The renowned Yorkshire dialect is almost as exotic to a Londoner as it is to those on this side of the Atlantic. Hence Tom Birken’s puzzled reaction to his fellow passenger’s warning on the train that marked his entry into Oxgodby: “Thoo’s ga-ing ti git rare an’ soaaked reet doon ti thi skin, maister.”
Where did this fascinating dialect come from? We offer the 9-minute film clip below, tracing the origins of the language in the linguistic wrestling between the Anglo-Saxons and the Viking settlers under the ancient Danelaw, a term which designated the lands under the jurisdiction of the Norse invaders. According to linguists, the compromises that resulted created the English we speak today. Yorkshire villages like Oxgodby were the go-to places for language oh, say about a thousand years ago.
Can’t get enough? Below the video clip we offer two soundtracks of the Yorkshire accent from the British Library – in the first, a man describes his Yorkshire childhood in the 1920s, describing a world very much like Oxgodby.
1) Welwick, Yorkshire: Miss Dibnah explains how to make white bread, brown bread and spice bread. Read a transcript of this recording on the British Library’s ‘Sounds Familiar’ website. Link here.
2) Appleton Roebuck, North Yorkshire: Sydney talks about growing up in the 1920s with six siblings in a small, three-bedroomed house in Appleton Roebuck. Link here.