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Shetland Dialect

Yet another aspect of Shetland that makes it so unique is the local dialect which is a mixture of Norse, Lowland Scots and English - each element reflects a period in the islands' history dominated by those respective nations.

John J Graham published The Shetland Dictionary in 1979 and a more recent version can be seen on line (shetlanddialect.org.uk). Graham’s intention was purely to set down words and expressions that he himself had heard in use, and so create a record of the dialect of the central mainland of Shetland. The book was not meant to be a definitive dictionary of the Shetland dialect, however, it is an invaluable asset for everyone with an interest in the dialect.

For anyone unfamiliar with the actual pronunciation of words, one of the distinctive features is the predominance of 'd' and 't' sounds instead of 'th'.

A Shetlander will say 'I'm tinkin dis is waar wadder dan der haen Sooth' meaning 'I think this is worse weather than they are having South'.

Shetland Distillery Company deliberately chose the Shetland word ‘Filska’ meaning high-spirited and fun-loving for our pink grapefruit special edition that was distributed throughout the UK to Craft Gin Club Members to raise the profile of the local dialect.

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