English Dialect and Idiom
Every country has their ‘official’ language . Likewise every country has location specific variations which may be simple accent derived pronunciation or sentence/grammar use or completely different
vocabulary .These variations also produce region specific phrases.
England is particularly blessed in this respect. Often regarded as uncouth and common (in an English elitist way) they offer a treasure trove of history, humour and interest.
This post is about those I’m familiar with from the northern county of Yorkshire. Some will be Yorkshire specific, some northern England specific and some just English.
For example: a narrow path between buildings in Leeds is a Ginnel, in Rochdale a Gennal (pronounced Jennel) and in Leicester a Jitty.
The following are often strange and crude, sometimes the words are conventional but used to describe things in a wonderfully quirky way others are amusing, many maybe familiar but all are a rich source of imagery to be valued and appreciated.
“ Pack it in or you’ll feel the back of my hand !” – which doesn’t seem much of a threat.
“You look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards” – you’re scruffy
“Tha walks like dead lice are droppin off ya” – you walk really slow
“As bright as a sixpence in a sweeps arse “ my Grandad the poet
On seeing a young couple stealing a kiss driven by first love Nana would say
“ look at them daft buggers, swapping spit, they’ll be tuppin soon if they don’t knock it ont ‘ed’
( the kissing will lead to intercourse if they don’t stop) I’d like to point out how her use of words resembles Shelley or Byron but can’t.
On recalling how close his team had been to winning or when describing a very small amount Grandad would describe it as a ‘cock hairs width ‘ !!!!!
“As cold as a witch’s tit” are they cold ? I’ve no idea.
“less of the lip lad “ you try holding a conversation with minimum use of the lips.
“she ad a face like a slapped arse “ pleasant
“he had a face like a bag of spanners” equally pleasant
“she looked like a Bulldog chewin’ a wasp “
“He’s seen his arse” he’s sulking, miserable
“Neither use nor ornament” – useless often applied as an insult.
“Well I’ll go t’foot of ower stairs “ – expression of surprise or disbelief.
“he couldn’t stop a pig in a ginnel “ – bow-legged
“he couldn’t tell his arse from his elbow” – stupid
“nicked int head” – mad
A few dialect words:
Laikin (LAY-KIN) – playing
Kaylied (KAY-LYED) – drunk
Mythered ( MEI-THED) – to be bothered or flustered
Nesh – weak, feel the cold
Cadge – borrow
Chunter/witter – mumble or talk about nothing without stopping
Mardy – whining or bad tempered
Scran – food
Tosspot – male to male insult