Meet our TEDxAberdeen 2022 speaker: Lauren Hay

Speaker: Lauren Hay

Talk Title: Speak Properly: Is Doric Dying?

With November fast approaching, this year’s TEDxAberdeen speakers are priming and prepping their chosen topics into inspiring talks for the big day, transforming their personal experiences into ideas worth sharing with a wider audience.

Lauren, a born and bred north east quine, will be taking to the stage to present her chosen topic, titled ‘Speak Properly: Is Doric Dying?’. In it she will share compelling stories from her childhood surrounding the disconnection of the Doric language from the youth of today.

We caught up with Lauren to find out why she is so passionate about this topic, the highlights of her TEDxAberdeen journey so far, and what she hopes the audience will take away from her talk…

Your topic encompasses the idea of the Doric language becoming extinct. Can you describe this in a bit more detail and tell us what your TED talk will include?

“Growing up in the north east, I had this internal battle of fan to use Doric and fan to turn it aff – which I think a lot of other folk will be able to sympathise with. Throughout school, I was continuously telt by teachers ‘speak properly Lauren!’ or ‘you’ll never be able to go far if you speak like that’. 

“Noo adays, the majority of oor communication is done online, so we cana ignore the role social media plays in the future of Doric, because its nae a language that we tend to read or write, mainly jist speak.

“My TEDx talk will cover the need for protecting, preserving and passing on the Doric language, as we oot this, we are turning oor backs on oor ain tradition, heritage and culture.”


What has made you so passionate about this topic? 

“The hale thing started fae my teachers telling me to ‘speak properly’ in school. For some people, up until you start school you only ken Doric because that’s how abdy in your family speaks. In a lot of communities, abdy roon aboot speaks Doric, so when you start school you question why you hiftay change the way you talk if that is the way you have been taught.

“Last year, I had a daughter and it made me reflect even mare on this topic. I’ve become really aware of scenarios where I’m teaching her words, and when I consciously “switch it on” or aff. I dinna want her teachers to tell her the same as they told me: ‘speak properly’. I also dinna want her feeling that the way she has been taught and brought up is incorrect and limiting. Doric is her culture, it’s part of far she’s fae and it’s how bathe her parents speak. 

“I would definitely say that my daughter is the inspiration behind my talk, as she will be part of the future generation of this language. I want to highlight that if we don’t change the movement of the language now then it will probably die out by the time she becomes my age and that will be a massive part of nae only history but oor identity gone.”


Why is it so important to spread this message and reach a wider audience? 

Nooadays, I feel some folk, especially young folk are embarrassed to speak Doric due to how it’s perceived, so for those hearing my TEDx talk – someone speaking in Doric – it probably will raise a few eyebrows. I also think it’s a huge opportunity to help preserve our culture. 

“I think it’s important to show it is a big part of oor north-east heritage and that you can still be seen as academic, employable and can achieve X, Y or Z even though you speak Doric. You shouldna be judged for the way you talk. The way you talk is not a restriction.”


What do you think people will gain from your talk? 

“I was debating whether or nae to dee my talk in English and ‘speak properly’ for those who can’t speak Doric. However, I then felt that would be hypocritical if I’m speaking aboot it but nae in it. I am mare confident and comfortable fan I’m being authentic in how I speak, so I hope it will also show my passion for the subject too. 

“I hope that I can influence folk in the audience, whether that’s a teacher, a parent, an auntie, or faiver it may be, to leave thinking ‘I’m niver gan to tell a bairn to speak properly again’ or correct them in the way in which they are speaking. If they are speaking Doric then they should be entitled to speak that way. It’s what makes them, them.

“I ken there’s a lot of folk who have dedicated years of research to the Doric language and there are a lot of academics and traditionalists who like to take it very seriously, but that’s nae the kind of route I want to follow. My experience comes fae a personal place, fae my ain childhood and how I would normally speak, so I hope that other people can relate to that and hopefully feel inspired and nae lectured.”


What drew you to apply to the TEDxAberdeen?

“I think it was the fact that it’s for ordinary folk to share their ideas and experiences on a huge platform. Doric disna often get that kind of opportunity. The application process consisted of me explaining my passion for the topic, and how I was told off continually as a bairn for not “speaking properly”, which I knew that a lot of my peers could relate to. I applied in the hope that an audience might be able to relate to this experience as well.” 


How has the TEDxAberdeen journey been so far? Is there anything you have learned that you didn’t expect? 

“It has been so interesting, Derrick and Bob have been pushing us out of our comfort zones with various challenges and homework. They’ve taught us how tae make a story memorable and the best techniques for presenting a story to an audience which has been amazing. It’s exciting to see how these skills will help me in so many different ways when it comes to standing on stage in November. I dinna want it to be over!”


What does being part of TEDxAberdeen 2022 mean to you?

“I think it’s one of the biggest things I have done both personally and professionally. It means an affa lot to be able to tell my story, in my ain voice and share my experience surrounding the topic. I also think a lot of folk in the audience and those who watch it will be able to relate to it in some way or start a conversation about it which is amazing. I feel like there’s a role of responsibility involved in sharing the message correctly but in a way that is authentic. I feel honoured to be able to dee that.” 

To experience the magic of this incredible event and be one of our 100 audience members, visit our sign-up page to register your interest in becoming a TEDxAberdeen 2022 attendee.

About TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organised events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organised TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.