Sep 182015

With thanks to Gavin Mowat, Constituency Assistant to Christian Allard MSP.

Christian Allard MSP debating at the Scottish Parliament

Christian Allard MSP debating at the Scottish Parliament

Whilst debating the Global Refugee Crisis today, Christian Allard MSP has highlighted that our Word Choice Matters.

Speaking today in the Scottish Parliament, he encouraged accuracy in terminology used and commended those who are currently discussing the Refugee Crisis with appropriate terms.

The North East MSP has recognised that when discussing the Refugee Crisis there must be clarity between the terms ‘Migrant’ and ‘Refugee’.

Christian Allard MSP explains that by ensuring the separation of the two terms it will protect the refugees from implications that the ‘M’ word can carry and, we can support the current crisis through truthful, informative discussions.

The North East MSP recognises that there has been a positive change of tone surrounding the situation but continues to urge that we all must continue to watch our language.

SNP MSP Christian Allard said:

“The damaging effects of using an incorrect term is very relevant and will influence our own perception and attitude towards refugees. Accuracy is key, Word Choice Matters.”

“The careless use of our words won’t help, calling people names is not the solution, helping them is.”

“They are not migrants …I am a migrant and I am no refugee.”

“Let’s remember where we all come from because, in Scotland’s Story, we are all worth the same.”

Commenting on the difference between migrants and refugees, a spokesman for EUHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said:

“Yes, there is a difference, and it does matter.

“The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations”

Note: A video of the debate will be available on the Scottish Parliament website in due course.

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Sep 122014

Robbie Shepherd, 2By Bob Smith.

‘Ay ay fit like e day?’
Comes oot o a nor’east mou
They’ll nae ask aboot the FTSE
Jist fits the price o a coo

Es wither his bin affa gweed
The barley’s in fine fettle
If tatties hud their price
The wife’ll git her new kettle

Are yer hennies aye still layin?
An tatties weel set in the dreel?
Man a wis noo jist thinkin
Yer calfies leuk affa weel

Nae funcy spik fae fairmin fowk
Jist stracht an ti the pynt
Incomers micht git offendit
Wi their nose pit oot o jint

Bit tak the fowk as ye fin ‘em
Git used ti their nor’east wyes
It’ll tak a file ti fill their beets
Ye micht struggle ti reach their size

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

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Jul 082014

“My fit big teeth ye hiv Suarez”

“Aa the better ti bite ye wi Chiellini”

With the knockout stages of the World cup well underway, Bob Smith scribbles his mind with not a care who minds his scribblins.

Football cheat 2aA’ve paraphrased the wirds fae a fairy tale a kent fin a wis a loon ti fit the gyaans on in the World Cup fin Luis Suarez maybe thocht aat haen a bite oot o Italian Gorgio Chiellini’s shooder wid increase his protein an energy livils. Bit the fairy tale o aa fairy tales maan be Suarez’s excuse fin he claimed he lost his balance an fell inti Chiellini an his teeth cum in contact wi the Italian’s  body.

Hivin seen fit happen’t ower an ower again a hiv come ti the conclusion Suarez maan think we war aa born yesterday.

Noo Suarez,the Uruguayan FA an fans fae aat kwintra aa think the ban stoppin him fae playin fer Uruguay fer nine games an a fower month ban fae domestic fitba is  ower the tap. He wis lucky he wisna banned sine die, literally a lifetime ban, as es wis his third offence fer bitin’ anither player.

The last player in Britain ti be suspended sine die wis Wullie Woodburn o Rangers fa lost his timper an landit a fist on Eck Paterson o Stirling Albion. Ess happen’t sixty ‘ear ago an wis the first time he hid punched onybody. The ban wis owerturned bit bi the time es cam aboot Woodburn wis ower auld ti resume playin an decidit ti retire.

Noo a’ll move on ti divin, anither curse o the modern game.

Foo mony players div ye see noo gyaan doon as tho’ the hid bin hit bi an express train or performin the deein swan act jist cos somebody cum inti contact wi ‘em. Maist time the contact is minimal, nae even aneuch ti knock a flech ower.

