30 March 2009

"Yan, tan, tether, mether, pip"

That's "One, two, three, four, five" in the vernacular of a Cumbrian sheep farmer.
Similarly, my partner, who comes from one of the rough parts of Cumbria (between Sellafield and Whitehaven) is forever counting things in the old north country sheep-farmer vernacular: instead of saying "one, two, three, four, five", she says "yan, tan, tether, mether, pip"...

In Lancashire, that counting system is even more delectably barmy... "Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pimp, teezar, leezar, cattera, horna, dik, yandik, tandik, tetherdik, bumpit, yan-a-bumpit, tan-a-bumpit, tethera-bumpit, methera-bumpit, jigot."
The above from a Guardian column on regional English dialects.

cobble = mucus in the corner of the eye in the morning (Gloucestershire)

fromward = away from (Oxfordshire) [related to "to-ward"??]

orrack = to break up cow dung with fork (Audlem, Cheshire)

peelie-wallie = pale; sickly (Scotland)

quaggle = to shake like a jelly (Berkshire, Hampshire, Somerset, Sussex): the same word means to strangle in Norfolk

slingers = bread soaked in tea (Dorset)

wally = pile of mown grass (Bretforton, Worcestershire)

Much more at the Guardian and at the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture.

Addendum April 3, thanx to comment by "Dirac", source:

"This is an old northern English (not Scots) dialect, used for counting sheep in Yorkshire and Cumbria. 'Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick.'

According to one correspondent, the folklorist A. L. Lloyd traced the words to a group of Romanian shepherds brought to England early in the 19th century to teach the locals something about increase in flocks. The words were thought very Occult and Mysterious, until it was explained that they were just counting."

2 comments:

  1. Verra kewl!

    Me loves some dialect!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Via the Annotated Pratchett File
    http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/carpe-jugulum.html

    This is an old northern English (not Scots) dialect, used for counting sheep in Yorkshire and Cumbria. 'Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick.'

    According to one correspondent, the folklorist A. L. Lloyd traced the words to a group of Romanian shepherds brought to England early in the 19th century to teach the locals something about increase in flocks. The words were thought very Occult and Mysterious, until it was explained that they were just counting.

    ReplyDelete

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