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:
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."
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
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.
West Yorkshire phrases...
"Put 't wood in 't 'oil!": Close the
"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...