Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group
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THE DIALECT OF STAITHES. [1930s] By A. STANLEY UMPLEBY
This is not an easy text. As well as publishing a book of verse in the Cleveland dialect in 1937, Umpleby issued this 'Dialect of Staithes' as a private publication. It abounds with technical terms, only partly explained by his diagram of a coble (here placed at the end). There are also some local 'made' i.e. limited-circulation words. And the translation offered is not always literal e.g. to bait (beeat) glossed as 'to prepare'. Some confusion between double-v and w is possible on the original printer's part. A few notes have therefore been added in square brackets more help welcome!
Ackruns - Acorn.
Afterthoft - Seat between scudboard and lowsethoft of coble.
Alluns - The Little Auk (alle alle). The'r leyke Allums efther't.
Amell - Betwixt, between, in the midst.(Atkinson, 1858) Morris (1892) states: 'The form 'mellum' is or was till lately, used at Staithes, where the fishermen are said to divide the fish `mellurn yan another.' " Danish, mellem (between). The only sense in which it is used nowadays is when the fishermen sight Roseberry in a certain position, when they say, "T'Cap amell t'moor" (I can see the Cap (Roseberry) in the middle of the moor)
Amidships - Space between midshipthoft and Iowsethoft in fishing coble.
Anonsker - Eager, very desirous. set upon a thing (Atkinson) This word is only used very rarely nowadays. A child was corning down the street eating an apple, and another said : "Aa, Edie, thoo's sett'n ma anonsker for't."
Appron - Apron.
Arseband - Band attached to rear of fishermen's skep.
Assand - In case (Ah'll tak' this 'ere assand as Ah want it).
Ass - Ashes.
Atweea - In two. (Ah could 'a'e bitten a naal atweea Ah war that mad).
Back Beean - (Back bone). Main hazel of a skep.
Backust - Bakehouse.
Backstan - A sheet of iron, sometimes a stone having an iron hoop to enable it to be hung over the fire, used to bake cakes upon. (Backstan-ceeak) (Blakeborough).
Badger - Starfish.
Balk, Baulk or Bawk - Fisherrnen's line before hooks are affixed. Called line-balk when hooks have been attached. Baited line when hooks are baited. Ceeav'd line' when old bait has been removed.
Barking - Tanning fishing gear and nets.
Barlsteead - Ring that fits on oars.
Barmskin Appron - Oilskin apron used by fishermen.
Beeat Prepare [sic]. (The've gone ti beeat a line.)
Beeat - Boot. (Ther's a hooal i' mi beeat.)
Beeat-stockin' - Stockings used with the sea-boots.
Bend - Fasten. (Bend that bowl on !) [standard maritime?]
Birk - Birch.
Bleead - Blood. (Blaid at Runswick.)
Blaid-'oonds - Bloodhounds. Runswick men say of Staithes men when they go after coal : "'The'r leyke blaid-'oonds efther't
Bleg - Seahen. (Au'd wife at Whitby.)
Blether - Bladder. (He's i' t'au'd Allum 'cos [he's] blawin' bletherbowls.)
Blinnd - Blind. (All could sheet blinnd e'e, i.e., without looking.)
Boorn - Born.
Booat - Boat. (Give us 'o'd o' t'booat-'eeak.)
Booagy - Coble fire.
Booy - Buoy.
Bouns - (Which line 'es t'rneeast bouns? i.e., Which line makes the biggest heap?) That line's bounsy.
Bowl Start - Bowl to mark commencement of sheeting.
Bottery - Elderberry.
Bowlin - Type of knot. Running bowlin, etc. [standard maritime]
Brat - Turbot.
Breears - Briars.
Breet - Bright.
Breeadin' - Making a crab-pot. (Matt and Tich is ower yonder breeadin'.)
Breead Winnd N.N.-W. (Ah thowt t'glass wad a gone up - ther's a breead winnd.)
Bridle - String attached to crab-pot to steady it.
Broon Leeamers - Ripe hazel nuts. (The' tumm'le oot leike broon leeamers.)
Candybout - Feast of sweets provided when communally worked clip-rug is completed.
Carlin - Seat nearest head of coble.
Ceeav'd Line - Line from which old bait has been removed.
Chaam'er - Bedroom.
Chawlin' - Chewing. (Wa maunt 'a'e them au'd rattens chawlin' this gear.)
