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Cromarty Fisher Folk (2 of 20)
ROSS: Cromarty
2 April 2007
Bobby Hogg & Gordon Hogg
Am Baile

The former royal burgh of Cromarty lies on the northern tip of the Black Isle peninsula, at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth in northeast Scotland. It is home to brothers Bobby and Gordon Hogg, descendants of a long line of local fisher folk. They can trace their ancestry back for centuries in the small coastal port. In the 1861 census there were no less than 96 Hoggs living in the Cromarty district and an entry for the family name in the Old Parish Register dates back as early as 1698.

Bobby and Gordon believe they are the last two fluent speakers of the 'Cromarty fisher dialect', a unique Scots dialect identified in Robert McColl Millar's study of 'Northern and Insular Scots' as 'North Northern A', mainly associated with the fishing communities of the Black Isle (Cromarty and Avoch) and other small towns and villages on the Cromarty Firth. It is said that at one time there were at least two, if not three, dialects in the Cromarty area - fisher, town, and farmer. While several Cromarty residents retain aspects of the fisher vocabulary, when Bobby and Gordon get together they converse fluently in the dialect.

[N.B. Gordon Hogg passed away in 2011, aged 86. Bobby Hogg died a year later, aged 92.]

In this audio extract from March 2007, Bobby and Gordon talk about different dialects on the Black Isle.

Bobby: In Cromarty there was at least two anyway, because Ah -

Gordon: Two. Wudna say there was three. There was two.

Bobby: There's east o toon an west o toon, right? But over the years, ye must remember this, since I was a boy, the whole language in Cromarty has changed completely.

Gordon: Completely, aye. Mm-hmm.

Bobby: Once upon a time ye opened yer mouth an ye're from Cromarty. Right? Nobody says that tae ye now.

Gordon: Naw.

Bobby: Everybody in the Cromarty now are talkin like Invernesians, right? An Dingwall people. They've lost, they've the tongue altogether.

Gordon: Aye.

Bobby: So it's, it's washed off on us too. It's brushed off on us too. So it stands to reason right, that the bigger one swallows up the smaller one, right? Even in Avoch, in one time ye could say, och, he opens his mouth, he's from Avoch. But nobody says that now like.

Interviewer: Did you understand the people in Avoch?

Bobby: Oh very much so. They spoke the same lingo as us, yes. They were involved in the same sort o business. It's difficult for me to say, sometimes, which words belong to Avoch an which words belong to Cromarty.

Gordon: Cromarty, aye. Some of the words, very similar.

Bobby: Mm-hmm. But as Ah say over a period of time we've - we lost of it - some of it, we've lost, right? Right? It'll come up now an agai-, occasionally right? Right? Especially in names o places in, ye know, around ye.

Interviewer: How did you realise that there was just the two of ye left?

Bobby: Oh we don't hear - We'll no hear naebody spicken it at a, at a. Right, eh?

Gordon: No a livin soul.

Bobby: No a livin soul. They no murmur a word o it. Mm-hmm.

Gordon: If we see somebody we don't know we say, Ha yas im?

Bobby: Who's that?

Gordon: Who's that? Ha yas im?

Bobby: Yeh, Aye.

Gordon: Whit a kinna coutyach's that?

Bobby: Coutyach is, ye know, is company, right, company, right? Or the people ye belong to, ok? Whit a kinna coutyach's he come oota, right? That kinna words. Right?

Gordon: Or somebody, somebody would say, 'Too as oe sat?' How's he belong to?

Bobby: Ha yas im?

Gordon: Ha yas im?