Northern English dialects in the Old English period

Diversity of dialects of the Old English period. Analysis of dialectal words of Northern English in the modern language. Differences between dialects and Standard language; investigation of differences between their grammar, pronunciation and spelling.

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Казахский гуманитарно-юридический университет

Высшая школа общеобразовательных дисциплин и языковой подготовки

Кафедра переводческого дела

Курсовая работа

Northern English dialects in the Old English period

Выполнила: студентка группы

ПД 202 Зайнулла А.H.

Руководитель: м.ф.ст. преп.

Байжанова А.Х.

Астана 2015



1. Diversity of dialects of the Old English period

1.1 Definition of a dialect

1.2 Dialect areas and dialects in The Old English period

1.3 Northern English dialects in the Old English period

2. Analysis of dialectal words of Northern English in the modern English language

2.1 Diversities of dialects in the Old English period

2.2 Differences between Northern English dialects and Standard English language



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E


A dialect is one of words that almost everyone thinks they understand, but which is in fact a bit more problematic than at first seems to be the case.

Expression "the dialect" has been learning since the Old English period till now. Every language has its own history of appearance and the dialect is a staple of every language. Therefore, it is important to know and to learn dialects.

The main goal of our course paper is to study the Northern English dialects of the Old English and to compare it with the Northern English dialects in the Modern English period. To achieve this goal we have to fulfill the following objectives: to give a definition of a dialect, to study its history and how invasions have an impact on its changes, mark the main territories of a dialects. Then, we have to make an analysis of dialectal words of Northern English, and to analyze differences between Northern English dialects and Standard English.

The object of analysis is the Northern English dialects of the Old English. And the subject of our analytic investigation is learning the changes of dialectal words during periods. As the material of our research we have taken 276 language units and dialectal words. Also by using these 276 language units, we want to find out differences between dialectal words according to their pronunciation, spelling and grammar.

Our methodological basis are works of various prominent scientists, such as " Theoretical phonetics" of M.A Sokolov, K.P. Gintov, I.S. Tihonova, "History of English language" of T.A Rastorguev and "Lexicology of English Language" of Antrushina.

The practical relevance is that the materials and results of this course paper may be used at the course of The History of English and other special courses on The Theory of the English Language.

Method of our analytic investigation is comparative. We compare Old English and Modern English dialects.

Our course paper consists of Introduction, two parts, conclusion and references. Theoretical part includes a definition of a dialect, peculiarities of the Northern English dialects in the Old and in the Modern English periods. Also includes features of Northern English dialects.

Practical part includes comparing dialects and analytic investigation of differences between their grammar, pronunciation and spelling. Diversities of a dialects in the Old English period. Also includes differences between Yorkshire, Northumbrian dialects and Standard language which are very different from each other, their differences between their pronunciation and spelling.

1. Diversity of dialects of the Old English period

1.1 Definition of a dialect

There are many definitions of dialects:

A dialect is a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and has its own words, grammar and pronunciation.

A dialect is a language such as there is at least one other language with which it has a high degree of similarity. There is no language which is regionally included within it as proper part, and neither is writing system nor its pronunciation nor its lexicon nor its syntax is officially normalized.

A dialect is a variety of a language which has different pronunciation, grammar or vocabulary than the standard language of the culture.

A form or variety of a spoken language, including the standard form, peculiar to a region, community, social group, occupational group. In this sense, dialects are regarded as being, to some degree, mutually intelligible while languages are not mutually intelligible.

Dialects are used in two distinct ways: the first - more common among linguists - refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of a language's speakers. The second usage refers to a language that is socially subordinated to a regional or national standard language, often historically cognate to the standard, but not delivered from it. In this sense the standard language is not itself considered a dialect.

A dialect is the form of language spoken by people in a particular region or group. Its pattern, pronunciation, or word use can vary from those of the main language.

Dialects are divided into two: regional dialect, social dialect

Regional dialect is reflected in the differences in pronunciation, in the choice and forms of words, and in syntax. Various pressures are political, social, cultural and educational - serve to harden current national boundaries to make the linguistic differences among states.

Social dialect. Factors such as occupation, place of residence, education, income, racial or ethnic origin, cultural background, caste, religion related to the way people speak.

Social dialect originate from social groups and depended on variety of factors.

Sociolinguistic dialectology has helped to integrate language, perhaps the most characteristic feature of humanity, into the over-all pattern of human culture; and it has contributed to a growing understanding of the diversity of culture. By establishing that dialects are language system in their own right - rather than degenerate forms of a literate standard, to be eradicated by schooling or even by fiat - it has given them dignity and importance.

According to Rostarguev a dialect is a local or regional variation of a language, usually with different vocabulary and grammar features from other dialects. Different dialects, unlike different languages, are mutually comprehensible, but with a certain amount of difficulty. A dialect differs from an accent in that the actual words, not just a pronunciation of them, differs from other dialect.

It is usual to distinguish between dialect and accent. Both of them are used to identify different varieties of a particular language, but the word "accent" is used for varieties which differ from each other only in matters of pronunciation while "dialect" also covers differences in such things as vocabulary and grammar.

