You are here:   lownestfarm.co.uk >  olden  >  dialect

The Old Language

When I first started this page and grandiosely entitled it The Old Language I was being more accurate than I knew.
From my researches I have since discovered that Cumbrian was more than dialect, it was a complete language with an extensive vocabulary and a grammar more perfectly analytical note1  than English. And it was an old and relatively unchanged language.

At first I was somewhat embarrassed that many Cumbrian words appeared to be corruptions of English words but it seems  that generally the contrary is the case. The Cumbrian word is the original, unchanged since Old English while the modern English word and pronunciation is the vulgar corruption.
Similarly the participal termination -an or -en is not a corruption of the English -ing but derives from the Old Norse -ande or the Old English -ende.

This was revealed to me when I discovered the Cumbrian Dictionary and Grammar compiled by Dickinson, Prevost  and Dickson-Brown a century and more ago. ref 1.  This tome runs to 383 pages and the supplement published by Prevost some years later to more than 200 pages, which rather puts my modest glossary to shame.

However I will retain my glossary here as a record of words and phrases actually still in use in the second half of the twentieth century. A few of my words are missing from Ref 1 and a few others have slightly different meanings and spellings (which indicates a variation in pronunciation).

One is acutely aware that much of the old language (some of which predates the Norman Conquest according to Dickson-Brown)  has been lost.
Even Prevost, writing a hundred years ago, lamented the loss of the old language which he blamed on the introduction of the railways and the Board Schools. Since then the invention of the wireless has accelerated the erosion, bringing the Southern English vocabulary and Received Pronunciation to even the most remote dales thanks to programmes broadcast from the BBC in London.

Cumbrian Dialect

This glossary is a recollection of Cumbrian as spoken in and around Low Nest, Keswick in the middle to end of the twentieth century. The pronunciation fifteen miles away in West Cumberland was discernibly different, in the north of the county around Carlisle it was different again.
The vocabulary may also have been different in other parts of the county.

The Borrowdale valley, seven miles away, allegedly had its own pronunciation and vocabulary. There are very few written records of the Cumbrian dialect. Those that exist are mostly transcriptions of traditional stories and ballads.

Cumbria

Cumbria has only existed as an administrative county since 1974 It was created from the old counties of Cumberland, Westmorland* and the Furness district of Lancashire.

Cumberland was referred to as Cummerlan and its citizens referred to themselves as Cummerlan-fwolk. However it is convenient to use the term Cumbrian since the dialect does extend into Westmorland and Furness. Also Cumbrian makes a more felicitous adjective than Cummerlan'ish.

*Note that Westmorland is the correct spelling. Many people wrongly insert an 'e'. Our American friends are particular prone to this error and consequently are led to pronounce it wrongly. We should not blame them too harshly since most of their dictionaries have the wrong spelling. (even some old English documents spell it with 'more'; others spell it 'Westmerland' but the pronunciation was always Westmerland')

Much of the difference between American and English is due to the fact that the American dictionaries were written at the beginning of the nineteenth century and agree with English spellings at that time. Since then, whereas American dictionaries have been conservative, English has changed, for example being influenced by a fashion for French style (changing -ize to -ise, -er to -re etc.)

Syntax and Pronunciation

An important point of syntax in Cumbrian speech is that the definite article is nearly always elided to t'. e.g. put t'wood in t'wohl  = please shut the door.
Many southerners attempting to speak Cumbrian (or other variants of Northern English) fail to hear the short t' sound and omit it. This is a grave solecism, as bad as omitting 'the' in Southern English Thoo is also often elide to t' or ta as in "whoos t' gaan on?' (how do you do?)

Vowel sounds in Cumbrian are derived from the standard northern vowels which are mostly pronounced as they are written. The North was not afflicted by the Great Vowel Shift of the 14th and 15th centuries that mangled the pronunciation of English in the southern extremities of the country.

e.g. bath is pronounced as bath with a short a in contrast to the southern  'baarth' *

However Cumbrian does vary quite considerably even from the standard northern pronunciation -

the vowel 'oo' has a 'y' sound inserted -
eg  book, cook, fool, cool are pronounced 'byeuk', 'cyeuk', 'fyeul', 'cyeul',
'y' is also inserted in words with a long 'a' (words that end in e)
eg  tale, bake, cake, spade are pronunced 'tyal', 'byak', 'cyak', 'spyad'
In words with a long 'o', a 'w' sound is inserted
e.g. pole, hole, coal are pronounced 'pwohl', 'Wohl', 'cwohl'.
Some words don't follow any particular rule
eg calf is pronounced 'cwohf', gate is 'yat', ewe is 'yow', oak is 'yak', ash is 'esh', hot is 'hyet'.

