I’m currently in Lerwick for the Shetland Folk Festival,and at a concert last night I heard some interesting Shetland dialect being spoken and sung.

One word I particularly liked was slockit, which means ‘gone out, extinguished’. It appears in the title of a tune by Tom Anderson, Da Slockit Light, which he was inspired to write after seeing how many of the houses in his home village at Eshaness were dark. He thought about the people who use to live there and how they have moved away or passed. For me it’s fascinating to hear the stories behind tunes and songs like this.

I also discovered today that there is an online dictionary of Shetland dialect with recordings on Some other interesting Shetland words I came across there include:

slurd = small, driving rain
skutamillaskroo = the game of hide-and-seek played among the cornstacks in the yard
skurtfoo = an armful. e.g. He cam in wi a skurtfoo o paets for da fire.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Scots.

6 Responses to Slockit

  1. David Eger says:

    I was intrigued by the word ‘slockit’ for years, and had tried to think of a cognate in Standard English. Eventually, someone suggested ‘to slake’ – a word that, nowadays, is rarely heard in any other context than ‘slaked lime’; it’s original meaning, however is ‘quench’ (‘to slake one’s thirst’). It can further be connected with German ‘schlecken’ (to lick) and, hence, English ‘lick’.

  2. Laurits says:

    I think it’s cognate with Danish ‘slukket’, past participle of ‘slukke’ meaning to put out, extinguish, switch off, turn off.

  3. Marek says:

    I like to incorporate new words I learn like that into my everyday conversations. Just because it gives me another way to communicate a thought.

  4. Ben says:

    Agreeing with David and Laurits. ‘Slockit’ is really similar to the modern Icelandic ‘slökkt’ (past participle of ‘slökkva’; to turn off, extinguish).

    According to this etymology the Danish, Icelandic, Shetland and English words all share a common root:

  5. Steve says:

    This is an interesting dialect that I have not been exposed to before, but thanks to your blog I have been doing a little research for fun and I’m just amazed at all of the different dialects in a relatively small geography – thanks!

  6. Mark says:

    Slocket is indeed the past form of the moribund Shetlandic verb slock, slokk, from Old Norse slǫk(k)va, with the Mod. Icel. forms as Ben has given; there is also a Scots verb slock and obsolete English verbs slock and slocken from the Norse.

    Slurd, also found as slodder, is from an earlier *slodr corresponding to the ancestral form of Icelandic slytr, Norwegian slytr ‘sleet, sleety rain’, dialectal Swedish slotter.

    skutamillaskroo consists of skotta ‘seeking, peeping’ [from the verb skott < Old Norse skoða 'to view'] + milla 'between' + skru 'haystack, corn-stack' [ON skrúf, Norwegian skruv]. So the game was literally to look among the cornstacks.

    skurtfoo is a compound of skort 'space within the folded arms' + foo 'full'.

    More info is in Jakobsen, An Etymological Dictionary of the Norn Language in Shetland.

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