From John Denton (NR)
John received this item from his daughter and passed it on for insertion in this page


Yorkshire Pudding

Eh waiter, excuse me a minute
I'm not findin' fault, but dear me
'taties is lovely and beef is alreit
But what sort of pudding can this be?
It's what? Yorkshire Puddin'? Now cum cum cum cum
It's Yorkshire Puddin' yer say?
I'll grant yer it's some sort o' puddin', owd lad
But not THE Yorkshire Puddin', nay, nay.

Now reit Yorkshire Puddin's a poem in batter,
T'mek it's an art, not a trade
So just listen t' me and I'll tell t' thee
How t' first Yorkshire puddin' were made

A young angel wi day off from 'eaven,
Were flyin' abaht Ilkla Moor,
When t' angel, poor thing, got cramp in a wing
An' cum down at an owd women's door
. T' owd woman said "Eee - it's an angel.
By 'eck, I'm fair capped to see thee.
I've noan seen yan afore - but tha's welcome,
Come on in, an' I'll mash thi some tea."
T' angel said, "By gum, thank you kindly."
Though she only supped one mug o' tea,
She et two drippin' slices and one Sally Lunn.
Angel's eat very lightly yer see.
Then t'owd woman looked at clock sayin'
"Ey up, t'owd feller's back soon from t'mill.
You gerron wi' yer tea, but please excuse me,
As I'll atter mek puddin' fer Bill."
Then t' angel jumped up and said gie us it 'ere,
Flour, water, eggs, salt an' all,
An' I'll show thee 'ow we meks puddins,
Up in 'eaven for Saints Peter and Paul.
So t' angel took bowl and stuck a wing in,
Stirring it round, whispering "Hush"
An' she tenderly ticked at t'mixture,
Like an artist ed paint wi a brush.

Then t'owd woman asked " 'ere wor is it then,
T'secret o' puddins made up above?"
"It's nowt i' flour or watta, said t'angel,
"Just mek sure that tha meks it wi' luv."

When it were done , she popped it i' t'oven,
"Gie it nobbut ten minutes", she said.
Then off t'angel flew, leavin' first Yorkshire Puddin',
That ivver were properly med.

An' that why it melts in yer gob just like snow.
An' as light as a maiden's first kiss,
An' as soft as the fluff on t'breast of a puff,




From John Waddington-Feather (Shropshire)
John, who is a Yorkshiremen born and bred but now living in Shropshire, wrote this piece for publication by the Brontė Society. It deals with the use of Yorkshire dialect by Charlotte Brontė in her novel "Shirley".


The Dialect of "Shirley"

Charlotte Brontė, like her sister Emily, had a fine ear for Haworth dialect, which she uses to telling effect in her novel "Shirley". Yorkshire dialect, or more precisely the dialect of West Yorkshire south of the Wharfe, for there are several dialects in Yorkshire, is still spoken widely in Haworth and the villages around it. In Charlotte's time it was the daily means of communication among the artisans and farmers and a modified form of it was used by the mill masters and others of the professional class. I suspect even schoolteachers and parsons reared locally spoke in dialect when the occasion demanded. They certainly did in my day at the boys' grammar school in Keighley in the 1940s, when they were pulling a boy's leg, especially if the boy concerned came from some outlandish place like Denholme or Haworth!

As a school teacher at Haworth, Charlotte would certainly have heard her pupils using dialect among themselves, even when attempting to speak some form of standard English in her classes. I would suggest that the Brontės wouldn't hear all that much standard English in Haworth. There was no television or radio, of course, the nearest theatres were some miles away at Leeds, and even the middle classes, as they do today, spoke with a pronounced Yorkshire accent.

The people they met regularly who did speak standard English were the clergy, and Charlotte doesn't think much of their mincing southern speech in "Shirley." So it's not surprising the sisters were very familiar with local dialect and probably spoke English themselves with a recognisable Yorkshire accent. Indeed, Emily unwittingly uses dialect terms in her novel "Wuthering Heights" when she thinks she's using standard English. For example, when Catherine has been out scouring the moors all night for Heathcliff, who has disappeared after learning she's going to marry Edgar Linton, she scolds Ellen Dean for opening the window as she's cold. She uses the dialect word "starving" which means to be cold, and not to be hungry. The Haworth dialect term to be hungry is "clemmed."

"The morning was fresh and cool; I threw back the lattice, and presently the room filled with sweet scents from the garden; but Catherine called peevishly to me, 'Ellen, shut the window. I'm starving!' And her teeth chattered as she shrunk closer to the almost extinguished embers."

As well as understanding the local dialect and speaking it at times, the Brontės may have read collections of Yorkshire dialect poetry. Certainly Charlotte read the dialect works of Robert Burns, who popularised dialect-writing towards the end of the eighteenth century. West Yorkshire dialect-writing didn't really come into its own till near the end of Charlotte's life, but there was a collection of East and North Yorkshire dialect literature early in the nineteenth century, which appeared soon after Burns' death and was read widely by educated people. "Poems on Several Occasions" was written by the Revd Thomas Browne, a schoolmaster and journalist, who edited "The Hull Advertiser" from 1797 to 1798. Given Charlotte's omnivorous reading habits, she may well have read it.

The population of the West Riding grew rapidly in Charlotte's lifetime. With this growth came a surge of dialect-writing. The influx of workers from all over Britain produced a wide variety of dialects in the towns, each peculiar to a relatively small area compared with the dialects of the rural East and North Ridings. Charlotte's dialect in "Shirley", like Emily's in "Wuthering Heights", is based on Haworth dialect and that of the Worth Valley, although the setting for her novel is further east in the Calder Valley. She bases the character of Robert Moore on William Cartwright, whose mill at Rawfolds near Huddersfield was attacked by Luddites in 1812. Although very similar there are differences between the dialect around Huddersfield and that of Haworth. In "Shirley" Charlotte uses the dialect of Haworth, which she knew well, though linguistically it's not quite accurate for the setting of the novel.

Like her sister she uses dialect as a literary ploy to develop character and atmosphere, and to give her novel realism. "Jane Eyre" had been heavily criticised by G.H.Lewes and others for its unreal melodrama, so Charlotte decided to write a solidly realistic social novel and made a tentative attempt with an unfinished work called "John Henry", which she abandoned after two chapters, but which was the prototype for "Shirley." The John Henry in this unfinished novel, a coarse materialistic mill-owner, becomes the more refined Robert Moore in "Shirley". In her Introduction to the World's Classics edition of "Shirley", Margaret Smith writes, "The realism of 'John Henry' seems to consist of harsh, over-emphatic, colloquial dialogue, including broad Yorkshire dialect, and an uncompromising soot-laden industrial setting." In "Shirley" Charlotte continues to use broad Yorkshire dialect to colour an event or develop a character such as Hiram Yorke.

She has the wealthy mill-owner speak in dialect, though he is quite capable of using standard English - or French - when the occasion demands. She devotes a whole chapter to him early on in the novel emphasising his Yorkshireness, in an episode when the Luddites have smashed some looms and Yorke has encountered his fellow mill-owner, Robert Moore on the moors returning from a social visit. Moore wants to bring the loom breakers to justice, as does the parson Helstone, who, unlike the two mill-owners, is a staunch supporter of the war against Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington campaigning against him.

"Mr Helstone returned the salutation of the individual in the gig very stiffly indeed. That individual (Mr Yorke) proceeded, 'We're eleven strong men, and there's both horses and chariots amang us. If we could only fall in wi' some of these starved ragamuffins of frame-breakers, we could win a grand victory; we could iv'ry one be a Wellington - that would please ye, Mr Helstone; and sich paragraphs as we could contrive for t'papers! Briarfield suld be famous; but we'se hev a column and a half i' th' Stillbro' Courier ower this job, as it is, I daresay. I'se expect no less.'

'And I'll promise you no less, Mr Yorke, for I'll write the article myself,' returned the Rector.'

'To be sure! Sartainly! And mind ye recommend weel that them 'at brake t' bits o' frames, and teed Joe Scott's legs wi' band, suld be hung without benefit o' clergy. It's a hanging matter, or suld be; no doubt o' that.' "

Charlotte a little later in the same chapter explains away the mill-owner's dialect. "It will have been remarked that Mr Yorke varied a little in his phraseology; now he spoke broad Yorkshire, and anon he expressed himself in very pure English. His manner seemed liable to equal alternations; he could be polite and affable, and he could be blunt and rough. His station then you could not easily determine by his speech or demeanour…"

It was Yorke's lifestyle and dwelling that defined his status in society, not his speech. Educated he was and his home was tastefully furnished. He also speaks fluent French in an altercation with Robert Moore, the Belgian industrialist who had settled in Yorkshire. Charlotte presents him as a solid, no-nonsense, yet compassionate Yorshire mill-man, who contrasts strongly with the obdurate younger mill-master, Robert Moore, and other in-comers such as pretentious immature clergymen from 'down south'.