Es is doonricht cheatin in ma beuk, bit cos o the siller involved nooadays an the pressure pit on teams ti win matches es behaviour is afen condoned bi some coaches an managers.

Maist fair myndit fans are fair sick o es blatant cheatin.

Movin on we cum ti the aa-in wrestlin fit taks place in penalty boxes at corner kicks or free kicks. Michty me cooncillor Len Ironside wid be prood o some o the grips used ti stop an opponent getting ti the ba’. Ti me it’s easily stopped -jist gie a penalty ivvery time an attackin player is manhunnl’t in the box, or a free kick ti the defendin team if it’s the ither wye roon.

Nae need ti sen ‘em aff. Some fowk say es winna wark as the ref wid nivver be stopp’t gien penalties or free kicks in the box. If aneuch penalties war gien the message wid seen git hame. Dinna bliddy wrestle in the penalty area.

O coorse there are ither types o cheatin, like takin a throwe-in ten yairds farrer forrit than it should, gyaan doon fakin injury fin yer team is unner pressure an a practice fit a think cums unner the heidin o cheatin, pittin o a substitute in the last fyow minutes ti disrupt the flow o play.

Some fowk micht nae think fit a’m aboot ti say next cums unner the banner o cheatin bit a’ll leave it up ti you gweed fowks ti mak up yer ain myn.

A’m spikkin aboot cheatin fans oot o their siller bi the wye some teams play the game. If a hear ony mair fitba pundits spikkin aboot twa banks o fower a’ll bliddy scream.Es formation is nae used ti win a fitba match bit jist ti either stop the ither team fae playin or ti mak sure wark ye dinna lose.

Fans are  bein cheatit oot o seein a gweed fitba match wi es tactics an its bin noticeable aat the teams employin es type o team formation in the World Cup hiv maistly bin the European teams. The maist attack myndit teams hiv bin some o the  African teams an the Sooth Americans.

Tak cheatin, divin, bitin an twa banks o fower oot o fitba an ye jist micht see mair fans cummin ti watch the eence bonnie game.

© Bob Smith 2014

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Oct 042013

Be quiet, my friend. You can't tell my secrets.By Bob Smith.

The NHS lot are glaikit
PC  is on the loose
Faimily doctor or elderly
Is wirds they winna use 

Banned fae NHS bitties o paper
In case they cause offence
Fa thocht up iss bliddy crap
Is mair than a bittie dense 

PC is on the mairch
It affects noo aa wir lives
Seems wi jist hiv pairtners
Nae bidie-ins or wives 

Nursery rhymes hiv bin affected
Is baa baa black sheep noo taboo?
Wid baa baa little sheep
Be aaricht wi the P.C crew? 

The warld it his fair geen gyte
“Gyaan tae the dogs” comes tae myn
Meybe a canna use ess phrase?
In case a offend some puir canine 

Are wi tae be PC or nae PC?
Aat’s the question wi maan ask
Is’t time wi kick’t some erses
An took PC buggers tae task 

So awa aa ye PC gomerils
Free fae havers wid be bliss
Onymair  o yer glaikit ideas
An a’m sure tae tak the piss

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013

Feb 022013

By Bob Smith.

A’ve ayewis spak the Doric
Sin a wis jist a loon
A dialect still weel loo’d
Fae the Spey tae Bervie toon

Fin a wis at the local skweel
In classrooms it wis banned
Ye were threatened wi the scud
Fit wid hae wairmed yer hand

Bit eence oot in the playgrun
It flowed oot o yer moo
An wi yer freens an neipers
Doric wisna thocht taboo

We canna lit iss language dee
It’s pairt an paircel o oor lan
The Doric an the North east
They aye gyang han in han

A’m  loathe tak in fit a’m hearin
Young fowk canna say “ch” as in loch
Fit’s the warld cumin tae
If ye canna git yer tongue aroon roch?

