Yorkshire Folk Talk


Danish comparisons



Written in 1892 by the

Rev. M.C.F. Morris B.C.L., M.A.



To anyone who is acquainted with the folk-speech of East Yorkshire a visit to Denmark cannot but be deeply interesting. Everyone knows that the languages of the two peoples have much in common; nay, it is not too much to say that the backbone of the Yorkshire dialect is Danish pure and simple. This has been from time to time brought out and exemplified by others who have written upon the subject. When one hears Danish spoken in some of the country districts, the likeness is in some respects still more striking than it appears when written, as I will presently briefly draw attention to in one or two particulars. A Danish friend of mine, an artist, told me some years ago that when he first came to England to sketch and study on our Yorkshire coast, he knew but little of our language, and absolutely nothing of our Northern dialects: he took up his abode for a time near Flamborough, and used frequently to listen attentively to the broad speech of the Flamborough fishermen, which contained so many Danish words and modes of expression that he could at once make out much of what they were talking about without any difficulty. I subsequently sent my friend a specimen of our North Riding dialect, requesting him to make notes of words and expressions therein that were familiar to him in Denmark. When he returned the document the notes were so numerous as quite to surprise me at first; though when we consider the extent and character of the Danish occupation of this part of England, it is hardly to be wondered at that its indelible impression upon the language of the people still remains so clearly and deeply marked; in fact it would have been strange had it been otherwise. During the year 1890 I made two journeys to Denmark to stay with Danish friends; once to the extreme East of the country within a few miles of the Swedish coast, and once to the extreme West, within hearing of the roar of 'Vesterhavet' as it lashes in its fury the long low sandy shores of Jutland. To me these visits were full of interest. My friend in the West was unsurpassed in his knowledge of the Danish dialects and folk-lore, and being an excellent English scholar, I learnt much from him. I had, too, an opportunity of hearing the Danish folk-talk spoken in its fulness, for the people of that part had mixed but little with the outer world, and in their speech and customs were not far removed from their fore-elders of former centuries.

At most the first place I visited in the neighbourhood was the island of Fano. This is the most northerly of the Frisian group, and the only one of them which still belongs to Denmark. It was a sunny day in July when I crossed over the narrow belt of water which separates Fano from the mainland. The impressions made by what I saw on this quaint little island I shall not easily forget. In days gone by, each of the different islands had its own peculiar costumes; but, sad to say, the irresistible force of fashion has broken through traditional usage, and Fano alone remains faithful to its old and pretty fancy in the matter of dress. The Fano folk have nothing to say to the latest Paris novelties; they know better what suits them: it is a picturesque sight on a Sunday morning to see the streams of people - men, women, and children, book in hand, scrupulously tidy and clean in appearance, wending their way to the Kirk, the women clad in costumes and decked with adornments similar to those of generations long passed away, which I will not attempt here to describe, while the children are taught to know or at least to like no other garb. I will only add in passing that it requires seven ske'ts, as we call them in Yorkshire, of fourteen feet each, in order to make a dress for a Fano woman - that is, nearly thirty-three yards of material, which seemed to be somewhat in excess of what is usually thought enough in this part of the country; but these ample folds contribute to the appearance as well as to the warmth of the dress.

My return journey from Fano to the mainland was attended with some little risk of being stranded. There were two Danes with me when we hired the boat to take us across. We delayed starting beyond the appointed hour, and the tide was rapidly ebbing. The skipper, a fine specimen of a sailor of the old school, who must have seen more than seventy summers, assured us with some anxiety that it would be as much as we could do to get over the strait, even if we started at once. We made haste and jumped into the boat: the sail was hoisted, and we were under way in less than a minute. A stiffish breeze was blowing at the time, and we made rapid headway, though not without once or twice touching the bottom with the keel; in fact so little water was there to spare that one of the party had to sit in the bows to trim the boat, with two of us amidships and the skipper astern. At length we were nearing the opposite shore in safety, and the passenger in the bows, thinking that all cause for anxiety was over, made a motion to alter his position in the boat, whereupon the old Viking shouts excitedly with the true Jutlandic accent ' Du maa ei komme endnu.' To my ear this sounded as much like our Yorkshire dialect as anything could do that was not it; and I feel sure that any Yorkshireman on hearing it would have at once under. stood it. It is true we have no negative like ei in our folk-speech; endnu is pronounced precisely as our inow, which had perhaps better be written inu; and although the meanings of endnu and inu are not quite identical, yet I cannot but think these two words are in reality the same in their origin, the transition of meaning from 'at present to 'almost at present' or 'shortly,' being an easy one.

The similarity between the Danish dialects and our own is to be seen in a great variety of ways over and above the form of the words themselves.

In a single chapter it would be impossible to draw out the points of resemblance at any great length; I must be content with touching upon a very few of them which may be taken as types of others not less interesting.
Turning our eyes homewards, we see that the whole face of the country from the Tees to the Humber, to say nothing of East Lincolnshire, is thickly covered with Scandinavian names, and no inconsiderable part of the ancient language is spoken even at this day, and with the old traditional pronunciation. Before proceeding further, however, I will give a single, but what seems to me a very remarkable example of the numerous survivals of the Northern tongue of a thousand years ago.

