Mind your language for new Shropshire dialects project

Skelting, wee wowing and ‘that’s the badger’ are among the unique words and phrases used around Shropshire which have been unearthed by a pioneering project studying local dialects.

Hands up who can spot the ‘tumps’ in this picture, looking towards Ironbridge cooling towers from Much Wenlock
Hands up who can spot the ‘tumps’ in this picture, looking towards Ironbridge cooling towers from Much Wenlock

The Local Language Project is the brainchild of Nikki Gittins, from Ludlow, who is compiling a comprehensive record of the dialects of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

So far Nikki, who is a graphic designer, has collected 400 words and phrases, with many having their roots in farming. It is believed to be the first study of its kind to be carried out for well over a century.

She said: “I was brought up around the country way of life and the language used in the area. Several years later I did a masters degree in the south west, and I began to study the oddities in the language used there, compared them to the dialect used in Shropshire.

Poor old EastEnder Zainab is ‘mouldering’ this week
Poor old EastEnder Zainab is ‘mouldering’ this week

“I realised there was a dialect full of richness and history within the Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire area. It was also interesting to discover a large majority of the words and phrases came from industries such as agriculture and mining.”

Nikki decided to collate a database of the local dialect of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and over the past 12 months has collected an exhaustive catalogue through a variety of sources, including many local people submitting words through her website.

She said: “The aim of the project was to originally get the younger generation interested in the dialect of the Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire area, but as research progressed so did the aims.

“I conducted a local dialect survey, aimed at looking at the community’s opinion of their language, the use of it, words they know, how they see the development of technologies have affected the local language, and whether they would like to see a record of this dialect.

“I discovered that 93 per cent of people polled believed there should be some kind record of this particular dialect – something which hasn’t been done in depth since 1878 with Georgina  Jackson’s Shropshire Word Book. And 98 per cent of people polled believe the dialect is important to the social history of the area.

Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em . . . in Shropshire, hapless Frank Spencer could be branded a ‘kefful’
Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em . . . in Shropshire, hapless Frank Spencer could be branded a ‘kefful’

“However just over half said they didn’t use their dialect frequently, that they knew of. The younger generation were using the local dialect less and less. As the older generation were sadly moving on, so was the language.

“With advancements in technology, language could now be learnt nationally and internationally rather than from the local community. The youth of the area were learning words from their peers rather than their elders.”

During her research, Nikki has had many conversations with county residents who remember their parents of grandparents saying odd phrases.

She said: “A wonderful gentleman I spoke to yesterday told a tale of his father’s saying one day on his way home during the day ‘You cunna carry broth in a cloth’.”

And she said she has also noticed ‘an interesting oddity’ in spellings in the local area.

“There are three accepted ways to spell yogurt – with the others being yoghurt and yoghourt,” she said. “But through a variety of tests over the counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire, through different demographics, I have found 100 per cent of Herefordians tested spelt it ‘yoghurt’ and 99 per cent of Salopians tested spelt it ‘yogurt’. ”

Nikki is still collecting words and phrases and hopes to be able to display her findings at exhibitions. She is also in the editing stages of a documentary about the project.

“ I am now looking to collaborate further with societies or organisations in the area to develop this project further and finalise a database of this dialect which anyone can access,” she said.

For more information on the project or to take part in the survey or contribute a word, visit www.locallanguageproject.weebly.com

Comments for: "Mind your language for new Shropshire dialects project"

Owd Mon

Better get on with before we're all speaking Brummie

Nikki Gittins

Thank you Owd, I think we had. I was very disappoint with a book brought out in 2005 which only discussed Birmingham's (Burningham) language under their Midlands chapter.

If you think of any words or phrases please do get in touch.

Also, if you have a minutes, I would greatly appreciate it if you could fill out The Local Dialect Survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VB8PLQH). It only takes five minutes, and would be of great help to the research.

Best Wishes

Nikki

The Local Language Project

www.thelocallanguageproject.com

localdialect@gmail.com

Owd 'Un

My Dad was from Trench and often used the word 'sniving' as in 'busy' or 'crowded'. No proof that it was a Trench area word though, perhaps it just amused him.

Prudence Humphreys

Very interested in old Shropshire words here are one or two

Quice. Pigeon. Pikle Pitch fork. Dunna. Must not. There is saying that goes with this and Cuna

Nikki Gittins

Dear Prudence,

Thank you very much for your words, I will get them up on the website within the next few days.

If you think of any more, please do get in contact - local dialect@gmail.com

Also, if you have a minutes, I would greatly appreciate it if you could fill out The Local Dialect Survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VB8PLQH). It only takes five minutes, and would be of great help to the research.

Best Wishes

Nikki

The Local Language Project

www.thelocallanguageproject.com

localdialect@gmail.com

Gwen Moon

Hello,

I am a teacher at a secondary school in Wellington and we are doing a Spoken Language Study as part of the year 10s GCSEs. They have been learning about dialect and it would be brilliant if you could share some of the local words from around Dawley, Wellington, Shrewsbury.

Please e-mail me.

Many thanks.

Gwen

Nikki Gittins

Hi Gwen,

That is wonderful! I am so pleased the younger generation is being taught the language.

Please email me local dialect@gmail.com and we can arrange something.

Best Wishes

Nikki

The Local Language Project

www.thelocallanguageproject.com

localdialect@gmail.com

towbar

Do not accept contributions from anyone who pronounces Shrewsbury as SHROWSBRAY.....Oswestry as OZWESSTREE or .......Knockin as KNOCKIN.

The towns are SHOESBREE .... OZZUSTREE ....... and NUCKIN

Nikki Gittins

Thank you very much for this - it is very interesting the variety of accents from around the counties.

If you think of any more, or have any words or phrases, please do get in contact - local dialect@gmail.com

Also, if you have a minutes, I would greatly appreciate it if you could fill out The Local Dialect Survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VB8PLQH). It only takes five minutes, and would be of great help to the research.

Best Wishes

Nikki

The Local Language Project

www.thelocallanguageproject.com

localdialect@gmail.com

James

"ow bis Shag" (how are you doing mate) and the usual Cunna, Wanna, Shanna no idea if I have spelt any of this correctly

Mrs Jill Marshall

My near neighbour here in Cambridgeshire has a few sheep.

He is the son of retired Brecon farmers so my greeting is always,"How bist the awd ship?