Doric wirds are mair expressive
Than onything else ye micht hear
Thunk hivvens fowk still spik it
In  kwintra placies like New Deer

The  braw wird  “dreich” a like
Instead o jist sayin “dull”
Or maybe gyaan “heelster-gowdie”
As ye tummle doon a hull

Robbie Shepherd he still spiks it
An a Doric sang he’ll sing
Sin the days o “The Garlogie Fower”
Iss chiel’s bin the Doric “king”

Lits aa fecht fer the Doric
Hae it taacht in aa the skweels
Instead o aa the lah-de-dahs
Thinkin the Doric is fer feels

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013

Sep 132012

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug” Mark Twain.

Aberdeen Voice carried a feature last year about Katie Scott’s quest to have a commemorative plaque erected in Inverurie for her grandfather, the Doric writer and performer Dufton Scott. Here’s Katie’s update.

My task was to have a plaque designed and made. The chosen plaque makers, Leander Architectural, were very supportive and helpful, offering me several designs from which to choose.

I was clear about the wording; it needed to include, Dufton Scott – the refined and original Scottish humourist.

But this sparked some debate in the family. Do we say Scots or Scottish or, dare I say it, Scotch? This led to some interesting research.

I found no end of debates around these words which brought in other items of interest including,

Scot free  – very interesting!

Scotch whisky

Scotch myths and Scotch mist, Scotch broth, Scotch tape, more commonly Sellotape.

Then we have English, Scottish, Irish, British, but American, Australian, Norwegian, Saudi Arabian, Brazilian.

This was a most enjoyable and interesting detour, as I love words and looking at their origins and derivatives and so on, but the choice seemed to be made for me. Dufton had described himself as Scottish humorist on an advertising flyer which I have. Note the spelling of his occupation , which led to another battle of words. A potentially expensive one for me, as I will shortly explain.

Once I had agreed the design, size and colour of the plaque, I double-checked the wording on it.

I was very happy.

It looked like this.

I paid for the production and delivery to Kellas, Solicitors. My next task was to arrange some kind of unveiling which proved to be much more difficult than I had ever imagined.

The Doric Festival is an important annual cultural festival.  The unveiling of the plaque to Dufton Scott would be an appropriate festival event, so I contacted Sandy Stronach, Festival Director, who was keen to support and help me. He wrote this on last year’s Doric Festival website,

“Unveiling a Plaque at Inverurie

Robert Dufton Scott

A communiction from Katie es verra day means that it hisna bin possible tae get aathin thegidder for pittin up a plaque es eer!

But we’ll leave es message here as we’ll maist certainly pit on an event neist year!

So look oot for “Dufton Scott” in 2012!

Dufton Scott was a noted writer of Doric plays and performer, including Gavin Greig’s “Mains Wooin”.

Born in Forgue in 1880, he eventually ran a shop in Inverurie, dying in 1944.

Not before time his grand-daughter, Katie Scott, is organising to unveil a plaque to her grand-father at the site of the shop, now Stronachs,(sic) the Solicitor at High Street, Inverurie.

At this stage we do not have a date or time for the unveiling, but we have told Katie that we will be present and will help out with readings.

If like the Festival Director you remember Dufton Scott in his shop or if you remember performances of his works then this is an event you should not miss!

Keep an ee oot on es page fer the hinmast times fin they come tae han!”

Also supportive was Charles Barron, so it was with immense sadness that I learned that this great Doric playwright, academic, actor and teacher had died earlier this year.

I am also sad that I have been unable to stay in touch with Sandy, so I do not have any information about this year’s Doric Festival. If anyone has this, I would love to know, do please contact me.

Another who has been of great help is Lorna Alexander, who told me that she is to perform some of Dufton Scott’s work, as well has her own, in Inverurie on October 2 as part of the Luminate Festival. Since I have come to a complete dead end in finding out anything about this year’s Doric Festival, Lorna kindly invited me to attend her readings at the Acorn Centre. It will be wonderful to hear Dufton’s work performed, and exciting to see the plaque which will be erected by then, with one major correction.

As I was going through my box of things pertaining to Dufton, I looked again at the flyer which had sparked my word hunt about Scots or Scottish.

As I said, I have always loved words and dictionaries and am always keen to learn more.

