned live in situations of rapid transition where traditional inter group barriers are breaking down and norms of interaction are changing. (Gumperz, 1982:64)



Aboyne lies 30 miles west of Aberdeen, and is within easy commuting distance of Aberdeen, as the inspectorate reported in May 1986: 'Many parents are engaged in skilled work locally or commute to Aberdeen for professional employment often in the oil industry; a small number are employed in forestry, agriculture and estate work.' (H.M.I. Report on Aboyne Primary (1986). The Deeside Community Centre and Aboyne Academy are all located on the same campus. In May, 1994, K. Robertson, of Aboyne Academy's English Department, along with Class C pupils, published A Deeside Dictionary: the hitch-hiker's guide to the dialect (Aboyne, 1994). When the pupils collected the remaining dialect from friends, relatives and neighbours, the words in the small dictionary were still in current usage at Aboyne. Pupils listed the source speaker and age range of the informant, and copies of the booklet are lodged with the North East Library Service, a good example of a school's awareness of its linguistic heritage.

Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Aboyne pupils on 16:3:99

Do you like to hear Scots?
It's o.k. ... I find it a hard language ... I don't understand it.
Who uses Scots at home?
If my dad's in a good mood he talks in Scots. If he's in a rage he doesn't use that language, he talks in English.
Do you like to hear Scots spoken?
Not from my dad. But from my friends it's o.k.
Do you like to hear your mum speak Scots?
Do most folk in Aboyne speak English?
In the playground too?

Do you speak Scots?
Sometimes when I'm with my friends. But if I dee it in front o my mum she tells me aff. She's English.
Do you like to hear it spoken?
Yes. I don't understand it all, but I like it.

Do you hear Scots spoken in Abyne?
Ay. Aa ower the place.
Dae ye like tae hear it?
Yes. It's interesting.

Do you like speaking in Scots?
Well if I'm spikkin tae somebody I jist say it. I dinna think aboot it.
Do you like to hear English spoken?
I think it's awful posh. I prefer Scots.

Do you like Scots?
I prefer Scots. I like the accent. I like the sound. If I don't understand, I'll ask dad and he'll tell me what it means. When I was a bittie younger I used to ask him words. Then I'd say 'Is that a speen, mum?'

Is Scots a language you like to hear?
No. It's hard to understand and the words are strange. It's quick and it's fast and I can't keep up with it. If I'd to try to learn it I wouldn't have a clue.

Do you like to hear Scots?
No. It sounds weird, like a different language, like it's from another part of the world!

Does your mum speak Scots?
My mum sometimes does. It depends. If there are people round talking it she will, but if it's her friends who don't speak it, she won't. My dad normally does.
Do you like English?
I like English best. Scots is like a different language to me. It's unusual. But I prefer to hear English spoken because it's just what I speak
Do you hear much Scots in Aboyne?
Quite a bit.

Do you like to hear Scots spoken?
What do you dislike about it?
I don't understand it
Where would you expect to hear it?
Down the pub

In 1996, the population of the village stood at 1,920, and expensive private housing continues to be built along the Aboyne / Tarland road. The village community is now cosmopolitan, which makes it a particularly interesting topic of study. George Graham, a former head teacher of Aboyne Primary, described the transient nature of part of the Aboyne population, and how incomers influenced the character of social groups and organizations:

I've never felt there's been anything other than an interesting cosmopolitan feel about Aboyne. I was aware when I came here first that the folk who were coming into the community had travelled the world and lived at different locations. This was maybe for some of them their third or fourth home in the last seven or eight years. For others it was a major change and they were a little bit anxious, but determined to become part of the community. And so they came in and they said Where's the organisations? What can I belong to?

Because they were small in number when they came into the organisations they stood out like sair thoombs anyway, but in addition they presented their ideas for the development of the organisation. And folk said Hey, wait a minute, faa's this comin in an tellin us fit tae dee? ...Then as things developed and they became more, there was a sort of switch in attitude and it became Well there's enough of us, we could set up our own organisations, and you got the Housewives Register, and you got the Round Table, and you got various other organizations established by these folk who came in....The local folk were watching this going on. They said Heh..that's a good idea. And they swung round and you got them wishing to belong to the new organisations. Gradually they began to blend and to realise that the incomers weren't going to destroy them, and the incomers realised there was something within the local community that was of value. . (G.G/ S.M. 2:4:99)

He went on to describe the situation in Aboyne around 1988 - 1990, when the target group were born.

About 10/12 years ago, there was a downward blip in the oil industry. A lot of folk moved out and property became available. So what you were getting in Aboyne was the executive oil people. .. The executives came out here. I was getting families coming in ready-made. Somebody for the secondary school, two for me, and one in a push-chair. ..When the oil became less significant and the money was cut back, there was a levelling off. You were getting commercial people coming in, managers with C&A's or whatever from Aberdeen, who were commuting because Aboyne was a nice place to live... Aboyne was presented by the oil companies as a very desirable place...The commercial people were longer stay. They weren't going to be 2 years...they'd be 6 years, and the decision to move maybe wouldn't be the firm's decision, it would be theirs. . . If there was any stratification that I was aware of amongst the children it was wealth. (G.G. S.M. 2:4:99)

From this interview, it can be concluded that the village of Aboyne in the 1980s attracted high-income families, often employed in the oil industry, and residency in the area was often fixed-term, resulting in a relatively rapid turn over of population. He also gave an interesting assessment of the population changeover, a period from 1975 -1990.

I would have guessed that two-thirds were natives in terms of being from the North East, and one third non-native. This was the start of the oil and the other factors coming in. Within about two or three years, certainly by the end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s, I reckon the population had changed. The school roll had risen to 280, and the composition had swung, so you were now looking at two-thirds non-natives and one third natives (meaning children of North East parents) (G.G./S.M. 2:4:99)

Not only were many teachers from outwith the local area, more than half the school population were now from diverse cultural backgrounds. A local teacher, when asked to describe the linguistic composition of her class (18:3:99) replied that she had taught classes where not one child could have understood or used Scots. Overall, she thought that 10% throughout the school might still understand it. Graham agreed with that figure.


In 1961 the population stood at 1,134. In recent times however, the village has been expanding, with houses built along the glen towards Tullich. The last school inspection was carried out in June 1989, and at that time the inspectorate listed estate work, farming, tourism, the professions and the oil industry as the main sources of employment. The school roll then stood at 104. The school itself was built in 1956.

Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Ballater pupils on 18:5:99

I've lived all my life in Ballater. My mum and dad speak some Scots at home. They say wifie and mannie, and my grandparents and great grandad spoke it. I hear it in the shops as well. I don't understand it and I think it's horrible.

I've lived in Ballater for 7 years. My dad's Italian. He uses Doric for fun, but speaks good English. Mum's Aberdonian but only speaks English. I pick up some Scots words at school. I enjoy speaking it.

I've lived 2 years in Ballater. I'm from Forres. My dad speaks English. He doesn't like to hear Doric spoken. I hear more Scots in Aberdeen than I do in Ballater, but I hear a lot in the village as well, in the shops, and by the football team.

I was born in Holland. My dad's Dutch, and my mum's from Edinburgh. We moved to Ballater 3 years ago. I read Doric books at home. My mother's father's from Aboyne or Tarland. I understand Scots.

I've stayed in Ballater for 7 years. Dad's from Glasgow, mum's from Glen Buchat. They switch a lot between English and Scots. I understand it.

I've been in the North East all my life. I have Shetland grandparents. In Pr. 6 I read Scots and I wrote a Scots short story. I like to hear it and I understand it.


In more recent times, Crathie School was last visited by the inspectorate on December 1995. It was reported as serving the rural area extending from Ballater to Braemar. In 1999 the school consisted of one class of 15 pupils.

Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Crathie pupils on 2:3:99

There are fifteen pupils at the school. How many have you heard speaking Scots?
About five or six.
Do you like to speak Scots?
Sometimes, but then I get muddled when I don't know the words.
Is it the English that muddles you or the Scots?
The Scots.
Do you find it easy to switch from Scots to English?
Not really. I get muddled up and say English words instead of Scots.'

Mum sometimes speaks it. She'll say Ay ay,and fit like.
Sometimes people use the odd word in the playground. I moved up
from England and I've got broader than I used to be. My granny stays
in Forfar, and she says she hears a difference. I didn't understand it, but I do now. I quite like to hear it spoken.

I hear Scots on radio and T.V., but we speak English at home.


The school population was drawn from the parish of Finzean and the Forest of Birse. Built in 1964, the school lies in the upper valley of the Feugh.

Extracts from mini - interviews conducted with Primary 7 Finzean pupils on 10:5:99

I like Scots. It shows I'm Scottish. If you speak English, people think you're from England.

I use it at my granda's at Kennethmont. My mum sometimes uses it with me and my sister. When my granda talks to me I haven't a clue what he's saying. He tells me knuckle's a neive. Then there's a futterat...that's a ferret. Futterat sounds more fun than ferret.


Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Logie-Coldstone pupils on 1 : 3: 99

Fit dis dad dee?
He's a fairmer.
Fit kinna beasts dis he hae?
Aa kines.
Fit wid ye like tae be fin ye leave school?
Mebbe a fairmer.
Fit dae ye prefer tae hear, Scots or English?
Aabody in my faimly spikks Scots. I like Scots best. Some words I don't like sayin in English.

Far div you bide?
Aside Migvie.
Fit div ye like tae hear best, Scots or English?
I'd rather spikk Scots. It's quicker. I can think o the words quicker.

Far dae you bide?
Ootside Ordie.
Dis a lot o folk spikk Scots roon aboot far you bide?
Ay. My favourite language is Scots, because some folk canna understand it and it annoys them.

Does everybody in Logie Coldstone speak Scots?
There's one or two people that disna. They've come up frae England. Bit people that's been here a couple o years, or here aa their life, speak Scotch. I like Scots best because I come from Scotland and so I like to speak Scots. But I canna really speak it because I'm frae Aberdeen. But I can speak some!


During the course of this current survey, undertaken in 1999 amongst Lumphanan children, most professed to hear virtually no Scots in the playground, and the majority said that they themselves did not speak Scots, but English. In 1972 the population of the village was 274. By 1995, according to the figures released by the Kincardine and Deeside Tourist Board on their official leaflet, this had risen to 900, and it continues to rise. The present school was built in 1965.

Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Lumphanan school
pupils on 27 : 1: 99

I like to hear it spoken, but I've got a book at home in Scots and it's very hard to read.
So it's written Scots you don't like?

What does Scots sound like to you?
It sounds like another language, like German or French.

When would you use Scots?
When speaking to a Scottish person, or in a play.
Would you use it in the playground?
If my friend was Scottish. But they're usually English

Do you like Scots?
If I use it in class my friends find it annoying because they don't understand it.

Do you like to hear Scots spoken?
Not really, no.
What don't you like about it?
It's very hard to understand. And it can get on my nerves a bit.

What do you think of the sound of Scots?
It's quite dark, and quite hard. My friend lives on a farm. His dad always speaks it.


Tarland school is situated in the village of Tarland, 30 miles west of Aberdeen in the Howe of Cromar. In 1995, the village population stood at 510, but since then homes have continued to be built and the population has expanded accordingly. The school roll at Tarland primary has risen steadily over the last few years. At the time of the last visit by H.M. Inspectorate in December 1995 it stood at 68 pupils divided into 3 classes, with 18 younger children attending a nursery class.

Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Tarland pupils on 25:2: 99

Do your friends speak Scots in Tarland?
No. They all speak English.

My other granda spoke a lot of Scots, but he's dead now. He called us 'laddies'. He called my little sister 'lassie'. I do like the Scots because I like the 'ch' sound, like loch. And I like 'lugs'. I like a lot of sounds in Scottish. But I probably speak English.
Can you describe English?
Yes, I think I can. It sounds very polite.
What about your best friends? What do they speak?
Well, there's A. . He seems like a very Scottish person, but he doesn't actually use many words. But he can do the 'ch' words. K. speaks mostly English. P.'s English, but he was brought up in Scotland.

Do you like to hear Scots?
Yes. I know quite a few words. There's toon for town, and tae for to,dae for do, puddock for frog and dowp for bottom. We're learning them in class from Mrs G. I don't hear them outside.

Do you speak Scots in the playground?
No, most of the other children here understand Scots, but most would speak English. Older people in the village speak it. Some people don't like to speak it out in the playground, but I've heard them speak it in the village.

