Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inside the Geordie Dialect: Part 1

Unless you're from, have visited, or know someone from North East England, you've probably never heard of Geordie. Over the next several days we're going to look at some of the most fascinating aspects of the Geordie dialect of English

Geordie is native to the Tyneside area of the North East, which unsurprisingly consists of cities and towns located alongside the River Tyne such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead. The word "Geordie" is also used to refer to people from the Tyneside area. Nobody knows the exact origins of the name, but it is thought to be derived from the name George. It is thought to have referred to the men who worked in the region's coal mines, possibly in a derogatory manner, but eventually came to be used as an acceptable name for everyone in the region, particularly supporters of Newcastle United Football Club. 

The Millennium Bridge over the River Tyne which
connects Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead. 
Perhaps you're wondering how the Geordie dialect came to exist. It evolved from the dialects of Old English spoken in the area that are sometimes referred to as Northumbrian. Eventually, this part of the North East became linguistically distinct from other areas due to various invasions throughout the UK that did not affect the Tyneside area. For example, the invasion of the Vikings influenced dialects further south in regions such as Yorkshire, but not in Tyneside. The area was also protected from the influence of Scottish dialects due to being located south of most of the border battles. As a result, Geordie retains some words that can still be traced back to the Germanic Angles.

If you're not British, you'd probably imagine that Received Pronunciation, also known as "the Queen's English", is the most attractive dialect of English since it's the "standard" accent of the UK. However, informal polls often show that British people prefer the Geordie dialect, which is considered to be everything from "sexy" to "friendly" in comparison with other dialects. 

So what exactly makes the Geordie dialect distinct from other dialects of English? It has a few phonological differences from other dialects, but it principally comes down to its vocabulary. If you want to larn to speak Geordie, then check back on Friday when we'll look at some of the most distinctive Geordie words and phrases.

Part 1 | Part 2 Part 3