Wigan, U.K., embraces dialect, sells shirts

After being somewhat embarrassed in the past about their regional dialect, the town of Wigan, Greater Manchester, in northwest England will produce tourism merchandise that translates some expressions.

Wiganworld has even more Wigan words. Some of the expressions are rather forced. Owdonabit seems to just be “[H]old on a bit”; does it need to be translated into “Just a moment”? I could write “Jussuhsec” (Just a sec[ond]) and translate it as “One moment, please.”

I like how they still use thee (Wotthidooin looks like “What thee doin?”). Before Modern English, thou was the singular subject pronoun, thee was the singular object pronoun, ye was the plural subject pronoun, and you was the plural object pronoun for second person in standard writing. However, with time and the use of you as a polite singular/plural form, the words have collapsed into fewer forms but in different ways in different dialects. Standard British English and Standard American English use you for all four types (plus colloquial y’all, yous(e), etc.). Wigan dialect seems to be using thee as a subject pronoun (instead of as an object pronoun), but it could be just a contraction of thou.

I also like that “him” is yonmon (“yon man”). I wonder if that’s only for men who are a bit far off. English used to distinguish here (close), there (not so close), and yon[der] (far off). Would they use it for boys as well? I kind of like the sound of “yomboy.” What would her be, “yonwumon”?

Here’re some downloadable sound files of native speakers of Wigan and other dialects from the International Dialects of English Archive.

Study up. You don’t want to be called backerts (not bright); am I reet?

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