Does your teacher give you Scots in class?
Yes. Mrs G. understands Scots, but I'd still speak to her in English, probably because there's other people around and I think they might laugh. I would speak in Scots to Mrs G. if nobody else was there.
And has anybody laughed?
Nobody's laughed, but they might.

What sort of words does dad use?
Coos, calfs, strae, hey, neeps.
You say you speak Scots, but you're speaking to me in English. Even when I've spoken to you in Scots, you've answered in English.
I just speak Scots to my friends and at home.

What about pets. Do you have any?
Yes, I've a dog called X.
What do you speak to him?
I speak half and half to him. I rage him in English and I'm nice to him in Scots.
What's your favourite language?
Scots. I like Scots best. Probably when I finish school, after the Academy, I'll be speaking English because all the teachers there will speak English. When I used to go to the swimming baths at Aboyne, I didn't hear anyone speak Scots.

Which language is spoken in your home?
Do your parents always speak Scots?
No. They speak English when visitors come sometimes.

What's your favourite Scots words?
Dowp and Ay
Do you like English?
It sounds strange. I like Scots best, its easier to do. I understand it.
What do you speak in the playground?
I try to speak English at school. My friends don't like to use it in school so I don't use it a lot in the playground.
Do you like switching languages?
It's not easy to switch back and fore. It makes you a little uncomfortable.

What is your favourite language?
Dutch. I like Scots next, and then English. I like Scots songs.
What languages do your friends speak?
I have four friends in Tarland. They all speak English. I've got five friends in Holland. It's very hard to understand what they're saying but I like to try. We go there every year for 2 weeks.

Where does your family come from?
The Broch an Aiberdeen.
Far d'ye hear Scots spoken?
In the Broch. Ma granparents spikk it.
Far else dae ye hear it?
Roon aboot Aiberdeen. I hear mair o it in Aiberdeen than I dae in Tarland. Most of the people I know in Tarland dinna speak it.
Do you like Scots?
Not really. I just don't like the sound of it. If you go to another country you can't speak it. They won't understand it. I hear most of it in Glasgow. We go there sometimes to watch football. Everyone speaks it there.
Is there a difference between the Scots you hear in Glasgow and the Scots you hear in Aberdeen or Tarland?
There's a difference between Fraserburgh and Aberdeen. I'm not sure if there's a difference between Aberdeen and Glasgow. Fraserburgh's more broad. When we go up there, she (granny) speaks very broad and we can't understand her.

Your grandparents farm locally. What sort of things do they say in Scots?
Fit hiv you bin deein?...Take off your sark. ..You've got a hole in your breeks .One day my granda asked me to get his safties, and I thought he meant those roll type things..but he meant slippers. They'll say 'It's a gey dreich day.'
Where would you use Scots?
At my granny and granda's house.
Do you hear it in the playground?
I hear some, amongst farming folk. People in the shops speak it. And the curlers and bowlers, occasionally. That's about all, really. At school we get some poems. I don't hear Doric on T.V. or radio.

You say all your family speak Scots at home. Which do you like best, Scots or English?
Scots. It's ma ain language. Some o the wirds in English are strange.
Are there ony wirds in Scots ye like?
Ay ay. And It's a dreich day.


The school was visited by H.M.Inspectorate on September 1998, and at that time the roll stood at 234 pupils with an additional 53 children in the nursery classes. The catchment area encompasses Sundayswells, Glassel, and Tornaveen.

Extracts from mini-interviews conducted with Primary 7 Torphins pupils on 20:5:99

It's not often used in the playground. I use it at home, at granny's, at my neighbours' homes. I like Scots best. I like the way it's spoken.

I just use Scots at home because I'm a bit embarassed to use it with my friends because they sometimes laugh. They don't understand it.

I use it at hame. Not much in the playground.

I like Scots best. I like to speak to my cat in Scots and English. If I was being silly and playing with it, I'd speak in Scots. If I was being sensible I'd speak to it in English.

I use it if I've tae dee poems. Sometimes I'll say Ay instead o Yes and I use it fin I'm playin wi ma toy fairm. I like the Glaswegian accent, and their comedy shows. My granny's cousin lives in Glasgow, and we visit. Sometimes I get fed up o the Aiberdeenshire accent. Aabody we ging tae visit says the same thing, 'Ay,ay. Foo're ye deein!'

I like to hear Scots spoken. Dad has books on Celtic Art and language, and on Gaelic and Doric. He listens to Capercailzie in the car.

I don't hear any at Torphins...unless sometimes in a pub when we have a meal. It reminds me of Gaelic when I do hear it. It's a bit confusing. It sounds fast. It sounds rough. Old locals use it.

Some of the words are hard to pronounce. I hear it most at my grandparents at Finzean. My language is English.

I like it. My dad speaks to people on the phone in Scots.


In earlier times, the North East was cut off from the rest of Scotland by the Mounth. Travel was difficult overland, and physical obstacles ensured that change was slow. Because of this, Gaelic lingered on in isolated areas such as Glen Ey until the early 20th century.(see figure i.1)

Figure i.1: A map illustrating the approx. linguistic situation in the North East about the year 1800. Taken from Horsburgh: Gaelic and Scots in Grampian (1994)

Conditions fostered the growth in the North East region of the distinctive dialect that has come to be known locally as 'The Doric' (see figure i.2 and figure i.3) .

Figure i.2. North East dialect districts. Taken from O.Dell and Macintosh (1963)

Figure i.3. The dialects divisions of Scots throughout Scotland. Taken from the Scottish National Dictionary

As Wright observes, physical as well as social variables can acount for language differences :

One way of taking account of the continuous nature of the differences between accents and dialects of different regions is to draw up separate geographical boundaries for each relevant linguistic feature giving each one its own isogloss- or boundary marker- showing where one variant (a particular pronunciation, grammatical form, vocabulary item etc.) gives way to another... The mechanism by which new pronunciations spread from community to community across the country is called regional diffusion. The geographical spread of a linguistic innovation depends on the movement of people and the continuing contact between those on the move and the speech communities they pass through. (Wright, in Graddol, Leith and Swann 1996:270-273) :

Grant delineated the linguistic boundaries which applied in 1911:

In Forfarshire and Kincardine we are in the borderline between North and South. f begins to take the place of the initial wh, but only in pronominal words, such as who, when, where, what, whose, which, whether. In its vowel system this debatable land retains the southern ui in words like guid, but rejects the aw vowel in ha.

The boundary between the North and South for the ui vowel is said to run between Mount Battock and Skateraw on the coast of Kincardine. Dr Craigie has noted that a line drawn due north from Buddon Ness marks a division between those who say red heads (west) and those who say reed heeds (east). ...In Aberdeenshire and on the Banffshire coast, words like bone, stone, one, become been, steen, een.
(Grant, 1911: xvi)

In 'The Deeside Field Club magazine' (1925:58) Grant observes that the North East ee was treated with some contempt in the 17th century by Pitcairne, in the 'Satire of the Assembly or Scottish Reformation', in which the character of Lord Littlewit uses keerates for curates and seen for soon, whilst the earliest sight of the North East f for wh, (Grant 1925:59) occurs in the Aberdeen Town Council Register of 1539, where phingar is written for quhynggar, or as it would be expressed in contemporary language, whinger. He described the North East dialect area as stretching from:

...the Valley of the Dee to the Pentland Firth, and includes four sub-dialects. Of these, the most southerly variety, which might be called the Aberdeen, is spoken along the Banffshire coast fringe, over all the county of Aberdeen (except in a partial way the Dee Valley west of Ballater), in the portion of the Mearns lying in the Dee valley, and lastly, along the Kincardine coast nearly as far as Stonehaven. Even within this restricted area the dialect is by no means uniform; the speech of the fishing villages differs from that of the interior, and that of the north of the country from that of the south. Deeside Scots has undoubtedly crept up the valley from the town of Aberdeen itself, gradually supplanting Gaelic... our Deeside folk are a composite race, their most distinct elements being Pictish, Gaelic, Anglian, with a slight admixture of Scandinavian, Flemish, and Norman blood. At any rate we know that by the end of the sixteenth century the whole of Deeside east of Culblean had been completely conquered by Inglis speech. (Grant, 1925: 58)


The North East of Scotland has never been a static community. In earlier times, the linguistic composition of the area was highly complex, encompassing Gaelic Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, Flemish and Latin. In Upper Deeside Gaelic survived into the 1930s but by then Scots had been long established in the Cromar area .

Murison painted a very reassuring picture for the continuity of North East Scots (Doric) describing the geographical isolation of the area as a key factor in its survival:

Despite the overwhelming pressure of school, university, radio, cinema, and the social rat-race, which have made serious inroads on the richness of the old speech, it still manages to exist probably better than in most other parts of Scotland, perhaps because the area of its currency is to a fairly large degree geographically separate and socially and economically self-contained. (Murison 1963:201)

That, however, was written almost forty years ago. Since then the rural economy has been revolutionised, and slow-changing social networks have given way to satellite commuter communities, transient in nature, usually working outwith the area, often coming from vastly different cultural backgrounds to what exists of the Doric-speaking host population. Trudgill, writing about the impetus for change in the 20th century (1983:176), observed that 'what is different about the modern the speed and extent of the language shift taking place around the world.' As far as the Scots Language is concerned Macafee gives the following prognosis:

It seems likely that broad dialects of Scots will survive only in communities that have some degree of immunity to hegemonic external forces, which usually means rural communities with sufficient economic resources to prevent massive migration of the younger generation and sufficient self assurance to absorb and nativise incomers. The North East, Orkney and Shetland are the places that best fill these criteria. A particular characteristic of these areas is the vertigal integration of the community. Middle class people, including teachers who have grown up in the area speaking the local dialect and participating in the local culture, are able to provide children with role models, demonstrating by example that local people can succeed and that they can be bidialectal. (Macafee 1997 : 546)

Macafee's prediction for the long term survival of Scots in the North East is quite positive. However the population changes in some areas have been greater than others. As has been discussed, the region of Upper Deeside, which forms the basis of this investigation, was targeted as a desirable place to settle by oil company personnel and this has had linguistic repercussions throughout the speech community as a whole. The community does not seem to have 'nativised incomers', rather the opposite effect seems to have taken place, if the interviews with Upper Deeside children recorded in 1999-2000 are to be believed. However, the pupils' reports are not consistent. Some pupils say they hear Scots 'aa ower the place'. Others profess to hardly ever hear it. Certainly, most children spoke English in the interview setting, but as one boy pointed out 'I don't know you', and the interviews with children were all conducted on school premises, where English speech is expected.

In the past, the educational system has been blamed for trying to eradicate Scots, but in Upper Deeside local teachers seem to be trying to conserve the vernacular culture. The interviews were useful in highlighting the complexity of linguistic study, for many factors seemed to operating from peer pressure to issues of ethnic solidarity. At the outset, a secondary aim of the study was to have been to investigate code-switching, and situational use of Scots amongst Upper Deeside children in depth. However, due to the conflicting nature of the responses given throughout the children's interviews, it was decided to confine the survey to that of linguistic variables.



Upper Deeside is a small part of the North East region of Scotland, which sustained both a Gaelic and Scots speaking speech community until the early 20th century, when Gaelic was replaced by Scots and English. The population increased considerably when North Sea oil brought prosperity and incoming workers to settle in the area. Since then, dramatic social change has altered traditional structures, and linguistic change has inevitably followed. This current investigation into North East Scots aims in part to ascertain whether or not this is the case in the Scots dialect of Upper Deeside, by the study of phonological variation. It will also measure this against a social network score, to try to ascertain which influences have most effect in encouraging the use or not of a specific language. As Chambers pointed out, 'Upon observing variability we seek its social correlates. What is the purpose of variation? What do its variants symbolize?' ( Chambers 1995:207)

Nancy Dorian (1981) identified the decline of a (Gaelic) dialect in Sutherland as taking place when the intergenerational transmission of language breaks down.

