Delve into Yorkshire dialect with libraries and museums

This story was published 7 April 2022

North Yorkshire libraries and two county museums are joining forces to encourage residents to discover and enjoy their community heritage during Local History Month in May.

Old photo of two men

Events will be held in libraries around the county as Ryedale Folk Museum and the Dales Countryside Museum theme the month around dialect and language. These events are part of a research project into the way we speak, led by the University of Leeds.

Chrys Mellor, General Manager Libraries, said: “North Yorkshire libraries are really excited to be working with Ryedale Folk Museum and the Dales Countryside Museum to bring this Leeds University project to life in libraries across the county.

“Dialect and language are synonymous with libraries and we are looking forward to celebrating our rich dialects across sites during Local and Community History Month in May. We plan to build on the foundations laid during the month to hold a series of follow-up events in a number of libraries across North Yorkshire throughout the year and create a lasting legacy to the project.”

“We’re delighted to be able to work with North Yorkshire libraries on the project,” says Claire Midgley, Project Engagement Officer based at Ryedale Folk Museum. “The aim of the month is to increase awareness of local history and to encourage members of the community to participate. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to bring research into the way we speak to the attention of library users.”

In the 1950s and ’60s, researchers from the University of Leeds carried out the Survey of English Dialects, visiting people in more than 300 places to record their many ways of speaking. More than half a century later, staff at the university are working with museums around the country to find out what has changed and what has stayed the same.

As well as sharing findings, the collaboration with North Yorkshire libraries will provide opportunities for the public to get involved in sharing their own dialect.

They will be able to join officers from the dialect and heritage project at a series of dialect drop-in events. These will explore words from across the country recorded in the 1950s as part of the Survey of English Dialects, as well as have fun with word games and activities. Visitors will be able to contribute their words to researchers at the University of Leeds.

“Go along to one of the events and stick your nose in,” said Chrys, “or should that be beak, conk, cronk, hud, immy, sneck, snitch, snitcher, snotter, snout or trunk?”

Dialect and Heritage Project drop-ins will be at the following libraries: 

  • 5 May, Stokesley,  10am to 1pm 
  • 9 May, Catterick, 10am to 1pm 
  • 9 May, Richmond, 2pm to 5pm 
  • 10 May, Bedale, 10am to 1pm 
  • 10 May, Leyburn, 2pm to 4pm 
  • 11 May, Skipton, 9.30am to 1pm 
  • 11 May, Gargrave, 2pm to 4pm 
  • 12 May, Pickering, 10am to 1pm 
  • 19 May, Filey, 1pm to 3pm 
  • 24 May, Malton, 10am to 1pm 

Pre-recorded online talks will be shared via the North Yorkshire libraries YouTube channel throughout May and a series of activities, including dialect crosswords, can be accessed at participating libraries. Watch the YouTube channel.

To complement the Dialect and Heritage Project Dialect drop-ins, North Yorkshire libraries are hosting five pop-up archive events with the County Record Office and funding talks with speakers from the Yorkshire Dialect Society, celebrating Yorkshire dialect through stories, poems, history, and humour. Events are free, with the exception of the poetry event at Scarborough. Dates and times may change, so check with your library before travelling.

Pop-up archive events: 

  • 10 May, Great Ayton library, 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • 11 May, Knaresborough library, 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • 18 May, Scarborough library, 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • 20 May, Malton library, 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • 25 May, Northallerton library, 10.30am to 2.30pm

Poetry event:  

  • 26 May, Scarborough library, 6pm to 7.30pm, entrance fee will apply, please book in advance.

Yorkshire Dialect Society talks, free, please book in advance:

  • Malton, Wednesday 4 May, 11am: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Knaresborough, Thursday 5 May, 2.30pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Ripon, Thursday 5 May, 7.30pm: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley
  • Pickering, Tuesday 10 May, 2pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Whitby, Tuesday 10 May, 5pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Settle, Wednesday 11 May, 2pm: Tom Twisleton: Poems in the Craven Dialect
  • Selby, Thursday 12 May, 2pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Kirkbymoorside, Friday 13 May, 6.30pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Great Ayton, Tuesday 17 May, afternoon: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Stokesley, Tuesday 17 May, evening: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley
  • South Craven, Wednesday 18 May, 2pm: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley
  • Derwent Valley Bridge, Thursday 19 May, 3pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Scarborough, Thursday 19 May, 6pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Harrogate, Monday 23 May, 2pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Grassington, Thursday 26 May, 11am: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Skipton, Thursday 26 May, 7pm: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley

For up to date information about events and activities during Local and Community History Month, contact your library or check its Facebook page.

For information or interviews regarding the Dialect and Heritage Project, contact Emma Barnes at University of Leeds Press Office at e.barnes1@leeds.ac.uk or pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk