A book about the North East of England dialect has proved so popular it is now into its third edition.A Dictionary of North East Dialect, by Bill Griffiths, was first published in 2004.
The introduction to the dictionary explains, in laymen’s terms, the influences of historical factors on the English language, in particular that of the North East. Until the 20th century, dialect was a marker of economic, social and cultural change.
The Industrial Revolution saw agricultural language transformed into industrial speech when rural communities abandoned the land to work in the ever growing manufacturing industries.
In the North East maritime connections with the Dutch may have led to the introduction of many ‘new’ words.
The Scottish influence of the keelmen on the River Tyne and their effect on local language is much more radical, as can be read in the dictionary part of the book.
In this dictionary Bill provides a vivid guide, not only to the distinctive vocabulary of the North East, but also the ways in which dialect words contain echoes of the long history of the region and its people.
By explaining the words he helps us to understand the place," said Professor Keith Wrightson of Yale University.
Although efforts are being made to revitalise Tyneside dialect and identity, the awareness and knowledge of this way of speaking is fast waning. But the popularity of books like A Dictionary of North East Dialect shows there is still a great interest in the language of the past.
Before his untimely death in 2007, Bill Griffiths was an unlikely champion of the North East, its people and heritage.
Born in Middlesex,he read history at UCL before graduating in 1969. A former Hell’s Angel, Bill was at the centre of the British poetry revival. He published out of his own small press, writing political pamphlets and essays on the arts in society, poetry and translating Gilgamesh, Romany, Welsh and Anglo-Saxon works.
After gaining a PhD in Old English he fled ‘Thatcherite London’ and settled in Seaham where he embraced the northern way of life.