The home is the last bastion of a subordinate language in competition with a dominant official language of wider currency. An impending shift has in effect arrived, even though a fairly sizeable number of speakers may be left, if those speakers have failed to transmit the language to their children, so that no replacement generation is available when the parent generation dies away. (Dorian 1981:105)

It is worth looking closer at the wider concept of social network. Wardhaugh has described the various levels of involvement as follows:

You are said to be involved in a dense network if the people you know and interact with also know and interact with one another. If they do not the network is a loose one. You are also said to be involved in a muliplex network if the people within it are tied together in more than one way, i.e., not just through work but also through other social activities. People who go to school together, marry each others' siblings, and work and play together participate in dense multiplex networks. . . middle-class networks are likely to be loose and simplex. Much linguistic behaviour seems explicable in terms of network structure. (Wardhaugh 1998: 126-127)

In the course of this particular survey, various sociolinguistic routes of enquiry were explored, drawing on previous research studies in the field. Each of the following sections is headed by the researcher's name, the date and place of the study, and one/more of the key elements which have been examined in the Deeside study.

2.2. LABOV: 1972 : New York (Socio-Economic Grouping as a variable)

Labov pioneered early studies of linguistic variation (1972) in what is recognised as a classic investigation into the use of /r/ as spoken by employees in 3 New York Department stores. To establish whether or not his subjects favoured one method of pronunciation over another, he adopted the ruse of pretending to be deaf, asking his subjects to repeat the target phrase 'fourth floor'. He deliberately chose stores frequented by different socio-economic groups. Saks was a high class store, Macy's catered for the middle class New York citizen, and S. Klein drew its customers from the lower classes.

The data thus generated led him to conclude that the highest and lowest social groups do not usually alter the pronunciation of that linguistic variable after adolescence, whereas members of social groups in the middle of the economic hierarchy do occasionally shift their mode of pronunciation. In New York, it seems, it is 'chic' to pronounce /r/ in words like car and guard. This piece of research by Labov was highly original and creative...a non-formal approach which identified the class factor as one of the main influences which affect the speech of a community.

In a study into social networks in Harlem, Labov entered a ghetto-like area of Manhatten (Labov,1972b:273). During the course of conversations with the street gangs in this inner city district, he unravelled their group structures, which were hierarchical, run by presidents, vice presidents, and secretaries, almost like an army. Non street gang members were called 'lames'. They tended to stay at home studying, and generally moving towards the norms of white society. In their pronunciation of does, 100% of poor whites from the Inwood district used the standard variety, whereas 13% of lames and none of the gang members used it.

Romaine recommends Labovian techniques in the study of Scots dialect:

In the Scottish situation, dialect mixture is an adequate historical account of the situation which involves interference between Scots and English, but it is not a realistic picture of how speakers actually operate in this situation today. In this respect, I think that the application of Labov's method of correlating certain linguistic variables with social characteristics of speakers has made a tremendous step forward towards discovering 'system' in a speech community which was presumed by many investigators to vary randomly. (Romaine 1975:225)

In the Upper Deeside study, it was difficult to identify socioeconomic grouping except in the broadest terms, (see appendix iii.21 for raw data ). Children were vague on matters of parental occupation, and the response 'oil worker' could encompass anything from roustabout to systems analyst. In many families both parents were working. Graham, in the course of his interview, contended that wealth was the most divisive factor in the Aboyne setting, especially as it impinged on children's lifestyle.

The relevance of peer pressure was evident in the children's interviews, where they generally claimed to adopt the English speech of their peers in playground interaction. This was reported by them, but not actually observed.

2.3. TRUDGILL: 1975: Norwich (Parental influence as a variable)

Trudgill (1975:96) conducted a study into the use of yu amongst Norwich subjects, and made the interesting discovery that 29% of women over-reported themselves as having used the prestigious standard pronunciation of words such as beautiful. In the use of er in its prestige form, the number of women over-reporting their use of the standard form rose to 68% . Men, on the other hand, were 94% accurate in their assessment of their use of r. 54% of men under-reported their use of standard forms in the use of (er), showing a strong desire to belong to the local community, an example of covert prestige at work. The phonological variables were examined within the constraints of a word list and a reading passage. Both casual and formal approaches were made to the different social classes. He found evidence that the formal reading passage generally brought the reader's speech style closer to standard English. In assessing the social position of his subjects, he sought answers which identified their place within the categories of occupation income education type of housing locality father's occupation.

Trudgill makes the point that changing an accent can have long lasting psychological repercussions:

Every speaker's pronunciation depends on a very complicated set of neurological and muscular operations which are learnt early on in life and which soon become deeply automatic . . . Psychological research recently carried out in Norway suggests that many people who do change their accents are at a considerable psychological disadvantage as compared to those who are able to express themselves in their own accent. (Trudgill 1975:58)

Discussing the issues surrounding the acquisition of language, Trudgill noticed that young people only acquired the characteristic Norwich prounciations of certain words if their parents had been born there, and that:

There can be no assurance that, after the age of eight, children will become totally integrated into a new speech community...after the age of 14, one can be fairly sure that they will not. The problem years are eight to 14, with the degree of integration depending on many different social and individual factors. (Trudgill 1986:34-36)

He also noted (1983a:10) that there were people who had lived all their lives in Norwich, without ever acquiring a Norwich accent, and (in common with Dorian) laid particular emphasis on parental influence:

Even young children...are subject to limits on degree of accommodation, with certain more complex phonological contrasts and allophonic conditioning patterns not being acquired correctly unless speakers have been exposed to them in the speech of their parents. (Trudgill 1986 : 38)

Trudgill concluded that parental speech is one of the main factors in the transmission of accent. This concurs with the findings of Butterworth and Thorgensen, incorporated into the 'Mind' installation, in the Millennium Dome:

Our brains all contain the same language circuits at birth. Although newborn babies quickly tune their hearing into the speech around them, their own speech, their babble, is the same whatever the language. it takes a year before babble begins to sound like their mother tongue. (Butterworth and Thorgensen: Mind installation, Millennium Dome, 2000)

From 9-18 months, the infant continues to babble, uttering repeated sounds, but at this stage also explores phonemes, establishing the basis of a phoneme system, the preliminary to building words.

After being subjected to statistical analysis, the findings of the Upper Deeside study showed that a major determinant in encouraging the use of Scots proved to be intergenerational transmission of language.

Many subjects who had been born on Upper Deeside to incomer parents brought to the interview situation non-Scots dialects. They had spent 11 years in the area, and yet were replicating speech with no local characteristics at all.

2.4. ROMAINE: 1978 : Edinburgh (Gender as a variable)

Romaine's investigation was founded on material gathered during tape recorded interviews with 24 children within one Edinburgh primary school, culled from the bottom catchment area in terms of occupation and housing. The subjects were selected non randomly, on the basis of their father's occupation. The age groups were divided into three, with 4 males and 4 females were drawn from three age bands, aged 6, 8, and 10 years respectively. The 10 year olds were given an additional formal reading passage which carried a high concentration of the variables being studied. The variables were (gs) (i) (au) (ng) (th) (r). The findings were that (gs) and (ng) were sensitive measures in differentiating between sex and age, and the best discriminator was (au), showing that variables do not reflect differences in equal measure.

In her 1978 study she explored postvocalic /r/ in one area of Edinburgh. The motivation behind Romaine's study was to examine the behaviour of this linguistic variable. The subjects were sub-divided into those aged 6, 8, and 10, and the language was that of working class children. Most English speakers do not now pronounce r between consonants and this pattern has been creeping north as a prestige form, for example Mag-aret for Margaret, and Ba-bara for Barbara. Romaine uses the term postvocalic /r/ in the limited context of the variable positioned at the end of the word., such as car. As Mutschmann noted:

The usual and only correct pronunciation of /r/ in all positions (also when final in an unstressed syllable) is a strongly trilled point consonant. The back or guttural r is rather frequently met with in the North East of Scotland: it appears however only sporadically with individual features. (Mutschmann 1909:17).

Romaine based her methods on those used by Labov in his New York survey (1966), concentrating on the factors of age, gender, style and phonetic environment. Her findings on the use of r were that the 10 year old children used it most frequently. Romaine found that gender was the strongest influence in the pronunciation of that variable, with the boys using r more often. Romaine makes the point that there are distinct patterns of linguistic behaviours which are age-related, and acknowledges that these changes may constantly repeat across generations. She gives the example of Labov's 1963 study of sound change taking place in Martha's Vineyard. The following year, she concentrated on the variable (au), and again found differences between the sexes. From her various investigations she concluded that:

It is now believed that sex differentiation of speech often plays a major role in the machanism of linguistic change and that women quite frequently have an important role in the mechanism pof linguistic change and that women quite frequently have an important part to play in initiating and furthering such change...R-lessness would seem to be an example of change from below which is manifested as a gradual shift in the behaviour of successive generations well below the level of conscious awareness of the speakers. (Romaine 1974:154)

The Upper Deeside study did not entirely replicate these results. Interestingly, no gender differences could be detected amongst the target group of 11 year olds. However it was apparent that there was some mixing of Central Scots with North East pronunciations (gaen instead of geen, sweet instead of swyte) reflecting the fact that many families originated in the central region. Some children preferred Glaswegian speech to North East speech, possibly identifying it with favourite TV characters or football personalities.

2.5. REID: 1978: Edinburgh (Social situation as a variable)

In Edinburgh, Euan Reid (1978) made a study of 16 male subjects. All were aged 11 and attended Edinburgh Primary schools. The schools were selected by social catchment criteria: school 1 served the bottom catchment area (six boys), school 2 served one of the top catchment areas (six boys), school 3 was a fee paying school (4 boys). When making the selection, Reid concentrated on the occupation of the father. The main point of his research was to establish how speech developed amongst pre-adolescent children, using some of the methods pioneered by Labov in New York (Labov 1966), which had been replicated in Trudgill's work in Norwich (1974a) and the Glasgow study undertaken by Macaulay and Trevelyan (1973:83). Tape recordings were compiled of the subjects in four separate contexts:

· reading a passage aloud, containing a number of key linguistic variables RP style
· one-to one interview with the researcher, formally structured IV style
· chatting to two fellow pupils on interesting topics, with very little researcher-involvement, GP style
· In the playground setting, each subject wore a radio-microphone and transmitter whilst on their school break, any interaction being received and recorded within the school, PG style.

Reid observed the variation on two phonological variables, t, and ng, using a simple 2 point scale, awarding a value of O to two variants of t, and a value of 1 to two other variants of t. The variable results were clearly recorded under the following headings:

Name, Social group, (eg A) School, (eg3) RP IV GP PG. He found, as might be expected, that the linguistic variable altered through RP to PG, and charted the results in four different graphs. Here, the phenomenon of style-shifting is very apparent in different social contexts. On the basis of his interviews with the male subjects, he was able to conclude:

...already at the age of eleven, not only are patterns of social and stylistic variation well established, but there is also a considerable degree of conscious awareness of variation (Reid 1975:171)

Some of Reid's methods were used in the Upper Deeside study. Children read a passage aloud, for instance, in a formal setting, and were also interviewed informally. During interviews they revealed a high degree of linguistic awareness. Reid's use of a radio-microphone which his subjects could wear whilst playing outside was not used in the Upper Deeside study, as most of the subjects on Upper Deeside claimed to speak English in the context of the playground.

2.6. MACAULAY: 1977: Glasgow (Social mobility as a variable)

In an early Scottish sociolinguistic survey run along the lines of Labov's principles, Macaulay (1977) studied 5 variables in Glasgow speech, an investigation that covered the responses of 16 adults (parents of the pupils selected, who had been resident in Glasgow since childhood 16 fifteen year olds 16 ten year olds.

A quarter of each age-group were Catholics. They were divided equally into gender cohorts, and subdivided into socio-economic classes. Children were allocated the class of whichever one of their parents held the highest job in the socio-economic scale. At an early stage of the investigation, Macaulay had split the social classes into four, but after some discussion with adult interviewees, this was reduced to three. Macaulay used occupation alone as the indicator of social class, with class 1 drawn from the professional and managerial category, class2 drawn from the white collar and intermediate non-manual category, and class 3 drawn from the ranks of skilled,semi-skilled, and unskilled manual workers.

His findings indicated that accent variables did differentiate Glaswegian speech by social class, sex, and age. The method involved tape recorded interviews which were constructed around a questionnaire. The variables which were analysed were phonological and were as follows:

(i) the vowel in hit, kill, risk etc
(u) the vowel in school, book, full, and fool etc
(a) the vowel in hat, sad, back, etc
(au) the dipthong in now, down, house, etc
(gs) the glottal stop as an alternative to /t/ in butter, get etc
(Macaulay and Trevelyan 1977: 27-8)

Macaulay and Trevelyan concluded that:

the linguistic variation displayed in the Glasgow systematically related to social class and sex, and the pattern is less clear at the age of ten though it is fairly well established by the age of fifteen.(Macaulay and Trevelyan 1977:56)

The rank order speakers arranged by social class (as defined by the Registrar General's categories) correlated very well with the rank order of their language scores (Macaulay 1977:58) Details of the questionnaires etc. are provided in Macaulay and Trevelyan,1973.

