The birth of English
The spread of English
Matt Sears, Paignton
Our family was in the City and East End of London for many centuries. My aunts used a wide array of expressions and words that I have never heard outside of London and Essex. A grumpy person would have a 'face like a farthing kite' and a fidgety person would be like a 'fart in a cullender'. They called any man 'me old brown son' and any hat wearer 'old rotten hat'. My favourite was when my dad and his mates would wait outside the East End pubs for the men setting of to Southend on brakes for a beano, they would shout 'frow out yer mouldies' meaning green half pennies. Sounds like something from Dickens !!
scott from norwich
i am a londoner who has recently moved to norwich. i really enjoy the rural broad norfolk pronounciation and grammar, both of which are distinctive. i always thought, though, that you had to go to rural areas to hear proper broad norfolk, until, that is, i met a young russian bloke on norwich market. i'm telling you, his norfolk accent was just as strong as any old norfolk born-and-bred farmer's! not only did he speak with a slow norfolk harking, he also used phrases like "ats a rummun", "how're yuw ge'n orn, bor, orlroight?", "at ain'nt no bladder goood" or "do you don't do that?" and a few others. he later told me he used to work on a few farms around norfolk and that he has lived in norfolk "fur free year" but i was absolutely shocked (in a good way). no, norfolk dialect is not dying out and nor should it.
Brian Harkness from (West) Hartlepool
Interesting to see quite a few contributions from Hartlepudlians. It's a pity that the local words seem on the way out. I remember "ploat" appearing on "Call My Bluff" a few years ago. I got it right, since it was often used as a threat during my youth, as in "Watch it,chor, or I'll ploat yer'. Strict meaning = to pluck: in Hartlepool = scrag, thump. Also of note: clemmie/clemmy = stone, as in " He's hoyed a clemmie through Mrs Hope's winder": plodge = paddle, as in "the bairns went plodgin' in the sea." Anything that was rather fragile or rickety would be referred to as "a bit femmer (?)". The verb "fettle" is interesting, since it seems to have two contradictory meanings. "Yer bugger, that's fettled it" = "Oh dear, that's ruined it", and "Me bike was broke, but I soon fettled it with a birro (bit of) wire" = "my bicylcle was broken, but I soon mended it/ put it right."
I've heard my Dad (in Wakefield)exclaim, "Well I'll go t' Ossett!" if he's been shocked or surprised by some news.
joanne roberts from deniliquin.australia
i am origionally from liverpooluk, have been in oz. 40 years, when i talk on the phone in australia i am told i have a funny liverpool accent, when i talk to anyone in liverpool, they say i have a funny posh accent.....cant win can i ?
Mick Furey, Rotherham
Don't ever give up on local words and phrases; they're rich and show your origins. Not native here, I still like South Yorkshire stuff as much as anything else (but don't tell my neighbours, they'l think I'm going native). Favourite from my Derry Ma: 'I hadn't a wonder' = 'I'd no idea'. Or 'It was black in town' = 'It was crowded'. Local word: 'om' for home. A guy walked into the vet's with a basket; told the receptionist there was summat up wit cat. She asked, 'Is it a tom?' 'No, it's in t' basket.' (You really can't write the sound of a glottal stop, can you?)
Elli from Oxford
I've lived near Oxford for most of my life, but I was born in Keighley (W.Yorks) and both my parents are from "up North" - Mum from the Lake District, Dad from Manchester. I have been told I speak 'posh', yet when pushed I can put on both accents like a native! I suppose that's what comes from visiting relatives ... consequently I do know and use a fair few words of the dialects in everyday speech, so my friends do not know what I'm talking about! Just goes to show you can never be taken away from your roots! Does anyone know what the phrase "The cat's got the strawberries" means? It comes up in the play "A Taste of Honey" set in Salford that I'm studying for A Level Theatre Studies and no-one in my class knows what it means!
Sarah from Birmingham
Both parents come from up north, and I've picked up quite a few phrases from them. My favourite is when my dad says "put wood inth'ole" which means "close the door". I was suprised to hear that the glotteral stops originally came from the Norwich area, as I see it as a Cumbrian trait. I think it's very sad that the Cumbrian dialect which is almost a whole different language and has more in common with Norwegian than English, has almost completely disappeared. I'd like it very much if it could be taught in schools like Manx is on the Isle of Man.
