Bobby Hogg, the last fluent speaker of the Cromarty dialect, spoken by the fisher folk of the Black Isle in Inverness has died recently. His passing has raised concerns over the future of this dying tongue. The Highland Council have made attempts to preserve the language, including a phrase booklet and recordings of conversations between Bobby and his brother Gordon.
The Cromarty language is thought to be derived from the language spoken by Norse and Dutch fisher folk, who settled in north east Scotland. The language includes many evocative words, including my favourite – Tumblers. This is used to describe the dolphins which can often be seen leaping and diving in the nearby Moray Firth.
Is the loss of this language actually? Some people feel it a huge cultural loss, but personally, I disagree. It was a dialect spoken, for all intents and purposes, by 2 people. We have recordings, so the language isn’t really lost. it just out lived it usefulness, and has gone the way of the Pictish and Cumbric tongue.
To my mind, language is a constantly evolving thing. Just look at all the words being added to the dictionary every year. Amazeballs is now considered an actual word. Email and internet are now accepted as part of everyday speech, and Google has mutated into a verb.
All over the world, the next generation strive to separate themselves from the previous one, with their own unique look and speech. My grandparents didn’t understand most of what I said as I grew up, and this is true across the country. It is inevitable that over time the old shall be replaced by the new. We shouldn’t be lamenting this fact, and instead embracing it, whilst ensuring that that which has gone before is preserved, even if it is no longer of any use.
For anyone with an interest, the Cromarty Fisher Folk Dialect book is available for download from the Highland Council. You can find it here http://www.ambaile.org/en/download/