So I experienced a strange feeling as I looked again at the yellowing flyer, at my grandad’s handsome face, and at the strange way he had chosen to spell humorist.

Why would he, a wordsmith, spell it incorrectly?

My expression changed from puzzlement to horror. Oh no! Did I ever even check the spelling of the word?

I dashed for my Collins English Dictionary, a huge tome, much-thumbed, heavy and lovely. I tore through the pages to find the blasted word.

Good grief.

The correct spelling, of course, because Dufton would not have got it wrong, is humorist, although this really does look wrong doesn’t it?

I scrambled to the phone, but it was a bank holiday and there was no answer from Leander Architectural. I got up first thing the next day, phoned, to be told that unfortunately the plaque was already made, and ready to ship that day. Thankfully, they agreed to stop the order but unfortunately the whole plaque had to be recast. As I said, a most expensive mistake, but I am sure the people of Inverurie will be happier to know that one of the town’s most famous residents is commemorated appropriately.

A group of the Scott family is descending on Inverurie for the first week in October. We shall take pleasure and pride in viewing the plaque on the wall of Kellas, Solicitors. We are looking forward to meeting Lorna and hearing her performance of two of Dufton Scott’s pieces. If you have any memories of Dufton Scott, do please get in touch. We could share a wee dram!

It would be wonderful if we could also find the other grandchildren of Dufton Scott. Our father was Gavin Scott, but he had a brother, Robert, who had two girls, Frances and Margaret. What a joy it would be if we could trace them too.

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Jan 192012

By Stephen Davy-Osborne

Nationwide book-retailer Waterstone’s may well be investing in the future by making the change over to e-books and readers, but the announcement that stores are soon to lose the apostrophe from their shop-fronts is what will drag the company into modern times.
– Or at least, that is the idea.

Announcing the change, which enraged the grammar police, Managing Director James Daunt said:

“Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling.”

If the humble apostrophe is no longer good enough for a purveyor of literacy, then what place does it have in the fast food chain of McDonald’s or supermarket Sainsbury’s?

Neither of these non academic stores include the apostrophe in their website URLs, yet the apostrophe remains perched precariously between the final two letters on their shop facade, showing that these companies once belonged to a someone.

Indeed, Waterstone’s also was once a family run business, founded by a Mr Tim Waterstone a good 30-odd years ago. He no longer has anything to do with his legacy, nor is a family member at the helm in these uncertain waters. The removal of the apostrophe therefore distances the modern day company from its heritage.

Perhaps a deliberate move. Or perhaps a minimal cost PR stunt, knowing that any misuse or slight made against the apostrophe, which many would argue is integral to the English language, is likely to draw criticism and extensive media coverage. Especially from the Apostrophe Protection Society.

Professor Patrick Crotty, Head of the School of Language and Literature at the University of Aberdeen said:

“Everybody knows what Waterstone’s means, whether there is an apostrophe there or not. I don’t think that anything major is lost. I know some people get very excited about this and write to the Mail and Telegraph and so forth, but I must confess to a certain scepticism about their zeal. But when marking a student’s essay I would want the apostrophes to be in the correct place, because that is part of what we call Standard English.

“The English language has been around for a fair number of centuries, but the apostrophe rule itself has only been around for two centuries. There are some establishments, such as Kings College Cambridge which is far older than the apostrophe rule; and that has always been Kings College without an apostrophe. But these things change over time.”




Nov 102011

A quest for recognition for the wonderful Doric comedian, Dufton Scott. By Katie Scott on behalf of the Scott family.

One of my earliest recollections (aged about 6) is nursing an orphaned baby lamb in the kitchen of my Uncle’s Willie’s Cothal farmhouse.  I remember begging his wife, my lovely Auntie Betty,  to ‘speak in  English’ so I could better understand her wonderful stories and tales.

Every long golden summer of my childhood was wrapped in the delightful Doric language of my relatives – we (my mum, sisters, brother and I) travelled the long journey from England each year – my mother’s accent changing with each mile north we travelled till it finally reverted to the language of her own childhood and matched that of the Doric spoken by her sister (my Aunty Betty) and my father’s brother, George Scott.

