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Geordie is a very old dialect
By contributor Carol Cooke
Born and bred Geordie Carol Cooke gives us her take on the local lingo. Plus have a go at speaking it yourself with our sample phrases and audio guide.
Some years ago my Auntie Keturah, who lives in London, came to the North East to visit the family.
She was quietly waiting at a bus stop, minding her own business, when a woman unleashed the following volley of words on my unsuspecting auntie's ears: "Howay awa heer wi wu sunn."
Newcastle icon the Tyne Bridge
Keturah was stunned and thought that she had inadvertently dropped in on Mars, or at least the northern branch of the United Nations.
She returned to the bosom of the family and told her mysterious tale. How we laughed. Then my father unleashed the following: "Hoy us a hamma ower hea."
We laughed again and my aunt left soon after to get the train back to London where they all spoke properly.
Yes, accents and dialect words are strange. They start off in a reasonable enough way then evolve, get bits added to them, lose bits on the way, until the original meaning is lost and anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Research by employment law firm Peninsula found that two-thirds of job applicants tried to disguise or hide their accent in an interview, and most employers have discriminated against potential recruits because of their accent.
According to the report the top five worst accents for discrimination were those from Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow, followed by Cockney.
The funny thing is that although Geordie accents were supposed to be disliked, until recently call centres were one of the chief areas of economic growth in the North East, purely because of the Geordie accent, which sounded soothing, friendly, unchallenging, honest and relaxed.
Accents change within a few miles and really on the ball linguists, like Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, can pinpoint an accent to within a couple of feet.
In Sunderland, where they speak Mackem, sweets can be called "ket" or "kets". In South Shields, half a mile up the coast, sweets are called "sweets" – how unadventurous - while in Middlesbrough sweets are called "sweyts".
South Tyneside language expert Dr Michael Pearce of the University of Sunderland is busy drawing up a dialect map to pinpoint exactly where an accent comes from.
The River Tyne
He reckons that nationally people can always recognise a north-east England accent, while people in the region can distinguish between a Geordie and a Mackem, but no one really knows where one regional accent starts and the other finishes.
My guess is that by now you are dying to know what it was that my Auntie Keturah heard at the bus stop. "Howay awa heer wi wu sunn," can best be translated as "Come over here darling and wait for the bus alongside your mother."
And "Hoy us a hamma ower hea," can be translated as "Would you be so kind, my man, as to pass me the hammer so that I can get on with my chores?"
Or something like that...
Try it yourself
Now it's your turn to have a go at speaking Geordie. Try saying the phrases below and listen to the audio to get your pronunciation just right.
Geordie: Ah wes pelatick.
English: I enjoyed myself.
Geordie: Ah scoredwithabord.
English: I made the acquaintance of a young woman.
Geordie: Howay doon to the Chinese, pet.
English: Would you care to dine with me?
English: What a stunning figure that young lady has.
Geordie: Ootside! Yeandme!
English: Let us settle this matter in a civilised manner. Man to man like gentlemen.
Geordie: Gissies tetties and bagies.
English: I wish to order pork, potatoes and a little turnip, please.
Geordie: Worbairn's hacky mucky.
English: The baby needs a wash.
Phrases taken from Larn Yersel' Geordie by Scott Dobson
last updated: 10/07/2008 at 10:53
Geordie is one of the oldest dialects in Britain.
The dialect is descended from that which emerged among the Anglo-Saxons who came across from mainland Europe about 1,500 years ago.
The roots of many modern Geordie words such as bairn can still be traced back to the Angles.
Several other Geordie words, like gadgie (bloke), are thought to derive from Romany.
Common words include gan (go), bait (snack/packed lunch), champion (great), hinney (honey) and bairn (child).