Following the example of Labov (1963), who studied the centralisation of diphthongs as part of his studies in the area known as Martha's Vineyard, Macaulay created a scale for each variant, assigning numerical values to each. He gives the example of the vowel in kill, awarding different scores to different pronunciations of the variable, as method which has been replicated in the Upper Deeside study. Macaulay's most surprising finding was the fact that the results were consistent, and seemed to reflect a remarkably stable speech community. He has put forward as a theory to account for this, that upwardly mobile Glaswegians emigrate, and few incomers have joined the community.. Macaulay identified the need for further research:

There is a pressing need for more accurate information on the continuity of language development. Is it true that the 'basic' form of an individual's idiolect is established in the pre-adolescent years? Are all the aspects of language established at the same time or is there a difference between phonological development and syntactic development? To what extent do literacy and education affect an individual's 'basic' form of speech? Is there an age after which no major modification of the individual's 'basic' form of speech can take place?
(Macaulay 1997:18)

An earlier study conducted by Douglas-Cowie (1974) into linguistic code-switching in a rural area in Northern Ireland demonstrated what can happen when the opposite situation occurs, when a community becomes increasingly mobile, and linguistically unstable. She found that many villagers in her study area were attending elocution classes to assist them in speaking 'not so country'. Elocution was being taught in the local primary school, one result of opening up a closed community to wider communication networks and the growth of greater social mobility. Douglas-Cowie observed that (1974:38) 'code switching in Articlave may be fostered in the local primary school where linguistic pressures seem to help establish in villagers a linguistic awareness and sense of shame at their non standard speech forms.'

Improved transport and job choice has meant that now, apart from a few remaining farmers, villagers travel outwith the village for work. Coleraine is attracting English families into the area to work, and some are settling in the village. To their new neighbours or their employers villagers speak English. Douglas-Cowie found that when an English outsider attended an interview this very often precipitated a switch towards more formal English. She also observed that differences in linguistic behaviour can be related to socio-psychological factors, notably that of social ambition. Her research was the result of taped interviews with many villagers, in the presence of an English interviewer and also in his absence.

In the Upper Deeside area, many incomers have joined the community. Often, their contract work dictates that their stay will be of short duration, so the sociolinguistic situation would seem to be much more fluid than that of the Glasgow study, nearer, in fact, to that which confronted Douglas-Cowie in Coleraine However, one issue which Macaulay raised was examined in the Deeside study, in the form of a teacher's questionnnaire designed to discover whether or not teachers were promoting Scots in schools. In fact, many were favorably disposed to Scots, could speak it themselves, and were happy to include it within the school curriculum.

It would be possible, given time and resources, to extend the Deeside study beyond the age bands Macaulay has used. All the Deeside children will go on to attend Aboyne Academy, and could be accessed easily. Nurseries are attached to some of the Deeside Primary Schools, and staff in one nursery suggested that this would be an ideal opportunity to study children fresh from home, before schooling and peer pressure take effect.

2.7. PAYNE: 1980: Philadelphia ( Dialectal influence as a variable)

In a Philadelphian suburb known as King of Prussia, Payne (1980:143) undertook a study of children's speech to ascertain to what extent the various age groups acquired the phonological aspects of a second dialect, after relocating from one dialectal area to another. For Payne's study to be successful, the conditions required one dominant dialect to be in current use, as well as many families from other dialect areas living within the speech community, and an opportunity for the incoming children to learn new dialect speech forms.

In King of Prussia, the local dialect details were well documented. The non-local dialects carried high prestige value. Altogether 108 children were studied from 24 families, and the speaker selection methods were tight. Suitable families were initially pinpointed by church or community leaders. The subjects fell into three categories, families with local born parents and children, families with local-born children and out-of-state parents and families with out-of-region born children and parents.

Payne's findings revealed that unless a child's parents were born and raised in the Philadelphia locality, it was extremely unlikely that a child would learn all of the distinctive patterns of local speech (Payne 1980:174), a phenomenon also encountered by Trudgill in the course of his Norwich study (1986:35-36). It has been estimated by a former head teacher of Aboyne primary school (G.G./ S/M 1999) that two thirds of the Aboyne primary pupils had relocated to Upper Deeside from outwith the dialect area. The Deeside study set out to identify local and incomer, and Payne's findings were born out in that the familial influence was proved to be crucial in transmitting the distinctive phonemes of North East speech.

2.8. MILROY: 1980: Belfast (Social network as a variable)

In the course of her research into linguistic variables in the speech of certain areas of Belfast, Milroy concluded that a close-knit social network preserved dialect even though confronted by a high prestige language variety, and produced two diagrams illustrating this concept of social network (1980:20) One diagram was based on high density personal network structure, where the subject existed within a closed, multiplex network of associations. The other diagram illustrated that of a subject rooted in a low density personal network structure, open and uniplex, whereby the individual would relate to local people in one situation only. This exploration of personal network relied on what Milroy called 'the anchorage principle'. She found it profitable to introduce herself into the target area as ...'a friend of a friend' (1980: 52), in what she called 'the second order network contact', infiltrating a first order zone.

Milroy recommended the compilation of a social network score where social class is difficult to establish in rural populations, setting out her criteria (1980:141-142) for establishing the strength of her subjects' social networks, and awarding one point for each item which fulfilled the stated conditions. These included membership of a high density, territorially-based cluster having substantial ties of kinship in the neighbourhood (more than one household in addition to the subject's own nuclear family), working in the same place of work as at least two others of the same sex from the area, and voluntary association with work mates in leisure hours.

The results provided her with what she described as a network strength score (NSS), yielding a six-point scale (0 for a subject who met none of the 5 conditions ). This led Lesley Milroy to conclude that high status groups, women, and middle-aged speakers in Belfast were less close to the vernacular. There were, however, exceptions, and Milroy referred to Labov's observation that very intelligent peer group individuals sometimes reject the upwardly mobile society outwith their own community links, and instead retain their closeness to the vernacular culture, by virtue of what Milroy called 'the solidarity factor'.

She put forward the idea that linguistic change would follow the break-up of long-standing structures, as happens with industrialisation of a predominantly rural area, or increasing urbanisation. The closer the social network, according to Milroy, the more linguistic change would be inhibited, where language is a statement of cultural identity. A full description of the methods and findings of the Belfast study is contained in Milroy and Milroy (1978), L.Milroy (1980 ), and J. Milroy (1981a). Elements of the Milroy study, with its emphasis on social network were closely replicated in the Upper Deeside study.

2.9. POLLNER :1985 : Livingston: A Scottish New Town (Population origin as a variable)

Pollner intended to demonstrate the strong Glaswegian influence on the speech of the population of Livingston, a new town founded in 1962 half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow, where 29% of the inhabitants came from Glasgow or the west of Scotland. He drew his sample from children and their parents, selecting one primary school (children aged 7-10) and one secondary school (children aged (13). Children were chosen to participate who had been born in Livingston, or had been educated there. To ensure that single parents, childless couples and older people were included in the study, he took a random sample of ten householders. In total, he interviewed 70 people.The children were interviewed at school, on their own. He identified his school sample and their parents as 'ss', and the random householders as 'hs'.

He recorded his subjects, and required then to read from a word list. The phonological variables under investigation were (i) (au) (gs) (ng) (V+r). The morphological items were dinnae/don't, go-went-went / go-went-gone, and Scots lexis was also studied. The findings proved his hypothesis, that 'the linguistic influence of Glasgow speakers in Livingston upon their fellow Livingstonians from other parts of Britain would be greater than their actual numbers would lead observers to important reason is the fact that, particularly for male speakers (and primarily for boys), Glasgow speech seems to hold a special attraction.' He goes on to make the point that:

the factor 'birthplace/origin of informant' cannot be ignored as, for example, Trudgill does in his Norwich study, where he does not interview any 'newcomers' to Norwich (1974:25). This simplifies procedure and analysis somewhat, but is not entirely satisfactory, because it means that what the researcher establishes is something like "the language of place X as spoken by people born there / as spoken by people who moved there Y years ago" and not "the language of X" or "English in X". There are of course no original 'Livingston speakers' because the designated area at the time of Livingston's birth included only a couple of tiny villages and scattered farms; children born in the New Town could be considered to be true Livingstonians. (Pollner 1985:64)

Children in the Upper Deeside study were asked if their parents/ grandparents were local or non local, (i.e. born in the North East of Scotland) but not where the non-local place of origin happened to be. In retrospect this was a weakness, as it would have been an excellent indication to undertake a small scale look at population movement, and to see if the linguistic community of the area were predominantly from Central and Southern Scotland or from England or beyond.

2.10. MACAFEE 1994: Glasgow (Age difference as a variable)

In the course of her study into Glasgow speech, Macafee selected her subjects from names put forward by members of local community councils and organisers of social clubs. Her sample group were carefully selected. All her subjects were working class, and a total of 62 individuals were studied in depth (32 females, 30 males). Whenever possible, she recorded her subjects in groups. The ages ranged from 10 - 84, and the religious denomination of the subjects was established, whether Catholic or Protestant

Macafee concluded that age difference is one of the crucial markers when measuring the erosion of language. Whilst interviewing subjects in Glasgow (1994a) she observed a difference between young and old in the way they described their language. Older subjects referred to their speech as 'Scotch', whereas younger subjects described it as 'slang', an interesting difference in language labels and attitude.

The question of the effect of religious denomination on language was studied by Macafee in Glasgow, where working class Catholics produced 70% local forms in contrast to Protestants, who produced 45%. This factor was built into the kin-link questionnaire presented to the Upper Deeside children. However, in the Upper Deeside area, (and in the pilot study in Aberdeen) less than 25% of children attended church, and those who did, attended infrequently. The influence of church on speech in the Deeside context was therefore negligible.

Macafee's open questionnaire to schools posed the following question:

Have you always stayed in this part of Glasgow? If not, please list the places you have stayed, e.g. "Partick up to the age of 6, then Govan," "New York until I left Primary school, then Manchester for a year, then Partick".

The Upper Deeside study would have benefited from the inclusion of such a question, 'non-local' was too vague. Scots speakers from outwith the North East could be described as linguistic half-brothers/sisters, whereas English speakers settling in the area might well be described as linguistic cousins. An opportunity was missed to study whether or not children with Central Scots parents acquired North East speech characteristics more quickly than children of English parentage. Macafee also noted how long each child stayed in different areas. This was another factor lacking in the Deeside study, quite an important one, as some Deeside children were recent arrivals whilst others had been born in the area, but this was not systematically recorded.

2.11. HENDRY: 1997 : North East Region (Incomer influence as a variable )

A major study was conducted by Hendry (1997) into the use of Doric amongst primary school children in the north east of Scotland. Not only did Hendry examine the levels of use and knowledge of Doric in the region, he also explored the status of the language in relation to the school curriculum, and researched the attitudes of pupils, their parents and teachers, into its use amongs. 900 ten year olds from 36 schools across the North East were drawn into the study.

Hendry devised four vocabulary measures. These were followed up in a 5% sub-sample of 50 children over five geographical areas by a formal interview which contained a brief oral test in Doric. Hendry also distributed an 8 point questionnaire to participating teachers to pinpoint the resources available to them in their work in North East classrooms, how often they used these resources, schools policy on development and schools involvement in regional events which encouraged all aspects of North East Culture. Hendry found that the knowledge of North East Scots vocabulary varied, and that this was affected by the areas and localities of where the children lived and the type of school which they attended. His analysis of the teachers' questionnaire showed a disappointing lack of development policy regarding Scots, offset against much enthusiasm and positive regard for the language by pupils and teachers.