She presents Hiram Yorke as her ideal employer, firm, fair and humane, a solid Yorkshire mill-master and part of his solidness is his dialect. "I have told you some of his faults, reader; as to his good points, he was one of the most honourable and capable men in Yorkshire….It must also be remarked that if, as sometimes chanced, any individual among his 'hands' showed signs of insubordination, Yorke - like many who abhor being controlled, knew how to control with vigour…Such being the happy state of his own affairs, he felt himself at liberty to speak with the utmost severity of those who were differently situated, to ascribe whatever was unpleasant in their position entirely to their own fault, to sever himself from the masters, and advocate freely the cause of the operatives."

She uses dialect to show her distaste of affected speech, particularly of 'southerners' from the Home Counties. She detested Charles Dickens and his affected ways; even Thackeray at first she found off-putting, and in describing Hiram Yorke and his speech at some length, she makes this quite clear. "…and if he usually expressed himself in Yorkshire dialect, it was because he chose to do so, preferring his native Doric to a more refined vocabulary. 'A Yorkshire burr,' he affirmed, 'was as much better than a Cockney's lisp, as a bull's bellow than a ratton's squeak.' "

She affirms the blunt independence of the workers, too, through their dialect. Robert Moore's overlooker, Joe Scott, doesn't mince his words with his employer. Charlotte's dry humour (never far away) also comes out in the following dialogue between Moore and his workman, as they guard the mill against an impending Luddite attack.

"He and Joe had both spent the night in the mill…he awoke his man by singing a French song as he made his toilet.

'Ye're not custen dahn then, maister?' cried Joe.

'Not a stive, mon garcon - which means, my lad, get up and we'll take a turn through the mill before the hands come in…We'll have the machinery yet, Joseph: you never heard of Bruce, perhaps?'

'And th'arrand (spider)? Yes, but I hev: I've read th'history o'Scotland, and happen knaw as mich on't as ye; and I understand ye to mean to say ye'll persevere.'

'I do.'

'Is there more o' your mak' i'your country?' inquired Joe, as he folded up his temporary bed and put it away.

'In my country! Which is my country?'

'Why France, isn't it?'

'Not indeed! The circumstances of the French having seized Antwerp where I was born, does not make me a Frenchman.'

'Holland, then?'

' I am not a Dutchman: now you are confounding Antwerp with Amsterdam.'


'I scorn the insinuation, Joe! I, a Flamand! Have I a Flemish face? - the clumsy nose standing out - the mean forehead falling back - the pale blue eyes ą fleur de tźte? Am I all body and no legs, like a Flamand? But you don't know what they are like - those Netherlanders. Joe, I'm an Anversois: my mother was an Anversoise, though she came of French lieneage, which is the reason I speak French.'

'But your father war Yorkshire, which maks ye a bit Yorkshire, too; and onybody may see ye're akin to us, ye're so keen making brass and getting forrards.' "

The comic/serious interplay between these two characters, one speaking standard English and the other dialect, continues as Joe responds when his employer accuses him of insolence.

" 'We allus speak our minds in this country; and then young parsons and grand folk fro' London is shocked at wer 'incivility', and we like weel enow to gi'e 'em summat to be shocked at, 'cause it's sport to us to watch 'em turn up th' whites o' ther een, and spreed out ther bits o' hand, like as the're flayed wi' boggarts, and then to hear 'em say, nipping off ther words short, like - "Dear, dear! Whet savages! How very corse!" '

'You are savages, Joe; you don't suppose you're civilised, do you?'

'Middling, middling, maister. I reckon 'at us manufacturing lads i' th' north is a deal more intelligent, and knaws a deal more nor th' farming folk i' th' south. Trade sharpens wer wits; and them that's mechanics, like me, is forced to think.' "

Charlotte colours another passage in her novel by using dialect in the episode where Constable Sugden is collecting evidence against the leader of the Luddites who'd attacked Stillborough Mill, and is waiting to arrest a contingent of Luddites who want to speak with Moore. Her dry humour is shown again in the droll dialogue between Sugden and Moore, who is working in his office when Sugden comes in. She also uses dialect as a literary ploy to lower the dramatic atmosphere before heightening it shortly after with the attempt on Moore's life. (Her sister Emily uses the same technique by often bringing in the dialect-speaking buffoon Joseph before some violent outburst by Heathcliff.)

