Up Helly Aa

Up Helly Aa, Shetland

This week I will mainly be in Shetland for the Lerwick Up Helly Aa fire festival, which starts tomorrow. I haven’t seen any Vikings yet, but there’ll be plenty around tomorrow night.

I have heard quite a few people speaking with Shetland accents, which sounds to me a bit like Scots with some Scandinavian prosody. I haven’t heard anybody speaking broad Shetlandic yet, apart from recordings in the museum, but am listening out for it.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
This entry was posted in Language, Travel.

2 Responses to Up Helly Aa

  1. David Eger says:

    “I have heard quite a few people speaking with Shetland accents, which sound like a cross between Scots and Scandinavian. I haven’t heard anybody speaking broad Shetlandic yet, apart from recordings in the museum, but am listening out for it.”

    I’d never really noticed Shetland accents (as opposed to dialects) sounding Scandinavian – although there’s definitely something that marks them out from Mainland Scots and Orcadian.

    The trouble with Shetland is, you don’t meet a great many people there, except in Lerwick, where the dialect is probably somewhat more ‘cosmopolitan’ in general. But I imagine most people in the more remote parts still speak in the old dialect. I got as far up as Mid Yell, where I pitched my tent in a relatively sheltered field on the edge of the village. Coming back from the village shop, I met a dentally deficient old man leaning on the gate into the field. We greeted one another and he enquired as to my origins, business etc. I explained that I was camping in the said field, pointing to my tent. He replied, “Oh, is dat du derr?” (Oh, is that you there?). That was 16 years ago, so I don’t know whether the man in question is still with us – and, admittedly, he was the only broad dialect speaker I met. But it is very likely that the shop assistants, musicians, hostel proprietors, bike mechanics etc., that spoke to me – an obvious foreigner – in accented Standard English would have used many more local dialectal features when talking to friends and family.

  2. David Eger says:

    …I am sure that Up Helly Aa will bring out the dialect speakers – especially after the Scotch has done a few rounds. On my visit to Shetland (in June), I was sorely disappointed at having to miss the Uyea Foy (a Midsummer’s festival), since I was booked onto the (weekly) ferry to Bergen on the morning of 21st June. (The consolation was sailing into Norway at sunset on Midsummer’s night).