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Voices 2005

Is there still a Northants accent?

How are the words we use changing? If you lived in Northamptonshire 50 years ago – words like clod hoppers and cod-chops* would form part of your everyday language.

But with these words practically extinct, which ones are taking their place? Are there still words which are purely used in this county? Or with the world now a smaller place, does the younger generation conform to one language code?

Miranda Guestford, Loya Mitchell, Emmy Knowles, Scott Eveason, Robin Reardon are all 16 and all studying media at Northampton’s Booth Lane College. We spoke to them about the words they use when speaking to their peers, lecturers and families.

Loya Mitchell
Loya Mitchell

We gave the group a list of definitions and asked for them to give us the word they’d use. The majority of the words were used across the country. For example: Rich – loaded or minted. Unattractive – minging. Pregnant - preggers, bun in the oven, up the duff.

The only word they used which is featured in a book about a Northamptonshire accent was for someone who is left handed, which was cack-handed. 

Robin Reardon
Robin Reardon

The majority of the words they used are influenced by black America through the music they listen to like RnB and Hip Hop. For example: Baby – li’le yout’ (little youth). Boyfriend – my dog. Clothes – garms.

Scott confirms this: “There’s a lot more different races that live in this country now. I think Black people and Asian people have brought lots of new words. Because of all the different cultures that have now come over the language has changed a lot since the olden days.”

Emmy Knowles
Emmy Knowles

None of them really thought they had an accent. They all felt that their accent would vary depending on who they were talking to.

The one word which seems to have a variation in every area of the country is for ‘a narrow walk way between or alongside buildings’. The Northamptonshire word for such a thing is jitty – but all five used the word alley.

Scott Eveason
Scott Eveason

Another word which I expected to come up was for ‘a young person in cheap, trendy clothes and jewellery’. After three everybody….chav! – the new word for 2004. Surprisingly though our group used townie or sket.

Chav is just so 2004.

* Clod Hoppers are heavy boots and Cod Chops is someone whose mouth permenantly hangs open.

Commonly used words

We gave our students a list of descriptions, and asked what words they'd use. Below are of the results mixed in with some words the group commonly use:

Truant – wag it
Lacking money – skint
Tired – knackered
Throw - dash
Sleep – have a kip, catch some z’s
Left handed – cack handed
A lot - bear
Rich – loaded, minted
Unattractive – minging
Pregnant -  preggers, bun in the oven, up the duff
Sexually active – gaging for it, horny, freaky
Someone who's easy – a sket
Rains lightly – tipling down, spitting
Main room – lounge, living room
Narrow walk way between or alongside buildings – alley
Raining heavily – lashing, chucking it down
Baby – little yout’ (little youth)
Female partner – bird, yer Mrs
Young person in cheap, trendy clothes and jewellery – townie, sket
Clothes – garms,. Threads
Something forgotten – wotsit, thingy, thingamajig
Friend – mate
Male partner – boyfriend or dog
Mum – old dear
Dad – old man

last updated: 27/01/05
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Matthew, Northampton
I used the following well I ain't gunna do thatCheers for that sweetheartJetty, not Jittycack-handedsharntShed is made out of timber, Barn out of brickCoal House, or even older Privy(useually now it's the s***house)And im cackling on so:-No I don't notice my accent, but while working in Scotland someone said to me that is a Northamptonshire accent if I ever heard it, yet other people can't place it.My Dad is from East-Northants, my mum from the town, and my family from Leicestershire and Northants, so mine is a corruption of everything.Plus I also use Aye, and Wee, because I new a girl who was raised in Scotland, thru college.

Valerie, Manchester
I originate from Ipswich, Suffolk and have been living in Manchester for the past five years and also get laughed at for mentioning Billy Witch beetles.

what does 'suthy' mean? saw it in john clare poem i'm studying called autumn birds!

Rich Lord
No one says's tippin' me duck.

course the corby accent is different ,my nan lived in corby when it was a village and had to walk to school in weldon , she has a very strong harboro accent "me duck"n all that , but when the works took off all the scotch , irish ,geordie families and workers moved there the mix of them all (mainly scottish though) which has left me and the rest of corby with a strange accent lol .as for "little yout" only idiot wanna be badboys say stuff like that n "bredjin" keep it real .

