Monday, October 13, 2014

Inside the Geordie Dialect: Part 3

Last week we took an in-depth look at the Geordie dialect of English which is spoken in the North East region of England. We began on Wednesday with a brief description and history of Geordie, and continued on Friday with a look at some basic Geordie vocabulary. Today we'll be concluding our short series with more fascinating verbs, nouns, and adjectives that will help you larn to speak like a Geordie in no time.


While most verbs in Geordie are identical to those of other English dialects, there are some differences. Instead of saying "to go", Geordies say gan, so it makes sense that "going" is instead gannin. Children, or bairns if you recall our last post, don't "whine", they whinge. One of the most distinctive Geordie verbs is hoy, which is used for "throw". Frequently used contractions are also different in Geordie. Cannit means "can't", while dinna and divvint both mean "don't".


Clearly Geordies are often in need of a term for "idiot" or "fool", since there are three words we've found with this meaning: dafty, divvy, and mug. If you're "nosy" they'll say that you're nebby. Finally, if you're short on money or "broke", as is often said, then you're skint.

However, the most important Geordie adjective is undoubtedly canny. It means both nice and good, but that doesn't express the full sentiment behind the word. According to The New Geordie Dictionary edited by Frank Graham, it is "The most common and most beautiful word in our dialect. We cannot better Heslop's description: 'An embodiment of all that is kindly, good, and gentle. The highest compliment that can be paid to any person is to say that he or she is canny.'"

Nouns and Phrases

If you're in a pub and someone orders "broon", meaning "brown", they're asking for Newcastle Brown Ale, a popular beer that was originally brewed in Newcastle. Oddly enough, it is considered to be a premium imported beer outside of the UK that is popular with young people, while inside the country it is not very highly regarded.

Scran is a popular Geordie term for "food", while the word tab means "cigarette". If someone tells you to "have a deeks", they're asking you to take a look at something.  Clarts means "mud", while the term hadaway means "go away". Geordies may also tell you that "shy bairns get nowt", a popular saying which basically means that if you don't speak up for yersel ("yourself"), then you won't get what you want.

We'll conclude our Geordie lexical lesson with the word craic (pronounced "crack"), which is also used in the Irish language as well as other British dialects. The term can be used in a number of ways in reference to fun, being in good company, or just conversation itself. For example, a common conversation starter among Geordies is "What's the craic?", which is equivalent to asking "What's up?". You can also say that a person has "good craic" if they're a good conversationalist. If you're interested in learning about its many other uses, you might want to check out Urban Dictionary's entry for "craic".

If you want to put all the Geordie terms you've learned over the past week to the test, then listen to the Geordie version of the Carly Rae Jepsen song "Call Me Maybe" above done by the duo May Arcade. (They've also helpfully transcribed their lyrics in the video description on YouTube if you're interested!) What do you think of the Geordie version of this popular song? Let us know in the comments below.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3