Hendry's methods are easily replicable (1997:45-46) He describes administering a formal test. Children listened to a taped reading in Scots, while holding the text before them, so they could both listen and read. Thereafter, they were asked 10 simple questions on the story, and after, read a small part of the story themselves onto tape. Initially, he wrote to 44 primary schools inviting them to participate. 36 took up the offer. Prior to the tests, he asked the teachers to code their pupils on different factors, classifying the subjects as LOC or INC ( LOC: children brought up and educated in the North East of Scotland up to the time of testing) (INC: children who have come to live in the North East of Scotland from outwith the area, during the course of their education). Where reading difficulties existed amongst the subjects, teachers were asked to note RD1 and RD2 (RD1: children with a slight reading difficulty i.e. RA 6 months to 1 year behind CA) (RD2: children with more severe reading difficulties, i.e. RA 1-2 years or more behind CA).(RA= Reading Age, CA= Chronological Age)

In the case of Kincardine and Deeside, the participating school was Ballater. Once he had accumulated his data, he analysed it according to gender, geographical location, LOC or INC scores.

He noted the top 6% (children who had scored 33 out of 41 in these tests) and the bottom 6%, (children who had scored 13 out of 41, or less). The Test Region covered Aberdeen, Banff and Buchan, Kincardine and Deeside, Gordon and Moray (the old administrative districts of Grampian Region). In the Kincardine and Deeside sample, 11 children were in the lowest 6%, and 3 were in the top 6%. Over the test region as a whole, he found the ratio of local children to incomers was 2:1. Surprisingly, in the vocabulary tests, the mean total combined score for the local children was 61%, and that of the incoming children was 51%, a mere 10% of difference. One Kincardine and Deeside teacher commented afterwards :

I was very disappointed with the results. I couldn't believe how few words they seemed to know. (1997:69)

Another response came from a local girl who had moved to Pitmedden, who reflected:

Well I do speak broad Scots, but now I have come to the posh part of the land, I don't speak it any more, but I still like my old language (1997:71)

Interestingly, amongst the schools surveyed, 65% did not participate in cultural events outwith the school. Of the 35% of schools who did so, the Scots Language Society Doric Speaking Competition, the Alford and Donside Heritage Group, the Charles Murray Doric Festival, the Aberdeen Alternative Festival and the Burns Federation Group were all cited as being suitable for developing linguistic skills.

Hendry identifies the district of Kincardine and Deeside as amongst those 'prime settlement areas targeted by incomers.' He also makes the point that 'within the heartland of rural Gordon, the status and use of North East Scots amongst children is far higher than in the commuter-dominated school communities of Aberdeen city and Kincardine and Deeside'. The major factors he identified as having significant bearing on the use of dialect words were the school type attended, and the area the children lived in.

His study made use of visual stimulus to elicit words. This was adapted in the Upper Deeside investigation to encourage children to give specific Scots words (with the targeted phonemes embedded in them) in response to pictures.


The Milroy investigation, a major study into urban vernacular patterns in Belfast conducted by Milroy and Milroy in 1978, seems to suggest that it might be possible to predict the survival of low status vernacular in sections of the population who had many social and familial ties within a particular speech community. The purpose of the Upper Deeside study, similarily, was to try to establish whether or not strong interpersonal links would have an impact on the language of the targeted speech community, as had been the case in Belfast.

Milroy and Romaine both refer to Labov's linguistic studies in Martha's Vineyard where by conversation, reading passages, and word lists he elicited sufficient data to prove that those who used the strongest forms of the vernacular are not necessarily the elderly. Milroy describes the communities under study, geographically, economically, linguistically and recommends the compilation of a social network score where social class is difficult to establish, in, for example, rural populations, making this an ideal method of analysis for a study on Upper Deeside.

Trudgill and Payne in their respective studies into children's speech both found that it was unlikely the subjects would acquire key pronunciations of local speech if their parents did not come from the area. Children in the Upper Deeside study were asked therefore if they themselves had been born in the North East, if one/both parents had been born in the North East, and if one/more grandparents had been born in the North East.

In their various ways, each of the above sociolinguistic studies contributed an idea or a format to the study of Upper Deeside. As Aitken remarked :

the linguistic situation in Lowland Scotland offers a remarkably wide and varied range of social dialect phenomena and a splendid collection of entrenched stereotypes, and strongly held traditional attitudes, and the historical background to all of this is unusually well documented here (Aitken 1979:145)

It is interesting to reflect that modern Scots used in the North East and Upper Deeside today made the long historical trek from Europe via the Anglo-Saxon tribes who settled in Northumbria so long ago. Looked at from this perspective, language is unifying rather than divisive, with cross cultural links across many lands and ages.




This particular study was designed to explore the Upper Deeside use of four North East phonemes by 119 primary seven pupils from 8 local schools. The children were selected according to age and locality alone. All the subjects were primary seven pupils attending Upper Deeside schools, and all the children were interviewed and tested on school premises during school hours. There was no attempt to select children for testing from specific socio-economic groups or by reason of their gender.

Preceding chapters examined the history of language on Upper Deeside, and explored related sociolinguistic research studies in Britain and in the wider international community. This third chapter will set out the hypothesis to be tested and the subsidiary aims of the study. It will describe how the questionnaires were designed and the interviews undertaken, and will go on to show how changes were subsequently made to both as unforeseen difficulties arose with the running of pilot study in the school setting at an Aberdeen council housing scheme. Statistical findings will be presented in graph and written form, and there will be a short discussion on the situational use of Scots, based on the result of a questionnaire completed by the pupils themselves.


The hypothesis under examination was as follows:

the extent to which four characteristic North East Scots phonemes are used by 119 primary seven subjects in the Upper Deeside area of Aberdeenshire varies from speaker to speaker according to the number and nature of links they have with the North East area.

This was tested by constructing a system of kin-link scoring designed to gather the following data, by awarding a score of one for each ticked kin-link:

· At least one grandparent born in the North East
· One or both parents born in the North East
· Subject born in the North East
· A member of at least one local club or society
· A member of a local church
· At least one local friend

The four phonemes under study were:

/i/ (as in reed 'red')
/f/ (as in far 'where')
/a/ (as in waa 'wall')
/ʌi/ (as in chyne 'chain')

In the case of the phoneme /i/, reid and heid follow a straightforward pattern as used in words with which the phoneme would not be associated in standard Scottish English, whereas skweel is an example from Middle Scots /y/, when preceded by a velar plosive. There was unrounding preceded by a semi-vocalic glide. Steen and een show characteristic North East double raising. Spyle, jyne, and jyle are derived from the Old French ui.

This study focussed on 119 eleven year old children of both local and non-local origins, to find out if the characteristic North East use of certain phonemes was being transmitted, and if so, which kin-links were most influential in this area.

A subsidiary aim was to identify the situations in which children felt Scots would be used, by means of a questionnaire.


Prior to seeking permission to conduct research amongst the target schools, a covering letter (16:11:98) (appendix iii.1.) was obtained from Robert McColl Millar, in which he offered to assist with any queries which the participating schools might wish to raise. Alongside this covering note was enclosed a letter to the Director of Education for Aberdeen City, and the Director of Education for Aberdeenshire (24:11:98) (appendix iii. 2) (appendix iii.3) seeking permission to carry out research in their respective areas.

The Senior Education Officer for Marr (30:11:98) granted permission (appendix iii.4) but also emphasised that 'individual circumstances may preclude some establishments from becoming involved in the scheme.'

Thereafter (appendix iii.5.) during the months of November-December 1998, letters were despatched, each containing a S.A.E. for ease of reply, containing a pro-forma, to all head teachers of the schools selected for study. Of the 10 feeder schools for Aboyne Academy, Braemar Primary school declined the opportunity to participate in the study, and the head teacher of Kincardine o'Neil (17:12:98) (appendix iii.6) responded that the study did not fit in with the school's development plans at that time. This was disappointing, as Braemar is a particularly interesting Deeside parish, which still retained a core of Gaelic speakers in the early part of this century, and Kincardine O' Neil is one of the oldest settlements on Deeside. The remaining eight feeder schools, however, agreed to become involved in the research.

The Director of Education for the City of Aberdeen (appendix iii.7) replied (1:12:98) that he was happy for the designated school, Kaimhill, to take part in the pilot scheme, but advised that final agreement should be obtained from the head teacher. Approval was obtained by telephone from Kaimhill's Acting Head Teacher (3:12:98). During the months of November and December 1998, letters went out to the consenting head teachers (appendix iii.8) thanking them for agreeing to participate, with a teacher's one page questionnaire (appendix iii.9) enclosed. The teachers' questionnaire was brief and straightforward. Staff members were required:

· to give their names
· the name of the school
· the number of pupils in the class which they supervised.
· to indicate whether or not they themselves understood or spoke North East Scots
· to indicate which Scots resources they had used with their respective classes, in the form of video tapes, cassette tapes, visits from Scots writers or singers, talks from members of the local community, poems, stories, TV programmes, radio programmes or any other medium unlisted which they had used to promote Scots in the classroom.

Along with this material, the participating schools received a four page pupils' questionnaire (appendix iii.10) for completion by the pupils themselves. The cover page was designed to establish the pupil's name, age, gender, father's occupation (if known), mother's occupation (if known), and the school attended. There was a small note to the teacher at the foot of the cover page, which requested that if the subject's reading age differed considerably from the norm, the teacher should note the pupils' reading age after the child has completed the questionnaire. This was added to the cover page to ensure that any difficulties a child might experience in answering the written questions were because of unfamiliarity with the Scots, and not as a result of general reading problems.

The second page of the booklet was entitled KIN-LINK QUESTIONNAIRE. Prior to completing this page, it was suggested that teachers might discuss different cultures and the ways in which they can enrich and complement each other. The aim of these questions was to establish how mobile or static the population of the area appeared to be.

The third page of the booklet explained that Doric is a name given to North East Scots, and asked the child to put a cross beside anyone known to them (siblings, neighbours, relatives etc.), who spoke that language.

On page four, they were presented with a list of 27 items, and asked to tick where and when Scots would be used by these people, e.g. in church, by a shop assistant, etc. They were also encouraged to write down any other places where they thought that Scots would be used, and some actually did so, showing a fair degree of initiative.



The pilot study was carried out over two separate sessions at Kaimhill School in the Garthdee area of Aberdeen on 18:12:98, and 15:1:99, with 37 primary seven pupils. Kaimhill is an urban school in an area of mixed council and private housing. Each subject was seen individually in a quiet part of the school. The content of the various tasks given to each subject were as follows:

TASK A : short reading passage

This consisted of a short paragraph in Scots about a cat, working on the supposition that many schools would currently be using the material produced by Leslie Wheeler (a former Adviser in Scots with Grampian Region, currently consultant with the North East Heritage Trust) which centred around Brockit, the Fermtoon Cat. The procedure was straightforward. The researcher read the passage aloud to the subject who then read it unaided. The pupils were taped as they read the paragraph.

TASK B: Attitudinal study

In this task, each child was handed a sheet of paper. On it, were two short poems written by the researcher. One was entitled 'The Hornygollach', and was written entirely in Doric. The other was entitled 'The Earwig', written entirely in English. The individual subjects with the poems before them then listened to them on the tape recorder. Afterwards, the pupils were given a list of adjectives, and asked to write S beside those adjectives which they believed described the Scots poem, and E beside those which applied to the English poem, or E and S if the adjective described both poems.

TASK C : A visual stimulus

This task was based on the 'Hendry Indicator for North East Scots' test, designed by Ian Hendry as part of his study into Doric (North East Scots) use amongst primary children (1997). Whereas Hendry investigated the child's knowledge of vocabulary, this study probed phonological variation and the use or non-use of characteristic North East phonemes. It comprised a total of 18 numbered pictures on two A4 pages. Each child was given the set of pictures, and was told the English word for each item.

In the next stage, the researcher read out the number of each picture, and asked the child to say the name of the Scots word for the object. This was a test of the child's knowledge of North East phonemes, e.g. if the English words were roof, blow, jail, the Doric equivalent would be reef, blaa, jyle. If the child did not know the Scots word for the picture, they were asked to give the English name. In the pilot version, the child's responses were taped in this task.

TASK D: Written stimuli

Task D was composed of 15 sentences written in English, with one word underlined in each sentence. Again, in the pilot version, the child's responses were taped. The procedure was as follows:

· The researcher called out the sentence number
· The individual children responded by giving the Scots version of the underlined word if they knew it. Otherwise, they could say the English word. Many of the sentences were in the form of questions, in order to elicit the characteristic interrogative North East speech forms, ' fa? fit? fin? or fan?'