There is a word in our Yorkshire folk-talk still current, which I have repeatedly heard used by some of our older people to express the corners of the mouth or the eyes - I mean the word weeks. T' weeks o' yer mooth or t'weeks o' yer een are expressions well understood at this time in the North Riding. Who would suppose at first sight that the corners of one's mouth and eyes had any. thing in common with the word universally employed to designate the bands of savage marauders or pirates who for centuries devastated our shores - the Vikings? Yet so it is. We sometimes hear this word pronounced Vi-kings, as if these invaders of our shores were a sort of petty kings or chiefs instead of merely Vik-ings, that is to say, inhabitants of the Viks - the bays or creeks of the shores of various corners of Scandinavia, and specially, as it would seem, of the southern parts of the peninsula and of Denmark. Our word week above mentioned, and Vik or Vig, are the same word, and uttered, be it observed, with exactly the same pronunciation as is preserved in Denmark at the present day. So that, instead of calling the hardy yet cruel Norse pirates Vikings, we ought rather to term them Veek-ings or Weekings, just as in modern Danish a man from the Faroes is called a Faroing. The same word appears over and over again as a place-name, sometimes under the form wick and sometimes as Wyke, in the latter case pronounced as it is spelt ; and in other parts - Lincolnshire, to wit - the word appears again as Wig, which, substituting v for w, is the Danish spelling of the old Norse Vik. The form wyke can be nothing more than a corruption of the original word. I have long regarded this Yorkshire word weeks, as applied to the corners of the mouth and eyes, as one of our most interesting relics; for the true Norse vowel-sound of Vik is preserved with singular clearness by means of that solitary word in our dialect, although there are other words where the same sound is drawn near to.

When it is observed that the surface of the country is covered with names of Scandinavian origin, I do not refer only to place-names, our bys and our thorpes, though these are as 'common as peas,' as the saying is, but to words which give us an insight into the nature or surroundings of the land, as well as to terms that pertain to the settlement upon, and the cultivation of the soil.

On the subject of place-names commonly so called, I do not propose to dwell, although much might be said about them; I may, however, mention in passing, that any one who has travelled in the West of Denmark may easily imagine how the by originated. It is one of the most striking features of that region to see the numerous farmsteads with their enclosures dotted about over the country: a single rude farmstead at the time of the Danish colonisation of Northumbria would constitute a by, and by degrees other houses clustered round or near them; a by was in fact in the first instance a settlement, and afterwards a village or town. As regards thorpe it is worth notice that in our Yorkshire pronunciation of that word is conserved its Danish form very closely. Tthrup represents as nearly as may be the dialectic rendering of the word, the aspiration being very slight, and this is nothing more nor less than the Norse termination trup.

But what about our. Yorkshire ings and carrs, our dales and riggs, our ridings or ruddings and reins, our rakes and gaits, dykes and becks, stells and kelds?

These and many other like words carry on their face their Norse complexion - nay, their Norse essence. Nearly every parish in the district that has a river flowing through it possesses its ings, which is the same word as the Danish enge, eng being a generic word signifying low ground, flooded now at times or not as the case may be, but always near water, and divided by ditches into fenner varying considerably in size. These fenner or fens are so called, as far as I could understand from the people in Denmark of whom I made enquiry, not in consequence of the character of the land itself, but because of the way in which it is divided by ditches or rather trenches. We in this country always associate moisture with the fens, but it does not appear that that is the primary meaning of the word. In this district of East Yorkshire at the present day ings are what they are in Denmark, meadow land near water; and although in our own country it does not of necessity follow that they are on low-lying ground - for there are cases where they are found on higher situations, even on the high ground in the Wolds sometimes - yet these instances are comparatively rare. Neither is it a matter of course that all meadow lands near water are called ings; many are not, though how it is there are these distinctions I am at a loss to determine, unless it be that the meadows have been brought under cultivation subsequently to the Danish settlement, or that the old term has been gradually superseded by others. I may add that as the enge are divided by fenner, so also are the agre (fields) divided by rener or narrow balks, our Yorkshire word rein, which I will again refer to presently.

There are many parishes, especially in the East Riding, which have their carrs - a word quite familiar to every farmer in those parts. The word comes from the old Norse kjarr and in modern Danish is spelt kjoer or kjarr (pronounced care), and in Jutlandic kjar. In Denmark at the present day the term is used in two senses, viz, either for a village horsepond, called a gadekjoer, or for moist, boggy rough meadow land made 'sour' by standing water and overgrown with what are called in Danish halvgrœsser, or reeds. In this sense the word exactly corresponds with the Yorkshire use of it at the present date, except that with us the land so named need not necessarily be meadow. Land of this character is for the most part what we call in the folk-speech soor (sour), a pronunciation identical with sur, which is in Denmark applied in precisely the same way; perhaps I should rather say such was the character of the carr land, for in recent years drainage has done much to alter the face of the country and the character of the land. There can be no doubt that in former times the carrs were little better than swamps over grown with brushwood, the happy resorts of numberless waterfowl, but of small value for the farmer.