According to Skolov, dialectology is inseparably connected with sociolinguistics, the latter deals with language variation caused by social difference and differing social needs; it studies the ways language interacts with social reality.

More than fifteen years sociolinguistics has come of age and is a fast expanding and increasingly popular subject it should be fair to mention here that language has always been viewed as a social phenomenon, the most important means of human intercourse.

Everything we have mentioned above is evidence, that the dialect has different types of description. And we also agree with these descriptions.

So, we have learned that the dialect has its particular grammar, and a standard form which is peculiar to a particular region. As well dialect is closely connected with the social standing and with way of living of human in a particular region. Also, the dialect is not a language but form of language which has its own words, grammar and pronunciation.

But most attractive in these definitions, we think, it is classification of Sokolova. Because we think that changes and appearances of a dialects depends on social phenomenon.

1.2 Dialect areas and dialects in The Old English period

The Germanic tribes who settled in Britain in the 5th and 6th century spoke closely related tribal dialects belonging to the West Germanic subgroup. Their common origin and their separation from other related tongues as well as their joint evolution in Britain transformed them eventually into a single tongue, English. Yet, at the early stages of their development in Britain the dialects remained disunited. On distinguished them from continental Germanic tongues; on the other hand, they displayed growing regional divergence. The feudal system was setting in and the dialects were entering a new phase; tribal dialectal division was superseded by geographical division, in other words, tribal dialects were transformed into local or regional dialects.

The Germanic settlers, who according to the Venerable Bede arrived in 449, brought with them dialects of West Germanic which developed further in England into varieties which were later written down as dialects of Old English. However, it is known that before that date there were incursions made by Germanic tribes along southern of England known as the Saxon Shore. In detail, the invaders of Britain came from the western subdivision of the Germanic tribes. To quite Bede "the newcomers were of the three strongest races in Germany, the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes" Modern archeological and linguistic research has shown that the linguistic affiliation of the Jutes appears uncertain: some historians define them as Frankish tribe, others doubt the participation and the very existence of the Jutes and name the Frisians as the third main party in the invasion. It is also uncertain whether the early settlers really belonged to separate tribes, Saxons and Angles, or, perhaps, constituted two mixed waves of invaders. differing merely in the place and time of arrival. They were called Anlgles and Saxons by the Romans and by the Celts.

The first wave of the invaders, The Jutes or the Frisians, occupied the extreme south-east: Kent and Isle of Wight.

The second wave of immigrants was largely made up of the Saxons, who had been expanding westwards across Frisia to the Rhine and to what is known as Normandy. The final stage of the drift brought them to Britain by way of the Thames and the south coast. They set up their settlements along the south coast and on both banks of the Thames and, depending on location, where called South Saxons, West Saxons and East Saxons. The Saxons consolidated into a number of petty kingdoms, the largest and the most powerful of them being Wessex, the kingdom of West Saxons.

Anglians were last who came from the lower valley of the Elbe and southern Denmark; they made their landing on the east coast and moved up the rivers to the central part of the island, to occupy the districts between the Wash and the Humber, and the north of the Humber. They founded large kingdoms which had absorbed their weaker neighbors: East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria.

Old English arose from the set of varieties of West Germanic which the early settlers spoke. The three main groups of settlers were Angels, Saxons and Jutes. The Angles settled in the middle and north of England, the Saxon in the south and the Jutes in the area of present day Kent. In detail, The Jutes came from Jutland and settled in Kent. The Saxons came from the area Saxony and settled largely south of the River Thames. The Angles came from the lower part of the Jutland peninsula which is now Schleswig Holstein in Germany and settled in central and northern England.

After the Anglo - Saxon invasion there was a little awareness of England let alone of English. With the establishment of the West Saxon Kingdom in later centuries and with the court which formed the pivot point of this kingdom a first inkling of the idea of English developed. With the invasion of England by the Danes it became more clearer that the Germanic tribes in England were separate from their fellows on the continent and in Scandinavia.

Among the different groupings in England in the Old English period different dialects are recognizable: Northumbrian in the north, Anglian in the middle and West - Saxon in the south. Due to a political significance of West - Saxon in the late Old English period - it was this region which under King Alfred (c.849 - 899) successfully resisted Viking expansion to the south - which the written form of this dialect developed into something like standard.

All this time it was Winchester and not London which was the political centre of the country. The term used for the West Saxon "standard" is koine which derives from Greek and means a common dialect, that is a variety which was used in monasteries in parts of England outside of West Saxony for the purpose of writing.

The principal Old English dialects are commonly distinguished:

Kentish, a dialect spoken in the area known now as Kent and Surrey and in the Isle of Wight. It had developed from the tongue of the Jutes and Frisians.

West Saxon dialect or Wessex, the main dialect of the Saxon group, spoken in the rest of England south of the Thames and the Bristol Channel, expect Wales and Cornwall, where Celtic tongues were preserved. Other Saxon dialects in England have not survived in written form and are not known to modern scholar.

Mercian, a dialect derived from the speech of southern Angles and spoken chiefly in the kingdom of Mercia, that is, in the central region, from the Thames to the Humber.

Northumbrian, another Anglian dialect, spoken from the Humber north to river Forth.

The distinction between Mercian and Northumbrian as local Old English dialects testifies to the new foundations of the dialectal division: regional in place of tribal, since according to the tribal division they represent one dialect, Anglian.

The Angles, Saxons and Jutes fought with one another for supreme power; they nevertheless became one nation in the course of a few countries. The first king to rule over all of them was Egbert, king of Wessex. He was made king at the beginning of the 9th century. Most of the works and documents in Old English that are in existence today are written in the Wessex dialect of Anglo-Saxon.

The boundaries between the dialects were uncertain and probably movable. The dialects passed into one another imperceptibly and dialectal forms were freely borrowed from one dialect into another; however, information is scare and mainly pertains to the later part of the Old English period. Throughout this period the dialects enjoyed relative equality; none of them was the dominant form of speech, each being the main type used over limited area.

By the 8th century the center of English culture had shifted to Northumbria, which must have brought the Northumbrian dialect to the fore; yet, most of the writing at that time was done in Latin or, perhaps, many Old English texts have perished. In the 9th century the political and cultural center moved to Wessex. Culture and education made great progress there; it is no wonder that the West Saxon dialect has been preserved in a greater number of texts than all the other Old English dialects put together. Towards the 11th century the written form of the West Saxon dialect developed into a bookish type of language, which, probably, served as the language of writing for all English-speaking people.

History of English dialects is one of the biggest parts of "History of the English language". It shows an importance of dialects in a social life. It also shows how language can be changed under some circumstances connected with invasion and nomadism and other circumstances.

Here we can see, that the main reason of appearance of English dialects was Germanic tribes who settled in England in the 5th and 6th century. First of all it was a tribal speech, tribal dialect and it has its own phrases, grammar, different type of pronunciation and different system. As Germanic tribes settled in England, and affected to a social life, tribal speech transformed into a dialect of Old English and reacted on all History of the English language.

We have mentioned above that there were three strongest races in Germany, the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes. These three strongest races occupied a large amount of territory in the Old English period. Different kind of dialects appeared according on territories such as Northumbrian, Wessex, Anglian.

1.3 Northern English dialects in the Old English period

There were several types of dialects as we have noticed above. The Old English was never a single, monolithic language, it too had dialects. There were four main dialects spoken: Kentish, Mercian, Northumbrian and West Saxon. Northumbrian was the dialect in which the large bulk of Old English literature was originally written.

Northumbrian was a dialect of the Old English language spoken in the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. Together with Mercian, Kentish and West Saxon, it forms one of the sub-categories of Old English devised and employed by modern scholars.

The dialect was spoken from the Humber, now within England, to the Firth of Forth, now within Scotland. During the Viking invasions of the 9th century, Northumbrian came under the influence of the languages of the Viking invaders.

The Viking invasion forced the dialect to split in two, the southern Northumbrian dialect was heavily influenced by Norse and the northern Northumbrian dialect not only retained a lot of the Old English words but was also a strong influence on the development of the English language in northern England, especially the dialects of modern North East England and Scotland. The north-south split was around the Tees river.

In 547, the Anglian chieftain Ida is traditionally credited with the establishment of the kingdom of Boernica at Bamburgh in Northumbreland. within fifty years, Beornica had united with other Anglian kingdom, Deira, based at York, to form the joint kingdom of Norhumbria. Over the next two hundred years, Northumbria grew up in size until it occupied all of Britain north of a line from the Humber to the Mersey, and south of a line from the Forth to the Clyde. The Vikings raids of the 8th and 9th centuries destroyed Northumbria's political power, but this led to its period of greatest influence on art, education, religion and literature.

The growth of the unified kingdom of Nirthumbria spread the dominant Anglian language throughout what is now northern England and southern Scotland. This is the period of the greatest Northumbrians such as Oswald, Aidan, Cuthbert and Bede, whose influence took the language all over Britain and further afield into Europe. These years have been referred to as " Northumbria's Golden Age", and it is significant that, as Northumbria's political power declined, its cultural influence grew steadily.

So, Northumbrian dialect introduced by a tribe of Angles and found along the east coast of the British Isles north from the River Humber. The dialect was found in the area represented today by the English countries of Yorkshire, country Durham, Northumberland, and parts of Lancashire and Cumbria, and in Scotland by the Regions of Borders, Lothian, and parts of Dumfries and Galloway. The area is much larger than the modern region of Northumbria. The dialect was that of a tribe of Angles or English, and has a distinction of being the dialect in which the earliest texts in English were written. This is the dialect of one of the greatest cultures of the early middle ages, the dialect in which the Venerable Bede wrote, and the dialect in which the first the firs English parliaments were held.

The Viking invasion forced the dialect to be split in two. The Southern Northumbrian dialect was mainly influenced by the Norse. The Northern Northumbrian dialect not only kept several Old English words, which were replaced in the south by Norse words, but was also a strong influence on the creation of the English language in northern England, especially those of modern Northeast England and Scotland. The north and south split around the river Tees.

