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The University of Edinburgh's three creative writing prizes, open for 2024 submissions
Suzanne Enoch: Stanes

Suzanne Enoch: Stanes

Runner-Up for the 2023 Sloan Prize

Suzy Enoch is a Scottish writer and actress who grew up in Aberdeen. After spending many years writing for stage and screen, she is currently completing the Creative Writing Masters in Edinburgh Uni. Stanes is her first foray into writing in Scots, and she is very excited to put the sounds of her hometown, Doric, onto the page.

Stanes Fit div ye think o’, fan ye think o’ Aiberdein? Ah bet at’s stanes. ‘The Granite City’, aye, ah ken ‘ats fit ye think. An’ ye’ll tell me at’s cal an wet an aa’. Aye, ats dreich the day, but ye divnea ken ‘at word ‘driech’ div ye, so ye’ll say cal an wet an grey. An’ ye say ...........‘The buildings are so grey, aren't they?’........... An’ fit can ah tell ye? Fit wye are ye askin’ aboot stanes? Oor stanes, hard as ice and aa’ a glitter in the morn, fit mak all the hooses, dinnae maiter. At’s fits ahint the stanes ‘at coonts. At’s folk, an’ ats music, an’ spinnin’ so fast ye loose yer heed. An a says …........’At’s no aa’ grey’............ But ye jus keek at me, lik ah’m daft, an say ..........‘Oh.’.......... An’ ah think, mebbe a’ll show ye some ither thing. Aye, ah’ll tak ye oot. An sae we gang awa up Bennachie, cuz at’s a stotter o’ a day. An’ fan we get tae the tap the har rolls in unner us lik ghosts an wisps, and it’s a rare sicht wi the sun fair shinin o'er the tap o it aa’. But ye divnae think sae. Ye jus say, …........….......‘What a shame we missed the view.’....................... An ah think, bit this is the view. An sae we heid bak tae toon. An’ as we gang aboot, ye hear folk shoot, or mebbe, ye think at’s a fecht an ye ask, ................'How can you take it? Aren't you scared?'................. An hoo can ah tell ye fit lik are the folk here? Ye see, we’re lik the stanes tae. Oan the ootside we’re coorse, hard lik ice, so cal at micht burn ye. But ye cannae ken oor herts. Aye, warm an’ strang, nae rickle heap o chuckies, at’s granite But ahint ‘at, there’s the hills, an’ the sangs, an’ the folk. An’ yer keekin at me wi yer een aa’ wide, waitin fer me tae answer, but ah divnae ken fit tae tell ye. Ye're ney lookin we yer een open. Ye cannae see us folk are as al’ as the hills an affen times as wild. An so ah say, ….......................‘Och, ah’m no feart. The folks are fine enough.’............................. Kis noo ah ken, Nae matter fit a say, ye’ll see the cal an’ the grey. Ah’ll show ye the hills an’ the hames, but all ye’ll see is stanes. Stanes 1

Suzanne says:  Growing up in Newmachar, a little village just north of Aberdeen, I was surrounded by Doric for all of my childhood. When visiting relations in England, I often had to temper how I spoke, and when I moved to London as an adult, my voice became completely anglicised. Folk would often be surprised when I told them I was Scottish at which point I, obviously, launched into torrent of broad, indecipherable Scots.
‘Stanes’ is my first experience of writing in Doric and was initially far more challenging than I expected. Since Doric has, for me at least, always been an oral language, writing it down at a slow process. Fairly often I used a Scots dictionaries to try to understand if there is an etiquette as to how Doric words are written, but often dictionary answers just further muddied the waters. There is no clear answer – different dictionaries give different spellings, and sometimes different meanings. The fact is that Doric is still very much alive, and there are many elements of the dialect, the word ‘do’, for example, which can be pronounced both ‘dae’ and ‘div’, which change their pronunciation depending on where in the speaker comes from. To ‘dae’, or to ‘div’, now that’s the question. In situations like this, I have simply used the pronunciation that is personal to me, the one which naturally pops into my head, and spelt the word accordingly. I have to admit, the fact that written Doric language is still able to reflect the rich regional variation of vocabulary and pronunciations is, to me, nothing short of magic.


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