At the present date the carrs, although drained, are not as a rule good land, being greatly beholden to the season for anything like a full crop. The soil is for the most part peaty; and in working the land large stumps of trees, which have lain there for ages, are frequently brought to the surface. The dark-coloured wood is still hard when first dug out of the ground, and not unfrequently the farmers make gate posts of it; they do not, however, prove very durable - exposure to the air soon causing the wood to rot.

I need not go beyond the limits of this parish of Newton-on-Ouse for additional traces of the old Danish settlements of more than a thousand years ago. Every cleared way through a wood is called a riding; and there is a field in the parish which always goes by the name of the ruddings: this word indicates clearances from forest land. Royd and rod; like röd in Denmark, are elsewhere common terminations, all implying the same thing. The old Norse rydja meant to clear land, especially of wood, the modern Danish form of the word being rydde, and a clearance of anything is a rydning. It need hardly be pointed out that the word riding, or ridding, in the sense of a wood clearance, has nothing to do with the divisions of the county into Ridings. a term which has reference to the tripartite division of it : the origin of this word, however, is Norse, coming from the Icelandic thridjungr.

Less common, but still in usage in our folk-speech, is the word rein, meaning a strip of land at the edge of a field, so rough and overgrown with brushwood that it cannot be cultivated. Thus, sometimes a man will complain in ploughing a field, that it is difficult to do, because it is nowt bud reins an' geirs: that is to say, that it is full of coarse or thorny strips and triangular bits at the corners, awkwardly shaped, being too narrow for the plough to be turned round in them. In that short phrase, which happened to be said to a friend of mine in conversation with a farmer, we have two interesting old Norse words, rein and geir: the former of these is derived from the Icelandic rein, a strip of land ; while geir is the same word as the Icelandic gejr, an arrow-head. Thus, too, an eel-spear is called aalegejr, because of the triangular shaped end to each prong.
Again, another field or fields in this parish is called the Sheep-rakes; so it has been called from time out of mind, though none of our people know why it is thus designated. Here, also, is evidence of the old Norse tongue, for a cattle-rake or sheep-rake signifies a right or place of pasturage for cattle or sheep, a stray, as we should now call it, from Icelandic reika, 'to wander.' In much the same sense at the present time do we use the word gait; we speak about gaits for cattle, cow-gaits, and so forth, meaning right of pasture for them. The derivation from Icelandic gata is obvious.

To go from land to water: our Yorkshire country-folk scarcely, if ever, make use of the word stream, beck is used instead; dyke has a wide application, being sometimes employed with reference to a ditch, or, as I have frequently heard it, to the river Ouse; a stell is a wide open drain, and though keld has passed out of the dialect as an ordinarily used word, it is to be found in many place-names.

Turn which way you will, old Norse and Danish words meet us everywhere. In agricultural nomenclature especially are they noticeable; indeed, it is hardly straining a point to say that it is difficult to find words that spring from any other source, and which, when used, are at once understood. Go into a hind's cottage with its farm-yard close by, either in Holderness or in Cleveland, and in talking with any native of middle or advanced age you may, if you are so minded, practically bid good-bye to Queen's English and converse in the Danish tongue. The time of your visit may be either at the forend *1 of the year, or at clippin tahm *2, or at the backend *3, or when the yule clog *4 stands ready for the fire with the other eldin *5; you go into the hoos *6 (or, as we should more properly spell it, hus, or you turn and

*1. Danish Forende (front part).*4. D. Jul (Christmas).
*2. D. Klippe (to cut).*5. Ild (fire).
*3. D. Bagende (hind part).*6. Hus (house).

meet the husband *1 in the garth *2. Possibly you may be sensibly reminded of the nearness of the muck-midden *3 and myg *4, which have not yet been scaled *5, over the swath *6. Hard by is the lathe *7, and on the floor there ligs *8 some bigg *9 barley or blend-corn *10. Hanging on the wall is the ley *11 with its accompanying sirickle *12, and an old flail with its swipple *13 bent. Out in the fields or in the fold-garth are the stots *14 and the wyes *15 and the gimmers *16, together with one or two drapes *17 and stags *18, while some species of the very flies that teng *19 them are called clegs *20. Near hand *21 is the coo-byre *22, and the milk-maid has just done stripping *23 the kye *24, and is coming with her pails to the dairy. 'The old skeels *25 and kits *26 have gone out of fashion, but the sile *27 is still in use. You may see perhaps some of the men on the farm scruffling *28 turnips or cleaning the kanmsides *29 and balks *30, or burning old garsel *31 which the hask *32 wind helps to consume. The bairns *33 may be