Some of these pronunciations are so different from standard northern English that it is debatable whether they should be listed in the glossary as distinct words.

* apologies to southern readers if this seems a bit overstated. It is in the nature of a protest at the inequality of respect afforded to northern and southern pronunciation.


Pronunciations of some placenames

'Tra penah' - Torpenhowe
'Grey seun' - Greysouthern
'Carrel' - Carlisle
'Wuk it'n' - Workington

 


References and Footnotes

Note 1   Dickson-Brownref1 remarks:-

"By its abolition of many inflexional endings, the Dialect goes even farther towards a perfectly analytical grammar than English, and is in fact as inflexionless as Danish."

Cart Tracks
Something that is always wrong in period dramas on film or TV is that dirt roads only show a pair of tracks.
In reality there were always three, the broad centre track made by the horse was no less pronounced than the narrow tracks made by the slender cart wheels.

Another thing they get wrong is that the cows are nearly always Friesians and the hens Rhode Island Reds - both these breeds were virtually unknown before about 1960 - except perhaps in Friesland and Rhode Island..

 The main breeds of cattle in England before 1960 were the Shorthorn, Ayrshire and Hereford with the occasional  Jersey, Galloway and Aberdeen Angus. After 1960 the black and white Friesian suddenly took over due to its greater milk production, helped by the introduction of artificial insemination  The next breed to be introduced was the Charolais which soon replaced the Hereford as the preferred beef breed. Later introductions were the Holstein and then the Chianina

Cocking
Haycocks often feature in old prints or in nursery rhymes which might lead one to believe that cocking was an essential part of making good hay. This is not the case - hay is at its best if dried quickly without the need for cocking. The point of cocking is to save the half-dry hay from a passing shower. After the rain had passed the cocks would be skaled out again to finish drying. It the rain lasted too long - as it often did - the damp hay in the cock would go mouldy but perhaps not quite as rotten as if it had been left out in the open.

Loavin days!.  - 

This expression of surprise also appears in the Keswick Guardian of July 1881 :- Supply and Demand – Butter and eggs, even at Keswick, are subject to this immutable law, as the following colloquy in the market last Saturday will testify; Housewife: “Hoo ar ye sellin’ eggs today?” Farmer’s Wife: “Ten”. Housewife: “Loavin days they’re varra dear”. Farmer’s Wife: “Aye, ye know its t’invention* next week”. For the same reason butter was raised by threepence to fourpence a pound
*
Keswick (Christian) Convention, still held every July.

Sough -
This is not a mistake for slough - or if it was it is now long established in the Cumbrian lexicon. These two references use it with the same meaning as given in this glossary: -

1 THE KESWICK GUARDIAN    Saturday 10th September 1892
HAY FIRES NEAR KESWICK
...the burning mow could only be got at through the loft. A plentiful supply of water was in the large sough, but as it was 135 yards from the building which stands at a considerable elevation above...

2   Out Ottering  ( Published 1902 )
....Such marigolds, too, gleamed in the soughs! such cuckoo-flowers freckled the grass! such blackthorn blossom whitened the hedge-rows!....
....splashing through the wet ground, leaping the soughs full of rich golden light from the thousand mary-buds that had inlaid them....

Sump
There is a mystery about the sump - where did the contents  go?  There was a considerable volume of liquid - not only the slurry and urine from the cows but also the water used to hose the byre down every day and the water that flowed through the milk cooler. I don't recall the sump ever being emptied. Also, although all the byres and calf hulls had drains they did not all have a sump to drain into.