" The visitor now carefully deposited in the corner beside him an official-looking staff which he bore in his hand; this done, he whistled, probably by way of appearing at his ease,

'You have what is necessary, I suppose,' said Mr Moore.

He renewed his whistling, Mr Moore his reading…presently, however, he turned to his cupboard…took out a black bottle…a tumbler, and a jug, placed them on the table and said to his guest -

'Help yourself; there's water in that jar in the corner.'

'I dunnut knaw that there's mich need, for all a body is dry (thirsty) in a morning,' said the fustian gentleman, rising and doing as requested. 'Will ye tak' naught yourseln, Mr Moore?' he enquired, as with skilled hand he mixed a potion, and having tested it by a deep draught, sank back satisfied and bland in his seat. Moore - chary of words - replied by a negative movement and murmur.

'Ya'd as good,'continued his visitor; 'it 'uld set ye up, wald a sup o' this stuff. Uncommon good Hollands! ye get it fro furrin parts, I'se think?'


'Tak' my advice, and try a glass on 't; them lads 'at's coming'll keep ye talking, nob'dy knaws how long: ye'll need propping.' "

Charlotte's skilful use of non-standard English is evident again in the speech Moses Barraclough, the ringleader of the Luddites, makes when he warns Moore not to install machinery which will put men out of work. Barraclough uses the language of shop stewards. (Peter Sellers uses it as the shop steward in the film, "I'm all right, Jack.") It is a mixture of dialect and garbled affected English, which Barraclough uses to give the impression he's a cut above the rest of the workers and on a par with the mill master: a masterly piece of characterisation, like her other dialect-speakers.

" 'Mr Moore,' commenced he, speaking also in his throat and nose, and enunciating each word slowly, as if with a view to giving his audience time to appreciate fully the uncommon elegance of the phraseology; 'it might, perhaps, justly be said that reason rather than peace is our purpose. We come, in the first place, to request you to hear reason, and should you refuse it is my duty to warn you, in very decided terms, that measures will be had resort to (he meant recourse), which will probably terminate in - in bringing you to a sense of the unwisdom, of the - foolishness, which seems to guide and guard your proceedings as a tradesman in this - this manufacturing part of the country. Hem! …sir, I would beg you to allude that as a furriner, coming from a distant coast, another quarter and hemisphere of this globe, thrown, as I may say, a prefect outcast on these shores - the cliffs of Albion - you have not that understanding of huz and wer ways which might conduce to the benefit of the working-classes. If, to come at once to partic'lars, you'd consider to give up this here miln, and go without further protractions to where you belong, it 'ud happen be as well. I can see naught ageean sich a plan. What hev ye to say tull't, lads? ' turning round to the other members of the deputation, who responded unanimously, 'Hear! Hear!' "

Moore ignores Barraclough and has him arrested, accelerating the attempt on his own life later in the novel.

In her use of skilful use of various types of English, Charlotte also highlights social and political issues at the time she was writing her novel in the 1840s, thirty or more years after the events she portrays, showing the widening gap between the classes which led to social unrest but eventually to reform.

There is no dialect in the third part of the novel because, I suggest, it's served its purpose drawing the characters of the Luddites and the working men involved in the first two parts. In the earlier part of the novel, her use of dialect makes for realism and also lends itself to introducing her own brand of humour. In the latter part, she concentrates on bringing to a happy conclusion the love stories of her heroes, the Moore brothers, and her heroines, Caroline Helstone and Shirley Keeldar. But throughout the entire novel she brings her characters to life through her use of various styles of English, especially her command of dialect.




Shirley. World's Classics edition, (Oxford University Press. 1981) ed. Herbert Rosengarten and Margaret Smith.

Emily Brontė and the Haworth Dialect. K.M.Petyt. (Yorkshire Dialect Society. Re-print 2001)

English Dialects. M.F.Wakelin (Athlone Press 1977)

Yorkshire Dialect John Waddington-Feather. (Feather Books 2002)


John Waddington-Feather ©



From Adreyenne Hope (NR)
Adreyenne found this one in a Castleford (WR) church magazine and passed it on.


