Tag: dialects

Lost Words Writing Competition

GADGIES, hinnies, lads and lasses, are invited to put pen to paper for a geet canny writing competition.

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, at South Shields, is calling on adults and those aged from 12 to 19 to submit short stories which celebrate the North East dialect.

“It’s quite clear to us that our dialect is as relevant and important to us now as it has ever been…”

Tania Robinson, Head of Culture at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word

And there will be cash prizes for the winners of the adult category with vouchers for the best entry in the junior section.

Earlier this year The Word unveiled its Word Bank of Lost Dialects – a collection of 2400 words and phrases donated by the public, which would once have been part of everyday language in the shipyards, mines and in street games and social gatherings.

Competition entrants are encouraged to use the Word Bank (which is available online by clicking here) to construct a contemporary short story between 500 and 1000 words in length.

The competition opens on 28 October and closes on 28 February 2020 and the winning entries will be announced at a celebratory Wor Dialect Day event during The Word’s WRITE Festival in June 2020.

Tania Robinson, Head of Culture at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, said the competition is a continuation of the venue’s mission to “celebrate the words, sayings and expressions that are unique to us here in the North East.

“We were amazed and delighted with the response to our Word Bank of Lost Dialects project,” she said.

“It’s quite clear to us that our dialect is as relevant and important to us now as it has ever been and we hope as many people as possible will take part in the competition – and bring these unique, funny and much-loved words to a wider audience.”

“Our dialect is as important to our heritage as Hadrian’s Wall or Durham Cathedral.”

Andy Bogle, The Northumbrian Words Project

The Word’s dialect short story competition, alongside celebratory events and new commissions scheduled for Wor Dialect Day, is being funded by and delivered in partnership with The Northumbrian Words Project, which aims to instil a sense of pride in the use of dialect by encouraging people to embrace its heritage.

Andy Bogle, of The Northumbrian Words Project, said: “Our dialect is as important to our heritage as Hadrian’s Wall or Durham Cathedral.

“We should not allow it to die and the only way that’s going to happen is for us to understand its ancient roots and to lose our fear of using it. We are therefore delighted to be able to encourage its use by supporting The Word in launching this dialect writing competition.” 

As well as funding support from The Northumbrian Words Project, the adults’ category of the competition will also be in partnership with Morpeth-based Northumbrian Language Society, which promotes, preserves, researches and publishes work about the North East dialect.

The young writers’ category, targeting 12-19 year olds, will be will be delivered in partnership with New Writing North, which runs young writers’ groups across the North East.

Competition Details

To enter the competition, click on the appropriate category below:

Adult Category

Youth Category

Mapping English

The Improbable Legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Nephew

Louis-Lucien Bonaparte was born in 1813 in Worcester where his father, a brother of Napoleon, had been imprisoned following his capture by the Royal Navy while on his way to America after falling-out with his powerful brother.  At the age of one, his parents returned to their Italian estate where Lucien grew up.  He studied chemistry and mineralogy in Italy before serving in various elected positions with the French government.  Louis-Lucien was awarded the title of  ‘Prince’ by his cousin and thus became a member of the French aristocracy under the Second French Empire.  In the early 1850s, at the end of France’s Second Republic, he returned to England where he took up residence in London and became immersed in his love of modern languages; researching and publishing books and guides on European languages and dialects at his own expense. 

“Scholastic interest in (dialects) grew throughout the 19th century prompted by the academic advances in the study of Old English and consequent realisation of the ancient pedigree of much dialect vocabulary. … The intention was presumably to show how sonorous and effective the varieties of local dialect could be as spoken – and literary? – languages.”

Bill Griffiths
North East Dialect: The Texts, Centre for Northern Studies, University of Northumberland, 2000.

Prince Louis-Lucien Bonaparte was an accomplished linguist who was extremely knowledgeable in just about every European language as well as many of the dialects, particularly in the Basque language in which he was a recognized expert. He was extremely well-connected counting Gladstone as a friend and occasionally dining with Queen Victoria at her Windsor residence. Although Louis-Lucien’s private income started to dry-up after the fall of the Second Empire, in 1883 he was granted a civil list pension for his work on English dialects. He died in Fano, Italy in 1915 and was buried in St Mary’s cemetery in Kensal Green, London.

His dialect studies draw upon both written texts and the results of field work, which consisted of the direct interrogation of native speakers. The written versions were generally produced by collaborators who had been expressly instructed to record only those forms that were contemporary, not deliberate archaisms and those that were native to their region.

In 1862 he published a compilation of 24 dialectal translations of the Old Testament passage, The Song of Solomon, which he commissioned from local dialectologists from throughout England and southern Scotland.
According to a register of his known works, six Biblical translations were commissioned in the Northumbrian dialects, four of which appear in The Song of Solomon:
The Song of Solomon in the Durham Dialect as Spoken at St. John’s Chapel by Thomas Moore, 1859
The Song of Solomon in the Northumbrian Dialect by Joseph Philip Robson
The Song of Solomon in the Newcastle Dialect by John George Foster, 1858
The Song of Solomon in the Newcastle Dialect by Joseph Philip Robson, 1859  

Two other translations are also noted in the register:
The Book of Ruth in the Northumberland Dialect by J. P. Robson, 1860
The Song of Solomon from the English Translation into the Dialect of the Colliers of Northumberland but Particularly Those Dwelling on the Banks of the Tyne by J. P. Robson, 1860.

The Song of Solomon was published in 26 different dialects from throughout England and southern Scotland.

The translations were featured in the play, Geordie: The Musical, written by Jarrow playwright Tom Kelly and originally performed at the Customs House Theatre in South Shields. In the scene below, an enthusiastic Tommy Armstrong, (Micky Cochrane) responds to Oxford student, John Thompson (Adam Donaldson), and translates The Song of Solomon into three Northumbrian dialects. The audience shows its delight as Tommy Armstrong easily slips between dialects.

Excerpts from the Song of Solomon in Northumbrian Dialects:

Weardale Dialect
2.8       T’voice uv me beloved! Behowld, he cumeth lowpin attoppa t’moontens, skippin atoppa t’hills.
2.9       Me beluved’s leyke a roe er a young hart: behowld, he stands ahint our wo, he lewks furth at t’windows, showen hissel through t’lattice.   

Newcastle Dialect
2.8       The voice o’maw beluived! seesta’, he comes lowpin’ upon the moontins, skippin ower the hills.
2.9       Maw beluived is like a roe or a young hart: seesta’, he stan’s ahint wor wa’, he luiks oot at the windis, showin’ his-sel thro the lattis.

Northumbrian Dialect
2.8       Wheest! It’s the voice o’maw luve!  Leuk! Thunder he cums lowpin’ upon the moontins, an skurryin ower the hills.
2.9       Maw troo-luve’s like a buck or a leish deer: assa! he’s stannin ahint wor wa’; he’s leukin’ oot o’ the windors, an showing’ hissel’ thro’ the panes.

St James’ Bible
2.8       The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
2.9       My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice.


Out of The Confusion of Tongues: Louis-Lucien Bonaparte (1813-1891).  British Library.
The Song of Solomon in Twenty-Four English Dialects: compiled by Prince Louis-Lucien Bonaparte, 1862
Several of these publications, including the Song of Solomon in Twenty-Four English Dialects, can be viewed on Google Play Books.