Yorkshire Dialect

OWD VIOLET– by Kate Glover
SOMED’Y SPECIAL – by F.A. Carter
“Owd Mary” – by Kit Calvert
Said Johnny to his father – Gilbert Kershaw
Harvest Home and the Mell Sheaf
Taws – by James Alderson
The 23rd Psalm – translated into dialect by Kit Calvert
A Wensladill Hoss – F.A.Carter


Ee, she wor a grand owd mare
Getting on in years, tha sees
She’d born monny a foal in past years
But now she’d rheumaticky knees
Soa they puts her in t’field aside us
To live out ‘er owden days
In peace an’ quiet contentment
Wheer she’d nowt to do bar graze

Ah knaw she looked a funny sight
She wor goin’ grey an’ thin
Ther wor really nowt much up wi ‘er
Apart from ‘er funny owd pins
But some kind person reported ‘er
In a sneaky sort on a way
That owd ‘oss wor tekken from us
Aye, someone carted ‘er away
She wor put dahn humanely like
But it’s summat Ah feel badly abaht
‘Cos just when ‘er candle ‘ad a glow
Somebody went an’ snuffed it aht

These do-gooders should ‘od ther noise
‘Cos Owed Violet ‘ad been seen bi t’vet
It wor nobbut owd age an’ bulgy knees
An’ she’d ‘ave been ‘ere with us yet
If it ‘adn’t been fer some town folk
Who thowt as they knew better, really
Knew nowt at all abaht country life
Ee, Ah’d like to send ’em a letter:
“Ah only ‘ope when tha gets old
Goes grey an’ ‘as rheumaticky knees
This law’s been passed – at sez in effect
Tha’s too owd – it’s better tha dees!”

By Kate Glover


It’s plow and soa, scythe an’ hoa, then in tid ‘’arvest we da goa.
Fust it’s t ‘ay, then comes the corn, aye, ta sich a life wus ah born.

There’s cows to milk, an t’ hosses ta feed, turnips ta snag an tatties ta lead.
Wi fingers all frosted an numbed, Offen ah wunner, why ivver ah comed.

Aa’t maisters ard, and misses taa, keeps shoutin out what work’s ta daa,
An early grave will be me fate, Wi’t’ Parson prayin at t’ Churchyard Gate.

Then rest t’will be fra scythe and hoa for t’ Lord in eaven ordained it soa.
He’ll say Come in lad wi friends sa few, sit thee down, and thee strength renew.

Weep noa more, my poor bit lad, but in the brightest raiment clad
Laugh wi joy, and sing thee praise, in my presence, all these days.”

Till then tis on, and on, ah goa, it’s plow an’ soa, scythe and hoa’
Fust it’s t’ay, then comes t’corn, aye, ta sich a life wus ah born.

By Thomas H. Vayro.


by F.A. Carter

Kit Calvert in the early 70s











There’s a chap ‘at lives – an’ allus has
I’ Upper Wensladill,
A better soart Ah niver Knew,
Ah doot Ah niver will.
Though what he looks like, seemin’ly,
He disn’t care a lot,
Ye might just leet ti catch him shaved,
But just as likely not.

Ye’ll moastly finnd him puffin’ at
A owd weel-seeasoned clay,
An’ just hoo lang he’s had that hat
Ah wodn’t like ti say.
But them ‘at’s knahn him lang eneeaf
Has come ti understand,
‘At he’s reight man ti ga tiv if
Ye want a helpin’ hand.

He preyches on t’ first day o’ t’ week,
An’ practises on t’ others.
All on us, rich an’ poor alike,
To him is men an’ brothers.
“Whoiver can it be”? ye say,
Nay, have a bit o’ wit:
Who could it be but t’ lad fra Haas,
Oor one an’ only Kit?

This piece of prose was written by Kit Calvert about his grandmother from Burtersett.

“Owd Mary”

My grandmother, dead these last forty years, was almost the last of a fine type of Victorian dalesfolk. She lived at the bottom of the world, and poverty was her constant companion, but “Owd Mary”, as she was known to every member of our village, was rich in friends and memories. Compared with our present assessment of good citizenship, grandmother would be thought a bit of a character. The following page out of her life is typical of her.

“Put t’fire to t’oven Ann, while I go on to Billy Willie’s for a few bits o’ things t’bake wi’.”