Pople
Ref 2 gives this as Popple, Figuratively -  of a man idling and staggering backwards and forwards, that he is popplin' aboot.
Prevost also gives the, unfortunately rather agricultural, derivation of this word


References

Ref 1   A Glossary of the Words and Phrases Pertaining to the Dialect of Cumberland by W. Dickinson F.L.S. 1879.
Rearranged, Illustrated and Augmented by Quotations by E.W.Prevost Ph.D., F.R.S.E. 1899
with a Short Digest of the Phonology and Grammar of the Dialect by S. Dickson Brown, B.A.(hons.) Lond.
Pub. Bemrose & Sons, London; Thurnam and Son, Carlisle

Ref 2  Supplement to Ref 1 by E.W.Prevost  1905

Ref 3   The Folk-Speech of Cumberland and some districts adjacent;: being short stories and rhymes in the dialects of the west border counties
By  Alexander Craig Gibson, F.S.A.  Pub. G. & T. Coward. Carlisle 1873

Ref 4
. Cummerland Talk by John Richardson Pub Geo. Coward. Carlisle 1871

Ref 5  Teesdale Lexicon
Frederick T. Dinsdale's A Glossary of Provincial Words used in Teesdale in the County of Durham (London, 1849)

Ref 6  Lakeland Words 
A collection of words and phrases as used in Cumberland and Westmorland with illustrative sentences in the North Westmorland dialect.   by B Kirby
pub. T Wilson, Kendal 1898

Purity of the Glossary

Without extensive research it is difficult to know which words are exclusive to Low Nest*, which are exclusive to Cumbrian and which have wider currency. We used to think 'mowdy' for mole was peculiar to our family until we found Mouldywarp is the English dictionary.

What can be asserted  is that the words listed below are more commonly used in Cumbrian than in Southern English. For instance 'mowdy' may be in the dictionary but is rarely heard on the BBC.

The more commonplace northern words e.g. ghyll, beck, fell have been omitted since they are well known and recorded elsewhere. Many of these words are derived from Norse, thanks to Viking incursions and settlement; others derive from Icelandic.

 

* Initially I was concerned that my glossary might be contaminated by stray words brought by friends and visitors from Tyneside and Teeside or elsewhere** or introduced by Carl from his north German dialect. However I have since corroborated most of the words in my glossary in various Cumbrian dictionaries. Many of Carl's words that I had assumed were of German origin (Brazzle, Kizzened, Neudlin) turned out to be pure Cumbrian.
It seems my father's Cumbrian was better than mine - evidently he was deeply immersed in the old language during his years working on local farms as a POW.

** memorable foreign phrases heard at Low Nest include 'du muss liebe simon, Peter' by a Brazilian visitor to her child abusing the cat; and a Lithuanian casual worker introduced 'Gyegander?' which apparently meant 'shall I go and sarra the beest in High Nest byre?'



GLOSSARY

Personal Pronouns

Ah , me, thoo - I, me, you
Ah's,Ah'm; Ah'd; Ah'l - I am; I would; I will
Thoo's; Thoo'd; Thoo'l - You are; You would, You will
See the Table of Cumbrian Personal Pronouns

Awuhr, Awivver  - However, indeed. (often appended for emphasis or contradiction). 'Ah will awivver'

Bait, Bate - N Packed lunch or more often 'ten o'clocks'. Usually carried in a canvas 'bate bag', 'Ten o'clocks' ideally consisted of a round  of cheese sandwiches, followed by apple cyak and a flask*  of coffee. This was a particularly agreeable combination of  flavours..
* (a billy-can or bottle would serve in the old days)

Back-end - N Autumn

Barn, Barney - N A child. (from Scots bairn via Geordie)

Barney - N An altercation, with or without fisticuffs

Beest - N Cattle (both singular and plural)

Beestins - N Colostrum

Bettermer - Adj Superior. 'Bettermer mak o' folk'. (Only ever used in this phrase ?)

Block - V.  To strike a blow to the head, often with an implement, vigorous enough to render a person insensible or a small animal dead.
Kirby ref 6 has   Blocker -. a butcher's pole-axe.

Brat - N An apron, sometimes improvised from jute sacking.

Bray - V To hit or beat. To give a good hiding.

Brazzle - N  - ???  only heard in the phrase 'hard as brazzle', in the context a cooking accident - see kizzened.