I have never in my life heard someone say 'catch some z's' in Northampton. Or anywhere else in the country.

Is this article about accent or words? Big difference as it only talks about words. The npton accent is still very much alive & kicking with those of us Npton born & bred. Hows about 'I ent gooin dain tain'? Well I ent, cos it's full of chavs & asylum seekers now! Maybe it depends where in the town you live. The eastern district (i.e. London overspill) brought chav-life to our ('air'!) lovely town & destroyed it. None of this black American speak in the more traditional/older npton areas (like Dusson!). Well not until the chavs started moving westwards & took the town over. Scrotes. ps. Tom - that Corby accent? It's called Scottish!!

I have been living in Northampton since 85 originally from Ipswich Suffolk and no one here has ever heard of a billy witch, everyone laughs at me when i have mentioned since living here is there anybody out there who knows what it is called here in northants

I am looking for a proper name for the billy witch. Which also predominant in Sufflk. Can you name this beetle please.

Scott Blockley
the Northants accent is clearly a Midlands accent. Certainly where I live on the rutland border it seems however to be on the cusp of an east anglian/ midlands/lincolnshire parlance...often sounding similar to estuary english in Stamford and other words not dissimilar to much of the South East. Accent wise it seems as if the east Northants accent is a bit of a mongrel at the moment...unless you are from the area and your family tree is which case it seems to be a more watered down version of the old Northants accent...if that makes sense

[grew up tween tane an wallunbururg] not just the 3 'A's - listen to the 'o' in across, which my grans pronounces 'awe', as in "gooin' crawess'a raoad", i kent duh that. Yes m'ole boodie! And teh days of teh week are an absolute classic - all two syllables! "taoozdee" is beautiful, followed by wensdee, and then of course 'froydee' follad be 'sat'dee'. In tane 'a course!

I come from Wellingborough and I'm familiar with quite a few of those. I thought "living room" or "lounge" were the ordinary names for it, I've never heard anyone call it the "main room". Also, I remember using "townie" up until September 2004, and I've known it as "chav" since then up until now. "Townie" is so 2004 as far as I'm concerned. Never heard of "sket" though.

Leanne A
I'm from Finedon and my partners from Irthlingborough and I can seldom tell you what he "Goooin on abuot!" What's a Jitty?

I'm not sure who wrote this article, but i think it would be more appropriate to suggest that, we young people are not heavily influenced through dialect by american popular culture. However young people from Afro-Carribean culture in the UK, have more of an influence in terms of dialect, this maybe because we are multicutural society, with younger people from different cultures intergrating. many thanks Anon 18 northampton

Like Ben I use the word knockroad as did my parents and grandparents. I have hopefully passed it on to my own children now, mainly due to my husband being so knockroad! :) What about "jetty" pronounced "jitty"? I always thought that was a Northants word for a very narrow alley? Oh yes, Granpa's favourite "Mind yer back!" too.

Amy Langton
it is the worst thing to go on about.just depends what words to go on about

Mark in Artlenock
I'm in my 40's and here are a few of the words we used (and still do amongst friends but wouldn't to outsiders) in Irthlingborough Ent Sharp/Half Sharp = Stupid Peps = Sweets "Saa' pep" meant "Lets have a sweet!" M'duck = term of endearment Spruce = pop Cherry Knocking = knocking on doors and running away Chopse = Talk Otch = move, as in "otch up!" Queensy = Time out from a game Skive off = Play truant Spotting = starting to rain Running Goalie= Goalkeeper who could play in the outfield Frit = Scared ALWAYS NEN, never Neen, on pain of death...... (and yes Paul, it is true that Thrapston is the dividing line between the two pronunciations) We used to say Clod Hoppers and the mud that gathered around your wellies in a muddy field was "Grandad's slippers" Artlenock = Irthlingborough Godda goo now, shallada tek air dug down street forra walk.

