‘Dr Doric’ unveils plans for week-long celebration of dialect across the region

Plans to bring a week-long festival celebrating Doric to the north-east have been unveiled.

Don Carney, an academic who has been dubbed Dr Doric, wants to change attitudes about the dialect – proving it is not a relic of the past but part of modern life in Aberdeenshire.

His proposals for a festival week in May – including workshops, poetry sessions and efforts by local firms to use Doric in their business – have already been backed by one of the region’s most well-known voices.

World-renowned musician and broadcaster Robbie Shepherd said the project would celebrate the “tapestry” of Doric and Aberdeenshire life.

Under Mr Carney’s proposals, organisations across the region will be encouraged to allow employees to use Doric in their daily work. He hopes to hold talks with north-east academics and civic leaders to get their backing to the scheme.

Last night Mr Carney – who has produced hundreds of hours of educational footage about Doric and the traditions of fishing and farming in the north-east – said: “Any public meeting I go to, I’m the only one who speaks Doric and that’s in Aberdeenshire. People should have more confidence. Let’s give people an opportunity to use it for a week.

“It’s about changing attitudes and bringing it to the fore.

“Across Aberdeenshire 49% of people can speak Doric. Let’s have a Doric week and celebrate who we are.”

He insisted that Doric culture is an increasingly important part of the tourism industry in the north-east in the wake of the oil and gas downturn.

Mr Shepherd echoed his comments, and said: “A lot of valuable work is already being done in our communities. If we can get an umbrella group encompassing the whole area, that’s what we need.

“It’s about tying together all the local events.”

Mr Shepherd said many people “don’t realise” the extent to which they use Doric in their daily lives.

“When I went to school I was discouraged from using Doric – now I’d say teachers shouldn’t play it down. Let them speak in their national tongue.

“The fabric is all here – it’s in the music, the dancing and the landscape – it should be woven together into our tapestry.”

The Strichen Festival is one of a number of local events across Aberdeenshire which incorporates Doric into its activities.

Festival organiser Vi May said: “It’s not just a kooky country thing that happens now and then – Doris is happening all the time.”

Earlier this year, Aberdeenshire Council voted to incorporate Doric into the syllabus at schools in the area. Pupils are now encouraged to use the dialect where possible and Banff Academy is now running a Scots Studies course.

Last night Fraserburgh councillor Charles Buchan, vice-chairman of the education committee, gave his backing to efforts to celebrate the language.

“We want to get away from the idea Doric is just the language of the ill-educated,” the former teacher said.

“We’re beginning to see a network spreading out and I’m really pleased to see people like Don Carney and Robbie Shepherd showing and interest.

“We really welcome their input.”