Yorkshire Words of the Week

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From: Alan Bradford, Meltham, Huddersfield.

I HAD to smile when reading Yorkshire Words of the Week recently as some years ago our choir had a young Irish MD who kept asking about Yorkshire dialect.

One time he asked me what was the best word. I thought about it for a while, then told him ‘Na then’.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because ‘na then’ can mean so many different things like: How are you? Look out! Mind how you go. But I added, “If anyone says to you, ‘Na then then’, I should watch what you do. Because that person is a bit upset with you and he or she is giving you a warning.”

I have been lucky enough to have travelled all over the land and I have always been interested in dialect, long may it last.

From: Les Lister, Main Street, Wighill, Tadcaster.

In 1947, I was a very ignorant, though university trained, “farmer,” a potato grower who had inherited a very hardworking 85-year-old worker named Henry Tatterton.

Every morning, Henry would arrive promptly on his bike to my farm at Healaugh, from his home at Wighill, by 7am. When we were due to sell some potatoes, Henry’s first job was to remove enough soil and straw from the potato pie (or clamp) to enable us to riddle, probably a six-ton load (in those days) or two.

The remainder of the staff would be fothering (feeding) two yards of bullocks. Grading involved one man, armed with a sippet, shovelling potatoes onto the riddle which consisted of a wooden structure with a vibrating cradle bearing a metal middle with 1.5inch holes through which the smaller potatoes dropped; the larger potatoes then being elevated and dropped into hundredweight (112 pounds) hessian sacks.

The “demicks” (diseased or damaged spuds) were removed by hand.

Yes, the terms sippet and demick are still familiar but the sippet has largely been replaced by a tractor-mounted shovel and Henry by an electric motor.

Has anyone heard of the term “clockintod?” I heard it from a Dales gamekeeper when I asked him if he believed there had been a good hatch of grouse chicks.

Why, yes” he replied. “There have been plenty of clockintods.”

I eventually realised that he meant a large heap of droppings produced by the mother broody grouse when she relieved herself after 12 hours of brooding her eggs or chicks.

I should explain that the clockin part of the word refers to the fact that the grouse clucks like a broody hen.