He used to run the newsagent and booksellers in Inverurie; Dufton Scott and Son. You may remember it? The building belongs to Kellas Solicitors now.

I was born in Nottingham in 1956, the youngest of four children. My father, Gavin Scott (George’s brother), had moved with my mother (Janet Monro) to England after the war.  My father was named after his father’s good friend and colleague, Gavin Greig.  Greig was a folksong collector, playwright and teacher.  My Grandfather (Greig’s friend) was Dufton Scott.

Dufton Scott gained great fame in Scotland as an entertainer and humourist.  (You can read more about him at the North East Folk Archive ).  Dufton died before I was born but I have discovered a lot about him, and I now find myself with a mission – and that mission is to bring my grandfather’s work to the attention of all Doric speakers and lovers of North East Scotland.  I am trying to have a commemorative plaque erected in Inverurie; let me tell you a little bit more about this quest.

In April 2010 my brother (also named Gavin Scott) died leaving no children.  He was the last of that Scott line. (Children born to my sisters and I have taken their fathers’ names).

Gavin’s death provoked a strong desire in me to find my roots. I began to trace our family tree (you may be interested to hear that I discovered that Robert Paterson, of the ‘Turra Coo’ fame, is my second cousin, on my mother’s side).  However, I became more and more fascinated with Dufton Scott and his work.

We sisters, Rosalind, Norma and I, talked for a long time about our childhood memories, and we all vividly remember listening to scratchy old 78 records of Dufton’s incomprehensible language telling his funny tales of farm workers and their masters, men and women, lawyers and farm servants.

We also had a couple of his books – equally impossible for us English youngsters to comprehend (Norma fared a little better, having the advantage of at least being born in Scotland).

It was just an oddity to us then, but as I have grown older, I’ve come to realise the great significance of these stories and of the man, Dufton Scott.

The Quest is going well I am pleased to report – Hamish Duthie from Kellas Solicitors has kindly agreed to the plaque being erected on their property.  Malcolm White, a Development Services Assistant (Buchan & Garioch) is helping me with the legal aspects.  We are hoping to hold a celebration of the unveiling of the plaque during the Doric festival next year.

Several people have offered help and support with this, notably Sandy Stronach, the Director of the Doric Festival:, Charles Barron, who is a retired academic and Doric playwright: and Lorna Alexander, Doric writer and story teller.

Have you heard of Dufton Scott before now? How do you feel about our quest? Can you offer any ideas or support ? I will write again on this subject when we have more news.

More info about Dufton Scott here: Dufton Scott 1880 – 1944




Jul 012011

George Anderson continues his masterclass series in Doric,  offering an appreciation not only of the spoken language, but also the wealth of meaning between the economically delivered lines – and a breath of fresh air.


When Aberdeen Voice’s editorial team asked me to conduct a series of Doric Master Classes I jumped at the chance. The language lab above my garage in Auchnaclatt can be stifling in summer. Besides, I was fed up teaching American tourists how to order breakfast (Kin I hae a bug o rowies and a slack handfae o yer floory baps please?) But first things first I told them. Students of Doric must learn to breathe correctly. So that’s where we’ll begin.


… is vital for survival. Stop doing it long enough and your tatties will soon be ower the side.

The ancient Tai Chi masters knew this (about the breathing that is; not the tatties). They were taught from the temple crèche to breathe in through their ears and out through the soles of their feet. Though this practice was discontinued in the seventeenth century after complaints from monks about condensation in their gym shoes.

Good breathing is no less essential when learning to speak Doric properly.

Breathing Exercise

This exercise has been designed to allow students to experience for themselves the correct way to breathe during conversation. Throughout the exercise do bear in mind the two fundamentals of Doric breathing: when listening, only breathe in; when speaking, only breathe out.

Students should work in pairs and have a paramedic on standby.


One person plays the speaker. The other takes the role of listener.


Start reciting the words to the ‘The Mucking of Geordie’s Byre.’ These must be spoken in Doric, at about twice the speed of an hysterical auctioneer on his third line of coke.


