Researchers who want to find out if the Yorkshire dialect of the 1950s has survived are organizing a roadshow in two local museums.
The pop-up dialect tests at the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes and the Ryedale Folk Museum at Hutton-le-Hole compare the speech still used in rural Yorkshire with words that were used in rural areas in the 1950s.
After the Second World War, a large field study was conducted by researchers traveling through England to talk to people in farming communities at a time when it was feared that traditional dialects would become extinct as the population became more mobile and urban.
Subjects – mostly men over 65 – were asked for the words they used to describe everyday objects, and their answers were summarized.
With a grant of £ 500,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the University of Leeds has been able to update the research, which is stored in its special collection archives in a series of handwritten notebooks and tape recordings.
They hope to be able to speak to some of the descendants of the original interviewees by holding roadshows on rural life in several museums.
The original questions show a clear trend that reflected the gender roles of the time, with men being asked about agriculture, nature and weather, while women from the 1950s were asked to talk about home economics and cooking.
English Lecturer Fiona Douglas of Leeds University said, "I'm not just looking for old men with good teeth who have not moved anywhere, I want to see how much the dialect has changed.
"We will talk to people whose families have not lived in an area for generations, as well as those who have their roots in the same place for hundreds of years, and we want to involve everyone's language."
"Dialect is a really great way to get a glimpse of the language of the past.
"If you, your parents, grandparents or other relatives have any connection to these historical dialect studies, the project would love to hear from you."
The pop-up dialect kit will include the Dales Countryside Museum and North Yorkshire Ryedale Folk Museum, the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings at Worcestershire, and the Museum of
East Anglian Life in Suffolk and the Weald and Downland Living Museum in West Sussex.
What were the words commonly used in the countryside in the 1950s?
– freckles – ferntickles, murfles, brannyspreckles, brunny-spots, vrackles or frantittles
– Left-Handed – Cack-Handed, Cat-Handed, Coochy-Pawed, Gibble-Fisted, Left-Kaggy, Squippy
– Packed Lunch – A bait, jock, snap
– Splinters – magic, magic, splinter, spill
– icicles – ice bugs, ice-candles, ice daggers, ice buckets, sickles, clinkers, ice bells, conker bells
– Daddy Long Legs – Corn Girl, John Long Legs, Long Leg Trimmer, Jenny Shard, Lady Milord, Spindles, Harvestmen
– Cobbler – Shoemaker, Reither, Nobby, Shoey, Snobbler, Stubby
– Porridge Stick – Mundle, Patter, Pot Stick, Thrivel, Speltle, Gull-Thivel
– One gossip – Blatherskite, Cagmag, Cank, Jaffock, Yapper, Chammer, Gallivanter
– Bogeyman – Boggart, Bogle, Bobby, Bugaboo, Jenny Wisp, Old Harry