1. D. Husband (master of a house).17. O.N. Driopa (?)
2. D. Gaard (a farmstead).18. D. Steg (a male, applied to certain birds and animals).
3. Jutl. D. Mog (manure) mödding(manure heap).19. D. Tænger (tongs).
4. D. Mog (manure).20. N. Klæg (a horse-fly).
5. D. Skille (to separate).21. Jutl. D. Nærhaand (near, appliedto a horse in a pair).
6. D. Svær (rind).22 D. Ko (cow), Bo (to dwell).
7. D. Lade (a barn).23. D. Strippe (to strip).
8. D. Ligge (to lie).24. D Köer (cows).
9. D. Byg (barley).25. O.N. Skiola (a milk-pail), D skaal(a bowl).
10. Jutl. D. Blandkorn (a mix-tore ofbarley, oats, peas, and vetches).26. Dutch Kit (a small tub).
11. D. Le (a scythe).27. N Sil (strainers).
12. D. Stryge (to rub).28. D. Skralle (to pare).
13. D. Svippe (to crack a whip).29. D. Kam (a comb or crest).
14. D. Stud (a bullock over four yearsold).30. D. Bjalke (a balk).
15. D. Kvie (a young heifer.31. D. Gjærdsel (dead hedge wood)
16. Jutl. D. Gimmer a (ewe lamb)32. D. Harsk (rusty, rancid)
33. D. Barn (a child).

flayin kreeaks 1, or tenting the geslins 2, or pulling ketlocks and what not called lukin3; or it may be Martinmas time, and the lads and lasses have returned from the neighbouring town, where they have just got hired, and have brought back their fest or gods penny4, after having deposited the addlins of the previous twelve months in the bank.
Words and expressions like these might be added by the score; but the agency of the Northern tongue may be seen in an even more interesting manner when we consider the way in which it has preserved to us certain vowel-sounds in words which differ only slightly from the standard pronunciation. Take, for instance, such a word as leck, which in the dialect is the common pronunciation of 'leak'; leck comes much more nearly to the Danish pronunciation of its own word loek than does 'leak.' Again, when we speak about a 'sack,' it is true we as often as not call it a poke, which is probably one of the comparatively few words the dialect has grafted into its vocabulary from the French; only, be it observed, when we do make use of the other term, we invariably pronounce it seck; or, to speak more correctly, we retain the old pronunciation of the Icelandic form of the word sekkr wherefrom comes the Danish soek, and from which 'sack' is a deviation. It is as easy to say 'sack' as seck, but the traditional and correct vowel-sound of this word has been preserved in the folk-talk from time immemorial.
Again, in the Yorkshire pronunciation of 'building' we have a key to the true meaning and origin of the word. In the dialect the word is distinctly sounded

.1. O. N. Flaja (to frighten) D. Krage(a crow).
2. D. Gjæsling (a gosling).
3. Icel. Lok (a weed). 
4. D. Fæste (to secure).Jutl. D. Gudespenge (earnest money).

eelding, and a beeld is a shelter of any kind from the weather; it need not necessarily consist of bricks and mortar; a tree or a hedge might, and often do, act as a beeld for the traveller against wind and rain, and in that sense the word is very commonly used. Here, again, we have an inheritance from the Norsemen carefully preserved in the unwritten folk-speech. Some raised object there must be to form a building, but it would seem from our dialectical form of the word that the fundamental idea contained in it was that of a shelter, and not necessarily a structure of masonry, as we now generally understand the term, this latter being only a secondary or subordinate meaning.
The children who watch the geese in the lanes in the summer days call the young birds geslins; it is not a long march from 'gosling' to gesling, but in this our Northern pronunciation of the word we cling to the ancient vowel-sound, and in gesling we have precisely the pronunciation as in the modern Danish gjœsling. Here we may see another example of the undeviating transmission of sound in the mother tongue of the people through a series of long centuries, despite the many literary changes that have passed over the English language during such an epoch of time.
The old tinder-box of our grandfathers' time has now been cast aside. Messrs. Bryant and May, and a host of other 'match-makers' after their sort, have done away with the necessity for such a tedious operation in striking a light as that which accompanied the tinder-box. But the old folks, in speaking about this antiquated article of the domestic furniture of their childhood, always call it tunder instead of 'tinder.' This also falls in with ancient usage, for in Icelandic the word is tundr; while the modern Danish form is tönder, both of which sounds are much more in harmony with our Yorkshire pronunciation of the word than 'tinder.'
These latter few instances I have given may seem to some but trivial matters, scarcely worth speaking about; but as straws show from which air! the wind blows, so do these words by their peculiar vowel-sounds show the source from which the language of the people has in the main been drawn, even if there were no other traces. The mighty Northern stream which swept over Northumbria may still be traced by means of these and other similar tiny distillations which have not yet quite evaporated into thin air.
The following are a few examples taken indiscriminately, which will perhaps help further to illustrate the point aimed at in this chapter. They might be added to indefinitely.

