Language Geekery

I always find it fascinating when I read something about an English-language (or related) dialect that's about to die out. Over the years, I've read about the last, aging speakers of German-English or Swedish-English dialects, for example, in the US and Canada, but the ones that really capture my fancy (and always have, even pre-Mr. Shakes) are Scottish dialects, which are rather shockingly vast and varied considering what a small country it is—and are often given names ("tchucter") by other Scots that appear completely nonsensical to non-Scots.

In this case, the name makes perfect sense, anyway.

A rare dialect that is only spoken by two elderly brothers is to be recorded for posterity before it disappears.

Bobby Hogg, 87, and his brother Gordon, 82, are believed to be the last fluent speakers of the "Cromarty fisher dialect". It is said to be the most threatened dialect in Scotland and is to be recorded for an internet-based cultural archive.

It evolved when local fishermen in the town of Cromarty, on the Black Isle north of Inverness, picked up words from English soldiers based in the area in the 17th and 18th centuries.

… Bobby Hogg said: "You hear the odd smattering of it in some of the things people from Cromarty say, but nobody speaks it fluently these days but for us two."

His wife Helen added: "My husband is fluent in the Cromarty fisher dialect. I understand it, but his brother is the only other person who can speak it."

A spokesman for Am Baile, a Highland internet archive, said it was important to capture a recording of the last two speakers. Robin McColl Miller of Aberdeen University's English department said the Cromarty fisher dialect was the most threatened in Scotland, and one of five different dialects once found in the same small area.
Some examples of Cromarty fisher dialect:

Thee're no talkin' licht: You are quite right.

Ut aboot a wee suppie for me: Can I have a drink too?

Thee nay'te big fiya sclaafert yet me boy: You are not too big for a slap, my boy.

Pit oot thy fire til I light mine: Please be quiet, and allow me to say something.

You can hear Bobby Hogg doing an interview about the dialect here, although it's not great sound quality on his end of the line. I'm looking forward to the online archive, which I presume will have better audio.

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