David from Ipswich
Whenever me or my family go up north we are always mistaken for Australian, when in fact our accent is just the good old Suffolk one! I love having an accent, and mine is nowhere near as strong as the rest of my family, and to be honest I'm jealous! The Ipswich accent can be distinguished because of putting an extra syllable into words- town is pronounced 'tow-an' and floor 'flo-or' school will be said 'schoo-al' etc and the word 'ba' at the end of a sentence also seems to be distinctly suffolk, eg: are you alrite ba? mweaning quite simply 'are you alright' In the UK there are massive changes in accent and dialect in very small areas, much more so than it appears so in other countries- and this is a good thing, and proves a real sense of local, and regional, identity
Scott Glover from Sheffield
In response to John for Nurnberg's query as to what 'rop' means, a rop is your gut. Hence, 'Have yer seen rop on that fat bloke?'
Rachel, Lincs now London
My accent is a bit of a mixed bag and most people tell me I don't really have an accent! In my time, I've had various accents - Geordie, Canadian, Welsh and Lincolnshire, but I was sent to a private school and by the time I was 16, I was very well spoken. The thing is that I've retained bits of every accent I've ever had and as my parents are from Lancashire, I even have a bit of that too! In Lancashire it's fairly normal to call someone a "bugger", meaning daft. But if you call someone that in the south, it can be very insulting. I use words like "mither" meaning annoy and "lagged" meaning tired. On numerous occasions, I have been told that I sound Australian/New Zealand and I even had an argument with a man who wouldn't believe me when I said I wasn't. I absolutely do not do that Australian intonation thing! I also am frequently told that I look Irish. At the end of the day, regional accents just signify what part of the country you are from, it doesn't say anything about your intellect or abilities.
Kevin Bush from Cardiff
Peculiar that many people are noting the shift to an Australian accent in (young) Brits. Stephen Fry bemoaned the fact on Room 101 with Paul Merton - not so much that all our youngsters sound Australian, but that so many of them use what I seem to remember he called the AQI - the Australian Question Intonation. Remember when you learnt French in school and your teacher said that to restate a sentence as a question you can simply raise your voice at the end of the sentence? Well try it in English, and be surprised at how Aussie you sound. G'day now!
linda guest from castleford west yorkshire
I dislike very snooty accents like Brian Sewells the art critic.I'm from yorkshire though i cant say i am born and bred as i was born in Wales. My accents is pure yorkshire and i know alot of people dont like yorkshire accents especially on women.I don't consider my accent to be rough in fact it has its own charm.There are some words we use that are so hard to spell out as the way we say them there isnt a letter for that sound.I love the scottish accent especially around Edinburgh and the mens in kilts aren't bad either! Cornish people only have to utter one word and 'Wurzels' springs to mind like a flash.On the whole i love all regional accents but sorry Mr Sewell yours isnt one of them.
Tes from Hampshire
I've noticed that a lot of people, particularly those under 25 or watch a lot of TV are starting to sound Australian.
Nicholas from Toronto Canada
It's funny how there is such detail noted from everyone to local accents. To me personaly there's only like three kinds of British accents: Irish, Scotish, and English. It's strange how I now know such differences in accents in places extremely close to eachother (to me), because all of the U.K. could fit in my province (Ontario) almost twice. How about english accents on a global scale? What about Australia's, New Zealand's, America's, and Canada's? Just my country alone has major speech differences in major distances; the hushing and pronouncing "a"'s as "er" (like umbrella is said umbreller) of Newfoundland, the French accents of Quebec, the cowboy twang of Alberta, and slang from the streets of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver heavily influenced by the Americans.
Ed, Ossett, W.Yorks.
I find it queer how Yorkshire was divided up into different bits, but the changes in accents aren't along these lines at all. For instance, even a non-local would be able to differentiate between Barnsley and Doncaster [think between Kes and the Chuckle Brothers] and they are both in South Yorkshire; on the other hand, Wakefield is in West Yorkshire, yet people from there sound much more like Barnsley [including saying "right" like "rate"]. I have an accent more-or-less Wakefield and I often struggle to understand people from Huddersfield, which is in West Yorkshire. Calling people "cock" as a term of affection seems to be limited to Wakey, Ponty and Barnsley and I make sure never to use it outside these areas, in case they take offense at it. Outsiders laugh when I tell them what the horrible estate of "Gipton" means when translated ["gip" is "vomit" in Yorkshire]. These things are starting to die out, though.
pete from blackburn
my understanding was that eenie meenie miney mo has been passed down by children from pre celtic settlement of the country so we are talking the iron age or something which if true i think would be brilliant.
