Take a walk up memory ginnell…

British Library
British Library

Or to most of us, memory lane.

When I moved up north I was instantly struck by one aspect (and PLEASE, northerners, don’t attack me for saying this) – they talk differently up here. True, I come from a place where they just DON’T put gravy with chips, but these guys seemed to have their own language! My step-dad helped me move boxes into my student accommodation and was more than taken aback to be called a cocker by the security guard on duty. It turned out to be a pally term for friend, but we were left wondering why we’d just been insulted…

I married a northerner. My kids are northern now. Friends and family say that I still talk dead posh like, but the odd ‘alien word’ has slipped into my dialect. I now say ‘pants’ instead of ‘trousers’ and my mum always thinks I am talking about my underwear. I now say ‘mither’ instead of ‘annoy’ and I even know what a ginnell is (also sometimes called a snicket; sounds so much more fun than a plain old alleyway or lane…).

My husband was bought a Lincolnshire phrase book by my step-dad after discussing this in length- a conversation that involved all manner of over yonders, snecking the gate and being jarred off- and some of the phrases are just downright unreadable. Let alone unpronouncable. When my mum met my step-dad, we could barely understand a word he was saying…

The whole language thing fascinates me and it seems I’m not alone. The British Library is running an intriguing online exhibition dedicated to this very subject, called Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices. The exhibition promises to explore the English Language and focuses on slang, regional dialect and more. The online exhibition is interactive and there’s the chance to record your own voice (reading a Mr Tickle story- how great is that?!) and, my favourite part- I am a teacher after all- there is a quiz. I am proud to tell you that I scored 6/6 and just because it says it was easy, doesn’t mean it was, you know…

The online exhibition is running until the 3rd April and for the fellow teachers out there, the resources look great. I’m going to get the kids to map their voices later. In the meantime, I must dash, elocution lessons don’t pay for themselves you know…

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6 responses to “Take a walk up memory ginnell…

  • waterbirthplease

    AHA! A chance to rant! I too, being from Grimsby, am a northernerand yet even I didn’t get the Bolton lingo. So Boltoners – here’s a few tips! “Toffes” means Toffee! Not any old sweet. Don’t offer me a fruit pastel and say “Do you want a toffee” I’ll never get used to it! Also, it’s Bus , not Buzz. Ginnel and Mither I’ve now got used to, so I’ll let you off there, but PASTIE BARMS? WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT??!
    Great post x

    • Mummy Beadzoid

      OMG! Minty, you are from Grimsby? So am I! Small small world. Do you find the voices scary when you go back? Hehe.

      I really enjoyed this post. I love being exposed to other regional dialects but felt like I’d moved to a foreign country when I moved to Leeds. They just don’t use prepositions and they speak so quickly that they’ve said another 100 words by the time you’ve fingured out what they said 2 seconds ago.

      Now I’m in the Midlands it’s different again. When I taught in Birmingham for a term I just wanted to laugh everytime a kid opened their mouth (sorry Brummies!). I love accents and am fascinated by the different words that are used.

      I mean, batch for a bun? Come on!

      Still, for Minty – have you heard ‘spoggy’ anywhere else but Grimsby? 🙂 xXx

  • Him Up North

    I say, how terribly regionalist…

    Try listening to some of my relatives. I can translate broad Yorkshire and am available as an interpreter for soft southerners.

    🙂

  • Miss Behaving

    Funny, glad you’ve got a handle on it. I forget a lot of my Yorkshire. When I was a kid though I moved from one part of Yorkshire where they called sweets ‘goodies’ to another part where they were called ‘spice’ I was literally laughed off the school bus and I don’t know what I was doing wrong iwth my pronounciation of chicken but I never lived it down.
    Never heard anyone say pants for trousers in Yorkshire though

  • mummy@bodfortea

    The evolution of language is fascinating. I definitely have different words for things from OH and we’re got our own unique words for things too that have just evolved since we’ve been together. Wonder whether they’ll end up being in common use one day?! (P.S. Well I just had to have a go at that quiz too and I got 6/6! :D)

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