Northumbrian dialect has been spoken continuously throughout the area for more than 1400 years, but like more language dialects, it has undergone significant changes in that time. The firs happened during the Viking invasions which began in 793 with the raid on Lindisfarne. Within a century, Northumbria as an unified kingdom had ceased to exist. The Danes settled mainly in the south of the kingdom, in what is now Yorkshire, and their dominance led to the absorption of many Scandinavian words into the language, which effectively took it in a different direction until it lost its uniqueness and became the Yorkshire dialect of today.

The political collapse of the kingdom, and the emergence of a Scottish kingdom in the north led to the gradual loss of the Lothians. Over the years, this has resulted in the language there also taking a separate route into Lowland Scots, which, like the Northumbrian of Yorkshire, is part of the Northumbrian family of languages, but with its own distinct dialect and vocabulary.

Applying the comprehensibility test mentioned earlier to Lowland Scots however, makes it possible to state that Scots is now as distinct a language as Northumbrian.

Native Northumbrian speakers brought into regular contact with other forms of English, particularly standard English; and the advent of compulsory schooling for the masses accelerated this into an almost unstoppable force for conformity of speech.

Northumbrian has hundreds, perhaps thousands of words which are different from the Standard English equivalent. For example: Northumbrian word gan is Standard English word go. So, wairsh = weak, tab = cigarette, gadgy = man and other words.

The Yorkshire dialect refers to the Northern English language varieties spoken in England's historic country of Yorkshire. Yorkshire is generally not as stigmatized as other dialects, and has been used in classic works of literature such as "Wuthering Heights", "The Secret Garden" and so on. Studies have shown that dialect of Yorkshire is generally popular in the speech of North and associated with common sense, loyalty and reliability.

Like any language, Yorkshire dialect is changing, but perhaps too quickly for its own good. Since the late 19th century, Yorkshire dialect has been continually diluted to a point where, today , it is in danger of dying out and to be remembered only in books.

According to information above, we can say that Northumbrian dialect has strong, unbroken history stretching back more than fourteen hundred years. Although its use has declined in recent years, it nevertheless has a long and vigorous literary tradition, both oral and written, which preserves its essential features. It forms the basis of its regional culture and heritage. Northumbrian dialect have changed and suffered but it does not cease to exist. It persists as the Northern Yorkshire dialect at the present time.

2. Analysis of dialectal words of Northern English in the modern English language

2.1 Diversities of dialects in the Old English period

In this practical part, we analyzed differences between Old English and Modern English dialects.

We chose some written records to analyze and work with them. Here, we considered diversities of dialects and made an analytical investigation of structure of word order, changes and grammatical structure.

Nearly all of literature has been lost in its Northumbrian form for various reasons.

However, King Alfred the Great set about having much of surviving Northumbrian literature written into his own dialect, that of West Saxon. From the time of Alfred and on, nearly all Old English texts are written in the West Saxon dialect.

For the first written record we chose the oldest record "ETHELRED THE UNREADY AND THE DANES". This text from "THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLES" which was written in 994 A.D.

Here, we are going to analyze some sentences.

Hie panon ferdon and worhton paet maeste yfel pe aefre aenig here don mihte on baernette and hergunge and on mannsliehtum, aegther be thaem Saeriman on Eastseaxum and on Centlande and on Suthseaxum and on Hamtunscire.

If we will translate this part of written record literally, it will not have any meaning, and it will look like a set of words. Translation of this sentence is:

Thence, they were on ship and had to work against the evil which had an army and might do a burn and slay a man. If they had not fought against evil, they would lost Essex seashore, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire.

According to this text, we knew that Old English texts and Old English languages are different from Modern English. They has different grammar and pronunciation because of Scandinavians. They simplified the English language and English nouns lost their gender and case.

Almost all of the words are changed.

Here, in this sentence, "hie" means "they", "worhton" means "work" ( in this context it means "fight", "struggle") , "paet" means "that" , "maeste" means "much", "don" means "do", "aenig" means "any" and so on.

The grammar, that we see in this text is a bit different from Standard English. They use preposition "on" as Standard English "the" which we use it before names of places (in this context). For example: "on Suthseaxum", but by translating it into Standard English, it can not be translated anymore.

And pronunciation of this text seems to easy because of spelling it as we see, without any rules, but it is not. For example: In Standard English we usually pronouncing [a] as [?i], but in this text, not only in this but in all Old English records "a" pronouncing strongly [a:].

These words are common and we are using these words in our everyday life. But, as we see, the root form of that words, structure and pronunciation are absolutely different from the Modern English. It shows, that under influence of invasions, English language simplified and changed.

According to this text (full text you can see in the appendix) we have analyzed that only about 3% of words of the Old English language are steady in the Modern English language.

The next not text but poetry is from Old English. A riddle of the late 10th century and the name of poetry is "BEDE'S DEATH SONG" in Northumbrian dialect.

