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William & Betsy Bell
Important though it is for Cumbrians near and far to remember their roots with the sight and sound of dialect words and phrases, it also gives them provenance of who they are and where they have come from.
It is hoped that the many visitors to Cumbria will want to retain a memory of this dialect also, which is the purpose of this little glossary.
Cumbrians have inherited an interesting and diverse dialect that is unique. Its purest form is clearly that of the central core of the hills and valleys but has, at its perimeters, been greatly influenced by the counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and Scotland.
Before the arrival of the Roman emperor Hadrian, the people of Cumberland belonged to a Celtic Carvetii tribe who later joined up with a bigger Iron Age tribe called Brigantes. They spoke a form of Brythonic Celtic that was known as Cumbric.
93mm x 160mm stitched paperback
A man’s language is his identity and inheritance.
Cumbrians take a particular pride in their dialect. It is a distinctive way of speaking that in its very words reveals their history. At the heart of the accent is a character that has been formed by centuries of history, from the days two thousand years ago when a form of Welsh was spoken among the fells to the later centuries when first the Anglo-Saxons sweeping westwards and then Norse-men from Ireland settled in the valleys.
Then the Normans came and attempted to rule the area in the French language. Over the centuries there developed a peculiar mix of words and sounds which is unique to this area. And of which people are justifiably proud.
This little dictionary is the perfect pocketbook for any native who finds his native language fading before the onslaught from TV and the media and the constant requirement to speak “properly”.
The old words and old ways of saying things have a delight of their own.
They reflect the life and concerns of the community. I’ve always called it a bit of string tied around the trouser legs, but a Cumbrian farmer calls it a ‘yuk’ because its something he needs all the time. He’d fasten it around his ‘keks’
And a word like ‘teemin’ used in a phrase like “it’s reet teeming doon’ must have been used a great deal this summer.
‘Kaisty’ seems the perfect word to describe someone who is over fastidious and pernickety about every bit of food that enters their mouth and that same person is, no doubt, somewhat ‘nesh’ or delicate.
Words like ’keylied’ and ‘kilter’ are almost short plays in themselves: “Let’s gar yam, thoo’s reet kaylied.’ And the consequence: “Ah’m reet oot t’kilter after yisterdah.’
A ‘ketkite’ is a mean person and a ‘lumpheed’ is a silly and a ‘garrak’ an awkward or clumsy one. A ‘marra’ is a mate and a ‘mot’ is a girlfriend. A ‘masher’ is a smart lad or a dandy and not necessarily someone you find ‘mashin’ the tea and certainly not someone who’d work so hard he’d get into a ‘muck-sweat’.
If you’ve got yourself in a muck-sweat you might feel ‘reet paggered’ and ‘fare perishen’. If you’re not too kaisty then a tatie-pot is the ideal thing. You’ll need to get a good ‘wesh’ at the slopst’ne and got yourself freshly ‘smocked –faced’. ‘Efter t’meal’ you can feel ‘ret weel sarrad’ and not bother too much about the ‘reet scrow in t’kitchen’.
The Cumbrian dialect is a wonderfully rich one. All these everyday words seem to be so much more evocative of daily life than their tarted up neighbours that we usually meet with.
It would be nice to think that the dialect is as rich and strong and individual as ever, but I suspect, that rich cache of words and expression that we inherited from the Celts and the Angles and the Norsemen is slowly dwindling away. There’s always new words and jargon and slang to refresh the language but they never seem as characterful as these direct forceful words that are so much part of this county.
This little book might help a little to remind everyone about the rich dialect we possess in the north-west corner of England.
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