How to Make a Good Cup of Yorkshire Tea

Nah then, tha wants t'empty t'owd watter aht o' kettle and fill 'er up wi' fresh watter afoor tha puts it on t' ob. Get taypot reet nicely warmed and dry insahd, and then get thi tay in. Nah, as soon as t'kettle comes reet on t' boil an' not a second afoor or aftah, get watter pooared in t' pot.
Dooan't furget! Allus tek t' pot to t' kettle and not t' kettle to t'pot. Lerrit mash a fair wahl an' then girrit a stir afoor tha pooars it aht. Nah, thez summas puts milk in fust an' summas put tay in fust . To oor way o' thinkin', t'impooartant thing is to mek certain tha's med plenty fooar seconf 'elpin's!
John Brennan



From George Schofield (WR)
This one appears to be quite old and might be considered by some not to be exactly politically correct.


How to Treat Our Wives

Awlus give ye wife a kuss when yo goa aht and when yo come in. Cleean all t' booits and all t' windas. Swill t' doortstuns, and get up an ahr sooiner at Frida mornin' an' dew't black-leadin'. Rub 'er t' furniter darn once a week wi' furniter polish, an' allus mengle 'er clooas. Carry 'er t'cowks aht, an' nivver leeave'er withaht a skep o' coils i' t' ahse. Help 'er ta shak carpets , an' when shoo's washin', dooan't leeave 'er to twine t' blankits and sheets 'ersen.

Dew all t' shoppin' for 'er, especially for t' eavy things, like meight, an' flaar an' patates, an' and dooan't consider it below yer dignity to wash up an' side t' pots whenivver she wants ter sit dahn an' read a bit.

Awlus leeave t' eeasiest chair for t' wife to sit on, an' slip 'er a littlechuff on 'er shoulders when shoo seems a bit cowd. Let 'er 'ev all t' creeam off milk and eight 'er crusts for 'er, an' pick 'er a bit o' t' tenderest when yer carvin' Sunda joint.

Nivver let t' wife whitewash t'bawks. Mak t'beds, an' awlus neyd 'er 'er dooaf, an' set t'oven agate for 'er. Give 'er all yer wage, nivver goa aht of a neet, dooan't smook, dooan't drink, dooan't sweear, dooan't lewk farl, nivver sit dahn whol shoo tells yer, an when yer sit dahn dooan't stir whol shoo gives yer leave, an' if that doesn't satusfy 'er, ax 'er if there's owt else owt else shoo wants, an' chewse wot it is shoo wants, let 'er 'ev it, an' if that doesn't satisfy 'er - SHOOIT 'ER.



From Mrs Pauline Simmons (NR)
This appeared on a card which Pauline had had in her possession for quite a long time. She recently sent to me as a "get well" card..


Cheer up

Why 'as tha got yon dowly phiz?
Whativver is't 'at's wrong?
Tha must 'av lost a thrip'ny bit
'As t'cat bin at thi tongue?

Doan't go in t'dairy wi' that face,
t'll sour t'milk for sure.
Just mind that what's upset thee, lad,
'as upsetten many afore.

Whativver's cost thee sic a face
there's a sight more yet to pay:
nobbut think on what tomorra'll charge,
that should cheer thee up today.

Aiken Sowerby 1884 - 1940


From Mrs Shirley Lynch (NR)
Shirley acquired this bit of dialect in a cutting from Yorkshire Life over twenty years ago. She came across it again recently and sent me a copy.


Gi' o'er smowkin'

Ah's off ti' gi'o'er smowkin',
Ah'll mek this mi last drag,
Ah'll gi' it up timorrer
An' nut 'ev anuther fag.


Ah started it wen Ah waz ten
At skeeal - we thowt it big
Ti sne-ak oot inti changing room
An' 'ev a crafty cig.
Thew must think on that i' them de-ays,
A packet warn't a shillin'
An' naybody 'ed cum up wi' thowt
That cigarettes were killin'.
Noo it's fowty-odd years on,
Ni langer is it funny,
'Cos ower twenny fags a day
Is wastin' ower mich munny.

Aboot ten punds a we-ak it cost
Just ti 'ev a smowk.
Fahve hunnerd punds a year, that is
An' its reet beyond a jowk.

An' iv'ry cig that Ah leets up,
It seems ti start me coughin'.
They say, "T'int coughin' what carries thew off,
It's t' coffin they carry thew off in".

So Ah'll 'etti gi'ower smowkin'
Ah'll just 'ev yan moor drag.
Ah'll gi' i'up timorrer,
An' nut 'ev anuther fag.

Moor than yance, Ah've said these wods,
An' Ah'se lyin' through mi gums.
'Cos Ah kna se-am as enny yan,
Timorrer nivver cums!


J. T. Chapman