BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in January 2005We've left it here for reference.More information

24 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
Bradford and West YorkshireBradford and West Yorkshire

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Bradford
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Bradford

Derby
Lancashire
Leeds
Manchester
North Yorkshire
South Yorkshire

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Voices


west yorkshire folk
If it wasn't for the Vikings...

Tyke: It's all the Vikings' fault (sort of)


Why do people in West Yorkshire speak the way they do? Bradfordian Peter Keane's been finding out more about why Broad Yorkshire (Tyke) is truly unique and why the Vikings had a part to play in what we say...

The Yorkshire dialect is sometimes referred to as Broad Yorkshire, however - to those of us living and speaking Tyke - the Yorkshire dialect isn't quite as universal as we may think.

The Vikings arrived in the 9th Century and carved the county up into 'thrithings' or thirds. These 'Thirds' would later be called the North, East and West Ridings. These administrative boundaries remained intact for well over one thousand years.

In 1974 they were abolished but although the old county lines may have been broken up and consigned to the history books in terms of mapping and local authority control, they still continue to exist on a much more subtle level - by virtue of our local dialect, in other words: what we say and how we say it!

Each Riding appears to have its own specific form of dialect. The West Riding dialect is considered to have a hard, almost brash sound to it. This is seen by some as a reflection of the hardships endured by those employed within the mills.

The North and East Ridings by comparison are seen as having a much softer spoken dialect, quite possibly because it was used by farmers and others from tiny rural communities.

There is little doubt that there are certain differences and this can be seen in the following examples:

STANDARD
ENGLISH
WEST
RIDING
EAST
RIDING
House
'Ahse
'Oose
Round
Rahnd
Roond
Boot
Booit
Beeat
School
Schooil
Scheeal

A good example of the hard and soft sound that differentiates the West and North/East Ridings is the word 'father'. In the West Riding it's pronounced 'fatther,' which is quite hard. Whereas people from the North/East Ridings pronounce it much softer as in, 'feyther,' or 'faather'.

"It's really sad that the people of Yorkshire can't use formal speech for work and business and revert to a more natural, more entertaining brogue for home and entertainment."
Peter Keane

There are other differences too. A West Riding person intending to go somewhere would say, 'bahn ter'. If they were from the North Riding, they'd most likely say 'off ti.'

However, there's one peculiarity of our regional dialect that is common in all three regions. Regarded by some an absolute treasure, it's known as the 'glottal stop.' Countless outsiders fail miserably when they try to execute the glottal stop, quite simply 'flummoxed' by this most Yorkshire of things!

To better understand it, let's take the term "There was a right bang in the night." If we then 'Yorkshire' this up, we end up with 'Ther worra reyt bang in t' neyt.' Pronounced correctly (ie Tyke!), the "t'" of "t' neyt" remains silent and the throat tightens slightly, acting as an unspoken marker for the word 'the.'

The three Ridings also share a similar use of what's known as subject pronoun. In the phrase "we talk", 'we' is the subject pronoun.

Some West Yorkshire phrases...

"Put 't wood in 't 'oil!": Close the door!
"Ees proper shuck 'e is!": He's crazy, that one!
"Gerrod o' thissen, afore fatther braces thee": Sort yourself out before your father belts you.
"'E's double fisted an' threpple thrioted": Someone aggressive and a heavy drinker
"A brussen tup": Somebody full of themselves
"Ah, wi mud as weal": We might as well
"She's nobbut just got the 'ippins off 'er backside and she's courtin'": He's barely out of nappies and she's courting
"Like wot I does": As I do

"Ah know't":I know it
"Tha shunt": You shouldn't (Usually thoo in N or E Riding)
"'E worra reyt 'un!": He was a right one!
"Wi laiked abaht": We played about
"Yer's lot are forrit": You lot are in trouble
"The wo bawlin'all t'neyt": They were crying all night

For anyone interested in finding out more about the Yorkshire dialect, quite a few books have been written on the subject. You can also find a lot on the internet and there are even societies devoted to all things dialectic. The University of Leeds continues to support links with the Yorkshire Dialect Society and there are regular meetings throughout West Yorkshire and beyond.

However, despite all of the above it's a shame to say that there's little doubt that the local dialect is on the wane. It's really sad that the people of Yorkshire can't use formal speech for work and business and revert to a more natural, more entertaining brogue for home and entertainment.

But that, I suppose, is the price we pay for progress and our place in the Global Village...

SEE ALSO
home
HOME
email
EMAIL
Print out this page
PRINT
Go to the top of the page
TOP
SITE CONTENTS
SEE ALSO

Listen to what they say! the robinson family
Audio links on this page require RealPlayer
Audio
DERRICK ROBINSON
Audio
ANDREW ROBINSON
Audio
SOPHIE ROBINSON
Blame t'Vikings!
viking
Bradford language and dialect enthusiast Peter Keane says the way we speak is all down to the Vikings! Find out more here!
Message Board - do you like your accent?
Voices
Listen to how we've been speaking on BBC radio and TV in West Yorkshire over the decades! Find out more here!
wordly wise: play the game!




About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy