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Yorkshire’s a diverse region with a big history. As well as being known for sport, music, stunning landscapes and vibrant culture, it has one of the most recognisable accents in the country.
Yorkshire dialect is a dying vocabulary. However, we’re here to try keep it alive, by sharing our very own Yorkshire dictionary, which will help you converse with those of us who still use Yorkshire expressions.
I have a relatively soft Yorkshire accent, (I’m from Bradford in West Yorkshire.) As a result, I’m easily understood by other English speakers in most regions without much trouble. I’ve rarely had to alter my accent in the various places I’ve traveled.
However, there have been times where people have misunderstood where I’m from. For instance, whilst traveling in Southern USA it was common for people to ask which part of Australia I was from, or what the weather’s like in Scotland.
Granted, It’s not that the accents are alike, it’s just not very common to hear Yorkshire folk in the mainstream media in the US. Fair play to them.
Having said that, Game of Thrones gave the accent more exposure than ever before on the global stage. A number of the main characters speak with a Yorkshire accent and the first season (sorry for the spoiler if you’ve not watched it yet) stars Sean Bean with his authentic Sheffield accent.
Since then, it’s become more recognisable – although being mistaken for a wildling isn’t the most flattering!
Probably the most recognisable feature of a Yorkshire accent is how we drop the “H” sound in most instances. This is something that exists in a few different UK accents as well. Dropping sounds like this, is known as a Glottal Stop.
For example, “How are you” is “‘ow are you” in Yorkshire.
Another common characteristic is that we hate saying “The.” It’ll almost always be replaced with “T” (more efficiently if you ask me).
“I’m going to the pub” is transformed into “Am goin’ t’pub.”
We also have a disdain for the word “with,” preferring to shorten it to “wi'”. For example “Am off t’shop wi’ Dave.” In the same vain, we also don’t enjoy pronouncing “ing” at the end of words. Opting to drop the G. Further, we like to merge words wherever possible – “Avin’ a good’en” = “Having a good one.”
Here’s a great video from Yorkshire Tea featuring Sean Bean, who gives us a great example of the Yorkshire voice:
Some southern comedians like to poke fun at the Yorkshire accent and dialect by portraying it as a lazy and somewhat stupid variation of the Queens English.
However, this is far from the reality of the situation. The Yorkshire tongue has a rich history and dates back to the Viking invasion of England. This means that it’s less a variation of “Proper” English, but an evolution of the language in its own right. So there.
Unfortunately, “proper” Yorkshire accents are become less common, and to find it in its purest form, your best bet is to travel to some of the more rural areas of the region.
Having said that, Yorkshire men and women are some of the proudest you’ll find, and more people are embracing their heritage by speak the Yorkshire tongue proudly.
Here’s an adorable video of a young Yorkshire lad living his best life and proudly giving us an example, you’ll notice many of the nuances of Yorkshire speak, including some of the characteristics we mentioned above:
Although there’s not really such a thing as Yorkshire slang, there are countless phrases that only people from the region will understand. Here are a few examples, with a brief explanation of what they mean:
Translation: I’m going to the shop, would you like me to get you anything?
Translation: Close the door. “T’wood” meaning door and “t’ole” meaning the doorframe.
Translation: Sit down. This can be said as an insult or as a polite welcome.
Translation: Shut your mouth. If you’re talking nonsense, expect to be here this!
Translation: There’s nothing better than a cup of tea.
A’gate – meaning ‘get on your way’, ‘be off with you’. “Get a’gate or tha’ll be late fur school”
Ah’m – I am. “Ah’m off t’shop”
Allus – Always. “I allus eat my tea”
‘appen – Perhaps. “’appen it was reet”
‘appin – Bed sheets.
Arse/arse end – Bottom, terrible. “We got the arse end of . “You arse”
Arsing – Acting foolishly – “Stop arsing about”
Aye – Yes. “Aye, that’s reet”
Back end – The last bit – “If we hurry, we’ll catch the back end of the film”
Ba’ht – to be without. “Ah’m ba’ht me coat.” (without my coat).
Bagsy – claiming ownership of something. “Bagsy the last biscuit.”
Bairn – referring to a child. “The wee bairn is cold, give er’ a jacket.”
Beck – a stream or creek of water. “We’re dippin our toes in the beck.”
Berk– Not a pleasant word, it means idiot.
Beefin’ – Crying or getting flustered about something
Belt – Punch – “I’ll belt you if you don’t give over”
Be reight – The Yorkshire equivalent of Hakuna Matata – meaning it’ll be ok! “It’ll be reight.”
Black bright – dirty.
Bogeyed– Very tired – half asleep. “I were bogeyed last night”
Boits. – Boots or shoes
Bog – toilet – Ah’m off t’bog”
Bray – Punch, smack or hit. “Give ‘im a good braying”
Brussen– Stubborn or determined
Brew – one of our favourite words – cuppa tea!
Butty – Sandwich. “I’ll ‘ave brown sauce in that butty lass”
Button– A nose
By ‘is Sen– On his own
‘er sen – On her own