Pitmatic

Earlier in the week a dictionary of the lost language of Pitmatic was reviewed in The Guardian. Coming from a North East family I find this fascinating. The dialect of the North East is a wonderfully playful, and self-conscious one. Both my grandfathers used to take great delight in baffling me with words and phrases I had no hope of understanding. Melvyn Bragg, in his Routes of English series on BBC Radio 4 covered Pitmatic a few years ago. You can hear people speaking it here. And there’s more on the Woodhorn Colliery archive page.

With the closure of the last Northumbrian pit in 2005 Pitmatic is dying now, so it’s great to hear someone has managed to preserve its vocabulary if not necessarily the impish spirit:

The first Pitmatic dictionary, including pit recollections and analysis of the origins of the dialect’s words, has been compiled by Bill Griffiths, the country’s foremost Geordie scholar, whose previous work includes the standard Dictionary of North East Dialect. His new book reveals an exceptionally rich combination of borrowings from Old Norse, Dutch and a score of other languages, with inventive usages dreamed up by the miners themselves.

“The golden age of writing about the pits by working pitmen for working pitmen and their families is over,” said Mr Griffiths. “It is time to save and share what we can.”

Here’s the link to the review.

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