TASK E: a short taped interview

In the pilot test, this took the form of a formal interview. The individual children were asked if they liked pets. They were encouraged to describe their pets, if they had any. They were asked if they had a favourite animal, and if so, to describe why they liked it. The interview went on to ask if the child had visited a farm or a zoo. As the research area would focus on a rural district, this line of questioning seemed appropriate. By including pets and zoos within the animal theme, it was anticipated that city children would have a topic both boys and girls could talk about.


When each of the children had finished answering the questions in the formal interview, the following set remarks were made to them:

Thank you very much for helping me. That's the end of the interview. You can relax now. . . (pause). . . Before you go, did you enjoy the exercises? I was going to ask about football, but I thought everyone mightn't like football. Do you like football?

By telling the child that the interview was over, it was hoped that the formal nature of the researcher and subject exchange would relax into an informal chat which would elicit a sample of unselfconscious speech.


The pilot study proved extremely useful in that it highlighted several unforeseen problems:

· Children were nervous in the strange situation and whispered, or talked away from the microphone. This meant that a significant amount of answers were lost.

· The original short reading passage (A) had to be omitted and replaced by another piece which incorporated the phonemes under study, (some words of which would be used again in the picture test). This time the theme was that of a school playground in winter, one with which all the children would be familiar.

· Task B, which consisted of the Scots Poem, its English equivalent and the adjective questionnaire, was also omitted from the final study. This task had greatly increased the length of time each child was out of class, and the pupils found it difficult to respond to. The amount of explanation needed to clarify in children's minds what was required of them showed this item to be poorly designed and unworkable.

· TASK C & TASK D remained as in the original pilot test.

· TASKS E & F were replaced. No attempt was made to create an 'informal' interview. The children were asked directly who in the family spoke Scots, what kind of things they said, their personal opinions of Scots, and when, if ever, they would speak it.

A completely new booklet was designed (appendix iii.12) as a result of the Pilot study at Kaimhill, which proved to be more effective in gathering data, and less time-consuming to administer.

3.5 PROCEDURE PHASE 3: The Rural Study: 119 primary seven pupils

Data on the feeder schools for Aboyne Academy was supplied by the staff of Aberdeenshire's Education Department (appendix iii.13) and by Her Majesty's Inspectorate (appendix iii.14). As each school was visited, staff located a quiet area where the children could be tested and interviewed. Prior to visiting each school, two simple score sheets (appendix iii.15 and iii.16) were created. Appendix iii.15 records the answers the children gave in response to the pupil questionnaire, which was designed to elicit the pupil's identification details, the scores generated by their responses to questions on their social and familial networks (kin-link data), Doric speakers known to the child, and also situations where the child would expect to encounter Scots.

Appendix iii.16: This score sheet was designed to record the child's ability to use the four characteristic North East phonemes under study.

· SCORE O= English;
· SCORE 1= Scots other than North East;
· SCORE 2 =North East Scots.


· TASK 1: The researcher allocated a score from 0 -1 beside the words on the score list, as the child read them out as part of the story.

Many Scots children (and adults) struggle to read Scots, so this was not an easy task for subjects. The act of reading, moreover, is a skill in itself.

· TASK 2: The child was asked to study each picture, and give its name in Scots, if known. Otherwise they could supply the English word. These, too, were marked on the score sheet.

· TASK 3: Here, the child was asked to read the English sentences paying close attention to the underlined word. Directly afterwards, the researcher called out the sentence number, and the child provided the Scots version of the underlined word, if known. As the answer was given the researcher allocated the score.



Two visits were made to Aboyne Primary school, on 16:3:1999 and 18:3:1999 to study a sample of 34 pupils, consisting of 15 boys and 19 girls. The teacher's questionnaire was completed by a Primary 7 teacher of North East extraction who lived locally. With his previous class he had watched the video tape From Ploo to Plate, and they had been visited by Tam Reid, singing bothy ballads and reciting Scots poems. His current class had studied some of J.C. Milne's poems and covered some Scots songs and bothy ballads. The school had available poetry and short story books in Scots as well as one or two videos.


The research was carried out during one visit, on 18:5:1999, with a sample of 22 primary 7 pupils comprised of 10 girls and 12 boys. The head teacher understood and could speak North East Scots. The school had access to video tapes and cassettes in the language, and had been visited by Scots writers and singers. Pupils had also been given Scots poems and stories, and occasionally listened to Scots on the radio.


Only one visit on 2:3:99 was required to gather the data, due to the size of the school. The head teacher was local, and was entirely familiar with Doric. She had used Scots cassettes with the children, given them poems and stories in Scots, and had arranged for visits from Scots writers and singers. Only one primary 7 pupil, a girl, was available for testing.


One visit was sufficient on 10:5:1999 to collect the data from the five Primary 7 children present on that occasion, 3 boys and two girls. The headteacher was born and raised in Coull. Educated locally on Deeside, she could speak, understand, and was sympathetic to North East Scots. The pupils have had visits from Scots writers and singers, talks from the local community, and poems and stories in Scots.


One visit was required on 1:3:99 to conduct research at Logie Coldstone, due to the small sample of primary 7 pupils involved: 4 boys, and no girls The head teacher was local and could speak and understand Doric easily. She reported that cassette tapes, poems, stories, and TV programmes had been used to expand the children's knowledge of Scots. The school had invited people in to give talks to the pupils from the local community. A booklet of Doric poems had been written by the children themselves. This was a school with a history of competing in Scots verse competitions and producing very good work in Scots. Throughout the visit children used Scots freely and quite richly.


Only one visit ( 27:1:99 ) was required to gather data from Lumphanan. One child was absent, and so the results were based on data gathered from a total of 15 pupils. Of these, 8 were boys, 7 were girls. The head teacher was herself a North East Scots speaker and all the pupils under study were in her class. She had taught Scots poems, and indicated that Scots poetry books were available for any member of staff who wished to use them. Lumphanan School had produced a booklet entitled A Drap o Doric written by the primary seven pupils.


The school was visited on 21:1:99, 4:2:99 and 25:2:99. The primary 7 sample consisted of 9 pupils, 4 boys and 5 girls. During this third visit, children throughout the school from different cultural backgrounds were interviewed to gain a better idea of how these recent Deesiders viewed Scots. The staff reported that they had availed themselves of visits from Scots writers and singers, had introduced Scots poems, and had listened to radio programmes featuring Scots. They also had Scots resources available in book form, and one class teacher produced a booklet of Doric Rhymes written and illustrated by the children. Tarland school had nine primary seven pupils, five girls and four boys.


Torphins Primary school was visited twice, on 26: 4: 99 and 20: 5: 99. Thirty primary 7 children were involved in the research, 17 girls and 13 boys. One child identified himself as dyslexic at the outset, and so was excused from the testing procedure. There were materials available within the school in Scots.

The overall total of boys in the Upper Deeside sample was 58, compared to an overall total of girls in the Upper Deeside sample was 61. Gender and school were noted along with other details in the course of collecting raw data from the participating subjects.

3.7. The Four Linguistic Variables

Each phoneme carried a possible score from 0-2. There were 5 words in which the target phonemes were embedded, for each of the four linguistic variables ( /i/ /a/ /f/ /i/ ) making a score of 10 possible for each variable. In respect of the linguistic measure of the phonemes, it was justified and possible simply to add the scores to get an overall total for the twenty tested items. The scores below represent the results achieved by 119 children out of a possible 1,190 per section

· / i / 741
· / a / 599
· / f / 466
· /ʌi/ 319.

The words wyve (7), fite (22), and swyte (28), recorded the lowest scores. Children tended to pronounce swyte as /swit/ ( the central Scots pronunciation) too often to be perceived as a chance error. The word wyve, however, meaning to weave or knit, is now almost obsolete amongst children who mainly wear ready made garments. Swyte, (sweat), and fite (white) are commoner in the Buchan area, which has been Scots-speaking for a longer period than some of the Deeside parishes.

There was evidence of Central Scots influence. The North East pronunciations gweed, seen, geen, steen, aleen (good, soon, gone, stone, alone) were sometimes given as guid, suin, gaen/gawn, stane, alane. Cweel for cold now appears to be obsolete on Deeside, as the Scots equivalent was usually given as caal.

The following figure (iii.1) was constructed after adding up the total number of children who scored 0 - 6 in the kin-link questionnaire, and displaying their average correct score (in terms of replicating characteristic North East pronunciation) in graph form.

Figure iii. Mean Scores correct out of 40 per kin group (Rural Study)

The kin totals run from 0-6, representing the weakest to the strongest social network scheme. Any subject who scores 0 has no effective social links with the community whatsoever, as would apply with very recent arrivals. Figure iii.2 shows the mean score for the average child in each kin-link group. For example, the kin6 group achieved a total of 75 when their mean scores correct in the /f/ words were added up, as opposed to a total of 2 achieved by the kin0 group.

The far right hand column of the figure gives the total scores for all kin-link groups for each word, showing that /i/ was in a much stronger position than /f/ or /ʌi/ . This was surprising, as the main distinguishing feature of North East Scots is usually thought of as /f/ as it fit, fa, far.

Figure iii. kin-link scores and mean phoneme scores


The hypothesis to be tested was that in the Upper Deeside area amongst a target group of 119 primary seven pupils the strength of the kin link score would be reflected in the use of four characteristic North East phonemes, and this was analysed by means of the T-test.

After setting out the raw data in spread sheet form (see appendices iii.17-iii.25) it was subjected to analysis using the t-test, a parametric statistical test for small samples which measures whether or not the means of sets of scores from two samples differs significantly. The dependent variables were the phonemes under study, the independent variable was the sub-sets.

The finding was that the two subsets (two local generations and two non-local generations) were significantly different in respect to the measured characteristics .

The grouping variables for the T -Test measured the familial links, based on the following questions:

· Were either/both of your grandparents born in the North East?
· Were either/both of your parents born in the North East?

The results showed that :

· 42 subjects had two generations which were non-local
· 71 subjects had two generations which were local.
· 6 subjects had one generation which was local, or one generation which was non-local

Two tables were created, because only 6 subjects comprised one category, too low a number to sustain analysis. Therefore, the groups were collapsed. In the non-local table, 6 was added to 71 and referred to as 'other' so that non locals were being compared with everyone else. In the local table, 6 was added to 42 and referred to as 'other' so that locals were being compared to everyone else.

(see appendices iii. 26, iii.27, iii.28, iii.29)

The main finding was that the hypothesis was confirmed, to the extent that with all phonemes tested, and in the overall linguistic score, there was a highly significant relationship between familial links and language measures.

Statistical tests for both local and non local (two generations) were all significant (2-tailed) ( p<0.001)

Some variables by school size were significant ( p<0.05):
t(117)= 67.327, p=0.026 (p<0.05) (phoneme /f/)
t(117)= 63.252, p=0.010 (p<0.05) (phoneme /a/)

School size was measured in terms of schools with a roll of over 20 pupils, and those with a roll of under 20 pupils.

Not one of the differences by gender was statistically significant, showing that in this small Upper Deeside sample amongst 11 year old children, the male-female differences found by sociolinguists in studies elsewhere did not apply to this test group. Limited analysis of other socio-demographic factors indicate that in this particular study of pre-pubescent children, gender has no significant impact on language differentiation.


THIRD KIN-LINK CATEGORY: Subject born in the North East.

It quickly became apparent throughout the survey that a high proportion of children from the Upper Deeside area (born locally) spoke the English of their in-coming parents and grandparents. It was also quite striking that children (born locally) of North East parents and grandparents frequently spoke English in preference to Scots. During the course of interviews, children put forward several reasons for this. There was fear of ridicule by their peers, which accounted for the fact that some Scots-speaking children only spoke Scots within the home. English was seen as being the language of classroom and playground and was perceived to be more widely understood than Scots

POPULATION STABILITY (See figure iii . 3 and figure iii. 4 )

· 78% of urban subjects had one/more grandparents from the North East, compared to 62% of rural subjects.
· 83% of urban subjects had one/both parents from the North East, compared to 63% of rural subjects.
· 86% of urban subjects were born in the North East, compared to 68% of rural subjects.

FOURTH KIN-LINK CATEGORY: Membership of at least one local club or society

65% of rural children claimed to attend clubs or societies. However, incomers to the Upper Deeside area set up and organised groups themselves. The region was very popular with executives arriving for short and long term contracts, giving formerly rural villages a very cosmopolitan quality, and these newly-forged social networks on Deeside appeared to promote the diffusion and adoption of English as opposed to Scots, as children stated repeatedly throughout their interviews.

