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D.H. Lawrence’s Dialect Alphabet

Artefact 2: Introduction to the Dialect Alphabet

Learn Lawrence’s lingo

Our second artefact is dialect, specifically words used by Lawrence in his novels, poems and plays. Now you can learn why people might have a mardy if you start clat-farting about them. Select a letter from the alphabet and compare Lawrencian dialect with your own.

James Walker

Words: James Walker

Design Paul Fillingham

Design: Paul Fillingham

D.H. Lawrence and Dialect: A Raight Racket. YouTube video by James Walker, edited by Izaak Bosman

Get inspired

Create a short story, as we’ve done in the Raight Racket video and share on Twitter using the hashtag #DHLdialect

Letter A

A is for addle

to acquire or to earn money

‘Get thy money, Sam, tha’s addled it’ Strike Pay

Letter B

B is for barkle

to encrust or cake in dirt

‘When he comes home barkled up from the pit’ Sons and Lovers

Letter C

C is for clat-fart

to gossip.

‘I believe ‘er’s a clat-fart’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter D

D is for draggletail

a slovenly person

‘Tha’rt well rid o’ such a draggletail’ The Merry-go-Round

Letter E

E is for eered


*It’s illegal to utter ‘h’s at the beginning of words in Nottingham

‘It struck me I ‘eered a cooin’, an’ ‘ere’s th’ birds’ The White Peacock

Letter F

F is for fudge


‘If I’d ha’ bin for marryin’ ‘er, I’d ha’ gone wholesale, not ha’ fudged and haffled’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter G

G is for gammy

damaged limbs

‘Here, hutch up, gammy-leg -gammy-arm’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter H

H is for hawkse

to take out or move*

‘…then we shouldna’ ha’ had to hawkse ‘im upstairs . . .’A Sick Collier

Letter I

I is for ikey

proud or supercilious

‘So look ikey’ Sons and Lovers

Letter J

J is for Jockey

a (likeable) cheat or swindler.

‘Ha’e much more o’ thy chelp, my young jockey, an’ I’ll rattle my fist about thee’ Sons and Lovers

Letter K

K is for knivey

mean spirited and miserly

‘Another o’ Macintyre’s dirty knivey dodges, I s’d think’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter L

L is for larropin’

to rush*

*You might larrop a skinful of ale down your neck on payday.

‘Larropin’ neck an’ crop / I’ th’ snow! . . .’ Whether or Not

Letter M

M is for mardy

Sulky, whiny or non-cooperative

‘Eh, tha’rt a mard-‘arsed kid’A Collier’s Wife

Slanty N

N is for nesh

weak and delicate*

*If you feel nesh you need to switch the ‘etin’ on.

‘The risen lord, the risen lord / has risen in the flesh, / and treads the earth to feel the soil / though his feet are still nesh’ The Risen Lord

Letter O

O is for orts

scraps, waste, leftovers

‘I’m not ‘avin’ your orts an’ slarts’ Whether or Not

Letter P

P is for pulamiting

whining and whimpering*

*Most often associated with a mard arse.

‘You are a base, malingering, pulamiting wretch’ The Merry-go-Round

Letter Q

Q is for Queen Bee (QB)

Lawrence’s nickname for his wife

‘The queen bee shivering round half dressed, fluttering her unhappy candle’ Sea and Sardinia

Letter R

R is for rowdy

streaky bacon

‘I’d ma’e his sides o’ bacon rowdy’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter S

S is for scraightin

scream or cry*

*Kids scraight when they get tode off.

‘-an I’ve said I should on’y be happy if I was scraightin’ at ‘er funeral’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter T

T is for tantaflins

a small tart eaten as a snack

‘Yi, Missis, them tan-tafflins’ll go down very nicely’ Her Turn

Letter U

U is for ‘ussy

a woman who’s had numerous sexual relationships

‘Tha’rt a baffling little ‘ussy’ The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd

Letter V

V is for vexed

annoyed, worried or frustrated

‘Miss Wrexall sat dumb and very vexed. She felt she was being baited’ Two Blue Birds

Letter W

W is for werritt

to worry*

*However, if you heard someone say werriit? You might think they were saying ‘where is it?’

‘Well, I’ve werritted an’ werritted till I’m soul-sick-‘ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter X

X is for axin’

axin does not mean you are about to fell a tree. It means ask*

* The X sound is used to replace the ‘sk’ sound

‘Now lad, I’m axin’ thee summat’ The Drained Cup

Letter Y

Y is for yersen


*Wherever possible clip letters to shorten words

‘Seems yer doin’ yersen a bit o’ weshin’ The Lost Girl

Letter Z

Z is for Guzunder

Chamber pot at the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Eastwood. Source: Paul Fillingham.

It goes under, as in a chamber pot*

*Yes, it begins with ‘G’ but we couldn’t find any dialect beginning with ‘Z’.

Although Lawrence does not refer to a guzunder in his work, you can find one at the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum.

Web design: thinkamigo | DH Lawrence Memory Theatre © Fillingham & Walker