Yorkshire Dialect.Danish.
The use of with for by means'of;' e. g. Ah com wit' traan (I came by the train.)The employment of to for of in the phrase, Ti neea use (of no use).The same usage is common, e. g. Jegkom med toget (I came by the train).Det er til ingen nytte(lit. It is to no use).
A piece of way, e. g. gana piece o' way wi ma (go a part of the distance with me).Gaæ ef szykke vei med niig.(Go a piece of way with me.)
Ah gav him't (I gave it to him). In this particular phrase the v is retained in gav, but in He ga' mooth (He uttereda shout) it is omitted, as frequently before a consonant.A (jeg) ga' ham et (I gave him it).
Til and Ti (To).Til (To).In ordinary conversation this preposition is frequently pronounced Ti, which is in accordance with the Yorkshire usage.
A-gait (on the go in operation).I gang (inmotion, in operation).
Ta'en or Teean (an abbreviation for 'taken').Tein (Dialectical abbreviation for tagen).
Brek, a common pronunciation of break, perfect tense Brak.Brœkke (pr.Brekke, perf. tense Brak).
Sikan (such).Sikken (such a).
The frequent use of k forch in such words, e. g., as shrike (shriek), busk(bush), skimmer (shimmer), bink (bench), flick(fitch), kist (chest).Skrige (shriek),busk(bush), skimte (to gleam forth), boenk (bench),flik (patch), kist (chest).
What do they call you? (What is your name?) This expression is invariable.Hvad hedder De? (lit. What be called you?)
Folk, Folks.The word 'people' is not used in the dialect.Folk (people).
Thoo(Thou). This word is always used colloquially and familiarly instead of you.Du (Thou); also similarly used and pronounced.
He teeak of (Heran away from home or situation).Han tog til (Hewent to).
He's browt ti t, beggar staff (He is utterly ruined).Han er bragt til Tigger-staven (He is utterly ruined).
Ti brek i two (to break in two). This pronunciation is identical with the Danish; and the letter i in such words as finnd, minnd, blinnd,&c., is much nearer the Danish sound than is the ordinary English sound in these words.At brekke i tu (to break in two). Finde, minde, blinde, &c.
He com (Hecame). This form of the perfect of come is very common.Han kom (Hecame).
Like to:although used in other senses, there is one which may here be noted, viz, on the point of, e. g. it would be used in such a phrase as Ah wer like to tumm'l (I was on the point of tumbling).Lige ved at (on the point of), e. g. Jeg var lige ved at tumle (I was on the point of tumbling).

The pronunciation of modern Danish, and especially that of the West Jutland dialect, bears, as has been already remarked, many striking resemblances to corresponding utterances in our own East Yorkshire folk-talk. To one or two of these let me briefly allude. As I have elsewhere observed, the u-sound is one of the leading characteristics of our dialect. This sound, as we utter it, exactly accords with the Danish pronunciation. Nu, hus, ung, muld; muge, brun, rund, are strikingly parallel as to the vowel-sound with the Yorkshire pronunciation of now, house, young, mould, muck (verb), brown, round; and eases of this kind might be indefinitely multiplied.

The treatment of the letter d in Danish agrees in a remarkable manner with the Yorkshire usage. In the middle or at the end of a word it is very frequently omitted in speech; thus in such words as hund, kunde, manden, gloende, bunden, handel; the d is mute; similarly in the East Yorkshire dialect this letter is silent in stand, fand, landing, windle, thunder, meddle, and many like words, these being pronounced stan, fan, lannin, winn'l; thunner, mel.

The letter v is also another case in point; the Jutlandic utterance of that letter being in unison with our pronunciation. In the dialect, 'over' is pronounced ower; which accords precisely with the Danish pronunciation of the same word. Ovn (oven) is pronounced own, the ow being sounded as in 'how'; this again, is almost identical with yewn; or yown, which is the Yorkshire rendering of the word. Another strikingly parallel case is to be found in the word dovter, the Jutlandic for daughter; this is pronounced as our dowtther.

Although the Danish dialects when written appear at first sight so different from what we are accustomed in Yorkshire, yet a close examination of them discloses many points of resemblance. I here give two examples of Danish folk-talk, the first from the borderland of Slesvig and Jutland, the other from the parish of Ulvborg in North Jutland. They will prove, I trust, not uninteresting to the student of our Yorkshire dialect.

Specimens of Danish Dialect.


Dær war engang æn kong; han haai æn kauk an æn sket som hir Jæp. Saa blöw æ kongs kauk au Jæp ujæns faa de han kom et mæ vilt; so saa Jæp a kun gan skyr æn las vilt o æ daw; sau gek æ kauk in au saa de te æ kong. Haar han saai er, saa skal han o gyer er; læ ham kom in. So saa han te Jæp; haar do saai do kun skyr an las vilt o æ daw? Han saai naai; men æ kong saa; do har saai er, o do skal o gyer er, hæjsen ska do taas te faang, mæn kommer do mæ en las ska do fo di fö an blyw fri faar o vær sket.

