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13 November 2014

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You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Local history > Nah then lad!

Redmire and Castle Bolton, Wensleydale

Nah then lad!

Concerns are being raised over the future of the Yorkshire Dialect. Research says our traditional way of speaking is being watered down and may eventually die out.

The way we talk, what we say and how we say it, is as much a part of who we are as the place we were born. If you're lucky enough to be from the 'broad acres' of Yorkshire you'll know how important this is!

Yorkshire Dales farm track with Landrover

Yorkshire's famous dialect has evolved over countless generations. It is possible to trace some words back hundreds of years. In some cases they come from the language used by the Anglo Saxons who settled here after the collapse of the Roman Empire. In other cases their origins may be from the old Norse which was spoken by the Vikings.

There are plenty of stereotypical 'Yorkshire' phrases such as 'eeh bah gum' and 'by eck' but there are others such as 'appen as likely' (you're probably right)  and words such as 'sithee' (goodbye, see you later), 'blether' (to talk nonsense)  and 'allus' (always) which many of us use without really thinking about it.

Post box, Kettlewell, Wharfedale

Students from Craven College, in Skipton, spent 18 months talking to people of all ages from areas such as Nidderdale, Wharfedale and Airedale about the way they speak. They questioned them about the dialect words they know and use or are familiar with. They found that the Yorkshire dialect is becoming "a bit sparse." Jo Cremins, who co-ordinated the project, says "the main aim was to encourage young people to explore Yorkshire dialects and their heritage. What we have discovered is that, unfortunately, the Yorkshire dialect is becoming more watered down."

She believes the region's native tongue is gradually being diluted as people become more mobile. Words which would once have been specific to a particular community are being lost because these communities aren't as isolated as they once were.

Cowside, farmstead in Upper Wharfedale

They noticed that although younger people might not use dialect words, they would be familiar with them and their meaning. "These are words they would have heard other people use in conversation" says Jo Cremins "Many people recognise or are familiar with dialect words and their meaning, even if they don't use them themselves. They may remember older relatives using them." One word / phrase which she picks out that falls into this category, which many people don't use, but understand what it means, is "siling it down" - which means it's raining hard.

Drystone wall in the Yorkshire Dales

The research prompted a group of MPs to launch a campaign to save the Yorkshire accent. MPs from all parties say they are concerned words are disappearing from the Yorkshire dialect because of the influence the internet, greater social mobility and globalisation. Sixteen MPs signed a commons motion supporting the work of the Yorkshire dialect society in its work of promoting 'the best English regional dialect in the world'.

Mike Park, the secretary of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, says the problem is that dialect isn't used as much as it was and not many young people speak it. He believes the process of it being watered down has been going on for years, ever since people started to move in large numbers from village and countryside into towns to look for work.

Jo Cremins, from Craven College, says something else their research highlighted is the pride people from Yorkshire have in their accents and the way they speak "It's something which people from Yorkshire are enormously proud of."

Gordale Scar, yorkshire Dales

Former International cricket umpire, Dickie Bird says he's "very, very very proud to be a Yorkshireman" and "very very proud" of his Yorkshire accent. He says wherever he goes in the world people will tell him how much they like the Yorkshire accent, but he's not sure whether young people in Yorkshire these days are as proud of it as he is "But they should be!" says Dickie "It's very very special in this world. I think without a shadow of doubt it's the best accent there is."

last updated: 06/01/2009 at 12:53
created: 30/07/2007

You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Local history > Nah then lad!

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