Checkers - Periwinkles. (Thoo's browt checkers like mice een.)
CIaggum - General term for toffee.
Chimlas - Chimneys.
Clauve - Placing of line hooks between two short hazels to prevent snuds or sneeads being barked (tanned.)
Clep - Stick with a hook on the end for hauling fish aboard. This is named a 'garthangle' at Filey. (Clep a ling bi t'tail, a cod, butt, an' brat bi t'eead, an' a conger eel bi t'naaval. Y'u deean't allus clep 'ern wheer y'u wad leyke ti clep 'em, bud wheer v'u can git 'o'd.)
Corrk - Cork.
Corrk Bunches - Corks used as guides to pots.
Corrin' - Current. ('E wad gan onnywheer for 'auf a corrin'.) [currant]
Coulpress - Continued breaking of sea. (It's breeakin' coulpress ower t'arbour mooth.)
Crab-sticks - Sticks to measure size of crabs.
Cribs - Small compartments at side of coble.
Cuddy-handed - Ieft-handed.
Dan - Buoy.
Dan-leet - Buoy.light.
Deead - Dead. ('E scarred 'im ti deead.)
Deed - Work. (Ther's thrang deed).
Dog-choups - Fruit of dog-rose. Also Dog-jumpers.
Doggers - Green crabs.
Dog -'eeads - Dog-heads. Repairs to fishing line that are not spliced.
Doldrums - Lack of wind. Windjammer held up for wind is said to be in the 'doldrums.' [standard maritime]
Draugs - Sea anchors. (T'draugs slit reet atweea as wa war cumin' ower a gert sea.)
Dot Bo'ds - Dotteril.
Dolls - Sticks to hold sail to enable the fisherman's hands to be liberated.
Dubbler - Enamel bowl.
Duck - Lamp flare. [?]
Duck Weeakin' - Wick for 'duck'.
Eeavun - Oven. ('Yuon' generally in Cleveland.)
Eearin' - Sails of coble. (Lee and Weather 'eearin.')
Een - Eyes.
Ell - Pour. (Ell us a cup o' tea out.) [hell]
Fassen - Fasten.
Feeak - Miss. Also steal. When the fisherman is fastening the snuds (with hook) to baulk (22 score and ten hooks to a new line), he measures the distance between each hook thus : heeak, heeak, feeak, i.e., miss one ; i.e., tweea an' a feeak : Ther's nut moonv 'es a heeak an 'a feeak.
Feeatin'-piece - Piece of wood fixed between lowsethoft and midshipthoft in sailing cobles "ti git foot-'o'd.
Felties - Fieldfares.
Fewles o' Muck - Bad weather.
Flang - Flung. ('E flang 'issel doon i' siken a temper.)
Fleead - Flood. ('E teeak t'fleead taade ti Yarmouth - iv a bucket.') ('Flaid' at Runswick.)
Flayed - Afraid.
Fleet - 52 crab pots. (Wa've lost tweea fleet o' pots this summer up ti noo.)
Fleeted - Grumbled, complained. (Walloper fleeted when Ann bowt all that wrangham (small fish.))
Flithers - Limpets. Flither gatherers used to all dress alike and travel as far as Saltburn and Robin Hood's Bay, in the early davs afoot and later by train, returning on the rocks gathering flithers on the way.
Fettled - Prepared. (Bi wi git fettled wa'll 'a'e bin taadin' an 'oor.)
Fodther - Further. (T' 'errin's 'es gone fodther oot.)
Forefeet - Front of keel or coble.
Foreroom - Space between midshipthoft and forethoft.
Forethoft - Seat between carlin and midshipthoft.
Fond - Silly. (Thoo's is fond as leeace.)
For ti why? - \Vhy?
Foy - A boat requiring assistance. [?offering assistance]
Gantrees - Board flush with forethoft and carlin in which mast is fixed.
Gar Ends - Boundary wall of village. End of passages oberlooking sea and beck. (Air see'd 'im o' t'Barber Gar Ends.)
Gauvin' Gapin[g]. (Wheer's thoo gannin' gauvin' aboot?)
Gausarks - Exclamation! (Oh, gawsarks! Wheeas this cumin'? T'staation gaffer for 'is mussel bill Ah's think.)
Gilney - Hole at coble head through which gilrope passes.
Gilrope (See Gilney).
Gildet - Hair snare for catching birds. (Y'u caan't cop a sparra' iv a gildet.)
