The dialects of Northumberland and Durham are as important to the region’s culture and heritage as Hadrian’s Wall, Broon Ale or the popular song, “Blaydon Races”.

To help preserve and to illustrate this unique language, the Northumbrian Words Project features a wide collection of spoken and written examples, as well as various articles about the dialect and those who studied it.


CUSHARTS

When I look through the French doors of my Hexham home and watch the wood pigeons greedily gorging on the grass seeds I have painstakingly scattered on my threadbare lawn, it is hard to imagine these fat, waddling birds as close cousins to the elegant dove.  But indeed, that is what they are.  Since the […]

HOWDON FOR JARROW

Oliver Heslop wrote this song in 1879 when industrial Tyneside was reaching its peak with shipyards, foundries, rope, and chemical works proliferating along both banks of the Tyne. There had been a ferry running between the towns of Howdon and Jarrow since the mid-1800s, the crossing possibly being first established in the Middle Ages when […]

TALKING PROPER (or Taakin’ Propa)

Have you ever had people tell you that you need to ‘talk proper’? Made fun of your accent? Treat you as though you were somehow uneducated? Tried to imitate you? If so, you are not alone.  History has not been kind to regional dialect in Britain, its use having been belittled and disparaged for more than […]

HAAK’S MEN

This delightful and humorous short-story tells of how a group of Geordie workmen from the old Gateshead engineering firm of Hawkes & Company, threatened and eventually vanquished Napoleon Bonaparte, thereby winning the Battle of Waterloo. Written by John Atlantic Stephenson (1829-1916?) it is thought to have been first published around 1890 when it appeared in […]

THE DIALECT TEST

This short clip is from the play, Geordie: The Musical, performed at the Customs House Theatre in South Shields. It features a young Oxford University student, John Thompson (Adam Donaldson), who has been sent to Tyneside in order to conduct a series of dialect tests. The subject of the tests is none other than Tommy […]

A DURHAM DIALECT

This audio file features a Durham hill farmer talking about his work. He speaks in a classic dialect which once commonly heard in Weardale

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Taakin’ pride in wor language