Northern British Sayings #3: Lake

When I was about 12, my family moved from Sheffield to Barnsley. The distance between the two towns is about 15 miles, and they are both in the county of South Yorkshire. I’d expected slight differences in accent and dialect, but I did not expect to to hear completely new words (or at least new usage).

During the first week in my new school (St Helens Comprehensive), one of the other lads in my math class turned to me and said, “Does tha lake footy?” Ignoring for now the use of “tha” (meaning “you”, a contraction of the old English “thou”), my interpretation of this question was, “Do you like football?” A reasonable enough question. I answered, “Yes, it’s OK.” My questioner became visibly a little irritated at this answer, and repeated his question, more insistently this time, “Naw, does tha lake footy?” We repeated this cycle for a bit, ultimately leaving the matter unresolved.

I simply did not know what he meant, I thought perhaps he was looking to stir up some trouble, maybe this was the class bully?

Later, I learned that the word “lake” is used in Barnsley (though not in Sheffield) as a synonym for “play”. So, he was simply asking, “Do you play football?”

Posted by Steve Wetherill

5 comments

Halifax had it – but different – ‘stop lekkin abart’ – stop messing about

In the Scandinavian languages we use the words “lek”, “leik” and “leg”, and I guess the word “lake” as used here was more common in the older English.

I’ve read that Danish for play is “lek”. Seems a likely connection. Thanks for commenting!

It’s laiking not lake. Btw must have been harsh moving from sheff to such a famous skooil 😉

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