Gob - Mouth.
Gog - Short, stoutish piece of stick for killing fish and removing hook. (Gog a cod bi t'snoot, a ling o' t'back o' t'neck, and a thoornbeck atwixt t'een.)
Go'nets - Gurnets.
Gowld - Gold. (Ah wadn't gan up theer for a gowld coo.)
Grades - Grappling gear for recovering lost lines. (Y'u rna' graade all t'daay an' nut tak' 'o'd.)
Gudgeon - Hole in casting at stern so that hook can be inserted to haul coble.
Haeled - Hauled.
Haelin' Room - Space between lowsethoft and afterthoft.
Hairy Hats - Round sealskin caps worn by fishermen up to five or six years ago.
Heeak - Hook.
Hau'f-piece - Standard length of fishing line (30 fathoms); 13 half-pieces to the line.
Hooal - Hole.
Hoolibaloos - Blowers.
Hoorn - Horn.
Howsers - Scoops.
Howsumivver - However.
Hummock - Buoy for nets.
Inwire - Wooden rail round inside of coble. (Thi mittens is i' t'inwire.)
Intiv Into. (As seean as t' butt com' Ah war intiv it.)
Jib AIIiotts Rope attached to mast to hoist jib.
Kansh Ridge of rock, sand or other obstacle in a waterway. (Sha's gitten ov a kansh, i.e., coble had run ashore on a ridge in the harbour.)
Kelk - Codfish spawn.
KeIkin' - The knot fastening the snud to the fishing line. (Hing it i' t'kelkin'.)
Kessen - Cast.
Kidged - twisted round the snud.
Killation - A fishwife's made word : 'It's killation'.
Knaps - A local name for a part of the rocks.
Knott - A bad sea. (Sha teeak a nasty knott there.)
Lanch - Launch.
Lanchin' Woods - Woods used to launch coble. They are well greased wi' talla eightpence a poond at Jausiph's.
Lanthron - Lantern.
Latchets - Tabs inside sea-boots to enable them to be pulled on and hung up to dry.
Lax - Cloud. (Sha's (t'sun) gannin' doon intiv a lax.)
Lazy Cod - An ill-fed cod. ('E's neean lazy: 'e warked 'issel ti deead. )
Leeaf - Rope that passes through parril.
Leeaf-heeak - Hook for the leaf.
Leet'nins - Corked line affixed to tows for potting and fishing.
Leeat - Small coal-fish.
Leear - Liar. (Thoo's as big a leear as Tom Pepper.)
Leeak - Christian name Luke. 'Leeak' White (Luke White)
Leks - Leaks. (Sha leks leyke a baskit.)
Lip Ta'en - Lip Taken, i.e., a fish hooked by the lip.
Listins - Ridge at joinings of planks round the coble.
Leyke - Like. (It leeuks leyke a lobster wi' yah claw.)
Litha - Look you.
Lobster Stick - To measure size of lobsters.
Lowsethoft - Coble seat between midshipthoft and afterthoft. This is removable, i.e., 'lowse' (loose).
Lonnin' - Lane. (Ah see'd 'im up Jooa an' Andra lonnin.')
Loose - Louse (parasitic insect). (Ah could crack a loose o' mi shackles!)
Lound - Quiet, calm. (It's varra lound ti-neet.)
Mallimawks - GuiIIemots.
Maft - Suffocated. (Ah's fair mafted.)
Ma'ssy - Mercv.(Lawk 'o' ma'ssy.)
Mally - Molly.
Meead - Went to. (Ah war boorn t' 'eear Talkin' mead Runs'ick wi 'au'f a cran.)
Meeans - Moons.
Meeat - Mate. (Meeat of a ship an' nut t'meeat 'at y'u eeat.)
Mense - Finish. (Th'u wad nobbut ax us for a mense.) [?favour, help]
Midshipthoft - Coble seat between forethoft and lowsethoft.
Mirak'Ious - Remarkable (Wa surntaames git a mirak'Ious fish.)
Nantlin' Wandering. (T'au'd wind's nantlin' aboot finndin' a 'ooal ti blaw in.)
Neea - No. (Wa want neea white pots. . . . It 'es neea good in't.)
Neeaks ''Is neeaks is weel doon, i.e., coble heavily laden; low down in the water. [nook corner]
Neb-band - Band at neb (head) of skep.
Nogglets - Local name for part of the rocks.
Nowthermost - most northerly.
Oilslops - Oilskins.
O'kkud - Awkward.
Oor - Our. (Oor awn wyke.)
Orgin - Young codling.
Owerlie - Placing baited hooks on neb of skep.
Ower Heeaks, Ower-'eeaks - Large hooks, i.e., cod hooks as distinct from haddock hooks (40 used to line).
Owil - Boat requiring assistance. (See also 'Foy.')
Pap Lines - Lines baited with rock anemones (sookers).
Parril - That sail hangs upon.
Peeliers - Tiny young crabs with immature shell that can he peeled off. Used for bait.
Petril - Petrol.
Pets - Seagulls.
Pistil - Pistol. (Y'u could 'a'e ta'en Steeas wiv a penny pistil.)
Pot-tows - Used with crab pots.
Pot Strings d[itt]o.
Potaboilin's - Off the end of Cowbar Steel.
Pooa't - Port.
'Pleean - Complain.
Po'ss - Purse.
Potty Hooal an' Treeacle - Backstan ceeak an' treeacle.
Powl Nett - Pole net: the first net shot.
Pots - Crab pots. They contain: 4 bows, 4 side sticks, 1 top stick, 2 end sticks, 2 deear sticks, 2 bait bands, 1 slip band, 2 deear bands, 2 spoots or smoots.
Queer-un 'It's a queer-un if maane 'es ti bi mair 'an 'ers.' 'It war a queer-un when the' brak' a rudder-band iv a gale o' wind.'
Rattens - Rats.
Raxed Mi Shackles - Sprained my wrist.
Reck'nins - Weekly share out of fishermen. (Ther' neea reck'nins ti-neet (after a blank week)).
Reekin' - Smoking.
RewIes - Rules. (The' 'a'e ti 'a'e rewles, thoo knaws, Billy.)
Rowler - Roller. An apron or duster rolled up to protect the head when carrying coal, wood, etc. The Staithes women can carry great weights upon their heads (see remarks re 'Flithers.')
Ram - Coble keel.
Riddy Ricknors - Ready reckoners; snuds with hooks affixed. (If wa ax'd for a heeak an' a sneead the' wadn't knaw what wa wanted, but if wa a for a riddy-ricknor the' knaw what wa want.)
Rousby - Roxby. Ah deean't knaw what wa s'ud deea widoot Rousbv Trees" (as a landrnark).
Rowth Irons - Irons on oars.
Sau't - Salt.
Settin' a Line - Fixing sneeads to baulk; preparing a line.
Settin' Booa'd - 40 inches in length: initials of fisherman and his Wife cut in it, thus :
(William and Alice Verrill.)
Scudbooa'd - Small seat just inside stern of coble.
Seeat - Soot.
Seeap - Soap.
Scarbers - Liver of ling
Scawls - Clinkers.
Scrautin' - Scratching.
Shuts - Darts. (It war makkin' sike gert shuts.)
Sheeapsteeanes - Sheepstones (rocks near Staithes).
Shackles - Wrists.
Sheean - Shoes.
Sholl Up - Move up.
Skane - Taking mussels out of shells.
Sheeared - Small fish that has been caught on hook and partly eaten off by bigger fish.
Shooat - Catch. (Oh, wa've a middlin' shooat.)
Sheeat Blocks - Blocks used in sheeting.
Sheeated - Shot. Act of casting lines or pots. (The've gitten sheeated.) Pots are shot 9 fathoms apart.
Skeeat - Skate (fish).
Skeel - Wooden tub: formerly used for carrying water when each household had its own 'skeel' painted inside and out and bearing initials of the owner. They were carried on the heads of the womenfolk.
Skellet - Saucepan.
Skems - Pigeons.
Silverwhips - Wild or sea cabbage (Brassica oleracia), which grows in great abundance at Staithes in the clitfs.
Skinnigryff - Skinningroye.
Slavverlinin' - Baiting with flithers (limpets).
Smeead - Smooth.
Smeears - Fish spawn.
Shiftin' Mussels Up - Changing the water that mussels are kept in.
Snuds, Sneeads (formerly of horse-hair.) Short lengths of line with hook attached which are affixed to the fishing line proper (baulk).
Sookers - Sea anemones.
Softies - Tiny crabs before shell appears.
Soft - General term for fishing grounds with sandy bottom. (Hummersty Soft, Bullfit Soft, etc.)