Ann was grandmother’s eldest daughter, and Billy Willie was the local grocer.

She donned her shawl, picked up her basket and purse which contained one half-crown, the only money she possessed, and set off for her “baking stuff”.

Before she arrived at the grocers, she called in to see how the Jacksons were getting on. The Jacksons were a working class family whose breadwinner was often ailing, and the time of our story being before the days of “Lloyd George”, no work meant no meat.

The Jacksons were both ill in bed, needing attention. Grandmother sizing up the situation, lit a fire and took each a cup of tea, but found that the real trouble was starvation. Leaving the couple a little more comfortable, she toddled away to the grocers, and instead of buying her “baking things” she began to make purchases of goods needed in the sick home.

“I’m buying these for Jacksons who are both i’ bed “clammed” (starved), I think I’ve got all that’s wanted. How much Willie?”.

“Four and six Mary”.

“I’ve nobbut hauf a crown, ye’ll hev’ t’ tak’ that”. Willie accepted the half crown and wrote up two shillings on the slate.

Arriving back at Jacksons, grandmother placed her purchases in the cupboard, and called on a neighbour to give an eye to these “tweea badly folk”. Eventually, she turned in home with an empty basket and an empty purse.

“Thou’d better rake t’fire from under t’oven, Ann, we can’t bake today”.

“What for?”, asked her daughter.

“I’ve called in at Jacksons, and they’re both i’ bed nobbut middling, and nowt in t’house, so I used my half-crown to git ’em summat”.

“We’ll starve Mother, if we can’t bake”.

“Nivver mind, you can stand hunger better when yan’s weel, than when yan’s badly, we’ll manage somehow”.

Somehow they did manage, and a few days afterwards grandmother had to go shopping again, and after she had made her purchases, Willie remarked, “That’s one and nine, and two shillings left on t’slate, mak’s three and nine”.

“Nay nivver, Willie, ye’ve nowt on t’slate for me. What I got t’other day was for Jacksons who had nowt to live on”.

“But ye bowt ’em Mary”,

“I telled ye I had nobbut hauf a crown. Seurly ye’ll share, out of your abundance, with my all, to help a neighbour that’s starving?”.

“But Mary, I’m nut a shopkeeper to give stuff away, to do that would land me where the Jacksons are”.

“Willie, I truly hope that day may nivver come, but if it does, and I,m here to see it, i’ll do t’same for ye as I’ve done for Jacksons”. But that’s by the way. T’fact of t’matter today is, I’ll nivver give you that two bob”.

As far as I know she never did.



The 23rd Psalm in the Wensleydale dialect.

  • Translated by Kit Calvert, 1974.

The Lord is my shipperd,
Ah’ll want fer nowt.
He lets m’bassock i’ t’ best pastures
an’ taks m’ bi’t watter side whar o’s wyet an’ peeacful.
He uplifts m’soul an’ maks things seea easy
‘at Ah can drew w’ats reet an’ gloryfy His name
Evan if Ah cu’t’ deeaths deursteead,
Ah’s nut bi freetend, fer He’ll bi’ wi’ me.
His creuk an’ esh plant’ll uphold me
Thu puts on a good meeal afoor me,
reet anenst them’ at upbrraids me.
Thu ceuls me heead wi’ oil
an’ Ah’v meeat an’ drink t’ spar’
Seurlie Thi goodniss an’ mercy
‘al bi mine fer o’ t’ days o’ mi life,
an ah’ll beleng t’ t’hoose o’ the Lord fer ivver.

Said Johnny to his father

Said Johnny to his father I’ll tell thee summat rum, I stayed awake
last Christmas eve and saw owd santa come.

He din’t come darn ‘t chimney he came in through door,
He put summat in mi stocking and summat else on’t floor

He left summat for mi’sister an’summat for mi brother,
An then I follered him upstairs and he gate i’bed wi mother.

Harvest Home and the Mell Sheaf

The gathering in of the last sheaf of corn (called the mell-sheaf) and the holding of the mell supper are commemorated in a Wensleydale dialect poem “Harvest Home and the Mell Sheaf”

“We have her, we have her,
A coo iv a tether,
At oor toon-end.
A yowe an’ a lamb,
A pot an’ a pan.
May we git seafe in
Wiv oor harvest yam,
Wiv a sup o’ good yal,
An’ some ha’pence to spend.

John Metcalfe has gitten all shorn an’ mawn,
All but a few standards an’ a bit o’ lowse corn.
We have her, we have her,
Fast i’ a tether,
Coom help us to hod her
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Blest be t’day that Christ was born,
For we’ve getten t’mell o’ t’ farmer’s corn.
It’s weel bun’, but better shorn.
Mell! Shout, lads, Mell!”

Taws- Marbles

“Whar’s t’yan t’ hev a game o’ taws?””
“Bill an’ me, an Mecca’ fra’ t’ Haas.””
Ah sez, “Let’s lake at fower a touch.””
B’ t Mecca’ reckoned that ower much.

Ah meeade a ring wi’ mi own clog sooale,
Mi karka’ s off;  it’s meeade a hooale,
We often leked at t’ top o’ t’ looan,
Wi, many a shoot, an’ many a groan.

We aw put two taws in t’ ring,
An’ measured l’ lag wi’ a bit o’ string.
Ah teuk my bozzy fer mi shutter,
Ah knocked some oot, Ah meeade ’em scutter.

“Let’s ga fer t’ fug”, an’ when  Ah’d been,
“No brush,” sez Bill, “Ther’s muck atween”.
“Knockle up”, “”Knockle doon”,
“Aw fower fingers on  t’  t’ ground”.

“Full th’mate”, “”A fullaken fluke”,
“An awful shot,  Ah darsen’t leuk”.
“No straits thar”, en’’”Slemmy noo”,
We awlis tells ’em what t’ dew.

Mecca’ gat his gert feut i  t’way,
“No menz”, he said, “Just let it stay”.
“That bottle alley ‘ll kill him dead”.
“Pay up you snotter”, that’s what he said.

Next shot it sattled in t’  t’middle,
“Fat dead!”, we cried. “Oh no you diddle!””
We lads fra’  t’ Gayle dooant lake fer fun,
T’ was fer “fors””an’’”keeps”  ‘at we begun.

“Mi stock o’ taws is gitten less”,
“Ah’ll swap thi some;  Ah’s in a mess.
Ah’ll swap this blood alley fer three taws,
Mi luck’s bin oot aw  t’ day thoo knaws”.

We laked again, en’  again till dark,

 T’ quarrymen hed come heeame fra’ wark.
“Ah’s shiggered!”Ah cried, “Just stum mi in,
Just yah last geeame, Ah’ m seeur t’  win”.

We than laked Deury, bi Kit Hill,
Wi’  mi last few taws t’  try mi skill.
Mi coloured alley com’ off the deur,
It laid i’  t’ muck, thar on t’ fleur.

Bill’s bozzy was t’ next t’  follow on,
He hit me full; it’s seeur Ah’s done.
Another day we’ll lake at Hooaly,
Ah ca’ at think Ah’ll dew as poorly.

Bozzies, glass alleys, coloured white an’ grey,
Taws all sizes; stooane an ‘clay.
Lads i’ knee britches, jersies, clogs,
Today, t’ game’s neglected; gone t’’t’dogs.

J. Alderson – a native of Gayle


Tiv a Wensladill Hoss I’ Haytime

Why, Chessie owd lad, but Ah’s gey glad to see thee,
Come’d doon off o’ t’fells, just ti help us wi’ t’hay,
Thoo’s ommost been put oot o’ business wi’ t’tractors,
But hosses is hosses w’ativver they say!

Thoo nivver breaks doon reight i’ tmiddle o’ leeadin’,
Or runs oot o’ juice a full mile off o’ t’farm,
Neea shackles is brocken wi’ crankin’ thi starter;
Thoo nivver did neeab’dy a hawporth o’ harm.

Thoo finnds thi own keep when we manage wi’ oot thee,
Neea tax nor repairs, nor insurance nor nowt,
An’ theer thoo is waitin’ whenivver we need thi
For teddin’ or rakin’ or leeadin’ or owt.

An’ does ta look for’ ard to haytime, Ah wonder,
An’ summat goin’ off, after t’ quiet o’ t’ fell ?
Nay, that’s nobbut known ti thisel an’ thi Macker,
Nor Ah deean’t think ‘ at awther is likely ti tell!

by F.A. Carter
Born in the West riding of Yorkshire but lived many years at Burtersett

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The Dales