Jæp gaa sæ te o skrol, sau gek han. Sau fon han æn gamm'l piv, sau blæst han i dæn, sau kam dær vilt fræ aal fi værens hjorner, sau skör han saalæng te hen fæk æn las.

Sau skul han hen atter æn uwen te au kyr hans vilt hjem o. Sau kam han faabi nawe skælebasier dær sor i naat hæstsnaws. Godaw, saa Jæp; hwa besteler i? Vi hoker o æn uwen do skal ha o kyr di vilt hjem o. Tak skal i ha; sau behewer a et an go længer. Sau gek han en let; sau
kam han te tow jererkauper dær sor o spon. Godaw, saa Jæp; hwa spiner i te? Vi spiner o naat toj do skal ha te hæsttoj au kyr di vilt hjem mæ.

Sau gek han en let, sau kam han te tow myk dær kam skænen. Godaw saa Jæp; hur vel i skæn o? Vi el skæn hæn au kyr di vilt hjem. Tak skal i ha, sau behewer a et o go længer.

Sau kam an te æ jerekauper o fæk æ hæsttöj, an sau kam han te æ skælebasier o fæk æ uwen, sau laser han æ vilt o sau kor han hjem i kongens gor te de skralerer i æ baaregor. Sau kam æ kong ur an sij æ vilt. Sau saa han; no æ do fri nær do steer mæ æn anen sket. Sau gek han ur faar o ste æn sket. Dæn föst han kam te han saa han tur et, faa han war ræj han ku et. Sau saa Jæp; jaaw, de kan do gaat; kan do et fo vilt, sau ka do faatæl ham nyt. Hur skul a fo nyt nær a gor i æ vil mark? Ka do et fo sau san ka do brug lown, de haar a gor sau mane gaang.
Sau kam han dær. Dæn fost daw han gek ur o jawt fæk han slæt et. A kong kam te ham ar æ awten an saa haar do faat naat vilt? Sau saa han næj. Haar do hor naat nyt? Han saa ja; a haar hor to æ væsterhaw war bræn aw o di slot er mæ byghalm. Dæn anen daw fæk han hæjer et vilt, mæn da haaj han nyt: dær war flowen æn stuwer faawl ower æn kærk o dæn gor æn æk, o aal dæm faalk dær war i æ kærk o æn hal mil nær ve en di draawner i dæn æk.

Sau blow æ kong vre an gek op te dæn gamm'l skot o saa; de ær æn snaws kaal a haar faat; vilt for han et aw, lown haar han naak aw. Hwa haar han da saaj? Dæn föst daw han kam hjæm, da saa han, æ væsterhaw war bræn aw o di haaj slot er mæ byghalm. De ka vær san; dær æ komen mane las bode kogt o stæjt fesk hær faabi, saa Jæp. Dæn anen daw, saa han, dær war flowen æn stuwer faawel ower æn kærk, o aal dæm faalk dær war i æ kærk o æn hal mil nær ve en di draawner i dæn æk.

No kan a faasto de, saa Jæp, faa dær æ komen baaj om aal dæm snæjker dær vil kom di kun fo arber au gyr ligkister, au di sku vær spes te æ æn au drywes i æ juwer mæ æn rænbok, faar hæjsen ku dær et blyw plas te dæm.

Sau trowe æ kong de. Ater dæn tij ku han gaat go; fæk han vilt, sau war er guwe; o fæk han nyt sau trowe æ kong er.

There was once a king; he had a cook, and a gamekeeper who was called Yep. The king's cook and Yep came to loggerheads because he did not come with any game; accordingly Yep said, 'I could easily shoot a load of game in a day.' So the cook went in and told this to the king. 'If he has said this he shall also do it; let him come in.' Then he said to Yep, 'Have you said you could shoot a load of game in a day?' He said 'No.' But the king said 'You have said it, and you shall also do it, or else you shall be taken to prison ; but if you come with a load you shall get your food, and become free from being a gamekeeper. Yep uttered a cry and departed.

Then he found an old pipe and blew into it, and game came from all four quarters of the globe; so he shot long enough to get a load.

Next he would go in search of a waggon to drive his game home on, and came past some black beetles which lodged in some horse manure. 'Good day,' said Yep, 'what are you doing?' 'We chop on the waggon you shall have to carry your game home on.' 'Thank you ; then I need not go any longer.' Then he went on a little and came to two spiders who sat and spun. 'Good day,' said Yep, 'what are you spinning for?' 'We are spinning some things you shall have as harness to drive your game home with.'

Then he went on a little and so came to two gnats which came running. 'Good day,' said Yep, 'where will you run to?' 'We will run away and drive your game home.' 'Thank you; then I need not go further.'

Then he came to the spiders and got the harness, and so on to the beetles and got the waggon. Afterwards he loads the game and drives home to the king's palace so as to make a rattling in the courtyard. Then the king came out to see the game, and he said, ' Now you are free when you engage me another gamekeeper.

Accordingly he went out to engage a gamekeeper. The first he came to said he did not dare (to engage himself) for he was afraid he could not (do the work). But said Yep, 'Yes, that you can very well. If you cannot get game, at all events you can tell him news.' 'How shall I get news when I go into the rough country ?' 'If you cannot make up what is true, you must tell lies; I have done that ever so many times.'

So he came to the palace. The first day he went out to hunt he got nothing at all. The king came to him in the evening and said to him, 'Have you not got any game?' He said 'No.' 'Have you heard any news?' He said, 'Yes; I heard that the Western sea was burning up, and that they quenched it with barley straw.' The next day he got no game again ; but then he had news (to tell). A great bird had flown over the church, and it laid an egg, and all the people who were in the church and half a mile near to it were drowned in that egg.

Now I can understand that, said Yep, for word is come that all the carpenters who would, could come and get work to make coffins which should be pointed at the end and be driven into the ground with a mallet, for otherwise there would not be room for them. So the king believed it. After that time he could manage well if he got game, then it was satisfactory, and if he got news, then the king believed it.


'Dær waar æn præst aap ye Tyner i gamm'l daw; han waa grow gere, au ku aler own aa gi hans faalk naawe.
Saa kam dær æn gaang i æ slæt æn kal te ham aa tow tjænest; han skul vær dæn fost a æ slæterer aa om æ awtener ful han mæ dæm ur o æ æng. Saa snar di waa komen dærur saa gu kal te dæm, de ær aler vær aa slo græjs, no'll vi er aa drek saa læng vi har naawe, aa sau'll vi leg waas te aa sow bag æter, aa hæt saa howres som vi ka. Di gor da som han saa, aa haj aal slas löstehier a væn di blöw köw æt lo di dæm ti aa sow oner æ vun. Om æ maaner væn di blöw vagen, mien han igæn te no kun et aler betal sæ aa begyn mæ æ orber han vil tæj æ hiele ansver o sæ; aa sau or di hwa dær waa tebag aa haj et howres somel te her a merestier; sau saat di dæm o æ vun aa kör hjæm; mæn aal tesam'ls waa di da rej faar hwa far vil sæj væn di kam hjæm aa aler haj bestilt æn smiten ; mæn æ kal saa di skul et vær rej, han skul naak söre faa di hiele.

O æ vej kam di faabi æn stej hwo dær lo grow mane skælebaser; æ kal saa di skul haal stel, han sprang a æ vun aa samlet æ mælmaskaare hal ful a skælebaser. Omsier kam di da hjæm, aa æ præst kam rænen ur imuer dæm, aa no waar et atal te æ kal skul snak faa di aner. Naa, hvordan gaar det? har I faæt hele engen slaæt? saa æ præst. Ja væl ha vi de, swar gu kal, æ har da ejsen fonen naawe o æ vej æ gæn vil bej far om. Naa, bar du det, hvad er det min sön? Ja, far, æ har fonen æn swarm bi. Det var da godt, det er bestemt mine; der er i dag flöjet en swærm bort fra mig. Ja mæn æ vil gæn bej far om aa gi mæ dæn swarm : far har sau mane; æ ær æn fate kal aa har slæt ene. Nej, det kan jeg paa ingen maade, min sön! Aa jow far ku gæn gi mæ no dæn jæn swarm. Nej paa ingen maade, hvor er de henne jeg maa straks have dem. Ja, svar æ kal, vel far ha dæm, sau har m em i mi mælmaskaare; mæn faa de far et ku la mæ ha emæ bar sjæl fonen em aa ær ekkons æn fate kal ;sau el a önsk te aal æ bi maa blyw te skælebaser aa aal æ græjs vi har slowen i nat maa res sæ o æ ruer igæn.
A præst fæk æ kaare aa lot en op; dæ waa jo et ant som skælebaser. No blow han rej faa si griejs aa skeket æn dreng hæn faar aa sije huren et gek mæ æ æng. Han rænt dænier aa so laant hæn te æ vin blest æ græjs aap hwor di haj lo om æ nat, aa sau stræft han aa ræn hjæm aa roft læng for han haj naaj æ præst som kam imuer ham: Far, far æ græjs æ rest snar aalsamel, aa de res ino stærk i dæn jæn hjon.


There was a priest up by Tonder in olden days: he was very greedy, and could never afford to give his servants anything.

There came then once in hay harvest a man to him and entered his service. He wished to be the first of the mowers and in the evening he followed the others out on to the meadow. As soon as they were come there the good man said to them, it is never worth while to cut grass : now we will eat and drink as long as we have anything, and then we will lay us down to sleep afterwards, and enjoy ourselves as pleasantly as we can. They did then as he said, and had all kinds of diversion, and when they were tired of it they laid themselves to sleep under the waggon. In the morning when they were awake he declared again that now it could not be worth while to begin with the work: he would take the whole responsibility upon himself; and so they ate what there was left and enjoyed themselves together up to dinnertime; then they sat themselves on the waggon and drove home; but they then became anxious among themselves for what father (the priest) would say when they came home and never had done a stroke of work; but the man said they need not be anxious, for he would certainly manage the whole affair.