Amy from Devon
I don't think I have a Devonian accent probably through living with a Coventrian mother and a East Anglian step father, but understand some of the phrases.'Dimsy' dusk, 'us is' we are, 'tis as flat as a dab out over' the sea is calm, 'where's 'ee to?' where is he? Every time I say where I'm from people usually say 'you don't sound it' and ask if im a farmer or a surfer and break into a rendition of 'I've got a brand new combine harvester'.I lived in Reading for three years, where i was mistaken for Australian and I'm now in Cardiff where ive been thought to be from the Home Counties and I 'don't look Welsh', or so ive been told.Some of the Welsh phrases are similar to Devonian but the 'Cairdiff' accent isn't especially nice to listen to!!
Ben Bebbington from Sheffield
I've always taken great pride in my accent and it certainly helps to get you noticed when you are with new people. The most interetsing thing for me is the fact that large swathes of people from inside Sheffield haven't heard most of the words that I use. I don't mind that they don't use them but I want fellow "Sheffulders" to understand it when I say "Sos abaht us not saying owt this morning, burrav orwis bin nesh and I wor reit badly". (Sorry I did not talk to you this morning, but I've always been highly susceptible to the cold weather and recently I have been feeling ill). Of course if they don't understand I have no chance with my frinds who are predominantly from the South. However I have met one person who know what the term "Sweatin cobs" meant, and they learnty it off their mother who is a Parisian. Explain that one!
Brian Axe from Oxford
During the fifties a frequent phrase heard around Oxfordshire was "Whose old boy(or gal)be you then?" with the meaning,whats your name?, who are you? or of a child, who do you belong to?
Malcolm Moore from Melbourne, Australia
I'm 17 and I've lived in Australia all my life. My mum is from Dublin however and Dad from Derry. The brilliant thing about this is that i speak Australian with Irish/Northern irish "speechisms". Following from my folks i use "aye" and drop words from sentences (ie. "will" tends to go, "that be right"). Just thought i should mention it as not many English folk release theres more then one way of speaking Australian English.
Susan Kay from Sheffield living in Guildford Surrey
I never thought of myself as having a broad Sheffield accent, as I was always told to speak properly and say my T's, H's and G's but remember at school saying. Ay up (hello) and gi'up/gi'or for stop it. I say bath and glass with short a's, my boyfriend uses long ones(he's from Aylesbury. I know words like parkin (sticky treacle cake) ginnel/snicket for alleyway, mardy (grumpy), nesh for cold Oh Ay for oh yes, owt for anything and right for really/very, mithering for pestering/bothering. I had to change how I speak as many people down south couldn't understand me, so my accent has changed, but if I'm home for a while I drop back into it again. Also when you read written yorkshire with the t'shops you don't think thats it's said, but you do, half the word the is just missed out. My Gran used to say "I'll go t'foot of our stairs" for an exclamation of astonishment. I have a copy of (one of) the Sheffield Phrase books. Lekkin could be from Larkin which means playing.
sarah from middlesex
ive lived in teddington middlesex all my life. im now 26 and about to marry someone from Hartlepool. I also live in hartlepool now. I get coomments all the time about my accent sometimes good sometimes bad. some love it and say i sound realy posh and others say I should talk proer Engish like the hartlepudlions. Im sorry but i think the southern accent is much nicer than the northen.
Charlie from Framfield, Sussex
We have a few words still in our speech in Sussex. A "twitten" is a word used by almost all to mean an "alley". "Fluttermouse" is not known by many, but means a bat (the flying kind). "Snafflebitch" means a bossy horsewoman. "Beazled" means knackered. Get "tighted" up instead of "tarted" up. I'd use "pikey" for a "scavenger." "Townie" is what I'd say for Chav, and it's an insult. I try and use as many dialect words as I can in my everyday speech. They bind me to the area somehow. One of my favourites is "Spronky" for something, usually a tooth or a tree that is firmly rooted. "Spronk" means root.
Tashrifa Ahmed Shropshire
The English language is a excellent language. english is not my first language but i think that english is an easy language to learn!!! i think all foreign schools should have the english language in the curriculam!!! english roxbut i'm not sure about english lessons. he he he! thanks for taking the time to read my comment!
