DIALECTS AND ACCENTS
|Demystifying dialect - can you understand the local twang? |
"Ey up mi duck" is a popular greeting in the East Midlands. But talking to native East Midlanders in their distinctive dialect can be a mesmerising experience for outsiders.
It's often hard to pick up the twang in the voice or that strange turn of phrase.
But the East Midlands takes great pride in its distinctive dialect as Inside Out finds out on a linguistic tour of the region.
Ey up mi duck!
The East Midlands is renowned for its distinctive dialects from the Derbyshire drawl to Nottingham's no-nonsense style of talking.
|East Midlands Dialect|
Test your knowledge of Midlands dialect:
- Ay (or ey) up mi duck - hello there!
- Aya gorra weeya? - is the wife with you?
- It's black uvver Bill's mother's - it looks like rain
- Coggie - swimming costume
- Croaker - doctor
- Duck's necks - bottle of lemonade
- Gorra bag on - in a bad mood
- Laropped - drunk
- Nesh - cold
- Old cock - friend or mate
- Page owl - single woman out alone at night
- Skants - pants
- The rally - the railway line
- Thiz summat up wee im - I think he may be ill
- Who's mashing? - who's making the cups of tea
Despite the fading of old traditions and huge shifts in how we communicate globally, it appears that dialect and accents are still going strong in the East Midlands.
Much of the dialect developed in rural communities and in the industrial heartlands of the region.
Mining communities in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire were renowned for their use of dialect.
At a time when regions are losing some of their traditional dialect, the East Midlands is keen to retain its cultural identity and linguistic style.
Although some words are dying out, East Midlanders are keen to celebrate their local language.
Proud and loud
In Lincolnshire local people are going back to the classroom to reclaim their linguistic roots.
|Read my lips... students grapple with Lincolnshire words|
Wragby Community Centre runs weekly classes where students learn to speak in the true Lincolnshire tongue.
Words like "sneck" (a metal hook), "blather" (mud on clothing) and "dowking" (wilting vegetation) were dying out, but not now.
Loretta Rivett has a life-long passion for the Lincolnshire Wolds and its language.
She runs the ten week course and makes audio recordings of quirky Lincolnshire terms, such as "wozzle" (root vegetable), "noggin'" (lump of land) and "gimmer" (a ewe which has never given birth).
Lost for words?
Rivett partly blames tractors and modern farm machines for the demise of the Lincolnshire dialect.
When the machines replaced horses, many words and terms associated with the animals became redundant.
It's also a distinctive dialect, "The accent is different to the East Midlands generally. The Lincolnshire accent can be divided into four areas that local folk would know if they heard you."
|New farming methods have led to the loss of dialect|
She also blames the moving population and "frim folk" (people from other areas) who have come into the county.
This has resulted in a mixture of voices and the dilution of the Lincolnshire dialect.
The course encourages the enjoyment of the local Lincolnshire dialect by looking at dialect poems and tales, reminiscing, and examining the changes that take place in a language.
By the end of the course you'll know where you would find a "corsie", an "uneppen owd boy" and "some reasty baacon".
Read all about it
Loretta Rivett is joined in her campaign by staff at Lincolnshire Life magazine who print a story in dialect every month.
Although incomprehensible to outsiders, the articles aim to encourage local people to retain their interest in a distinctive way of speaking.
Judy Theobald, the Editor of the magazine, believes it is important to celebrate the local dialect.
"The dialect is as much part of the County's heritage as its geography, its architecture and its wildlife," she says.
Derbyshire dialect delight
The farmers of Derbyshire are proud of retaining their heritage, and are keen to preserve their local dialect.
At the weekly cattle market in Bakewell the local dialect is kept going largely as a result of the town's isolation from big city living.
|Derbyshire's Dennis Skinner MP is proud of his accent|
But there are considerable local differences in dialect and accent across Derbyshire.
John Titford, a language expert points to the subtle variations, "As you get up to Sheffield, people sound more like Yorkshire.
"As you get across to New Mills and Glossop and Buxton, they sound more like Lancashire," says Titford.
Other features of Derbyshire dialect are:
- the use of words like "thee" and "thou"'
- the shortening of words for more economical speech
- the use of very unusual words like "scratin'" (crying) deriving from old Norse or Viking
But employers aren't always as keen on dialect as the Derbyshire folk.
MP Dennis Skinner is proud of his accent, even though it may have cost him a job.
"I'm sure that I might have got into the Cabinet or whatever, but there again I would have had to have sold out in order to do that.
"I don't think that dialect is as important as what you stand for," says Skinner.
Centre of the English language?
The English written and spoken today owes its origins to a mix of the East Midlands and London dialects.
The East Midlands dialect was important because it came from the centre of the country and was intelligible to most people.
Great numbers of traders, pilgrims and others passed through towns such as Leicester and Nottingham.
|Leicester born Attenborough speaks standard English|
During the 13th and 14th centuries, large numbers of East Midlanders migrated to London, in turn influencing the standard form of English.
The East Midlands dialect was a mixture of English and Scandinavian, with a smattering of French.
The impact of the Vikings can still be seen today in our version of English that was born on the borders of Mercia and Danelaw.
As Dr Elaine Treharne from Leicester University points out, "It is fair to say that the Queen's English has its roots in the towns of the Midlands as much as the palaces of Whitehall!"
Leicester was recently declared the birthplace of modern standard English by some language experts.
Academics claim that the culturally diverse mix of settlers to the East Midland a thousand years ago helped to shape the future of the English language.
Anglo Saxons and Vikings lived side by side, sharing their customs and languages.
|Leicester's famous Son Gary Lineker speaks for all of us|
Today Leicester has one of the most culturally diverse populations in the country, with Asian and Afro-Caribbean influences now filtering through.
At the City of Leicester School the pupils of all backgrounds find themselves using Leicester dialect.
Traditional words like "my yard" (my house) and "chuddie" (pants) are in common usage, together with new expressions like "24/7" derived from popular culture.
This is then combined with words and expressions picked up from American culture and rap artists such as Eminen.
One student points to how each generation develops language, taking it on to the next stage, "You have to change with people. You have to change as your generation does."
Another student explains the range of influences for today's teenagers, "After you listen to the hip hop music, you just start using the language all the time."
Language of Lawrence
Nottingham is also renowned for its dialect and accent, and foreign nurses at the city's hospitals have trouble grappling with 'mi duck' and other expressions like "corshucan" (of course you can).
But the county has a long tradition of celebrating its dialect, especially in its literature.
|Lawrence's dialect shows class divides in Lady Chatterley's Lover|
The great author DH Lawrence grew up in Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, and is well known for his poems and writings which use local dialect.
DH Lawrence's Dialect Poems use the local lingo to give the reader a good picture of the local scene.
His poem The Drained Cup starts with the line "T' snow is witherin' off 'n th' gress", and ends with the observation, "Ay, it's a rum un!".
Many of Lawrence's novels use dialect. In his short story The Sick Collier he uses dialect to give the reader a better understanding of the industrial setting and the miner's social class.
Today Nottinghamshire folk still retain their distinctive dialect, although some traditional words are dying out.
The BBC is carrying out a huge survey of how we speak, and how we react to different accents and phrases.
Called Voices, it involves a major survey of regional accents.
If you'd like to get involved click on the bbc.co.uk/voices website or call our freephone number 0800 056 6787 for more information about how you can become part of history.
What is the most unusual word that you've been heard on the streets of the East Midlands?
Tell us some of your favourite words and phrases by responding on the form below. We'll publish a selection of your comments.