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Caithness Words & Meanings
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Any visitor to Caithness listening to a group of locals ‘sharin e crack’ will undoubtedly find the conversation hard to follow. If invited to join in the conversation the friendly locals will nearly always slow down and compromise their speech in order to be understood – such is the nature of the people of the county.
While travelling away from the county a Caithnessian is frequently mistaken as being Irish. Whether or not they sound similar to the Irish they have an accent and dialect that you will only find in this corner of Scotland.
Mass communication is currently getting the blame for the destruction of our local dialect. Our speech has become Anglicised, Americanised and lately Internationalised. It is inevitable that our language will evolve and not remain static. We are in a constant state of change and require a language to match. It could be argued that a static language indicates a society that is not progressing - no forward looking individuals would want to be part of an unchanging society without growth or expansion.
We may feel nostalgic about our mother tongue, but change has always been the price of progress. This need not indicate a loss of our individuality or our identity as a people, as there will always be some elements from our past woven into our speech. The past is responsible for the people that we have become, history can not be altered, it is impossible to lose our roots no matter what language we speak now or in the future.
Here you will find words used in Caithness both now and in the past together with their English equivalent.
If you have any words and meanings that you may want
to add to this list please send them to
Thanks To Frank Sutherland 9 June 2004 For some additions
Alex Sutherland 26 August 2003
James Miller 13 February 2003
6 April 07
Taken from Castlegreen's ''Tatties and Herreen'
Sent By a Caithness Lass
Acht ... to own
Attry.... bad tempered
Bleeter - heavy rain
Cockaloorie - child's toy
Daakened ..... dawn
Dird..... to fuss
Gluff..... a fright
Loogard..... hit on your ear
Preeg...... to plead with someone.
Skutch..... quick moving
Poetry written in Caithness Dialect
"Wordies" is a poem in Caithness dialect that explains the meanings of some
The Ould Box Cairt
Scotia Review also contains excerpts from Caithness Poets some of these are also in Caithness Dialect
Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech
The Online Scots Dictionary
Glossary Of Scots Words
By no means complete but contains a growing list of words with audio to hear a pronunciation.
This may be argued as to the correctness but nevertheless is useful
Robert Burns - Full Text - With Glossary
The Scottish National Dictionary
For Doric language of Scotland