Aye Can - Speak Scots Language

spaek Shetland


Shetland has a distinctive dialect of which many islanders are very proud. One of the most distinctive features of the dialect is the use of singular du rather than 'you' to address family and friends. For example "Du is daft if du believes him!" Objects are often referred to as he or she (or shö), as in, for example, "Da new car. Shö's a lock faster" or 'Me new jacket? I left him on da plane!'

Another common feature of Shetland dialect is the use of 'd' or 't' where mainland Scots uses 'th'. For instance, mainland Scots uses 'this', 'that', 'thick', but in Shetland these become 'dis', 'dat', 'tick'. In speaking about things that have already happened and passed, it is common in Shetland to use the verb 'to be': am, is, etc. So, for example, Shetland speakers say "Is du heard? Yea, I'm heard" (Have you heard? Yes, I've heard.).

Scots has been spoken in Shetland since the late Middle Ages but the dialect of the islands - called Shaetlan (Shetland) by its speakers (and sometimes 'Shetlandic' by others) - owes much of its distinctiveness to the influence of Norn - the old Scandinavian speech - which had died out by 1800. The influence of Norn on the Shetland dialect can still be seen in place names, the Shetland accent, expressions and words. .

Together with Orkney, Shetland forms part of a wider dialect known by academics as Insular Scots.

Perhaps one of the most well known people associated with the Shetland dialect is the late John J Graham. In recent years Shetland ForWirds was formed to promote and support the use of Shetland dialect as a living tongue. You can hear dialect being spoken on BBC Radio Shetland and you will find Shetland dialect being sung and spoken on web sites like youtube.

Click on the links to hear people speaking Shetland.