Squids - Small herrings.
Spoths - Short supports at end of each coble seat. (Named 'knees' at Whitby.)
Speean - Spoon.
Slarve - Slice. (Give us a slarve o' breead.)
Speets an' Racks - Used for roasting fish in front of fire.
Sprag - Codlings.
Sperrit - Spirit.
Starn - Stern.
Strop - Short rope tied to pot-tow.
String-knott - Knotts to indicate which part of the line is in hand, e.g., 'string knott,' 'half-piece string knot,' etc.
Stecked - Fastened, closed. (Noo git thi gob stecked.)
'S'cos'lit'o'th'u - Literally 'God's curse light upon you.' An old Staithes woman was going to the polling booth, and one of the party touts asked her number. " 'Scoslitothu !" she replied. "Ah's seventy-three next!"
Swill - Wicker basket used by flither pickers.
Swings - Forrud ropes of coble.
Taade ti Saay - Sure to say. [tied, obliged]
Taadin' - Tiding. Resting at sea: waiting period between shooting lines and hauling them in.
Tack Taakle - Gear for tacking.
Tap Leets - Coble lantern.
Teea - Tea.
Teeas - River Tees.
Tell On't - Remember.
Thrang - Busy.
Thowll Pins - Uprights on coble side for oars to fit on.
Thoorns - Thorns (starfish).
Thorn Ears - Large dog fish.
Timmers - Timbers. Floor timbers of coble.
Under-running - Hauling pots for examination and afterwards returning them to sea without hauling them aboard.
Up-ower, In-ower, Doon-ower, Oot-ower. [directions]
Varmint - Vermin.
Wahdni Breeches - Wide-knee breeches. Fishermen's trousers.
Waps Rough flannel with thumb-hole for maintaining grip of lines. These are named 'dog-cleeats' at Filev.
Weeakin' - Wick.
Weather - Good weather. (Wa'll gan if it's weather.)
Wheealin' (Whaling) - Iron affixed to strengthen part where thowls are placed on the side of the coble.
Whippin' - Affixing hooks to snuds.
Whither - The small bent part at end of a fishing hook.
Woars - Oars
Worrurns - Worms.
Wreck, wrack - Seaweed.
Wow-tin - Fishermen's lunch tin. [wow = treacle]
Wowtin-ceeak - Food that is not eaten at sea and returned in wow-tin.
Wrangham - Odd lots of miscellaneous under-sized fish.
Yallaboys - Sovereigns.
Yat-stoups - Gate-posts.
Yolls Yauls; yawls
Arden Loup - Part of the rocks near Staithes.
Blast, Gurnet Blast - Gurnet's bladder.
Bo'ddin - Burden, bundle.
Boo - Bow.
Crab Cart - Empty shell of crab.
Ceeastrin - Cistern.
Cuvvins - Periwinkles.
Doctor' Bottle Term for all medicine. ('A'e y'u browt oor John a doctor' bottle?)
Highlaws - Name for shoes formerly worn by fishermen. [high-lows]
Hod Nab - Point on cliff near Staithes used as landmark.
Laggers - Name given to men who assist with Iaunch of cobles.
Moy - mouth.
Miffy - Lobster without large claws.
Mops - Small codlings.
Nannycocks - Undersized lobsters. ('Pawks' and 'linties' at Whitby.)
Ratch - Exaggerate. (That Ridcar man wadn't ratch when 'e war talkin' aboot fishin.')
Reeasted - Roasted. (Backust dinners is allus reeasted at t'top.)
Swaape - Swape (oar).
Strunt - Cutting snuds off fishing line.
Smock jackets - Fishermen's jerseys.
Tratt - Fishing line used by youths and old men. They bait a line and anchor it to the rocks at low water and at the succeeding low water reclaim it.
Theet - Watertight. (Them beeats is as theet as a bottle) (Used also at Flamborough.)
Tripped - ('A'e sha tripped? i.e., Has the anchor become liberated ?)
Taumed - Fallen off to sleep.
Taum - Piece of stick with twine and hook used by boys for catching pennock, etc. [strictly tawn equals fishing line]
Weeak Wake. 'White' water left behind moving ship. (Sha's makkin' a despert weeak.)
Warsit - Hill. (Humersty Warsit, Huntcliffe Warsit, etc.)
Watther Bo'n - Phosphorescence of herrings. (T'watther bo'ns on.)