Sam from Lancashire
My family originate in Cheshire, my mum got into trouble for calling someone "bonny" in Crewe.In Lancashire that means pretty in Cheshire it meant fat!!Our family always said "starved thru" meaning very cold.Also "witchit" meaning wet.I'm not sure if these were Lancashire or Cheshire phrases, I was led to believe they were Lancashire.I am proud of my "up North" accent, but I am prepared to have a laugh about it!!
Joyce in Canada
Three expressions from growing up in Birkenhead.'Gone west'used for 'broken'.Deriving from emigration? "You've got a tide-mark." meaning one hasn't washed properly.'A new rig-out',meaning new clothes.[From the days of sailing] I'm due for a trip home!
Stuart from Blackburn
What astounds me is the way that towns and villages which are barely a few miles apart can have completely different accents. Having been brought up in Blackburn, but spent a few years in Huddersfield i have integrated a few random yorkshire words into my vocabulary, such as "I`ll do it mi'sen (myself)". My main Blackburn trait (according to those who took the mickey in Yorkshire) is the over pronounciation of care and bear, and also the fact that i pronounce hair and air sound the same.
Shauna Chapman, London
I spent the first 25 yrs of my life in Vancouver before moving to London. After working in London for 10 years I now realise what kind of accent I actually have. I really emphasise the "R's" in my words like "Vancouverrrrrr" or "newspaperrrrrrr" or "Rrrrrrrrodent". Every time I'm back home I find the Vancouver accent totally unique and facinating. No one outside Canada knows what a Canadian is like or what Canada is like - we're, like, so mysterious - eh!
I grew up in Liverpool and emigrated to Canada in 1980. My accent has skowly rounded out to being Canadian...almost. During my time here I have mostly been mistaken for being Irish or Scottish and on a few occasions Australian. I couldnt agree more with the people that say that others look down on you if you have certain accents, but would add that that is a British thing. How refreshing to be Canadian and taken on my merits.
Gilbert from Cheshire
Some 70 years ago if you greeted someone you knew you say 'How do surry' and on leaving you would say 'Be good' A horse was known as a 'Tit' A large stone was a 'Boother' The main roads were always called 'The Turnpike'.
Richard from the Holme Valley, Holmfirth
I think it is important that we do not loose our dialects. My Yorkshire dialect has two major influences, hill farming and textile mills. Scandinavian language has had an influence on my Yorkshire dialect because the Scandinavian hill farmers settled in the area. I live in a closed valley so the dialect has not been diluted too much by people passing through. Favourite words are lakin (playing), spetch (elastoplast) fruzzins (stray fibres in cloth) anent (opposite) piggin (jug) and the way we mash the pot of tea and side (clear) the table in Yorkshire.
Jane, N. Yorkshire, (ex Hartlepool)
We're 'nithered' when we're cold and 'mafted' when we're hot. 'Famished' when we're hungry, 'full as a gun' when we're replete. We have 'cotters' in our hair (tats/knots), we're vexed when we're angry, get 'spelks' (not splinters or spells) in our fingers, have 'keens' on our fingers (splits in the skin). The chidren are 'bairns', a familiar term of endearment is 'pet'. Dales Yorkshire is another language. They drop the H on some works, add it to others like 'hoak tree'. The weather is sometimes 'snizey' (misty?), and the stress on the end consonant of words is more pronounced e.g. 'ten-n' 'dog-g'.
John Puttick from North Hertfordshire
When I first moved to Letchworth, North Hertfordshire, from London in the late sixties, I was confused by the expression 'old boy' meaning young lad, and 'my old boy' meaning my son, and not, as one would assume, an old man or my father.
Sue originally from Keighley (pronounced Keithley!
Further to the comments about collecting wood etc. for the bonfire, where I lived this was progging and bonfire night was plot night (presumably from the Gunpowder Plot) Another term which seemed to be very local was the word 'fent' (a mill term for the end of a roll of cloth) which we used for any remnant of material sold in shops, and why was the guttering on the house 'easing trough' and the clothes airer a 'winteredge'?
Charlotte Boyle from Doncaster
I find that my accent and dialect is really very regional. Some of the words we use seem to be confined to a Sheffield and a handful of towns roundabout. To keep up the trend here is some Doncaster dialect: "cheb" (throw), "naffed" (getting told off) and "kanes" (hurts).