Peterhead man translates bible into Doric

FIT next? The north-east already has its own Doric festival, a professor of Doric, and even a Doric website.

FIT next? The north-east already has its own Doric festival, a professor of Doric, and even a Doric website.

• Doric translation of New Testament available for the first time

• Gordon Hay describes six-year project as “labour of love”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And now, somewhat belatedly, the dialect has finally got its own version of the New 

Gordon Hay, a partner in a Peterhead law firm and church elder, has completed his six-year “labour of love” – translating every book in the New Testament, from St Matthew’s Gospel to the Book of Revelation, into the “mither tongue” of the unique dialect of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Mr Hay, 59, is now planning to self-finance the publication of the first Doric translation of the Bible. And he has already started work on the mammoth task of translating the Old Testament into the peculiar prose of his 
native north-east.

He explained: “Bits and pieces of the Bible have been translated into Doric in the past, but no-one had tackled either the whole of the New Testament or the Old Testament. And I just thought it was something I would like to attempt to do.

“It all came about because the Buchan Heritage Society have a Doric service every two years and, back in 2006, I was approached and asked if I would be interested in translating some passages for that year’s service.

“I quite enjoyed doing them and just started dabbling and doing a bit more and a bit more from then on.”

Mr Hay continued: “I can’t remember when I decided to set out to translate the whole of the New Testament. It just sort of evolved.”

It took him a total of four years to complete the translation and then another two years to revise the passages.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Hay added: “I found there were ways in which I had spelled words in Matthew which were different to the way I had evolved to spell them by the time I got to Revelation. I had to go through all the passages to make sure I was consistent.

“I used a Doric dictionary, but there were quite a lot of words where I had to come up with my own spelling and I just did it phonetically.”

But he admitted there were some English words where he simply had to admit defeat when it came to finding a suitable Doric alternative.

He added: “The Gospels were fairly easy because they are largely narrative. They are just telling stories and the words came very easily. But I had particular difficulties with Paul’s Epistles. There are no words in Doric for ‘joy’ and ‘peace’. Folk in the north-east are never joyful and never peaceful!

“And I was dreading coming to Revelations – but that wasn’t as tough as I thought it was going to be.”

He added: “It was really a labour of love and I never thought, ‘I wish I had never started this’.”