A Hunder Key Orkney Words

Verbs (action words) in Orcadian Verbs (action words) in English Example phrase
bide stay/live I bide in Rousay, but I commute tae the toon.
brak break Brak it wae the digger bucket.
breekse to strain your muscles Ah’m breeksed mesael playan volleyball.
caa drive (animals) Caa that sheep oot o the gairdeen! or It’s like caain cats.
canna can’t I canna mind me PIN number.
clipe tell tales Sheu always used tae clipe on me at the school.
dae do Ah’ll dae it first thing the morn’s morneen.
doot suspect I doot he’ll no be able tae afford it.
fire throw Cheust fire it doon there in the corner meantime.
flit move We flit intae wur new hoose next week.
gae give Gae me a luk at the figures.
gaan going Wur gaan tae Tenerife fur the October holidays.
haad hold Haad on tae the ker doors in this wind.
haal haul He always haaled his creels early in the morning.
hiv have I hiv tae fill in me tax return afore the end o the month.
ken know I ken her fine, and I kent her mither as weel.
mak make Ah’m makkan Thai crabcakes fur tea the night.
mind on remember Mind on and pit the wheelie bin oot.
pleep moan/complain It’s a week ago fae it happened, and he’s still pleepan aboot it.
plitter work/play in water Bairns! Stop plitteran aboot!
poots sulk Sheu’s taen the poots.
skrek screech Will you stop skrekkan!
smook (of snow) blow around The snow’s smookan across the road at the top o the brae.
smoor (of snow) blow or (of a person) choke He’s smooran wae the cowld.
speer ask Speer him when he’s coman home.
stott bounce or reel about He cam home fae the waddeen cheust stottan.
tak take Tak the blender doon oot o the cupboard, please.
Prepositions in Orcadian Prepositions in English
abune above/on top of They bide in the white hoose abune the hill.
afore before He set off afore I could warn him.
ahint behind It fell doon ahint the worktop.
atween between He lives doon that kloss atween the post office and the bank.
eftir after I can pick ye up eftir five.
fae from or since Tak wan fae the buddom shelf or It’s years fae I tasted a spoot.
fornent in front of The watter pipe branches off fae the main fornent the gate.
oot out Mind on and pit the cat oot afore bedtime.
ower over We flew ower Prague on the wey tae Doha.
tae to We hid tae rely on the satnav tae get us tae Hereford.
Adjectives (describing words) in Orcadian Adjectives (describing words) in English
blashy (weather) with heavy, sleety showers Blashy weather, min.
drookid very wet, saturated Sheu cam home drookid.
eltit matted, filthy The kye are cheust eltit in gutter.
feard afraid He’s always been feard o the dark.
foosty musty That hummus is foosty – pit it oot.
guffan stinking I forgot aboot the fish at the back o the fridge, and noo it’s guffan.
gyte crazy When he heard aboot it, he gaed clean gyte.
mad angry Your mither’ll be some mad wae you!
muckle big There’s a muckle great scaffold in front o the kirk.
owld old They hid tae berth at the owld pier because o the east wind.
peedie small Cheust a peedie grain, and pit plenty o watter in it!
reid red It’s built o reid sandstone fae Eday.
sirpan very wet, saturated The showpark wis absolutely sirpan.
stoorie dusty There’s a puckle o stoorie owld books on the top shelf there.
unkan strange, unfamiliar I seen a uncan cat gaan aboot here yesterday.
Nouns (naming words) in Orcadian Nouns (naming words) in English
baest beast (usually a cow) That baest’s gotten oot!
birr force, rapid motion Pit a bit o birr in it, beuy.
claes clothes I buy most o me claes online noo.
clapshot potatoes and turnips mashed together Clapshot, mince and haggis maks a good supper.
cloot cloth Gae the teeble a wipe wae that cloot fur me.
cog small wooden cask They sterted tae pass the cog roond eftir aboot nine.
dad a blow Whit a dad on the heid he got!
dose large amount There’s a whole dose o them at the back o the warehoose.
driv fine rain Hid’s no heavy, cheust a driv.
drooth drought The east wind’s cowld, but it’s makkan drooth.
ferry-looper someone not originally from Orkney I’ve been here seventeen years but I’m still considered a ferry-looper!
flattie small, flat-bottomed boat Owld Jock made that flattie in aboot 1974 or 1975.
fleg fright It geed him a fleg when he pat his new ker in the ditch.
freend friend We’ve been freends since university.
gablo crawling insect Mam – there’s a gablo in the kitcheen!
gappus fool Don’t dae it like that, ye gappus!
gless glass I always think me gless is half fill.
gluff fright A bag blew across the road and geed the horse a gluff.
Grand March ceremonial first dance at wedding Whit a folk wis up for the Grand March.
grimleens dusk, half-light The harbour’s affil bonny in the grimleens.
gutter mud Sheu cam in wae gutter on her rubber boots.
heid head I don’t get a sore heid wae migraine, cheust an aura.
hoose house The owld hoose is cowld and drafty, but it’s got character.
kye cattle We got the kye oot on the first o Mey.
lass girl That lass’ll get a good job some day.
neeps turnips Neeps wae weeds are as good as sacrificial crop for peedie birds.
strae straw They hid tae tak in a boat load o strae.
tatties potatoes Folk eat more rice or pasta than tatties nooadays.
the day today I canna wait till me birthday – can we no cheust get it the day?
watter water The Doonies want tae get the Ba in the watter.
Pronouns (short words that replace nouns) in Orcadian Pronouns (short words that replace nouns) in English
himsael/hersael/yirsael himself/herself/yourself If ye want something done right, ye hiv tae dae it yersael.
me/mesael my/myself Aal the world’s queer but thee and me, and thu’re a bit queer!
thu/thee you Does thu ken him?/Pit in thee PIN number, beuy.
wur our Wur language is a variety o Scots, wae lots o Norse influence.
ye you Whit are ye daean wi that cable?
Numbers in Orcadian Numbers in English
hunder hundred He got a hunder pound for wan o his Texel gimmers.
sivven seven The development plan is a sivven-stage process.
thoosand thousand They say ‘thoosand’ in Orkney and in Iceland.
twa two There’s twa folk here the day I’d like you tae meet.
twarthree an indeterminate number, a few I pat twathree o them in a bag and set aff.
wan or een one Wan thing ye can say aboot wur weather is there’s no shortage o variety!
Adverbs in Orcadian Adverbs in English
a-paece still, in peace Bairns, sit a-paece!
ben in/towards the living-room Let’s go ben and sit doon.
but in/towards the kitchen I left the remote but.
doon down Ah’m gaan doon the toon a dander.
forbye besides or than Me new phone’s better forbye the owld wan.
furtiver whatever, in any case Thur plan’ll no work furtiver.
gey very It’s gey cowld ootside for June.
noo now It’s a few year noo fae the Uppies won the Men’s Ba.
Beuy, beuy! exclamation of surprise Beuy, beuy! He cheust snuck in by the skin o his teeth!
Some features of Orcadian grammar and speech
In Orcadian, the plural of ‘year’ is ‘year’, not ‘years’. E.g. ‘sivven year ago’.
Negative forms of verbs are created by adding ‘na’ at end – ‘canna’, ‘mustna’ etc.
Orcadian/Scots uses older, short vowel sounds in words like ‘hoose’, ‘moose’ and ‘ku’ (like Norwegian) instead of ‘house’, ‘mouse’ and ‘cow’ (like English).
Present participles end in ‘an’ or ‘in’ – never ‘ing’ : ‘landin at Kirkwall’, ‘scramblan’, ‘surfan the net’.