FIFTH KIN-LINK CATEGORY: Membership of a local church

Although their parents and grandparents may have attended church regularly at a time when the church was a focal point in the Scottish community, only 21% of urban pupils and 20% of rural pupils claimed to have attended church themselves. Even then, such attendance was occasional and therefore not of sufficient duration to have a linguistic effect on the children themselves.

SIXTH KIN-LINK CATEGORY: Having at least one local friend

75% of rural children responded that Scots might be used between friends, but only 67% said that one/more of their own friends spoke Scots, whilst only 58% claimed to speak Scots themselves. The following extracts from interviews with Upper Deeside pupils is reasonably representative of prevailing attitudes in the area.

· Would you use it (Scots) in the playground?
If my friend was Scottish. But they're usually English (Lumphanan)

· If I use it in class my friends find it annoying because they don't understand it. ( Tarland)

· Do your friends speak Scots...?
No. They all speak English. (Tarland)

· I just use Scots at home because I'm a bit embarassed to use it with my friends because they sometimes laugh. (Torphins)

SOCIAL NETWORKS (see figures iii.5 and iii.6)

Only 15% of Tarland pupils reported that they would hear Scots amongst friends in the playground. At Crathie, out of a roll of 15, pupils felt about 5 spoke Scots..roughly one third. By contrast, 89% of Aberdeen city's Kaimhill children claimed to have Scots speaking friends, and 100% of urban subjects had one/more friends in the North East compared to 99% of rural subjects. 21% of urban subjects attended church occasionally, compared to 20% of rural subjects. and 83% of urban subjects were involved with groups/societies outwith the home compared to 65% of rural subjects.

SCOTS SPEAKERS KNOWN TO PUPILS (See figure iii.7 and figure iii.8 )

78% of urban subjects had one/more Scots-speaking grandparents, compared to 70% of rural subjects. 72% of urban subjects had one/more Scots-speaking parents, compared to 69% of rural subjects. 76% of urban subjects had one/more Scots-speaking siblings, compared to 30% of rural subjects. 90% of urban subjects claimed to speak Scots themselves, compared to 58% of rural subjects.

(See figure iii.9 and figure iii.10 )

70% of urban subjects reported both parents working, compared to 65% of rural subjects. 33% of rural subjects reported one parent working compared to 13% of urban subjects.16% of urban subjects reported no parent in employment, compared to 1% of rural subjects.

Only limited information was available on parental occupation, as children are vague about their parents' jobs, and it was felt to be inappropriate to contact parents for this information. However a cursory glance at the figures suggests that around 10% of parents were still involved with farming either as tenant farmers or farm labourers.

Interestingly, two subjects described their father's occupation as 'professor'. Both pupils had mothers engaged in professions, teaching and nursing respectively. Both pupils scored '2' on the kin-link score (one local friend, and a member of one local club/society), yet one scored 2 and the other scored 27 out of a possible 40. However, the kin-link questions related only to links with the North East of Scotland. 'Non-local' would refer to children of English origin as well as those from the Southern and Central belt of Scotland. As North East Scots is much closer to Central and Southern Scots than it is to standard English, this would account for what appears to be a significant difference in the scores of this particular pair of respondents. (see appendices iii.30- iii.32)

3.11 SITUATIONS WHERE SCOTS IS USED ( see figures: iii:11, iii:12, iii:13 )

All 119 subjects completed a one-page questionnaire which required them to tick each situation on a given list where they might expect Scots to be used. Space was also provided for the pupils to suggest further situations where Scots might occur.

70 - 85%: for comedy, amongst neighbours, by relatives, in the playground, as poetry, by friends.

55 - 69%: at football matches, in songs, at home, on the radio, in shops

40 - 54% : to a tourist, in a letter, in a book, in a newspaper, by a policeman, by a teacher, by the milkman

25 - 39% : to toddlers, with pets, at the swimming baths, in the bank, at church, on T.V. news

10 - 24%: by a judge, in parliament, to a stranger

Situations where Scots is used

Interestingly, 58% of the country pupils surveyed claimed to speak Scots themselves as opposed to 90% of Aberdeen city's Kaimhill pupils. Either Scots is used to a greater extent in urban housing schemes or the prestige of the language is higher in the urban area, where children seem to wish to be perceived as Scots speakers.

The staff at Tarland pointed out that 'baths' is now an archaic expression, as children nowadays speak of it as the 'swimming pool'. Trudgill makes reference to this when describing how language changes over time:

Normally, differences in the speech of younger and older people in the same community represent changes in progress. The younger people retain the features as they grow older, as the apparent-time hypothesis predicts they will, and the next generation comes along and increases the difference between them and their elders. The historical pattern is one of waves of innovation moving through society in the course of time. Viewed from a great distance, the pattern results in cataclysmic long-term differences, as Shakespeare's contemporaries differ from our own.
(Trudgill: 1980:152-3)

Children noted that ministers might not speak the same language as that of their congregation, and therefore one 'situation' was ambiguous. However as only 22% of children attended church and amongst that small percentage attendance was irregular, it can be assumed that in the Upper Deeside area the influence of church is slight compared with that of local clubs or leisure groups.

85% of pupils ticked comedy as a situation where Scots might be expected to be heard. This was obvious during a school visit, where non-Scots speaking children listened to a Scots song and immediately burst out laughing. The song itself, a bairn-sang, was not particularly amusing. They also made suggestions for further places where Scots might be used, ranging from a pantomime, a farm, an oil rig, to a mart.

99% of children had formed friendships outwith the home. However two children in the survey from the same village claimed to have no local friends, and to have been subjected to bullying. Peer pressure had mitigated against Scots use in the playground, where children almost uniformly claimed in the course of interviews, to speak English in deference to their English-speaking friends. The small school of Logie Coldstone, was the exception to the trend in Upper Deeside, as Scots speech predominated in the playground there and was seen by the pupils to be prestigious, as it was by the Kaimhill children in the urban pilot study.

3. 12 Conclusion

Having assembled the raw material, the final chapter will frame recommendations and explore some of the findings. Throughout the interviews with this age group, there was no apparent conflict between the different dialect groups. Allen described group conflict in this way:

The most disliked strangers are those closest, particularly if they appear to be burgeoning in number and are, or appear to be, in competition. Social distance, in some part, is a consequence of spatial nearness. Proximity and visibility as much as anything stimulate prejudice against particular groups. (Allen 1983:33)

The Scots speaking Upper Deeside children, in the main, were prejudice-free. Perhaps they realise intuitively, as Milton has observed, that:

...privileged dialects owe their status not to some intrinsic linguistic superiority, but to accidents of geography and politics. (Milton 1997:208)

An opinion echoed by Wardhaugh who also warns against linguistic stereotyping, and the assumption that the use of a high prestige accent automatically means that the user possesses a high intelligence:

...Code switching may be a very useful social skill. The converse of this, of course, is that we will be judged by the code we choose to employ on a particular occasion. People have distinct feelings about various codes: they find some accents 'unpleasant', others 'beautiful'; some registers 'stuffy': some styles 'pedantic'; some languages or kinds of language 'unacceptable' or their speakers 'less desirable' and so on...Linguistic prejudice, either for or against particular dialects or languages, is a fact of sociolinguistic life...However we must also remember that it is often all too easy to think that someone who uses learned words, beautifully constructed sentences, and a prestige accent must be saying something worthwhile and that someone who uses ...a regional accent cannot have anything of interest to say ! (Wardhaugh 1998:113)

One primary seven pupil at Aboyne primary, a recent arrival from England, was quite bemused by the thought of a survey being conducted into the use of Scots. 'I don't think it really matters how people speak', she remarked. However, she participated quite willingly in the tests.


4.1. Discussion

The kin-link analysis was undertaken in an endeavour to discover which factors were important in the transmission of specified characteristic North East pronunciations. It seemed likely that close interpersonal links could ensure that institutionalised attempts to promote forms of speech which were as close as possible to standard English would only succeed within certain contexts. The results showed that within the speech community of primary seven pupils on Upper Deeside, certain phonemes continue to be used in a characteristic North East manner.

Although Scots pronunciation was being learned by children living on Upper Deeside, in this piece of research this was found to be related to familial factors and not to influences operating outwith the home. Many children who produced high scores on both kin link and phoneme factors asserted that they would only use Scots within the home, and not in the playground. These findings replicated what Trudgill had found in Norwich (1986), and Payne had encountered in Philadelphia (1980:1974) showing that a child had a slim chance of learning certain local speech characteristics even if born locally unless their parents were born and raised there. Entire classes of pupils in some Upper Deeside villages had been born and raised on Deeside, but their parents were incomers, and their speech was certainly not Scots.

In the course of informal interviews with the children, it was clear that some of them associated Scots with friendliness, emotional warmth and ethnic solidarity, whereas standard English was perceived to be overtly high status, 'posh' and a link to the wider U.K. community. O'Shea turned this stereotype around, in an article entitled 'Scots Tones Accentuate the Positive' recently:

According to the advertising gurus behind a crop of current adverts featuring Scots, the accent not only suggests traditional attributes of honesty and reliability, but it is also, due to young Scottish actors like Ewan McGregor and films like Trainspotting, fashionable...the Scottish accent is now seen as a money spinner for a vast range of is seen as cool and classless. (O'Shea, Scotland on Sunday 25:4:99)

Some incoming (and some local) children, disliked the sound of Scots. One reason children gave for disliking Scots was the fact that it was, to them, a foreign language and when people around them used it they did not understand what was being said. Cheyne, in a paper entitled 'Stereotyped Reactions to Speakers with Scottish and Regional Accents' (1970:78) conducted a matched guise test to try to identify attitudes to Scots and Scottish English. Cheyne found that Scottish English voices were rated higher for wealth, prestige, intelligence, and (incongruously) height, whereas Scots voices were rated higher for entertainment value, sense of humour, and generosity. This certainly applied on Deeside, where the situation most children were certain Scots would be used, was that of humour. Some children suggested 'pantomime dames', and comedy programmes were also suggested as being appropriate for the use of Scots. Stereotyping exerts an extremely powerful influence on attitude.

Scots speaking children would 'rage' their pets in English, but speak kindly to them in Scots. Several complex factors operated in the attitudinal responses. Scots language was seen by some children as a cultural marker of ethnic solidarity. English was perceived to be more formal than Scots, and English was recognised as a language which crosses international boundaries.

Peer pressure was highly influential. Scots speaking Deeside children said that they would not use their Scots before English friends. Le Page and Tabouret-Keller describe the influence of peer-pressure:

...the individual creates for himself the patterns of his linguistic behaviour so as to resemble those of the group or groups with which from time to time he wishes to be identified, or so as to be unlike those from whom he wishes to be distinguished. (Le Page 1985:181)

Although with two exceptions (Braemar and Kincardine O' Neil) the Upper Deeside schools were very amenable to permitting a survey into Scots speech to be carried out with the primary seven population, one parent objected to this linguistic study on the grounds that he feared it hid 'a political motive'. The study into Upper Deeside language use was intended to be an investigation into the speech of the area and no conscious 'political motive' was attached. However, some children said that they liked to speak Scots 'because it made them feel Scottish' or 'because they were Scots', just as a Catalonian child, or a French Canadian child might respond if asked why they spoke in Catalon or French. Fasold touches on the issues of language and ethnicity when he states:

Language, together with culture, religion and history, is a major component of nationalism These are abstract and very emotional concepts but ones with immense power. (Fasold 1997:3).

Throughout the Upper Deeside area there were close-knit social networks, but in the public domain these networks were disseminating forms of standard English rather than North East Scots as the language of common usage.

The fact that English seems to be the preferred linguistic option of the playground may also be explicable in terms of wealth. Aboyne, with its top executive population, its expensive housing, where most people commute to work and networks are often international rather than local, makes an interesting contrast with the small village of Logie Coldstone where the prestige language, amongst the children themselves, still appears to be Scots, and farming remains a main occupation in the parish. In the latter, Scots is still perceived by pupils as being their main language. These various socio-economic circumstances add further strands to the linguistic equation, those of wealtgh and social class.

Aboyne is a wealthy village. There are no large pockets of deprivation. According to Graham, who was in post when most changes were taking place in the area, the linguistic composition of the village has swung round in favour of the incomers. And the incomers are cosmopolitan. This is not to say that they view Scots negatively, merely to state that it is not their language, and it is not the language of their children. One primary seven boy was desperate to know 'how he had scored', so he could report to this to his parents.

