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Tain Charter 1529


01 May 2009
Council publishes lasting written record of Cromarty Dialect
A booklet will be published tomorrow - 'The Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect' - by The Highland Council's award winning history and culture website Am Baile.

Described as 'a lexicon of words and phrases', the booklet was compiled by Am Baile researcher Janine Donald so that the people of Cromarty might have a written record of some of the local dialect, words and phrases that were used in the past, mainly by the fisher community.

The booklet is the culmination of research started by the Council's Am Baile team in 2007 when they appealed to the public for people who had a smattering of this very local and rare dialect to come forward. The intention was to help preserve the distinct Scots dialect by making recordings and publishing the information on the Am Baile website

Janine and the team had a relatively good response from current and former members of the Cromarty community at home and abroad and particular help from local brothers Bobby and Gordon Hogg who got the project off to a good start when a recording was made of their conversations. Bobby's late wife Helen and Mr Clem Watson also provided invaluable material for the booklet, not only on the dialect but also on the history of the town's fisherfolk. Help was also provided on the research by Maggie Scott of Scottish Language Dictionaries in Edinburgh.

Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee Councillor Bill Fernie said: "The work by Am Baile to record the Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect is invaluable to the social history of the Cromarty area and indeed for those with a wider interest in roots of language. I commend Am Baile and all the locals who gave their time and knowledge to bring this excellent piece of history together."

Cromarty-based historian and Highland Councillor for the Black Isle Ward, David Alston said: "The dialect was part of a way of life which has now gone. We cannot bring it back but it is important that we record it as fully as possible, not least in recognition of the hardy men and women who, for centuries, have baited lines, fished these waters and sold the catch."

Janine Donald, Highland Council's Am Baile Researcher said: "I would like to thank everyone involved in giving their time to record their memories and spoken word which will help contribute to the preservation of what has been described as 'the most threatened dialect in Scotland'."

In addition to the written form of the Cromarty dialect, the attractive forty-page booklet includes some historical images, and photographs of bygone times in Cromarty that are available for viewing on the Am Baile website.

An introduction outlines the background to the booklet and information on Bobby and Gordon Hogg who believe that they are the last two fluent speakers of the Cromarty fisher dialect. Contained in the booklet are some phonetic features, dialect words (such as 'tumblers' for dolphins and harbour porpoises) and phrases like 'At now kucka?' for a friendly greeting. Bynames and community nicknames are also listed providing a lasting legacy of the social history of the people who lived and worked in the area.

The booklet also provides information on weather lore, biblical expressions, local tales and customs and other snapshots of the Cromarty fisher dialect.

The Am Baile team welcome any comments, additions or suggestions to extending the collection of Cromarty Fisherfolk dialect, no matter how small. Material can be handed in to Cromarty Library or emailed to

Copies of the booklet can be obtained from Cromarty Library and the Cromarty Courthouse or by calling The Highland Council's Am Baile team on 01463 251274. It can also be viewed on the website at

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