Great Britain

Mysteries of the Yorkshire dialect

IF we listened to someone talking in ‘old Yorkshire’ now we might be forgiven for thinking that they’re speaking a foreign language.

If someone has a “monk on” would you know what it meant? Or if they greeted you with “Nahthen”?

How about if you were told you “meks a better door than a winder” or to “frame yer sen”.

Many of these grand old sayings from Yorkshire dialect are linked with the region’s industrial heritage. Some are still in use today, in some form, while others now belong to a lost age.

Here DAVE WELBOURNE - one of our regular Telegraph & Argus contributors - looks at the meaning behind some intriguing old Yorkshire phrases.

How many of them are you familiar with - and do you still use any of them?

Writes Dave: A few years ago I was staying with some friends near Hamburg.

One evening we started talking about idioms in the English language and how it is difficult for ‘foreigners’ to understand what they mean, as there is no direct meaningful translation into foreign languages.

My host, who had worked in Yorkshire, commented that words or phrases used by Yorkshire folk are not always understood by others in England.

We had an hilarious evening with me using expressions such as ‘I’ll go to foot of our stairs’ and ‘Bob’s yer uncle’.

I recall my grandad using Yorkshire dialect words which are rarely understood today. Here are just a few:

“It’s back endish” - cooler weather in Autumn

“Put wood int hole” - close the door

“Black bright” - very dirty

“Bray” - to hit

“Boits” - boots

“By their sen” - they are on their own

“Cack handed” - left handed

“Champion” - excellent

“Chip ole” - fish and chip shop

“Chuffed” - happy

“Faffin” - messing about

“Flummoxed” - confused

“Jiggered” - tired

“Mash” - to brew tea

“Mi’sen” - myself

“Monk on” - grumpy

“Nahthen” - hello

“Sithee” - goodbye

“Spice” - sweets

“Tha meks a better door than a winder” – I can’t see what’s going on, you’re in the way

“Tha mun think on” - watch what you are saying

“Wang” - throw

“Where’s tha bin” - where have you been?

“Frame yer sen” - try harder

“Ey up” - watch out

“Cake oil” - mouth

“Beefin” - crying

“Ead” - head

“Laiking” - playing

I’m sure readers have many others.

l What Yorkshire sayings do you recall? Anyone still say ‘watter’ for ‘water’, ‘allus’ for ‘always’ or call babies babbies’? Are there sayings specific to Bradford? Or should that be Brattferd...?

Over to you. Email [email protected]

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