Saturday, 31 January 2009

Yow Cor Spake Propa

Do you understand the title of this post?

No, I thought not. However it makes perfect sense to me and (I hope) it makes perfect sense to people from Walsall, Wolverhampton and Dudley. Note that I didn’t mention Birmingham!!!

Allow me to translate: it means “You can’t speak properly”.

If you say the title as it is spelt you will be speaking with a “Black Country” accent. The dialect is spoken in the towns mentioned above, a region of England known as “The Black Country”, an area just north and west of Birmingham (that does NOT include Birmingham), so called because the area is (or was) a centre for heavy industry, raising a level of pollution that covered the area in black soot.

I was born there, in the town of Walsall (pronounced in the accent as “Worsull”).

The Black Country accent does have similarities with Birmingham accent but to people from that area there is a significant difference. Outside the West Midlands, people claim that the two accents are the same, something that particularly irks those from the area. Worse, the Black Country accent is universally regarded by the rest of England as the worst accent in England.
Personally I think this is totally incorrect.

I left Walsall when I was almost nineteen and moved to Liverpool where I studied at university for three years. I was young, foolish and naïve. People would walk up to me and say “Which part of Birmingham are you from?” and I would say, “How do you know where I’m from?”

I had a huge problem communicating with Liverpool people because we simply couldn’t understand each other. Bear in mind that Liverpool is about 90 miles from Walsall. After Liverpool, I moved to Manchester, where I’ve been ever since. My Black Country accent has dissipated and now I speak with a strange “Northern” accent. However, my original accent does resurface when I am drunk or angry (so I’ve been told).

Back to the point of the post: I intend to give you all a little present – the ability to speak with a Black Country accent. Don’t thank me – it’s the least I can do. I love to see people improve their lives and the ability to speak in this wonderful dialect is a gift that simply cannot be refused. I particularly want American, Australian and Canadian readers to have a go.

Let’s start with a greeting. Say the following:

Orroit cocka

See – that wasn’t too bad was it? That means “Hello mate” (translated literally as “Alright Cocker” – “Cocker” being a term of endearment. In Walsall, if somebody calls you “cocker” then they like you.).

Next, try this


Easy – eh? That is roughly translated as “Bye – see you soon”

I think you’re getting the hang of this, so here are a few other words and phrases that you can throw into casual conversation with the English word next to it:

Yow” – you

Yow bay” – you are not

Wesh” – wash

Yowm riffy” – You’re dirty

Yowm kaylied” – You are drunk

The cut” – The canal

Where’s the suck?” – Where are the sweets? (or for Americans – Where is the candy?)

Kissa” – Face

Orroit me old mucker” – Hello, old friend

Ov node im fer ayjis” – I’ve known him for ages.

Olgu fust” – I’ll go first.

Tayters” – Potatoes

Oy woh” – I will not

Waggin” – Playing truant

Yown gerrin on me wick” – You are getting on my nerves

Is jed” – He is dead

Om guwin um” – I’m going home

Where’s me clobber?” – Where are my clothes?

Stop blartin yow babby” – Stop crying, you baby

It’s bost” – It’s broken

A poy ana point” – A pie and a pint

Oss” – Horse

Gimme an opple” – Give me an apple

Oy loike yow” – I like you

Yower” - Your

So now hopefully you can at least do a passable imitation of a Black Country accent. And if you think it sounds daft or stupid, just think – I used to talk like that all the time.

Finally, here is a demonstration:


Crazy Fitter said...

I always have difficulty with accents and can get fed up saying 'pardon' or 'what' (depending where I am). The worse accent though has got to be 'posh'. Its the only one that makes me angry.

I read somewhere that the American accent (it never said which one)is the original English accent and we Brits changed our lingo after a brief spell speaking French circa 1700's.

Once, while in Crete, a bad entertainer and poor impersonator assured me, with pride, that the black country has the highest number of Elvis impersonators in Britain. Oh dear!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi CF,

We spoke French? Really?

I can't imagine a Black Country Elvis.

"Om Yow Lownsum Tonoit?"

"Lay Off Moi Blow Swade Showers"

"We Cor Goo On Tugetha with Suspicious Moinds"

mmm - I agree! Oh Dear!!




Goddess said...

Some of these would get you slapped if you tried them Stateside. :)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Goddess,

Yes - I know. I have to be very careful what I say whenever I visit the States!




HistoryBuff39 said...

Yeah walsall i pronounce worsull and pelsall is pelsull and oldbury is ollbry. Say things like ye'm gerrin roight on me wick, ye alroight me ol' mucka? Ow'm ye dooin kidda? Ah ah'm owkay ta. Lol

HistoryBuff39 said...

Actually locally i say and people say ollbree as opposed to olldbry and sorta owd 'ill (old Hill) (utterly confusing!) Maybe its me but 'a' is 'u' and 'l' is like 'w' and 'er' is 'a' 😩 Lol

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mickey,

I used to say things like that - and sometimes I still do , when I'm a bit drunk. I spoke with that accent for about twenty years and deep down, it's still in there.