A Canny Craik – Issue 2

I am often dismayed by those people of the Northeast who show disdain for their accent. Yet had they been born Scottish or Welsh, I feel sure they would have felt no such embarrassment. I can understand their desire to speak an affected form of English: devoid of the Tyneside lilt, the rolling Bedlington r’s or, God forbid, the utter shame of blurting out, ‘Wye aye, man!’ to your London boss. There is little doubt that those who speak with a Northeast dialect or accent are often viewed as uneducated, working class or simply, speaking ‘slang’, none of which of course are true.
In future issues we shall be addressing some of the reasons behind this.

For now we continue our quest of Taking Pride in Wor Language with the announcement of a Dialect Writing Contest to be launched by the WORD library and sponsored by us here at Northumbrian Words with the support of the Northumbrian Language Society.

We look forward to hearing your comments and if you haven’t already signed up, we invite you to do so on our Home Page.

Gaan Canny Hinnies!

Special Announcement

NEW! Dialect Writing Contest

We are excited to announce the launch of a new dialect writing contest by the WORD library in South Shields, sponsored by Northumbrian Words and supported by the Northumberland Language Society. The dialects of the Northeast are an important part of our heritage with roots in the most ancient history of this land. It should not be allowed to be forgotten and this competition will allow writers, both young and old, to indulge in the language of our forefathers.


Featured Article

The Tyneside Keels

Keels unloading at North Shields

Most Tynesiders are familiar with the “The Keel Row”, a popular song dating back to the early 18th century and perhaps the oldest in Tyneside’s incredible song anthology.  But what was a keel and why is its name so special?  



Click here to listen

This audio file comes courtesy of the British Library and features a Durham hill farmer talking about his work. He speaks in a classic dialect, once common in Weardale but now unfortunately becoming a rare occurrence – at least among younger people.

Dialect Story

A High Level View

The High Level Bridge is the oldest of the Tyne Bridges. In a recent interview, Northumberland Words asked her about her life. This is what she had to say.


Featured Word


gentle, fine, careful

“Gan canny noo an’ divvent drive te fast!”
“Aye, wor Jimmy’s a canny lad.”

Origin: ME cunnand, skillful, knowing.
Possibly ON kunnandi.

A common dialect word that is often used to define the Northeast dialect. This well-loved word is used throughout Tyneside, north Durham and south Northumberland. It’s also used in Scotland, where it has the opposite meaning of a mean person.

Source: NED/BG

And Finally…

Geordie is invited to tea with the Queen, so he hops aboard a bus at Worswick Street and heads down to London.  When he arrives at Buckingham Palace, he is ushered into a grand sitting room where the Queen awaits him.
“Watcha, yer majesty”, says Geordie as he gives her a polite little bow, “Aa’m sorry aa’m a bit late, ma’am but the bus was aaful slow gittin doon heor.  Aa’d iv bin quicker ridin’ me cuddy.”  
“Never mind, Geordie!” she smiles, “I am just so very glad you are here at last and delighted you were able to accept my invitation.  Now then, why don’t you sit down while I pour you a cup of tea. And you must be hungry after your long journey,” she points to a large plate of cakes sitting on the table, “Would you like an éclair or a meringue?”
“Noo, yer not wrang yer majesty. Aa just luv them éclairs.”

Think aboot it!

Takin’ Pride in Wor Language!