On the way they came by a place where there lay a great many black beetles; the man said they were to stop; he jumped from the waggon and collected the luncheon basket half full of black beetles. At length they came home, and the priest came running out towards them, and now it was agreed that the man should speak for the others. 'Well, how are you getting on? Have you got all the meadow cut?' So said the priest. 'Yes, it is all right,' answered the man, 'I have, moreover, found something on the road I would fain ask father about.' 'Indeed, have you so? What is it, my son?' 'Yes, father, I have found a swarm of bees.' 'That was fortunate ; it is certainly mine ; there is to-day a swarm flown away from me.' 'Yes, but I would fain ask father to give me that swarm : father has so many; I am a poor fellow, and have none at all.' 'No, that I can on no account do, my son.' 'Oh, yes, father could now kindly give me this one swarm.' 'No, on no account; wherever they are I must instantly have them.' 'Very well,' answered the man, 'if father will take them, I have them in my luncheon-basket; but for that, father could not let me have themI have myself found them, and am but a poor man-so I will wish that all the bees may become black beetles, and all the grass we have cut down during the night may rise on its roots again.'

The priest got the basket and opened it; there was nothing whatever but black beetles. Now he became anxious for his grass, and sent a boy off to see how it fared with the meadow. He ran down there, and saw far away that the wind blew the grass up where it had lain during the night, and then he hastened and ran home and cried, long before he had reached the priest who went towards him: 'Father, father, the grass has risen almost all at once, and it is rising now rapidly in the one corner.'

Through the help of a Danish friend I have translated the above story as literally as might be, so that the two may be compared together.

On a careful examination it will be seen that there are many words and expressions which bear a close likeness to those corresponding with them in our own dialect. For instance:- war (wer), engang (yan gang), saa or sau (seea), kom (kom), a (ah), te (ti), haar do (ha'e tha), gaa sæ ti o skrol (lit. gav hissen ti a skirlgave himself to a shriek), fon (fan), fræ (fra), hjörner (hurnes, i. e. corners, an old Yorkshire word; vide Glossary), hiele (heeal, i.e. whole), længer (langer). Let these suffice as examples of many others which might be given. The words in brackets are the Yorkshire equivalents to the Jutlandic. It must be borne in mind that the Jutlandic d is frequently pronounced as our soft th; æ is sounded very much as our Yorkshire a described in another chapter - thus the word œ (hay) in one of the foregoing passages harmonises exactly with our pronunciation of the word. The aa varies between o and au, but more closely approaches the latter than the former: thus faalk is the exact equivalent of our Yorkshire way of pronouncing folk; faawel similarly of fowl. The Jutlandic i agrees in sound with the Yorkshire very generally, which is so different from that of ordinary English, being equal to ee in most cases: and closely connected with this sound is that of the Danish j: indeed it is the combination or interchanging of these two sounds that go to make up that strongly marked feature of our dialect, the eea sound - egjen, hjem, hjæm, jen or æn, for example, are nothing more nor less than our Yorkshire forms ageean, yam, heeam, yan. The Danish j when it occurs elsewhere than as the first letter of a word, is by no means always sounded: thus in gjore (to do or make) the j is mute, and in the Jutlandic dialect the word assumes various forms, such as gor, ger, gyr, with many others. This word was re tained, almost in one of its modern Jutlandic forms, till recently in our Yorkshire folk-speech as gar: for instance, our old people used to say it gars ma paan (it causes me pain), it gars ma greet (it makes me weep). The same remark applies to the word gjæk from which our gicken or gecken is derived.

With the exception possibly of certain districts in Sweden there is no part of Scandinavia where the folk-speech so nearly approaches that of East Yorkshire as in West Jutland and North Slesvig. Any student of our own dialect who wishes to investigate the matter more deeply for himself cannot do better than refer to Mr. H. F. Feilberg's learned and elaborate Jutlandic Dictionary, entitled Ordbog over jyske Almuesmål, now going through the press, which is the most complete and valuable work of the kind that has ever been compiled. It is written by one who knows the folk-speech as well as his own, and who has spent a life-time upon this and kindred studies. One great merit of the work lies in the fact that the information is mainly drawn from the most reliable source - the people themselves.

Before I conclude this chapter I would just remark that there is one peculiar feature in the West Jutland dialect which I have not seen noticed elsewhere, and for which it is difficult to account; I mean the pronunciation of the letter r. This sound is in that region identical with the nasal r of the dialects of Southern England. It is quite universal in south-west Jutland, while in Yorkshire there is not even the faintest trace of it. On hearing the Danish dialect spoken for the first time, this remarkable peculiarity struck me very much. I do not know over what extent of country this sound is heard, but from the fact that we have not a vestige of it in Yorkshire, I imagine it must be an importation and probably a comparatively recent one; but this is a point that requires investigation.

For further comparison of the folk-talk of the two districts, I must refer the reader to the derivations, incomplete as they are, which are given in the Glossary at the end of this volume.

Transcribed by Colin and Pauline Hinson © 1997