Neen or Nen for the river Nene - I was born and brought up in Oundle at the top end of the county and have always said Neen as does everyone else around there. I was always told that the pronunciation dividing line was Thrapston - anyone living north of there says Neen. Has anyone else heard this?

Robbie, Lydd
I think looking for local words is a mistake, often a local accent is only distinguished by the way common words are used or by the order of words in a sentence. I recall when working in Lincolnshire, some years ago, discovering that 'now then' meant 'hello'. I belong to a tribe called civil-servants who mis(use) the word 'appropriate'and I have noted in Euro English that 'to have the possibility to' crops up quite a lot.

Gary D
Yes me duck, kent, shent 'n ennagunna, wonderful words. It's easy to spot the non-locals who say Duston intead of Dusson and River Neen instead of River Nen. When I was a kid (late sixties)the accent was being diluted by the London overspill and programs like Eastenders dunt help. A shame really.

Jon M
I come from Irthlingborough and there were strong acents when I was a child. Completely different to Finedon. Words such as Yis, for yes. Also ent, kent, shent and enagunna. (Won't, can't, shalln't and not going to) were all common place. The Kettering ET ran a carton with all local sayings in.

I lived all my life in villages around Wellingborough. My grandparents came from Wellingborough, and from Earls Barton. Their accents were "broad" Northampton, but differed slightly. My husband's family came from Rushden and there were slight differences in the way they spoke to the Wellingborough version. The old dialect speech has died out in my lifetime, diluted by people moving around much more.

Dan B
acceent yes language no! maintown northants, kettering and corby seem to be the main places of this socalled accent but realy it's just northanised cockney

What about the people at the bingo halls. Instead of shouting "bingo!", here they shout "Eer yar!".

Kevin Keeble - Durham
I have relocated from Suffolk to Durham and work with a girl called Kellie from London. We both use the phrase "cack-handed" to mean left handed or doing something in a difficult way. In the North East it is patchy as some people have heard of it and some havn't. In Suffolk we have a beetle that comes in the house in the evening after a hot day we called a "billy-witch". It is brown and is suppose to stick in your hair. Some people call it a Be-witch-ya-ma-door" but often people have no idea what it is. People in Devon also called it a "Billy Witch"

I think there is a definet accent in corby, desborough and wellingborough that no other town in the northants shares so i feel it depends on where abouts you are from in the norhtants to what your accent is like

john baker, christchurch n.z.
I was born in Northampton, and lived there until I left England in 1964, when I was 20, for New Zealand. I never heard any one use 'cod chops, so I question its general use. All languages are subject to change over time in both words and accent. In this country, the University of Canterbury Linguistics Department is compiling a data base on accent changes in NZ English over the years . They are finding that considerable changes have occured over a relatively short time, and that there is a NZ dialect of English. As an example, what is a 'crib', a 'batch'. Both are holiday homes - which one is used depends on where you live. I would add that I have NZ English as a third year Linguistics paper at Canterbury University, part of my B.Sc completed in 2002.

shirley annies
still remember being told off at school for saying"I kent do that" and shent for shall not,and ennagunna for I am not going to !Also ay yup for hello

Princess B and Lady T
i think some of the words above are true, but i dnt use a lot of them.i think it depends on where you live, and the social group you most equate with.

Surely greetings are localised terms? Everyone seemeded to to say "way up" (as in yorkshire "aye up") when I were a nipper.

There is definitely an accent in people from Corby, but it isn't one that is shared by the rest of Nortants.

So much for a local accent - " cack-handed" is widely used in yorkshire & elsewhere, so it's harly local. I've necountered many older Kettering folk with a definable accent. It's not so much an accent here nowadays, just lazy, sloppy enunciation!

A word particular to Northampton is chopse which means to chat or chatter.

David Page
Keck or Kek which is I think means Cow Parsley. As a boy I used to use it as tips for arrows. The word was featured in 'Call my bluff'

My parents both use the word cack-handed to mean awkardly holding something, however my mum seems to have known a developed version- caggy-handed! She always says, 'cor, your so caggy-handed!'

The word "knockroad" was used commonly by my grandparents and parents, so I still use it. Knockroad means someone who is extremely awkward!

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