Some say that Scottish accents are difficult to understand. That may be because we Scots talk quickly, pronounce certain words differently and, in some cases, use completely different words and phrases! It doesn’t help that there are so many different Scottish accents. For example, we Caithnessians up in the far north of the Scottish Highlands sound completely different to those down in the Scottish Borders. So today, we wanted to share a few insights into the Caithness accent and dialect, to help you out when you stay with us at Mackays Hotel in Wick. Rest assured, we’re not so hard to understand, once you get to know us!
The Caithness accent and dialect
Mackays Hotel is located in Wick, Caithness, in the far north of the Scottish Highlands. So you’ll hear plenty of Caithness accents when you come and stay with us, from staff in the hotel to friendly locals around the town. Some accents are stronger than others, but they all have that special Caithness sound.
So what does the Caithness accent sound like? Well, all Scottish Highlands accents are different. The Caithness accent is very distinctive. It’s a soft north Highland accent, influenced by the languages of Scottish Gaelic and Old Norse. You can hear a few examples of people speaking with a Caithness accent on the Scots Language Centre website.
This video from High Life Highland explains some of the different letter sounds and pronunciations that make the Caithness accent so unique …
Caithness and Highlands words and phrases
So now you’re a wee bit more familiar with the accent, let’s share some words and phrases for you to listen out for on your travels. We asked the Mackays Hotel team to suggest a few that were unique to Caithness and the far north of Scotland. You can find more on the @caithnessdictionary Twitter page.
Kaitness – Caithness
Week – Wick (town)
Thirsa – Thurso (town)
Weeker – person from Wick
Gollach – person from Caithness
By-name – nickname
Chiel – man or boy
Dirdie – hardworking
Dowg – dog
Gluff – scare
Heels abeen – head over heels
Kittle – tickle or annoy
Peedie – small
Scorrie – seagull
Sneeter – laugh or giggle
Trachled – tired or overworked
Fit lek ‘e day? – How are you?
Far ye fae? – Where are you from?
Fit’s ‘e craic? – What’s happening?
Div ye mind? – Do you remember?
Dirdie Weeker: an inhabitant of Wick. Dirdie or dirdy means busy or hard working and this probably came to be applied to Wickers during the town’s herring fishing era. ‘Wick’ is from the Norse ‘Vik’ meaning a bay and is pronounced locally as ‘Week’. ‘Dirdy’ eventually 1/2 pic.twitter.com/26FY6VCGFO— caithnessdictionary (@caithnesswords) September 16, 2022