Bede died on Thursday, 26 May 735 A.D and was buried at Jarrow. Cuthberd described Bede's death as follows:

Fore thaem neidfaerae naenig uuiurthit,

thoncsnottura, than him tharf sie

to ymbhycggannae aer his hiniongae

huaet his gastae godaes aethatha yflae

aefter deothdaege deomid uueortha

The translation of this poetry means: "Before setting forth on that inevitable journey, none is wiser than the man who considers - before his soul departs hence - what good or evil he has done, and what judgment his soul will receive after its passing"

Pronunciation is absolutely different from the Standard English language. It is impossible to guess the meaning of the hole text, if you know Standard English. Words are pronouncing with German and Swedish accent.

Structure of a sentences in this poetry are mostly compound sentences.

Here we can see some common words in Northumbrian and Standard English. They are: "than", "him", "his", "aefter". Meanings of every words are clear, but in the original text word "him", we can understand it in the sense that we know, but means not "him" but just "he". And the word "aefter" is Standard English "after". Their meanings are the same. They are only differing with their spellings.

Mosly the stress or the accent falls on the first syllable. For example: naenig . Structure of word order also differing.

The next poetry of Northumbrian dialect in the Old English period is "THE LORD'S PRAYER" also called "Our Father" . There are numerous different versions of the prayer. The traditional "THE LORD'S PRAYER" is based on Authorised Version of the scriptures in 1611. But we are going to analyze Northumbrian version of this poetry. "THE LORD'S PRAYER" is the oldest written record too. It has only five sentences. The Old English version of this poem is in the Old English gloss of the Lindisfarne Gospels, in the Northumbrian dialect:

Fader urer thu arth thu bist

in heofnum

sie gehalgad noma thin;

tocymeth ric thin.

This is the first sentence of poem and its translation is:

Our father which art

in heaven

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come.

Here, in this poem, we can see that this poem is religious and literary style. In this part of poem, "Fader" means "father", "urer" means "our", " arth" means "art", "heofum" means " heaven", " noma" means "name" and " cymeth" means "kingdom" and so on.

According to this poem, we can see differences between Modern and Old English word orders.

For example: literally translation of original " Fader urer thu arth thu bist in heofum, sie gehalgad noma thin" is like " Father our art which in heaven, be hallowed name thy". It is difficult to understand, translating it in this way. So, structure of the word order of Northumbrian in the Old English period is different from Modern English.

Pronunciation is differing but not much.

For example: Northumbrian word "forgef" is "forgive" in Standard English. Forgef is pronouncing as [forgef] and forgive pronouncing as [ f?'giv], and the word " father" in Northumbrian dialect pronouncing "fader" and other words.

The Old English verbal endings and the weakening of unaccented vowels and confusion of stem classes.

Interestingly, -s endings occur also in the indicative plural. The plural ending -s is the most probably an early analogical creation on the model of the 3rd singular form. Apart from fragmentary experts, Old Northumbrian documents have been tagged or parsed, so occurrences of verbal forms with -s, -th and vocalic reduced endings were retrieved manually.

Sometimes pronunciation of Northumbrian dialect and pronunciation of German language are alike.

In conclusion, we want to add, that the literature developed in the Old English period, and most of the written records, poems and stories were written in Northumbrian dialect. So Northumbrian dialect influenced on further development of literature of English language. That is why, Northumbrian dialect has some common words with the Standard English.

By making analytic investigation of written record from Old English, we have learned that a dialects of Old English and Standard English are absolutely different from each other. There are some common words which, now is using in the colloquial style of speech. Also, we have learned that pronunciation of Northumbrian dialect in the Old English period, has German, Latin accent and stress falls mostly on the first syllable.

2.2 Differences between Northern English dialects and Standard English language

The most obvious difference is that, where the Late West Saxon copy adopts the runic letter [p] for the [w] sound, the Northumbrian text carries over the Latin practice of using [ u]. The Northumbrian text also lacks the runic letter [p], instead employing the digraph [th]. Another spelling difference concerns the Northumbrian use of [b] to represent [v] sound in heben "heaven". Despite this practice appearing in other Northumbrian dialect texts, which include spelling like ob instead of of, it is only inconsistently employed here; just two words later the word " hrofe", an inflected from the Modern English noun "roof", pronounced with a [v] sound is spelled with [f]. Where the Late West Saxon version uses [h] to reflect the velar fricative sound [x], as in meahte and aelmihtig , the Northumbrian version spells this sound with [c]: meacti, allmectig. In its use of the spelling sceop , the West Saxon text shows the development of the practice of using a silent [e] to indicate where the preceding consonant was palatalized, in this case distinguishing the [sh] pronunciation of this word from [sk]. The Northumbrian text makes no such disambiguation, simply spelling this word scop. Other spelling difference are of a different kind in that they seem to reflect variant pronunciations. The presence of diphthongs in the Late West Saxon Weard, bearnum, heofen, where the Northumbrian text has Uard, barnum, heben, reflects a difference in northern and southern accents at this time which is due to much earlier sound changes. Other spelling difference testify to changes affecting the inflexible system of Old English, which underwent a process of decay and loss that was more advanced in the northern dialects.

First of all, we want to explain differences between Northumbrian and Standard English.

1. Grammar of Northumbrian is very different from Standard English.

For example: the Standard English verb "to be able" persists in Northumbrian in its older form "te can" (from Old English cunan, "to know"), we can say: - Ye'll he c'n speak French if ye gan te France (You will have to be able to speak French if you go to France).

Aa'll not c'n cum the morre (I will not be able to come tomorrow)

Aa used te cud sing (I used to be able to sing)

Except in the present and past tenses (can and could) standard English has to use "to be able" to form the other tenses and the infinitive.

Northumbrian forms the present participle by adding in or just n to the root of the verb (cummin an gannin) never ing.

2. Sounds in Northumbrian are differing from Standard English too. For example: Northumbrian uses vowels which do not occur in Standard English.

In late Northumbrian texts, the spellings ea and eo appear almost interchangeably for both diphthongs. In general these spellings are ambiguous and the most recent view has been that the confusion was merely graphic.

The history of long diphthongs ea and eo in Northumbrian dialect of Old English presents a peculiarity tantalizing problem, which seems in the past to have eluded a definitive answer. In origin these diphthongal honemes represented primarily the inherited Germanic diphthongs au and eu respectively. Germanic au is Old English [?e:a], normally spelled ea; it developed thru the stage ?eo, attested for Northumbrian in the proper names AEostoruini, AEodbaldo. With these reflexes of Germanic au and eu there coincided certain diphthongs of secondary origin which resulted from contraction of Old English ?e and e respectively with back vowels.

ae (caep/cap), aa (waalk/walk), ai (bait/bait), oe (toe/ toe), u ( uncle/uncle).

* similarly with diphthongs, we have ey (meyl/ mile), iy ( siy/ see), uw ( cuw/ cow)

*and among consonants, you can still hear the magnificent Northumbrian burr in words like rruff (rough) and roond (round).

3. Pronunciation.

*where Northumbrian and the Standard English words are the same, we usually say them differently:

ee cum ti the Toon an bowt a new short ( he came to Newcastle and bought a new shirt)

whe telt ye te dee yon? (who told you to do that?)

4. Vocabulary.

*Northumbrian has hundreds and more words which are different from the Standard English equivalent.

For example: gan=go, clarts=mud, hacky=dirty, fema=fragile, bonny=attractive, wairsh= weak, pollis= police officer, gadgy=man, mell=hammer, tab= cigarette and so on.

It has some words which just cannot be properly translated into Standard English. For example, what word can express all the meanings of their favorite word canny, as in:

What fettle the day hinny? Wey, canny, noo.

Hoo far ist? It's a canny waalk.

She's a canny lass.

Es's a canny crack.

5. Tone. Their system of tones are different.

*Asking a question - Can ye lend is a pund kiddah? (Can you lend me a pound old chap?)

*Giving a dismissive reply - Hadaway ye hippy worky-ticket! (Be off with you, you lazy good-for-nothing!)

Above, we have analyzed differences between Northumbrian and Standard English language. And it is time to explain another variant of Northern dialect - "Yorkshire".

Vestiges remains in current Yorkshire dialect and the pronunciation of early dialect words are still recognizable in some present dialect words. Old English plural endings such as "childer" "een" and "shoon" still exist in Yorkshire dialects when they have been replaced in the standard tongue by "children", "eyes" and "shoes". The Northumbrian word "hus" for house, is still used in east and north Yorkshire dialects, and in some areas "mother and father" are still pronounced in a similar way to their Anglian pronunciation of "moder" and "fader".

Nearly all of Yorkshire dialect words and terms come from the speech of the first Germanic invaders of the 5th and 6th centuries.

Pronunciation of Yorkshire dialect.

The Yorkshire dialect is known for its sing - song quality, a little like Swedish.

· [oe] > [u], as in luck ([luk]).

· the is reduced to t'.

· initial h is dropped.

· was>were

· still use thou (pronounced [tha]) and three.

· aught and naught (pronounced [aut] and [nout]) are used foe anything and nothing.

A North Yorkshire accent is scattered with the sounds commonly associated to Northumbrian. For instance, "owt" sounds more like "oot". When "thou" is used as "you", which is not at all unusual in Yorkshire dialect, it is pronounced more like "thoo" in North Yorkshire, whereas in other parts it sounds like "thow".

Some of the words more likely to be used in North Yorkshire than in other parts of the country include "thrang" meaning "busy", a "thunner pash" refers to a downpour of rain and there are some typical North Yorkshire sayings which almost sound like they have a Scottish influence.

For example: Yano' them lasses is reet bonny (One of those girls is very pretty).

The Yorkshire dialect has many of the identifiers of " Northern English", particularly the vowel sounds in words, for example: a is pronounced as a short "a" as opposed to the southern longer "aa" or "ah" (bath, grass, glass) and "u" "OO" are pronounced "uh". The pronunciation of consonants can also sound different to other regions in England. "Ds" are pronounced as "ts" and "bs" can sound like "ps" (apsolutely).

Yorkshire dialect as is the use of the "were" instead of "was" when describing an event in the past.

For example: "I were minding my own business", "She were real bonnie" rather than "I was…" or "she was…". Two more distinctly Yorkshire words "owt" and "nowt" are still commonly used and are believed to have their roots in Anglo - influenced Old English, and of course "aye" can still be heard often, though perhaps less so with younger generations. "Nay" is even used when a Yorkshire man or woman really wants to make his point.

Double negatives though not exclusive to Yorkshire are regularly used by people of all ages ("I were never scared of nobody") and "while" is often used in place of "until" (" I work Monday while Friday, 9 while 5"). The Yorkshire dialect also often uses verbs in a different context to Standard English: "to borrow" is uses as "to lend".

Vocabulary of Yorkshire dialect.

Some words of Yorkshire dialect took their origin from the Angles and even from the Celts.

There are some Yorkshire words: aboon=above or over, agait= start, aht=out, baht= without, clem= to starve, cobby= active, conny=darling, dawks= hands, doff= take off, dwine= waste and so on.

Going forward, we want to present our analysis, which includes comparison between Northumbrian and Yorkshire dialects. We did two comparison between dialects, and for it we chose one text from Northumbrian and one from Yorkshire.

Northumbrian text "A DAY OOT WI ME MARRAS" and Yorkshire text "DOOAN'T FURGET" (these texts you can see in the appendix).

Making the analysis, we can present results of this analysis.

Comparing the texts, we fount that texts has not sufficiently similar words. Words are different from each other with their spelling and pronunciation. But there were some similar words which they use in their colloquial speech:

Northumbrian "forgit" is Yorkshire "furget", Standard English "forget"

Northumbrian and Yorkshire "tha or thi" Standard English "your"

Northumbrian "ti" is Yorkshire "t'" and Standard English "the"

Northumbrian "mi" is Yorkshire and Standard English

According to these texts we analyzed that Northumbrian and Yorkshire dialects different from each other, notwithstanding the fact, that beginning of Yorkshire dialect is Northumbrian dialect. It vindicates that Northumbrian dialect changed under influence of invasions until now, and became a little bit cognate with Standard English. Pronunciation of these two dialects are alike but in Northumbrian it is impossible to guess what is the text about, in Yorkshire it is possible.

But there are some alike words which are pronouncing and spelling differently, but a roots are the same.

For example: Standard English "above" is Northumbrian "abeum" and Yorkshire "aboon". Here, we can see, that "ab" is the root and "-eum",

"-oon" are endings of a dialects. So, we understood that in this situation a spellings, pronunciations can be different, but there exists some words which roots are same and differing only with its endings. But it is still impossible to guess the meaning of the word, by knowing only the root of the word.

Although we have learned about distinguishing Standard English and Northumbrian dialect, Yorkshire dialect.


By making an analytical investigation of Northumbrian dialect in the Old English period, and in the Modern English period, we have learned what is dialect in general, history of appearance of a dialects and specially learned about Northern English dialects in the Old and in the Modern English periods. Also, we have learned about differences between dialectal words, and differences of grammar, pronunciation and spelling.

Under dialect, we understood that a dialect which is spoken in a particular area has its own grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Also a dialect closely connected with social standing of humanity.

Dialects of Old English are: Mercian, West Saxon or Wessex, Northumbrian and Kentish. The main reason of appearance of a dialects is Germanic tribes who settled in England in the 5th and 6th centuries and their tribal speech transformed into dialects of English language. Kentish dialect occupied territory of Kent. Wessex occupied territory south of the Thames and the Bristol Channel. Mercian, central region, from the Thames to the Humber. Northumbrian, spoken from the Humber north to the river Forth.

As we know, there were four main dialects in the Old English period, and one of them was Northumbrian. The dialect occupied the northern part of England. Northumbrian dialect, has strong, unbroken history stretching back more than fourteen hundred years. Although its use has declined in recent years, it nevertheless has a long and vigorous literary tradition, both oral and written, which preserves its essential features. It forms the basis of its regional culture and heritage. Northumbrian dialect have changed and suffered but it does not cease to exist. It persists as the Northern Yorkshire dialect at the present time.

After we revealed definitions of a dialects, areas and the main dialects of Old English, we made an analytic investigation and compared Old English dialect with Standard English language. To achieve this goal, we used 276 language units from Old English dialectal and Standard English texts, which helped us to compare them. And we tried to find out common words with the Standard English language, grammar differences between them and tried to learn about their pronunciation. So, an analytic investigation showed that nearly all words from Old English simplified under influence of invasions. There are some common words which are steady in the Standard English colloquial speech. Pronunciation of Old English alike Germanic and Swedish style of pronunciation which is different from Standard English. Mostly a stress falls on the first syllable. Grammar is differing too.

In the second part of our practical work, we compared Northumbrian dialect and Yorkshire dialect with the Standard English language. So, first of all we compared Northumbrian dialect with the Standard English and learned that Northumbrian dialect is differing from Standard English, especially with its pronunciation and spelling. Then, we investigated Yorkshire dialect, its grammar, words, pronunciation and spelling. We compared Yorkshire dialect with the Standard English. They are different from each other, but Standard English has more common words with Yorkshire dialect than with Northumbrian. So, at last, we compared Yorkshire dialect and Northumbrian dialect. Northumbrian has words which are steady in Yorkshire dialect, their pronunciation are alike but word order is differing. Word order of Yorkshire dialect is more common with the Standard English language. So, we know that Northumbrian dialect is the beginning of Yorkshire dialect, and it proves that Northumbrian dialect does not disappeared. But notwithstanding that fact, they are very different from each other. It proves that Northumbrian dialect has been changed during periods and it became more common with the Standard English language. They are differing with their spellings and grammar, but rules of pronunciations are the same.


dialect old english northern

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4. Ivanov I.P., Chahoyan L.P., Belyaeva T.M. "Practicum of the History of English language". 2005

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7. Davis, Lawrence "Dialectology" 1983

8. Orton, Harold and Nathalia Wright "Survey of English dialects, vol.1, The six northern countries and the Isle" 1963

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11. Labov, William "The social stratification of English" 1996

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15. Peter Roach "English phonetics and phonology, Glossary" 2009
















Appendix A

English dialects




1. Southern

2. East Anglian

3. South West dialect

1. Northumbrian

2. Yorkshire

3. North West

4. West Midland

Appendix B

Ethelred the unready and the danes

Her on pissum geare com Anlaf and Swegen* to Lundenbyrig* on nativates Sancte Marie* mid iiii(feower) and hundnifotigum scripum, and hie tha on tha burh faestlice feohtende waeron, and eac hie mid fyre ontendan woldon, ac hie ac paer geferdon maran hearm and yfel ponne hie aefre wendon paet him aenig burhwaru gedon sceolde. ac seo halige Goldes modor on paem daege hire mildheortnesse paere burhware gecythde and hie ahredde with heora feondum.

And hie panon ferdon and worhton paet maeste yfel pe aefre aenig here don mihte on baernette and hergunge and on mannsliehtum, aegther be thaem saeriman on Eastseaxum and on Centlande and on Hamtunscire*.

And aet niehstan namon him hors and ridon swa wide swa hie woldon, and unasecgendlic yfel wyrcende waeron. Pa geraedde se cyning and his witan paet him man to sende him gafol behete and metsunge, wip pon pe hie paere hergunge geswicen… And hie pa paet underfengon, and com pa eall se here to Hantune*, and paer wintersetle and hie man paer feddle geond eall Westseaxna rice and him man geald siextiene pusend punda. Pa sende se cyning aefter Anlafe cyninge AElfeah biscop and AEthelward ealdorman and man gislode pa hwile into paem scipum, and hie pa laeddon Anlaff mid miclum weorscipe to paem cyninge to Andeferan. And him pa Anlaf behet, swa he hit eac gelaeste, paet he naefre eft to Angelcynne mid unfrithe cumin holde.

Glossary of the Old English

Her - here

Pissum - this

Geare - year

Hie - they

Mid - with

Feohtende - fight

Eac - also

Hie - they

Woldon - will (would)

Faestlice - fast

Maran - much

Yfel - evil

Ponne - than (then)

Sceolde - should

Ac - but

Seo - the

Goldes - gold

Modor - mother

Daege - day

Paere - there

Heora - their

Feondum - enemy

Don - do

Worhton - work

Aet - at

Swa - as

Neihstan - last

Pa - then (when)

Cyning - king

Behete - promise

Metsunge - provision

Rice - kingdom

Punda -pound

Hwile -while

Appendix C

Bede's death song

Fore thaem neidfaerae naenig uuiurthit,

thoncsnottura, than him tharf sie

to ymbhycggannae aer his hiniongae

huaet his gastae godaes aethatha yflae

aefter deothdaege deomid uueortha

Facing Death, that inescapable journey,

Who can be wiser than he

Who reflects, while breath yet remains,

On weather his life brought others happiness or pains,

Since his soul may yet win delight's way

After his death - day.

Lord's prayer

Fader urer thu arth thu bist

in heofnum

sie gehalgad noma thin;

tocymeth ric thin.

Sie willo thin

Suae is in heofne in eortho

Hlaf userne in oferwistlic

Sel us todaeyand forgef us scyldgum usum

And ne inlaend in costunge

Ah gefrig usich from yfle.

Our father which art in heaven

Hallowed be thy name,

Try kingdom come

Try will be done.

In earth as it is in heaven,

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts

And lead us not into


But deliver us

From evil.

Appendix D

A day oot wi me marras

Wu'll dandor an moach ayont yon galloway, an tyek note o thi blee sky blent wit hi hills, see thi spuggies, an thi neuks bedighted wi eglantine. Fornenst thi cree an abeun thi hemmel, wu'll hev wor bait, an batten worsels, time wu watch wor bollen bellies graa tiv I muckle, yarkin size.

Then wu'll tyek wor pipe an blin heor time thi reek gaans oot, an set wor dowps amaang thi pittleybeds an forgit aboot this bale world. An gyep it thi cuddies, an thi gobby, donnart crass wi thor feckless cries an thi lowpin yows an dunchin coneys I thi grass.

Thi bollen born hes corved I jud I thi stenchin clarts an sleck, as it lowps, reels an blethours an cowps its creels.

Thi hoppin bords are aal agabbor, playin hitchi - dabbor, an skiddadin doon thi swally I thi soft low. But thi larks are geeson

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