Just as the speaker begins, draw a gaspette of air in through the mouth while saying the word,  ‘Aye’. Repeat this for as long as the speaker is speaking. Take care not to breathe out.

If you feel light-headed or confused, if you experience vertigo or the feeling that your lungs might at any moment explode, call your GP immediately – and tell him you have just mastered the art of Doric inhalation.

It has been clinically proven (67% of 285 breathers agreed) that your lungs will now contain levels of carbon dioxide similar to those recorded at the bottom of a colliery lift shaft.

Aim to reach this point at the precise moment when the speaker stops talking. Some feel nauseous at this point. If you are one of them, it helps to ground yourself by holding on to something  — a telegraph pole, tree or a Ford Mondeo usually hit the spot.

Whatever you do, don’t faint; it will shortly be your turn to speak.

But you can think only of filling your burning lungs with oxygen in vast, life sustaining quantities. To do this you will first have to expel all of the noxious gases your lungs contain.  And here we have a dilemma. Your conversational partner may believe that you are having a hairy fit. Worse; they may believe that you are feigning a hairy fit because you can’t bring yourself to share their concern for the cleansing of George’s cowshed. What to do?

Well, the answer is to use the blast of carbon dioxide your body will at any moment force from your chest (with or without your permission) as the carrier for your reply.


Stop speaking. It is your turn to say ‘Aye’ while only breathing in. Get to it.


(now adopting the speaking role): Recite the chorus to the Barnyards o Delgatie (reproduced below), out loud and real
fast (if you can distinguish one word from the next you are not speaking fast enough). Aim for 0.8 seconds from start to finish.

Luntin addie, turin addie,
Luntin addie turin ae
Luntin lowrin’ lowrin’ lowrin’,
The barnyards o’Delgaty!

Next lesson:

Now that we have covered the mechanics of breathing the subject of our next masterclass will be ‘Doric and the beatnik culture’.

Image credit:  © Max Blain |

Jun 242011

George Anderson presents a masterclass in Doric offering an appreciation not only of the spoken language, but also the wealth of meaning between the economically delivered lines.


There is something about the North-east’s doom laden outlook on life that makes Victor Meldrew look like he’s been at the laughing gas.

Victorian artists painted skulls in the corner of their canvases to remind anyone who had drifted off the page, that the bloke with the scythe was never more than a step behind them.

Up my way we need no such reminding; we see the end of our days in the faces of anyone we know over fifty.

It is customary in the north-east of Scotland to point out to any third parties who will listen, that so-and-so is ‘looking aul’’. The phrase is equivalent to saying ‘His tatties are gey near through the bree’. In other words that the fellow should get measured for the widden bilersuit on a sooner rather than later basis.

The Performance:

Students should study the masterclass notes below before practicing the following piece of dialogue from ‘Duet for Arthur Duguid’ by Udny playwright Harold Painter, known in the north-east of course as Harold Pinter. Emphasise emboldened words.

Line 1: I seen Arthur Duguid at the Gala bingo last widdnesdae
Line 2: Did ye?
Line 3: Aye. He’s nae half lookin aul’
Line 4: Is he?
Line 5: Oh, he’s lookin aul’ a right.

Students Notes on pronunciation:

Line 1: This line should be delivered as you might read out loud the names of all those who died building the Burma railroad.

Line 2: Try to get as much astonishment into these two words as you can muster. Imagining that you have just been told that despite flailing at the beast with his pension book, Arthur Duguid had been skewered through the tripe like a kebab during this year’s Pamplona bull run.

Line 3: Advanced students may want to try the accompanying actions to this phrase. Hold a trembling hand an inch or two from your face and draw it down the visage as the phrase is uttered, to emphasise the fact that Arthur’s signs of ageing are now beyond the reach even of industrial strength Norwegian Formula Neutragena.

Line 4: As for line 2

Line 5: Place double emphasis on the second instance of the word ‘aul’’

Both should end the piece with hands in pockets, performing the ‘shakkin o the heid’.

Picture  © Paul Moore |