Writing in dialect is a particularly tricky challenge. Firstly, there is the dialect itself. As the dialect dictionaries show, each dialect has gathered its own set of words, so you need to be familiar with the vocabulary. Then there is the question of the everyday way of speaking – those phrases that run through the speech, those turns of phrase that declare, with no other words, whereabouts you come from, or where your story is set.
Finally of course, there is the question of getting the sound right. Perhaps the most difficult thing of all is to try and represent the lilt and accent of the speaker.
Listen carefully to the items in the ‘Listen’ section. For most of them, you can write, in standard english, most of what each speaker says. Transcriptions exist for some material, and they use standard english to represent the words used, but they give no idea of the sound of those words. You may use conventions of apostrophes to indicate missing letters, and respelling of common words to try and indicate the sound. Is a gate a gate or a geeat?
If dialect and accent really interest you, try your hand.
You could take an existing english item and rewrite it as it would be in Northumbrian, or you could tell a story wholly in Northumbrian, incorporating our unique words and manner of speech. You could also look out for the ‘competitions’ such as the Northumbrian Gathering, and others which appear from time to time on the internet.
The Northumbrian Language Society is always pleased to receive items using our language, and you can use the contact details given on this website to send material.
Last yeor, yous’ll mind on Aah went ti Lunnon ti taalk tithi Kween. Whan Aah got back hyem, Aah waas that full o mesel wor lass tellt is ti gan in thi gardin an dee sum
So, theor Aah waas, howkin a bit space for wor beans an onions, whan aall ov a sudden Aah sees coins in amang aall thi clarts, so Aah shooted fer wor lass.
“Hey up!” shu says, pickin one o them up, an keekin at it: “These isn’t yor modern coins. This isna thi Kween’s heed, cos shu’s not got a beord, has shu?”
“Aye, yor reet theor” Aah says, but Aah thowt Aah’d seen thi fyec on thi coin afore, so Aah slipped it inti me breeks, an Aah kept keekin at it ti see if’n Aah cud put a nyem ti thi fyec.
Then Aah seen summat else stickin oot thi grund. “Whaat’s yon?” Aah says.
“lt looks like a byen” shu says.
“ls’t animal, vegetable or mineral?” Aah says.
“Aah divvent knaa” shu says. “Yuh’ll hatta phone yon clivvor folks at thi Roman Museum. They’ll knaa whaat ti dee”. So that’s whaat wuh did.
Whey, the waas that excited bi me ﬁndins, like, the dug aall ower thi gardin an the fund mair coins, an byens, an aall sorts, then the led it off ti Vlndolanda ti resarch it. Aah kept keekin at that coin Aah’d fund, but, tryin ti jaloos whe’s fyec it waas.
An then, one mornin as Aah waas shavin, it hit is. Thi fyec on thi coin waas the syem as thi one i thi mirror! “Bugger me!” Aah says, an wor lass axed is whaat waas wrang. So Aah tellt hor.
“lt’s tekkin yuh a Iang time ti jaloos it” shu says.
Aah axed horwhaat shu ment.
“Whey/’ shu says. “Aah’d cut yor hair thi day wuh fund thi coins an stuff. Sum a thi lowsens must hev faallen on thi byens, cos thi folks at Vindolanda cuddent jaloos wheor thi hairs had cum frae, so the rang is up. The axed is fer a sample a yor hair, an whan the tested it, the fund it waas varry like thi DNA frae thi byens.”
“Gerrawayl” Aah says. “How di yuh knaa that?”
“Whey, Aah got a letter totha day,” shu says, “an the sayd thi byens waas frae thi last king a Northumbria, an the rekkon yor related.”
“Gerrawayl” Aah says agyen. “But, whaat for did yuh say nowt tiv is?”
Shu says “Aah didn’t tell yuh cos Aah jist knaad yuh’d be a reet pain i thi arse if’n yuh’d knaan yuh waas ganna be thi next king a Northumbria!”
Whey, yuh cud a dunshed is doon wiv a stotty.
Waad yuh beleev it?
Mel Thi next king a Northumbria!
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