Weardale, Tyneside, Geordie, Ashington, Northumberland or Sunderland? Defining a specific dialect can be difficult but whatever form it may take, everyone would agree that the Northumbrian dialect is unique.
There are actually several sub-dialects spoken throughout the region, all of which stemmed from the Anglo-Saxon language (Old English) and more specifically, the language of the Angles who were the predominant settlers in the region after the departure of the Romans.
Because it is such an important part of the Northumbrian heritage, the dialect deserves to be preserved and studied for what it is; the remnants of an historic language that actually pre-dates modern English.
The over-arching goal of Northumbrian Words is to instill a sense of pride in the use of dialect by encouraging people to embrace its heritage. For speaking in dialect – or merely with a pronounced accent – should not be considered as wrong or working-class or slang. It’s Northumbrian; an ancient and beautiful language.
To accomplish its objective Northumbrian Words aims to entertain, enlighten and educate by reaching out to people through series of initiatives:
- Provide financial support in the form of an annual grant to existing organisations for projects that promote the dialect.
- Work with various organizations to jointly establish and promote a dialect writing contest. (The Harry Haldane Writing Competition).
- Develop an educational plan and materials for dialect teaching in schools.
- Create and maintain a website offering frequently updated articles and information pertaining to the dialect, in a magazine-type format.
Why is the project called ‘Northumbrian Words’?
There are several descriptions associated with speaking dialect, perhaps the most popular being ‘Geordie’. But the word ‘Geordie’ is limited to Tyneside and doesn’t aptly relate to the people of Sunderland or Bedlington, for example, whose dialects are subtly different from that spoken in say, Newcastle. Simply referring it as a Northeast dialect sounded too bland and so the word Northumbrian was adopted to describe the ancient region covering the counties of Durham and Northumberland. This is reflected in the Project’s logo that merges both county flags into a single emblem.
What is the difference between a Northeastern accent and a Northumbrian dialect?
A dialect is considered to be a branch of an existing language containing a unique vocabulary, grammar and cadence. However, when people refer to an ‘accent’ they are generally referring to the cadence or intonation of a person’s speech. Northumbrian has a very distinctive sound, not only in the pronunciation of individual letters with its flat-sounding vowels but also in the distinctive lilt of spoken sentences.
Who provides the online content?
Anyone with an interest in the Northumbrian dialect can submit articles, essays, poems or other media for publication on this site. For guidelines on submissions please click here.