Yorkshire dialect revisited for libraries and museums project

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.

Events are being 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: “Dialect and language are synonymous with libraries and we are enjoying 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 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 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 1960s, 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.

The public can join officers from the dialect and heritage project at a series of 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.

An old photo of two men talking to each other

“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: 

  • 19 May, Filey, 1pm to 3pm 
  • 24 May, Malton, 10am to 1pm 

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

To complement the Dialect and Heritage Project Dialect drop-ins, North Yorkshire libraries are hosting 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.

Events are under way, but remaining events this month are:

Pop-up archive events: 

  • Wednesday, May 18, Scarborough library, 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • Friday, May 20, Malton library, 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • Wednesday, May 25, Northallerton library, 10.30am to 2.30pm

Poetry event:  

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

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

  • Great Ayton, Tuesday, May 17, afternoon: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Stokesley, Tuesday, May 17, evening: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley
  • South Craven, Wednesday, May 18, 2pm: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley
  • Derwent Valley Bridge, Thursday, May 19, 3pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Scarborough, Thursday, May 19, 6pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Harrogate, Monday, May 23, 2pm: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Grassington, Thursday, May 26, 11am: Telling T' Tale: Poems and Stories in Yorkshire Dialect
  • Skipton, Thursday, May 26, 7pm: A Yorkshire Dialect Treasure Trove: John Hartley

Borrowing eBooks now even easier

Readers of eBooks can now borrow from North Yorkshire’s digital library via the BorrowBox app.

BorrowBox is the UK’s most popular platform for eBooks and eAudiobooks, with the widest range of titles and the most intuitive interface. The BorrowBox app incorporates an eBook reader as well as an eAudiobook player and is available to download to mobile devices free from the App Store and Google Play.

Learn more about North Yorkshire Libraries’ digital service.