Brossen - Adj. Bloated and round with food particularly as applied to a cow, sheep or other herbivore (Think of a Thelwell pony)

Carry-on - N A fuss, a to-do, an unfortunate event or sequence of events. 'Thoo'l laik on til thoo carries-on' (= there will be tears)

Car - N A cart as pulled by a horse
Car-rack - N Cart track.
See  Why cart tracks are always wrong in period dramas.

Caulkers - N The iron strips nailed to the bottom of clogs, similar in principle to a horse shoe but more slender and foot-shaped. (It is particularly difficult to walk in snow in clogs. The snow freezes to the caulkers and builds up between them and with each step another layer of snow sticks to the bottom) Do horses have this trouble?

Clocker - N A broody hen. (from the distinctive sound it makes)

Clocker box - N A small cage in which a clocker was confined for several days until it lost interest in being broody and ceased to 'clock'.

Cleg - N A horsefly. Clegs are a particular nuisance at hay time.

Clowk - V To claw, to scratch. 'Divn't clowk thee heid! Has thoo got nits?'

Cock, haycock - N A conical pile of hay shaped so that the rain runs off. See footnote

Come-bye! - Imp. Command to a sheepdog to set off to the left and circle clockwise  around the sheep. The opposite is 'Away!'
 see - sheepdog terminology.

Coolin hoose, Separator hoose - N Dairy. The building where the cow-warm milk is cooled and the cream is separated and sometimes churned into butter.

Dairy - N   Larder. The coolest room in a house usually with stone flagged floor and slate sconces.

Coppy - N A three-legged milking stool

Cowp - V to topple. ' t'coppy was on a cant and cowpt ower'

Crack - N conversation, gossip, news.. (from Scots) (Apparently the Irish Gaelic craic is also a recent derivation from the Scots)

Crowdie - N A sort of dog food made by mixing Euveeka with hot water

Euveeka - N Flaked maize, a bit like large cornflakes, a brand name?

Cush  -  Ejac.  an expression of surprise. 'Cush, man'.
              a term of  reassurance to a cow. 'Cush-a-body'

Cyak - N  Cake, or fruit pie. In Cumbria a pie would normally  contain meat. The pastry for apple cyak etc is traditionally  made with lard. Made with butter or vegetable fats the  taste and texture are just wrong.

Dinnae, Divvent - V  Don't. From Scots and Geordie respectively

Dyke - N usually a hedge, Sometimes a wall, never a ditch.
Dyke - V to lay a hedge.
Dykin mitts  - N Very thick leather gauntlets, proof against blackthorn, used for dyking.

Fair, Fairly  - Adv    Very

Gae, Gaily  - Adv    Very

Fash     V. Bother, 'Dinnae fash thisel'

Fillum - N A film (a movie) as shown at The Pictures (picture house)

Flartch - V To ingratiate oneself , to Flatter. N a Flatterer.
  Dickinson ref1 has this as Flaitch.

Flay, Flayte - V  Frighten,    Adv  Frightened

Flaysome - Adj. Frightening

Fogg - N  The second growth of grass after the hay has been cropped.

Form - N A backless wooden bench

Fratch - V To argue, to bicker

Gaj, Gadgie -  N A man. Masculine third-person singular personal pronoun  (disparaging). (from Romany)

Galusses - N Braces

Gimlik - N A Gimlet

Greet - Adj  Gurt, great, big

Gripe - N A fork for loading or skaling muck (fym). Usually short handled with four or five slender tines. The tines are like the two tines of a pitchfork, more slender than those of a garden fork. Gripes are used for mucking-out the hulls where the muck is mixed with straw or other bedding, In the byres shovels are used because the bedding mostly remains separate from the muck which is therefore in a more liquid state)

Guiversome - Adj.    I remember mother using this word, about a visiting salesman, but I was hazy about its meaning even at the time. I defer to Dickinson ref 1 :- Gyversom: Eager, greedy
Dickson-Brown ref2 notes this as an example of an Old English word (O.E. gifre = greedy) preserved in Cumbrian but entirely lost to modern English.

Gully - N  A kitchen knife 6 to 8 inches long, pointed, about 2 inches deep at the heel.

Gutter - N A Stream esp. at the edge of a field. Usually the position of the gutter defines ownership of the boundary.. 'thoo gaas ower a dyke till a gutter'. i.e. if there is a gutter at the edge of your field maintenance of both the gutter and the dyke are your neighbours responsibility.

Gurn - V To pull a face, to complain.

Gurt - Adj. Greet, big, great. Greet was always preferred at Low Nest. Gurt was considered rather broad and uncouth..

Gyavlik - N Gavelock, Crowbar  (from Icelandic?)
               Richardson ref4 has this as Geāvleck
               The Teesdale lexicon ref5 has it as g'yavlik

Hankle - V To entangle. Hankle-up

Hap up - V To wrap

Helm wind - N An easterly that produces a distinctive Helm cloud along the top of the Helvellyn range which can persist for days. Cross Fell also has a Helm cloud but the mechanism appears to be different.

Hirple - V To limp. (from Scots)

Hocker - V To fumble, or struggle, to have difficulty with an inanimate object. 'Ah hed sek a hocker parkin t' car'

Hod! - Imp. Hold-on! warning to passengers when setting a vehicle in motion

Hog, hogg - N A castrated male sheep

Hogest - N Hog-house, a barn, usually remote from the farmstead, to shelter hogs or other livestock  in winter, usually with fodder storage on the upper floor. The stock are not usually fastened in since the hogest usually has no water.

Hogwohl - N A hole in a stone wall big enough for sheep to pass through but too low for a calf.

Howk - V To poke, retrieve or extract an object esp. using a hook or other implement.(similar to hoik in English slang)
             V To clear the throat inelegantly

Hull, Hool - N A loosebox. Calf-hool, bull-hull
                   N A wooden poultry shed, Often on cast iron wheels. Hen hull, Duck hull

Intik, Hintik - N Intake, an enclosed area of fellside, a large high-lying field typically above 700 or 800 feet, often covered in bracken.

Jinny howelt - N Owl

Jisle - V to squirm, jitter, jiggle - typically used of a child.
Kirby has Jyselin but refers it to an awkward adolescent.

Kess, Kessin - V  The restless behaviour of a ewe about to lamb.

Kevel, Kyevel - V To trample. Particularly the action of a frightened cow, or by extension, any ungainly or carelessly destructive footwork

Keav, Kiav  V. To wade through - e.g. deep snow or mud, a standing crop, with a suggestion of either effort or carelessness and therefore similar to kevel.
Kirby - They kiav'd doon t'middle o' ther bit - that is they wasted the middle an' warrent ower nice wi' t' sides.
Dickinson has it as keavv and relates it to the task of removing straw from a heap of corn using ones feet and a rake.

Kist - N  A chest, usually of oak, for bedding etc)

Kittle - Adj.  (of an inanimate object) Skittish, unstable

Kizzened - Adj. overcooked, e.g. a sausage or roast potato left too long in the oven. Frizzled to a frazzle. see Brazzle.

Kysty, kaisty -  Adj  Overly discerning about ones food.
              Adj  Generally awkward and uncooperative ?

Kytel, kitle - N A grey working jacket (from Norse kyrtill ?)

Laal - Adj  Sma' small, little

Laik - V To Play.

Lait - V To  fetch, to procure, to seek out.

Leed, Lead - V To cart. 'Leedin hay', 'muck leedin'

Lish - Adj. Supple, sprightly, fit.

Loavin days - Excl.   'Ah've nivver seen sek a thing in all me loaven days'. See footnote
Gibson ref3 gives this as a corruption of the pious oath "Loving Jesus!"

Lock - N  A great amount or number. "a gay lock o' poddish"

Lonnin - N A narrow lane, usually for access to fields.

Lowp - V To jump. ' t'yow lowpt ower t'yat' (the ewe jumped over the gate)

Matey, Matey-Boy - N a Gadgie, a Man. Masculine third-person singular personal pronoun  (disparaging)

Marra - N Mate, Friend, Workmate, the other half of a pair.

Mew, haymew, mewsteed -
              N  A mow of hay in a barn- usually delineated by the rafters or, in a dutch barn, by the spacing of the uprights.

