I have been meaning to address this point for a while now. It is something that really irks me and when I come across it, especially on Facebook (grrr) and Twitter (double grrr), I have to correct the author.
There is no such place as “the Shetlands”. No one should ever use the words “the Shetlands”. I live in Shetland. No “the” ever.
Yes, there are “the Shetland Islands” but this phrase is predominantly used by our Council (and Wikipedia), ie they are the Shetland Islands Council. Some use the term “the Shetland Isles”. I don’t. I am not a fan of the word “isles” to be honest. It is a bit airy-fairy but hey-ho, that’s just me.
So I need to tell you that there is nowhere on this earth called “the Shetlands”. Don’t ever use it when you talk about Shetland because, to us who live here, it is wrong and actually, well to be frank, ignorant. (I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings – I just need to get it out there before I burst).
If you do use the words “the Shetlands”, it would be to describe a group of Shetland ponies or maybe even Shetland sheep, geese, hens, cows, ducks if you were comparing them with another breed.
I can’t speak for other archipelago but I do know you would no more say “the Orkneys” either.
Also, these are “Shelties” or, to use the correct breed name Shetland Sheepdogs.
And now you know and you can impress your friends and relations by your use of the correct terminology for this beautiful and special place where I am lucky enough to live. No more “the Shetlands”, please.
So, there, I’ve said it. I probably shouldn’t but I have.