Northumbrian. The Language
Everyone knows at least some of the words of “The Blaydon Races”, that anthem of North-East England, while the sounds of the area’s speech are now familiar to many outside the area through such T.V. programmes as “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” & “When the Boat Comes In” and even radio’s “The Archers”. But there’ s more to the Northumbrian language than “gannin alang the Scotswood Road” and “hawway the lads” — this rich, lively and expressive language is inherited directly from the Anglian speech of the Venerable Bede, Saint Cuthbert and, later, Harry Hotspur, with its own ancient and continuing literature. As a means of communication within the Northumbrian community it has survived for one and a half thousand years.
Yet modern influences – greater mobility, compulsory education, national broadcasting networks and contact with other English-speaking countries – are ironing out local differences in speech, and a wealth of vocabulary and characteristic accents are in danger of dying out. National schools’ inspectors have acknowledged that a locality’s own language is just as valid as any other form of English and should not be deemed “inferior”. However, the decline in the use of Northumbrian words & pronunciations has been marked over the last century — so, the Northumbrian Language Society was formed in 1983.
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