How To Talk Northern

It’s been amazing to spend the last 4 weeks in the UK where I can talk as fast as I like and everyone understands me. No need to properly enunciate every word, put pauses in my sentences so non native speakers can keep up, or otherwise have to regulate my speech. At least, this is what I thought. But it’d been a while a while since I spent much time with any southerners. I’d forgotten that they don’t necessarily understand everything we northerners say.

Ginnel and vac are just two words that have had my southern friend staring at me with that ‘what on earth did you just say’ look on her face lately.

But, much more importantly, it seems down south they don’t quite get how we say things. For up north, where we are frugal with our adjectives, it’s all in the inflection and not the choice of words.

 

Southern sentence – northern sentence.

That was the most magnificent meal I’ve ever eaten – It was all right.

I really enjoyed that meal – It was all right.

The food was good – It was all right.

That was quite a mediocre meal – It was all right.

I’ve had better – It was all right.

That was awful, by far the worst meal I’ve ever eaten – That was rubbish.

 

Funny how the English language separates us even county to county, isn’t it? Or perhaps I just need to get over my natural northern aversion to adjectives…

What weird English language barriers have you come up against between native English speakers?

 

29 Comments on How To Talk Northern

  1. notsupermum
    February 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm (3 years ago)

    Hahahaha!! Love this, and so so true. S’alright covers so many things doesn’t it?

    Reply
    • Heather
      February 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm (3 years ago)

      Doesn’t it just!

      Reply
  2. Olli
    February 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm (3 years ago)

    I was pretty shocked when a female American co-worker asked me if I fancied coming with her to shop for a fanny-bag.

    Reply
    • Heather
      February 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm (3 years ago)

      Wow, that offer brings all sorts of images it mind, doesn’t it?

      Reply
    • Olli
      February 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm (3 years ago)

      PS: I think Nothern food is alright, btw.

      Reply
      • Heather
        February 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm (3 years ago)

        yeah, it’s alright.

        Reply
  3. Dumdad
    February 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm (3 years ago)

    A blogpost in February? Steady on girl, you’ll get writer’s cramp! I used to be a northerner (my dad was a Yorkshireman) and then we lived in Kent and I became a southerner and now I live in Paris. Confusing. Ginnel and vac? Is that as in fuckinghell and fack? I think I’ve been away from home too long. I’ve always liked that word mardi as in you mardi-arse etc.

    Reply
      • Heather
        February 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm (3 years ago)

        ha. I love that!

        Reply
    • Heather
      February 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm (3 years ago)

      I know, right?! Tis a wonder my fingers haven’t worn down to nubs. Ginnel is an alleyway and a vac is a vacuum cleaner/hoover. It’s also a verb: to vac. Mardi is ace btw, had forgotten about that one!

      Reply
      • Dumdad
        February 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm (3 years ago)

        Oops, just shows what a dirty mind I have. I need to vac my brains. But ginnel said with the right inflection can sound what I thought it was!

        Reply
        • Heather
          February 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm (3 years ago)

          True. Although technically I believe that would start with a K.

          Reply
  4. Very Bored in Catalunya
    February 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm (3 years ago)

    We call a ginnel a twitchel in the East Midlands. The best & worst thing about going home is hearing your regional accent and then talking in it!

    Reply
    • Heather
      February 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm (3 years ago)

      a twitchel? that’s funny. I might have to start using it just to confuse even more people. I know what you mean, I’ve started to develop a proper northern accent again. Not sure if this is a good thing or not…

      Reply
  5. Pete Jordan
    February 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm (3 years ago)

    We have “tenfoots” here in Hull, which tends to confuse. For the uninitiated, they’re ginnels back of a house, roughly ten foot wide (as indeed might be expected).

    Reply
    • Heather
      February 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm (3 years ago)

      tenfoots – another new one on me. Oh the fun i’m going to have with al these new words.

      Reply
      • Iota
        February 15, 2012 at 3:18 am (3 years ago)

        Bother. I was going to impress you with ‘tenfoots’ but someone got there first.

        Reply
  6. bettythewoodfairy
    February 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm (3 years ago)

    I had a northerner on the phone at work the other day who was very abrupt and I thought being rude – ‘not rude girly, us Northerners just talk straight’ he said.

    Reply
  7. EmmaK
    February 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m pretty sure there should be a google translater North to South. I have never really been able to understand anyone from Newcastle which makes me a bell end I know but such is life!

    Reply
  8. Gappy
    February 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm (3 years ago)

    Ha! Like you I do. Y’alright.

    Reply
  9. Midlife singlemum
    February 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm (3 years ago)

    My Mum was almost reported to the child-welfare people because my brother told a dinner lady that we only got a glass of orange squash and a biscuit for our tea. Finally someone thought to ask if we had anything else before bedtime. Yes, we had supper: soup, meat, greens and potatoes, and something for afters.

    Reply
  10. Expat Mum
    February 15, 2012 at 2:28 am (3 years ago)

    Try being in the USA, where we’re all supposed to speak English. You could write a book….oh wait, I did!
    And up in the far north east (of England) everything is just “mint”!

    Reply
  11. Gigi
    February 15, 2012 at 2:37 am (3 years ago)

    How funny that “across the Pond” there is also confusion between the north and the south….we have the same issue here; those darn Yankees (Northerners) have NO idea what it means when we say “I’m fixin to go to the store” (I’m about to go to the store)or a host of other things.

    Then throw an American into reading blogs from across the pond and trying to decipher what the hell we just read! More times than I can count I’ve had to google phrases just to figure out what was being said.

    Reply
  12. Iota
    February 15, 2012 at 3:24 am (3 years ago)

    My Mum was a northerner, but it never occurred to me why she called me “Pet” while all my friends’ mums called them “Darling” or “Dear” or “Sweetie”.

    Do you remember that tv advert “Do the Shake ‘n’ Vac and put the freshness back”? I can’t resist the temptation to look it up for you. Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6Y93daLAeo

    Reply
  13. Steve
    February 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm (3 years ago)

    Eh?!

    Reply
  14. janerowena
    February 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm (3 years ago)

    It’s a twitten in Kent!

    My father-in-law is a northerner, I am well acquainted with ‘It was all right’ with various inflexions – even once ‘It were a bit of alright’ which made my day! (Steak and kidney pie)

    Reply
  15. Sarah May
    February 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm (3 years ago)

    I was born in the West Midlands and then moved to Scotland. Now I live in Germany.

    I live in confusion.

    Reply
  16. northernmum
    March 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Ginnel – I walk my dog down a ginnel, my southern neighbour calls it a path, its not a path its a bloody ginnel.

    Reply
  17. Mrs TeePot
    March 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm (3 years ago)

    ROFL! Speak for yourself! I’m Northern and I use loads of fabulous adjectives ;)

    Reply

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