'Did I pass the test?' he asked, anxiously. When told it was not a test but a language investigation he replied, 'Oh is that all! It's just a survey!' Obviously, he was strongly motivated to succeed. He was not a Scots speaker.

Another point to consider is the fact that children are growing up in an increasingly media-dominated world, although Labov noted that:

Though the studies of sound change in progress show that mass media (in the United States) do not produce convergence in the community as a whole it is possible that the media can serve as a template for individuals who are isolated from their peer groups and are strongly motivated to acquire an exterior standard. Labov (1994:348)

There is no doubt that the Scots dialect featured on television programmes mainly emanates from central and southern Scotland and that some children perceive central and Southern Scots to be 'cool'. There was a good deal of mixing of central and southern Scots pronunciation in North East speech amongst the youngsters (eg.gaen (English=gone) for geen and rid (English=red) for reid ) as would be expected given that their parents had moved into the area from other parts of Scotland to seek employment, but the survey did not differentiate between incomers from England, and incomers from the rest of Scotland. The term 'local' was taken to imply 'from the North East of Scotland'.

Within individual families linguistic preferences operated. When interviewed, children would often mention siblings who opted to use dialect in opposition to the family norm. This suggests that a language survey should examine the speech of siblings and study the family dynamics involved in the acquisition of language in the home. There seems to be very little in the way of case studies in the field of sociolinguistics, and it may be that this should be built into a major study.

Giles (1973) noticed that speakers often move towards the speech of their interlocutors. He referred to such modelling as 'convergent accommodation'. Divergent accommodation occurs when two speakers from different social groups deliberately keep their linguistic identity to widen and emphasise the distance between them. Children in Upper Deeside used both strategies. Occasionally, they admitted choosing Scots deliberately because it would be incomprehensible to an incomer, but the social context often dictated which language would be used. Fasold referred to language variation as being related to language change which 'depends crucially on the interaction with the social setting.' (1990:266).

4.2. Conclusion

Social mobility also plays a key role in the transmission of language. Where a speech community has a rapid turnover of population, as is the case with short contract oil workers, the incomers are unlikely to assimilate much, if any, of the host group's language. Perhaps because of the sheer numbers of incomers to the speech community, the vernacular in Upper Deeside generally seems to have retreated from the playground and into the home. Two inter-related factors should be identified here, the transient nature of a modern commuter-belt population, and the effect this may have on local speech.

In the domain of the school where Scots would once have been vigorously excluded, Upper Deeside teachers expose pupils to the rich linguistic culture of the area in the form of poetry, song, and occasionally) video or T.V. programmes, and pupils have compiled their own books of Doric poems. Interviews with staff, and questionnaires returned by teachers in post, show that Upper Deeside schools in general actively encourage the teaching of North East Scots (Doric).

The pilot study in Kaimhill, by contrast, was located in an urban council housing scheme, which had a large school population. There, the prestige language was Scots (at least in a covert sense) This was a finding which was reinforced whilst working as a peripatetic Scots specialist throughout the city schools in the large inner city housing schemes. Scots is commonly heard in the playground and in the corridors of these schools, and yet in Upper Deeside most children state they would keep Scots for use within the home.

In the past the county was considered (by the general public) to have the highest number of Scots speakers. Yet the county, or specifically Upper Deeside, has seen the greatest change in recent years, as opposed to some council housing schemes in Aberdeen which are remarkably static in terms of population. Sociocultural groups can be swamped by what Fasold calls 'dominant group migration' (1997:10).

To counteract this in the North East, head teachers have defended the occasional introduction of Scots material into the classroom. One North East head teacher justified his actions to a complaining parent by explaining that as long as one child in his school was of North East origin, he was obliged to respect its cultural needs, just as he would respect the needs of any other cultural group within his school community. Parental fears may be rooted in insecurity, and may indicate worries about issues concerning ethnicity and personal identity. One local parent objected strongly to having Scots promoted in class, equating Scots speech with social and economic deprivation. She described it as 'coorse'. It made her 'cringe' to hear it. It had 'held her back' in her work with an oil company. However, as the Bullock report stated:

No child should be expected to cast off the language and culture of the home as he crosses the school threshold, and the curriculum should reflect those aspects of his life. (Bullock Report, Conclusions 110 and 249; DES, 1975:526, 543)

The Scottish Committee on Language Arts in the Primary School suggests that by allowing a child to use his natural speech, he will not feel that his home and his culture are somehow inferior:

Could the denial to a child of the use of his natural language inhibit the development of a sense of his own worth and thus inhibit his willingness to talk within the school situation? Will the pupil who feels secure in school and his own language and in the language of the school not have a better opportunity of using the experience he brings to school-and thereby realising his individual potential-than the pupil who may feel he is entering a world where his language, and all the individual and group experience it carries, is not highly regarded? (SCOLA:1981)

Opinions range across a continuum, from outright antagonism through passive acceptance to active promotion of non-standard speech forms. Most Scots speakers possess the communicative competence to switch from Scots to English according to situational context, but attitude determines whether they choose to use Scots or lose it. The future, however, of any language hinges on how successfully it is accepted by the young. Adolescents and preadolescents are at the forefront of change.

4.3 Recommendations

· Youngsters may be at the learning stage of the linguistic spectrum, but to obtain a proper view of North East Scots in use, it would be necessary to devise and conduct surveys throughout the community across three generations simultaneously.

· Volunteers would need to be found, willing to carry personal recorders, to obtain samples of speech in different situations. Questionnaires are subject to human bias, but actual speech can be analysed objectively.

· Social change often precipitates the disintegration of traditional social networks and values. Where new allegiances form, as in previously isolated communities like Deeside which now is composed of a large, incoming commuter population, linguistic barriers may break down, and the switch from Scots to English may become permanent. On Deeside, linguistic change has a recent historical precedent in the disintegration of Gaelic, as it gave way to Scots. The area would require to be studied in depth twenty years from now, to see how Scots has evolved or been assimilated into the speech of the community

· It should never be overlooked, as Gumperz points out (1972:66) that 'members of the same family and neighbourhood background group may show different language usage practices.' He refers ( 1972:73) to the border situation amongst the farming communities at the frontier zone of Austria /Yugoslavia, where Slovenian is spoken at home, and German in schools, business, work, shops. Where a husband and wife come from different cultures and linguistic backgrounds, the position will become even more complicated within the family. In one class in Tarland there were six nationalities of pupils, coming from Dutch, German, Spanish, Welsh, as well as English and Scottish families. Case studies of such families would be very interesting to follow up. As one little Deeside girl explained, 'Daddy sings in the shower in Welsh if he's sad, he sings Country and Western if he's happy, he speaks English to me, but German to granny and granda.' Scots came third in her list of preferences, just above Welsh, but lower than English and German.

· Giles studied language in depth and described it as a much wider category than that of speech alone, encompassing:

...a wide range of linguistic-prosodic-non-verbal features including speech rate, pausal phenomena, and utterance length, phonological variants, smiling, gaze, and so on. (Giles et al 1991: 7)

Any study into North East speech would greatly benefit from extending its range into non-verbal behaviour and micro-linguistics, whereby speakers are caught on video camera during a speech exchange, and the exchange then broken down by freeze frame and the smallest nuances of sound and response made available for analysis.

· Often, linguistic studies are undertaken by outsiders, and there are sound reasons for this. However, when local people are talking to someone perceived to be an insider, they will be more prepared to give examples of the speech under study. Milroy (1990 : 64) makes the important point that language addressed to an Ulster-Scots insider and an English outsider will be different. Children in Upper Deeside, with the exception of the pupils in the small school of Logie Coldstone, in general did not lapse into Scots, even when confronted by a Scots-speaking insider. A good team would consist of an insider, to gain entry to the speech community, and an outsider, with an outsider's detachment, working together in the field.

Not everyone considers linguistic change to be negative. Aitchison had this to say of linguistic shift:

Humpback whales alter their songs every year, and a song thrush was heard to incorporate the chirp-chirp of a modern phone into its melody. No one has complained. So why do so many people grumble about change in the English language? Language is not decaying due to neglect. It is just changing. It always did...In language change, new variants grow up alongside existing ones, often as stylistic alternatives. Usually each variant is relevant in a particular situation... Face to face interaction between individuals is necessary for language change ('Why do Purists grumble so much?' Evening Standard 27:4:1994)

Ideally, attitudes should change. In a Utopian world, there would be no stigma attached to language, no prestige, no stereotypes attached to the words we speak. In an increasingly cosmopolitan setting, as Trudgill noted :

It is obvious...that the connection between languages and cultures is an intimate one, and that the disappearance of languages from the world could greatly speed up the process of cultural homogenisation. A monocultural world would not only be a very dull but possibly also a very stagnant place.

In the first chapter, the history of North East speech was shown to be that of a language constantly evolving, as Millar observed. McClure also makes the point that language is never static:

changes on all levels, including the lexical, occur in living languages... diachronic change is indeed virtually a diagnostic sign of life in a is often found that periods of rapid and extensive innovation coincide with periods of drastic social change affecting a language. (McClure 1981: 96-97)

The Scots language to many in the North East is their own particular statement of ethnic identity. It belongs to them. No one can deny it has changed. No one can deny it is changing. No one can deny it will continue to change. Yet this changing language we call Scots, is one of our most cohesive bonds, and one of our strongest anchors, in a rapidly changing world.

(Pages 94 - 98 )
(Pages 99- 147)


Conducted by Sheena Middleton (S.M.) Unpublished. Aberdeen University

Interviews conducted with adults

I.T./ S.M. 21:11:98 Isabella Thain, at Allachburn, Aboyne
AT/ SM 28:11:98 Alistair Taylor. Conducted at Torphins.
LCP/ SM 2: 3: 99 Local Crathie Parent at Crathie
G.G./ S.M. 2: 4: 99 George Graham, at Aboyne
D.M./ S.M. 28:10: 99 Derrick McClure, Aberdeen University
R.M.M./ S.M. 7:12:99 Dr. Robert McColl Millar, at Aberdeen University
R.B./ S.M. 13: 6: 99 Rob Bain, at Crathie, Deeside.

Interviews conducted with Primary Seven Pupils: (Date & Place)

16:3:99: Aboyne
18:5:99: Ballater
2:3:99: Crathie
10:5:99: Finzean
1:3:99: Logie-Coldstone
27:1:99: Lumphanan
25:2:99: Tarland
20:5:99: Torphins

A.W./ S.M. November 1999: questionnaire (unpublished. Aberdeen University)


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iii. 1 : introductory letter
iii. 2 : letter to the Ed. director of Aberdeen city
iii. 3 : letter to the Ed. director of Aberdeenshire
iii. 4 : reply from the county
iii. 5 : invitation to schools to participate
iii. 6 : declined, Kincardine o Neil
iii. 7 : reply from city
iii. 8 : letter of thanks to participating schools
iii. 9 : teacher's questionnaire
iii. 10 : pupils' questionnaire
iii. 11 : pilot study booklet
iii. 12 : amended booklet
iii. 13: data on Aboyne Academy feeder schools
iii. 14 : HMI information
iii. 15 : score sheet 1: pupils' questionnaire.
iii. 16 : score sheet 2 : score sheet : pupils' booklet
iii. 17 - iii. 25 : raw data spreadsheets (phoneme scores)
iii. 26 : T.test results ( school size)
iii. 27 : T.test results (gender)
iii. 28 : T.test results (non-local)
iii. 29 : T. test results (local)
iii.30 - iii.32: raw data on parental occupation

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Information about Document 1498

A Study into the Knowledge and Use of Scots Amongst Primary Pupils on Upper Deeside


Text audience

Adults (18+)
Audience size 6-20
Writer knew intended audience

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 2000
Word count 29793
General description MLitt Thesis (unpublished)

Text medium

Other University Library

Text setting



Author details

Author id 112
Forenames Sheena
Surname Blackhall
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Brought up Protestant, now Buddhist
Occupation Writer and supply teacher
Place of birth Aberdeen
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Aberdeen
Region of residence Aberdeen
Residence CSD dialect area Abd
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Manager of Deeside Omnibus Service
Father's place of birth Aboyne
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Private Secretary
Mother's place of birth Aberdeen
Mother's region of birth Aberdeen
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic Yes Yes Yes Yes Elementary. Gaelic choir. Poetry.
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes