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Useful Notes / Other British Languages

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This is a page about the other languages spoken in the British Isles. See also the pages on Scottish English and Irish Accents.

There are many more languages spoken than just English. French, Welsh and Cornish are all official languages of the UK; Scots, Yorks/Tyke, and other Gaelic, Celtic, and Bretonic derivative languages are at least recognised.

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An old Breton Celtic language, now compared to Welsh, spoken in the North of England. Its remains are seen in the Old North.

Features of the language include the devoicing of final sounds, particularly 's', which is still an element in Cornish and Tyke; the lack of the 'w' sound (as it appears in Welsh 'gwyn', for example)

Vocabulary of note:

  • Numbers: 5 = 'pimp', 9 = 'hornie', 10 = 'dick', 11 = 'bumfit'.
  • Bach: (sounds like 'back', but with the 'ch' sound in 'loch') A cowpat.
  • Brat: An apron.
  • Pen/Penn: The main, most important, and head (of feature, and of animals), hill.

    Tyke — Yorkshire 
The first interesting thing to note is that the ultimate origins of the term "tyke" are from an Old Norse word that means 'bitch'. Both the people from Yorkshire and the language (that derivates from English in the same way as Scots) are often referred to as Tykenote .

The dialect and specific language formed in West Yorkshire became the most prevalent; "On Ilkley Moor" (the anthem of the county) is written in this, and the BBC regional announcements were made in this dialectnote .

Most of the specific language is alternatives in grammar format, and vocabulary based in geography. As much of Yorkshire was within the Breton Celtic (Welsh) kingdoms at the time most of England was ruled by the Angles, there is also language which has derived from this as well. This is why another name for some of the language is modern Breton, as it was more closely linked to Wales and Scotland.

Differences in contractions: Most contractions are shortened to be monosyllabic. Couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't, didn't, all have the 'd' sound removed, becoming 'cunt', 'wunt', 'shunt', 'din'. Doesn't, isn't, wasn't, have the 's' removed, becoming 'dunt', 'int' and 'want', and then that to a long 'worn'. Mustn't becomes 'musn', and oughtn't becomes 'ont', removing the 't' sounds. Hasn't and haven't are both 'ant'. Can't is, depending on the sentence, said one of three ways: as 'cannae', 'can', or a long 'carn'.

Specific vocabulary:

  • ' : A glottal stop, like in Hawai'ian, is an official part of the language. And, like in Irish, an apostrophe is also an official marker. Therefore, "o'th'" is the way to write 'of the'. Depending on the sentence structure, the sound may be made at different points — either attached to end of the preceding word, alone, or to begin the succeeding word. Example: To the market is instead t't'markt. This would be pronounced as "tut market".
  • 'h: The aspirated aitch. The Other Wiki has some articles on it. This is to drop the letter h from the beginning of words, but to still breathe the sound, instead of beginning the word with the next letter. To exemplify this, the word humble is not began with a solid "um", but rather with a sigh; the way one says "an historical" is how all words would begin; it is less of an 'h' than how Brits pronounce "herb", but more than how Americans do.
  • ə: This is the schwa, a vowel that is approximately the '-er' sound at the end of words when you don't enunciate it (or the sound of harshly exhaling). Often, vowel sounds are replaced entirely by this instead.
  • Afeared: Scared.
  • Afore: Before.
  • 'baht: Without/missing.
  • Beck: A stream.
  • -burgh: Town, similar to the English 'borough'.
  • Cairns: Stones used as markers.
  • Crag: Rocks. When applied to mountains, a rocky face, sloping inward.
  • Dale: Valley, typically a U-shaped valley. When a valley extends from its original source and head into further valleys, that's a Vale. '-dale' is a suffix, following a geographical signifier (usually the name of a river) which forms the name of a valley.
  • Den: Valley. The smallest form.
  • Dyke: A similar structure to a levee, but always from natural materials (sometimes called a dick). More recently, applied to any obvious hole within a field/hillside (that isn't part of a crag).
  • Ford: Place with less water, where it is easier to pass (probably not related to the Scandinavian fjord, which is similar in meaning to the Scots/Tyke 'firth').
  • Holme/Holm: A floodplain.
  • Leigh/Lee: The side of a hill.
  • -ley: A small settlement. Smaller than a hamlet, and a suffix added to the nearest larger settlement.
  • Owt and Nowt': Mean anything and nothing, respectively. "Sum-owt" means 'something'.
  • Pike: Term for the tallest hill or mountain in the immediate area.
  • Royd: A clearing.
  • Shaw: A small group of trees, often smaller than a wood.
  • Thissen: The Middle English 'thou' was instead 'tha' in the tyke language, and 'thine' was 'thissen'. These are still used. Thissen also means 'yourself'.
  • Thither, hither, and whither: There, here, and where.
  • Vale: Valley (see 'Dale').
  • Water, a: A river tributary. (As in '[Place name] Water' in a name.)

Cornish, or Kernowek, is the old Celtic language of Cornwall. It died out as a first language in the 18th century, but fragments stuck around in local use for a few decades, and academics had documented it by then. Cornish nationalists have made a project of resurrecting it in modern times.


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