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Friday, 6 August 2010

Pitmatic...


I just wanted to explain a little about where I'm coming from when I mentioned 'Pitmatic' in my last post...

Pitmatic, you see, is the local dialogue that peculiarly sprang up around the pit (coal-mining) villages of south east Northumberland, and Durham, from whence the Well of Fhina springs... Since I've been carrying out the ancestral research, so much of my family was mining stock, it's hardly surprising I'm cut of the same cloth, or mining from the same coal-seam!

From ma soeur, la Wiki:

"Pitmatic is a dialect of English used in the counties of Northumberland and Durham in England. It developed as a separate dialect from Northumbrian andGeordie partly due to the specialised terms used by mineworkers in the local coal pits. For example, in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear the word Cuddy is an abbreviation of the name Cuthbert (who was one of our famous Saints!) but in Durham Pitmatic cuddy denotes a horse, specifically a pit pony. In Lowland Scots, cuddie usually refers to a donkey or ass but may also denote a short, thick, strong horse.

Traditionally, pitmatic, together with some rural Northumbrian communities including Rothbury, used a guttural 'rrrr' sound, rolling their 'r's. This is now less frequently heard; since the closure of the area's deep mines, many younger people speak in local ways that do not usually include this characteristic. The guttural r sound can, however, still sometimes be detected, especially amongst elderly populations in more rural areas. Indeed it can!


While in theory pitmatic was spoken throughout the Great Northern Coalfield, from Ashington in Northumberland to Fishburn in County Durham, early references apply specifically to its use by miners especially from the Durham district (1873) and to its use in County Durham (1930).

Nowadays "pitmatic" is an uncommon term in popular usage. In recent times, all three dialects have converged, acquiring features from more Standard English varieties. English as spoken in County Durham has been described as "half-Geordie, half-Teesside" (see the article about Mackem).

Melvyn Bragg presented a programme on BBC Radio 4 about pitmatic as part of a series on regional dialects".


Did he now! The tinker!

Pitmatic goes back to Anglo Saxon times, and olde English... There are words we still use that are different, although my accent, (after years of living away from the region), is not as strong as my parents was...

clag - to stick - "He's as soft as claggy taffy, man!" He isn't very strong

clarts - fouled sheeps' wool - "Ah, man, I'm aall clarty!" - I've been in mud and am thick of dirt...

cloot - a cloth: 'Aa'll pin a dish-cloot te yor tail' (Keep out of the kitchen!)

cowp - to upset: 'He varrny cowp'd his creels' He almost (very near) went head over heels... A somersault...

dunch - to knock against, to nudge - Divven't dunchus, wah Geordies!

hap - an overcoat, or coverlet: "Put a hap on the bed"

hap - to heap up, to cover: "Hap weel up, it's a caad neet oot." Get well covered up. It's a cold night!"


I'm sure I'll return to Pitmatic words, just to spread your vocabulary, like...

It's dying out. As language tends to.

Something to record and treasure, methinks...

"Gan canny noo, ***hinny!" -- 'Take care of yourselves, go carefully...'


***'Hinny' is a Scots and Northumbrian, also Geordie, term of affection and perhaps derives from 'honey', or 'hen'...

4 comments:

Saz said...

l have difficulty understanding the dialect around Carlisle at times, event he kids come home often with a stronger twang... eh?

Melvyn comes from a small town very near Carlisle called Wigton and the accent and phrases and different words from there sounds like a different language altogether!!

love this post, glad you wrote it !! even though l dont understand it all!!
luv saz x

Lisa-Marie said...

I'm from a mining village in Ayrshire (Scotland), and I know almost all of those words. All of the men in my family were miners right until our pit closed.

Suldog said...

Fascinating! I love studies in dialects of English, with history of how they came to be, and examples of interesting words. Thanks for introducing me to one I'd never heard about before!

文王廷 said...

你不能決定生命的長度,但你可以控制它的寬度..................................................................

Something I wrote earlier...

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