Mew - V  (with a pitchfork) to arrange the loose hay in a mew so that the whole is tidy, stable and not prone to cowp owwer or rush.  (with small rectangular bales, in a mewsteed or on a trailer) to arrange the bales so that they overlap and bind together in a stable structure.

Moss - N A flat low-lying area, usually waterlogged, often with birch trees or alder. 'Shoulthwaite Moss'.

Moider - V To bother, to pester. Similar to 'Mither' in other northern dialects but without the sense of 'to complain'.

Mawk-flee, Moke - N  Bluebottle, Blowfly
Mawked - Adj  Afflicted by blowfly strike. It may be true, in a medical context, that maggots prefer to consume necrotic tissue and the blowfly is attracted to lay its eggs on damp smelly and, preferably,  suppurating places but unfortunately the maggots are not deterred from eating when they have exhausted the supply of dead flesh or when the flesh on which they they find themselves is entirely alive and merely a bit dirty.

Mowdy - N Mole. From the old English Mouldywarp

Myrtle - V To flake off.  Of mud spatters - 'Let it dry and myrtle off'

Neb - N Beak or Nose. 'lang-nebbed words'

Neudled - V befuddled, either innately or by drink

Neudlin - N drunkard
Dickinson ref1 has these as Newdel't and Newdlin.

Nick't at t'heed - Adj phrase, of a person -  foolish, not right in the head. A phrase often emplyed by grandfather in response to any prank he found unamusing.

Pike - N, V  a round stack of loose dry hay, shaped so that the rain runs off, like a haycock but bigger - about 8 to 10 feet high. If the hay is not completely dry it can sweat and moulder or even catch fire. A pike is intrinsically thatched and can be left out in the rain for weeks without taking much harm on the inside.

Pike bogie - N  a cart designed for transporting pikes whole. The bogie tilted down to the ground and had a winch so the pike could be winched onboard. The process could be reversed with pike being tethered and the bogie driven out from under it.

Pople - V To move slowly and aimlessly like an old hen.
 see footnote

Poddish - N Porridge made from oats

Poyt - N Poet.  'Ah'v vanya kilt t'poyt'  -allegedly said by the coachman who collided with a pony and trap carrying Wordsworth.

Queer as Dick's hatband. - Phrase.  Kirby's North Westmorland dictionary of 100 years ago was unable to say who Dick was so we shall probably never know - however he does intimate that the queer thing about his hatband was that it went seven times round his hat.
{Apparently this saying is not peculiar to Cumbrian - it has been in use in many parts of Britain and the USA for 200 years. The number of circuits of the hat varies from two to nineteen}

Ratch - V  to Ransack, to rummage (particularly of children or dogs).
            V  to Ramble with the intent of discovery.

Rowk - N Mist or fine smoke esp. that which lies in the cold still air of early morning

Rudd - N. an alternative word for smit.

Rush - V  To collapse. Applicable to a drystone wall, a haystack or any pile of loose material

Sarra - V To serve. 'It sarras thoo reet'.
            V To feed and water animals. 'Ahs gaan t' sarra t' beest'

Sconce - N A stone shelf, Usually a slate flag mounted on brick pillars or sometimes cantilevered from a wall.

Scop - V To throw. 'Scop it ower t'dyke'

Scraffle - V To climb with difficulty, to scramble

Scrunt - N. The stalk of a cauliflower.
Dickinson has Skrunt - the stalk of a cabbage.

Seg - N  One of several iron studs nailed to the bottom of hobnail boots

Seives - N Rushes (Juncus spp.)

Shelvins - N. A wooden frame that raises the sides of a cart for the purpose of leading hay, straw etc.

Sile, Syle - N A filter for milk. A 'sile pad' (paper filter) was sandwiched between two removable perforated plates in the bottom

Sister!, Seester! - Excl.  Look!   (from see'est thee)
Often used in the sense  'I said that would happen'.

Skale - V To scatter. especially new mown hay or muck. Muck was dumped in piles in a field and then skaled with a gripe.

Muck Skaler - N muck spreader. (muck from the byres and calf hools is not to be confused with  manure which comes  in plastic sacks from the factory)

Side-up - V To tidy. 'Come and side-up this skrow'

Skrow - N A mess, extreme disorder.

