Northern British Sayings #6: Summat/Owt/Nowt

A trio of related words this time.

  • Nowt. “Nothing” (likely derived from naught). Rhymes with “out”. Example:”We’ve got nowt in for dinner.” We 
  • have nothing in for dinner.
  • Owt. “Anything” (likely derived from aught). Pronounced “out”. Example:”I dun’t want owt!” I don’t want anything.
  • Summat. Quite simply, “something”. Used in Yorkshire, an example of this might be, “Tha dun’t get summat for nowt.” You do not get something for nothing. I have read alternative definitions suggesting that summat is a contraction of “somewhat”; however, that was definitely not the common usage in Barnsley or Sheffield.

Update on nowt/owt, a couple of people have pointed out to me that there are one or more other pronunciations of these words. One variation would rhyme with note/oat. Can’t really say I have ever used that variation myself. The other would be using a short ‘o’ sound, such as in the word “on”. I can’t actually think of a “regular” word that has that combination, but take the ‘o’ from ‘on’ and replace the ‘n’ with ‘wt’ and you’ll be close.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 3 comments

Total Harmonic Distortion! Turnaround.

THD Master Tape

When I was around the age of 18, a friend – Andy Walker – and myself started a garage band called THD (for Total Harmonic Distortion). We never got beyond the garage, nor did we ever expand beyond 2 people, but we did create some music.

At the time, funds were extremely limited, so we made do with what we could scrape together. We were into metal/rock, with some other eclectic elements. I recently came across a TDK ADC90 cassette tape proclaiming itself, “Overdub April ’82 T.H.D. master tape”.

I spent a little time rescuing one of the more reasonable tracks using a cheap USB cassette tape converter. I pulled the track into Audacity, and found that the vocals were on the left channel, everything else on the right. Given this, I took the opportunity to brighten the vocals using some tracking tricks, then remixed the whole thing. “Turnaround” probably falls into the “eclectic” range. 🙂

The original track was recorded using the following gear:

  • Casio VL-Tone keyboard. This was a cheap calculator/keyboard introduced by Casio in the early 80’s. It was monophonic, but I modified it so that the “sequence” mode (you could press a button to step through a recorded sequenc of notes) could be triggered by an external pulse.
  • Tape echo box. Andy picked this up from a music shop in Manchester. It was a standard tape echo box, and we fed the VL-Tone into it. The echo was approximately in sync with the tempo of the sequenced VL-Tone, leading to a polyphonic effect.
  • Drum machine (Clef Master Rhythm). I built this from a kit, and used it to trigger the VL-Tone in sync with the drums.
  • Cheap Les Paul copy guitar (by Kay, I think). This was my first guitar, and I used this for the background chording.
  • Second Les Paul copy guiter (Andy’s). This was detuned an octave, and used for the “bass”.
  • Cheap microphone. Again, Andy had picked this up in Manchester. It wasn’t a very good mic, but better than what we’d used before (which was one of the little plastic mics you used to get with cassette recorders).
  • We used a couple of cassette decks for overdubs. I think we used an Akai and a Toshiba. Lots of generation noise!

In terms of who did what, Andy was on vox and “bass” guitar. I programmed the VL-Tone and drum machine, and played rhythm guitar. It’s a sort of psychedelic little track, very repetitive, and containing lyrics written by angsty 18 year olds. The rendition here is quite noisy due to an evil Panasonic cassette deck I once owned, which would inject noise spikes onto each tape it played.

I haven’t heard from Andy in over 20 years, last known living in Barnsley, South Yorks.

Anyway, here it is, “Turnaround, by THD”:

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Music, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #5: Demic

To call someone “demic” is to accuse them of being perhaps slightly less than the shilling, not quite the sixpence. 

In Barnsley, you might hear, “Are thar demic?” What the very reasonable questioner is trying to ascertain of his subject here is, “Are you mentally all there?” or, “Are you perhaps somewhat physically or mentally unwell?”

Demic might also be used to describe something that is used up, worn out or broken, but commonly it is just a synonym for “stupid”.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #4: Thee/Thou/Thy/Thine

As a kid, growing up in Yorkshire, and especially when I moved to the town of Barnsley, it was typical for people to use the following words:

  • Thee. Meaning, “you”. Example, “Does that belong to thee?” Does that belong to you?
  • Thou. Meaning, “you”. Usually abbreviated to “tha” (like the a in “cat”) or “thar” (similar the arr in “arrow”). Example, “What tha/thar doin’?” Or, what are you doing?
  • Thy. Meaning, “your”. Usually abbreviated/pronounced “thi” (like the i in “pig”). Example, “Put thi coat on.” Or, put your coat on.
  • Thine. Meaning, belonging to you, “yours”. Example, “Is that thine?” Is that yours?

When I have related this information to friends in the US, I think typically people think I am exaggerating, or even making it up. Growing up in Barnsley in 1970’s and 1980’s, I swear that it was the norm to use these forms rather than you/your/yours.

Interestingly, in Sheffield these words tend to be pronounced as “dee” instead of “thee” and “dar” instead of “thar”. This leads Barnsley folks to refer to Sheffield natives as “dee-dars“.

Wikipedia has a page on these (generally) archaic forms, going into the technical distinctions.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 3 comments

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 in Yorkshire Slang, 5 comments

Northern British Sayings #2: Snicket/Ginnel/Gennel

A “snicket” is an alleyway or passageway, and in Barnsley in South Yorkshire the word is used to mean a path, typically between fences or walls, in an open space or field, or between gardens.

A “ginnel” pronounced (pronounced with a hard “g” as in “gun”) is again an alleyway or passageway, but it the term is generally (in Barnsley) used to refer to a gap between houses (for example), or between buildings.

In Sheffield (some fifteen full miles away from Barnsley, but still in Yorkshire), these words are not used, but the alternative word “gennel” (pronounced “jennel”) is used.

Any other local variations? Please comment!

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 5 comments

Cool Introduction to Puppet YouTube Video

We use Puppet @ work, and since I’m not the one who typically administers the system I wanted to learn more about it. I found this pretty cool introduction video on YouTube, which goes through the basics of what Puppet is, and then steps you through creating a couple of AWS VM’s, and then setting up a Puppet Master and Puppet Agent. I followed along with all the steps, and was so impressed by how clearly everything was explained that I thought I’d link the video here.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Puppet, 0 comments

Cool introduction to Puppet YouTube video

We use Puppet @ work, and since I’m not the one who typically administers the system I wanted to learn more about it. I found this pretty cool introduction video on YouTube, which goes through the basics of what Puppet is, and then steps you through creating a couple of AWS VM’s, and then setting up a Puppet Master and Puppet Agent. I followed along with all the steps, and was so impressed by how clearly everything was explained that I thought I’d link the video here.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Puppet, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #1: Ha’porth

Been thinking about this for a while, so here goes. For the amusement,  amazement or probably just the general bemusement of all, I present the first in a series of, “Northern British Sayings”. Could be just a word, or maybe an expression. Probably some dialect things. I’m going to give my interpretation of these, be interesting to hear alternatives in the comments. Since I am a Yorkshireman, my interpretation will generally have a “Yorkshire” perspective. Yes, these are things that people actually say, today (for the benefit of my American friends). 🙂

#1 Ha’porth 

As in, “He doesn’t have an ha’porth of sense.” Or, “You daft ha’porth.”

Pronounced, “aye-peth”, this is a contraction of “Half-penny worth”. So, “He doesn’t have a half-penny worth of sense.”

Incidentally, a half-penny is known as an “ha’penny”, pronounced “aye-penny”. 

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 5 comments