Skrower, skaler - N A  hay tedding machine. Each of its two large cast iron wheels drove a horizontal half-axle via a gearbox. Around the axle were mounted six banks of tines 7" or 8" long and the same distance apart. For transport the gearboxes were disengaged and the tines were folded.

Skelp - V To slap or hit. 'Ah'l skelp thee backside'

Slape - Adj  Slippery

Slatter - V To Spill (esp children playing with water) 'Slattery Ike'

Slavver - V To slobber or drool (usually of an animal)

Smit - N a paste dye used for marking sheep. V to apply smit.

Snag, Snagging - V Snagging turnips (or more often swedes) involved pulling the turnips from the ground and topping and tailing them with a bill hook. One of the less pleasant jobs since it was done in November and the turnips were usually wet and often frozen.

Soft - Adj  Simple (soft in the head)

Spyan - V to wean, to separate (esp. lambs) from their mothers

Spout - N  The horizontal part of a gutter at the edge of a roof. The corresponding vertical part is the Down-spout. Gutter itself  is a stream

Sough - N A broad, deep, stagnant gutter, usually choked with seives, intended to lower the water table in a Moss. (Sough of despond?)    - Dickinson has it as Sowe.    See footnote .
Horses often had to be rescued from soughs

Snowk - V To snort, to clear the nostrils inelegantly
               V To sneak about, to pry furtively

Spell or Spelk - N A Splinter

Spraflin - Adj   A perjorative term. ' thoo gurt spraflin gowk'
I didn't know the meaning until I found the the word in the N Westmorland dictionary - A quite, easy person (usually a husband) who is rather soft and ineffectual.

Stark - Adj Strong

Steg - N Gander. 'stalking aboot like a steg on stilts'

Stowp - V To stoop

Stoop, Yat stoop - N Gate post,  particularly one fashioned from a single piece of stone as opposed to a  wooden post. (Post, of course, with a short 'o' since there is no 'e' at the end of the word.)

Stoor, Stour - N airborne dust, particularly that produced by haymaking or harvesting operations or sweeping a barn floor

Sump - N a cess pit used to receive the liquid effluent from byres and calf hools. (see footnote)

Swinways - Adv.  Diagonally, at an angle

Tatie-pot, Tattie-pot - N A traditional dish with potatoes, mutton and black pudding.

Teufet - N. The Lapwing or Peewit. We used this word, correctly, without knowing its meaning, in pronouncing the name of Tewet Tarn. When referring to the bird we used Peewit.

Thrang - Adj  Busy, 'thrang wi t' clippin'

Toitle owwer - V. to Topple. see Cowp.

Twine - V To complain, to whine

Twined - Adj  Twisted

Twitch - N  Couch grass

Vanya, Vanneer - Adv. Very nearly!

Whee! - Imp.  Whoa!  Stop!

Wemmel - N Nothing at all to eat. 'If thoo's kysty Thoo'l hev wemmel for dinner'  (c.f. whemmle in the Teesdale lexicon - to overturn a dish)

Whamp - N  Wasp

Wick - N  Maggot of the blowfly. see Mawk
Wick't - Adj.  Mawked, being eaten alive by maggots..
(Grandfather, on hearing  the villain on the wireless declaring "I'm wicked" before committing suicide - ' t'poor bugger was wick't, neeah wonder he did away wid hissel')

Wicket - N A small yat, intended for people rather than for livestock and therefore only found adjacent to the farmstead.

Yak - N Oak, the tree or the wood..

Yakker - N Acre

Yam - N  Home. 'Ah's gaan yam!'

Yammer - V to speak quickly, unintelligibly

Yan, yah, ane - N One (from Scots) ' yan o them things', 'thoo'l kill theesel yah day'. 'She's tyan yan agyan' (she has taken one again i.e. a funny turn  i.e. thrown a fit)
Yance - Adj  Once. Yance ower = once upon a time.
The Scots 'twa' for two was less often used and then only in jocular allusion to the Twa Dogs pub in Keswick. Yan, tan, tethera ...for sheep counting was never heard.

Yat - N Gate

Yow N Ewe

Yowlet - N Owl  also Jinny howelt

 

Š copyright 2009 Low Nest Farm