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Cumbrian Colloquialisms

Updated on January 20, 2012

Cumbria where I come from is a very old fashioned traditional county, yet we have a culture and language of our own, many tourists struggle to understand what we are talking about when they visit. This is because our accent is a branch of several mixed together for example there is an influence of scottish, norwegian, geordie, and finally lancashire mixed together to form Cumbrian.

Cumbrian use a lot of colloquialisms in spoken form and unless you are aware of what each one means then you will struggle to understand us, recently I used some colloquialisms on here that people were confused by so will explain beneath what they mean. These are the main ones I use here and on face book and hope that you understand what I am talking about when I write them down now, they are also the main ones you will encounter if you come to my county.

Rajee - pronounced Rahrchee the RA is stressed and the J iis pronounced like the CH in china, and finally the EE is prononced as stressedto form Rahrchee when spoken. Raji means a - weird or strange person or an idiot, so we use it in sentence like this - He/She is a Raji or They are both Raji'ees. We can also abbreviate this word RAJ pronounced exactly the same but with out the I to mean something is odd or does not make sense - It is Raj.

Lajfull - pronounced Larchfull. meaning that something that has been done to you or someone else is most unfair or a task that you have been asked to do and maybe voiced in disgust - for example - That is lajfull, I am not doing it. or its lajfull what He/She/They have done to you. We also abbreviate this word too and say Laj, Meaning the same thing in any context.

Charva - pronounced CharVah - meaning a person or a friend and used in usually in this sentence - Alright Charva? meaning How are you my friend?

Geyser - pronounced GEESIR - the G is pronounced gutteral like that of the german G. - Geyser means a male and is used in a sentence similar to that of Charva - alright geyser? or Who is that geyser? .

Chore/ Chored - Chore is a word with several meanings and gets used alot here, now the meanings of chore are - Alright Chore? - meaning, how are you mate?, To chore - meaning to steal, if a d is added to form chored then this means stolen. for example - my bike got chored! (my bike was stolen) I am gonna chore it back ( I am gonna steal it back.) This a common wored used here in Cumbria.

Bar - Bar is a relatively new word and is used to describe a pub but colloquially it is mainly used to relate to money - for example - this shirt cost 20 bar meaning the shirt cost 20 pound.

Fells - Cumbria is mountainous and we refer to mountains as fells, as do the scandinavians this is because cumbria has a viking influence and a settlement of vikings were here in the past and has influenced much of our language in the north of England.

Biewer - This is also a new colloquial word used mainly by a man to refer to his girlfriend around other men now to pronounce this word its quite simple but will show you how- take the wordView and replace the V with a B then add ER at the end to make the word - Biewer. This word is used mainly in this sentence - My biewer is here, or this is my biewer!

Boyo - We use the term boyo to refer to our brother in the family, as do the welsh but we use this term too, so you may here this a lot - How is your boyo doing? - meaning how is your brother? Or you could hear this term...

Is he your boyo? - meaning is he your brother?

Tar/ Cheers - We have kind of dropped the word thank you or thanks and replaced it with Tar and cheers so you will here this used a lot in Cumbria.

Lad/Lass - useed to refer to a male (Lad) and a female (Lass) can also refer to child when used in this sentence How is your lass doing? if spoken to a mother or father then it will mean the daughter. But if addressed to a younger male then it will mean the girlfriend. But usually people add a Y on the female word so you will here used Lassy alot in sentences. It can be quite confusing but sometimes people will make what they ask a little more familiar and say - How is your Young lass doing? By using young you immediately know they are refering to a child or teenager when speaking, however not everyone uses this form and it can be quite confusing.

Eh - This word has many meanings and i say word because it is one of the most common colloquial words used in cumbria, and depeneding on what context you use it can decide how you speak to some one, for example EH is used at the end of nearly every sentence when talking some one - so I will explain this mysterious word to you as it has many meanings - for example - When said aggresively - EH! - means what did you say? When said politely usually in a sentence for example - How you doing eh? - the eh means, is there anything wrong? Some times when people are confused they will use EH!! aggresively not always meaning to be aggressive its just trying to understand what you said? And it is this Eh that a lot of cumbrians use, further south of the country in the other counties people will say Ay? and then when you come to cumbria we Eh?. Becareful when using this word, make sure you dont come across aggresive as it can start a fight with someone, as it is a short way of saying Are you wanting a fight? Its a complex word.

Gan - The word Gan is very commonly used here and replaces the word "going". This word is used quite alot by everyone in cumbria, and is pronounced with a gutteral G and the word an added together to form Gan.

A very common sentence in cumbria is "Where ya gan to?" Meaning where are you going?

Yam - This word is an old cumbrian word meaning "home" mainly older people use this term but some of us younger ones do too. Yam is used mainly in one sentence "As Gan Yam" this is old cumbrian and means I am going home, broad cumbrians when refering to themselves usually replace I for As when describing what they are doing for example - "As gan to shops" I am going shopping.

O - The letter O is also used in cumbrian, shouted usually to catch some ones attention.

Ere - This is another strange word but will explain what it means as it has several meanings -ERE is pronounced as the body part EAR in cumbrian. Ere is used when asking to come over to you, "Come Ere", it can also be used when you did not hear someone " I did not Ere ya." I did not hear you. It can also be used when stating some one has arrived "He/She/It/They are/is Ere "

Pal - pal is term used to refer to a friend for example "He/She is my pal" He/She is my friend. It can also be used as a familiar term with some one you know when asking how are things? for example "How you doing pal?" is quite commonly used here too.

Deeing - This is a common word used in place of the word "Doing" for example " How ya deeing pal?" means how are you doing my friend?. Another one is "What ya deeing today?" meaning What are you doing today?

Aye - pronounced as the letter I - usually used to mean the word "Yes"

Nah - pronounced sharply as Nah! meaning the word "No"

Reaks/ Rank - Pronounced as Reak and Rank - means something that smells bad. Forexample "It reaks here!" it smells bad here. Or "Thats just rank!" Thats disgusting.

Deaking - pronounced as Dking meaning to look at or stare- can be used aggresively by some one "What ya deeking at?" meaning what you looking at? if your staring at them. Can also be used politely when people want be nosey as they have noticed something has got your attention "What are you deaking at?" said nicely.

Peave- Pronounced as peave usually used in the sentence "On the peave." meaning out drinking and gonna get drunk!! Another word also used for this is Bevy meaning the same thing. You will hear this used alot too.

Man - this is used alot and does not always mean a male it can be used when trying to catch some ones attention "O Man" meaning excuse me when said nicely but when said aggresively "O Man Give Over!" becomes a short form of telling some one that is enough when they wont shut u.

Give Over - Used alot to ask someone to cease being annoying.

Owt - Pronounced as OUT - meaning any or anything - forexample "owt happening?" means anything happening? Or "Have you got owt?" meaning have you goy any?

Nowt - pronounced as NOUT - meaning nothing - forexample " I have nowt" I have nothing.

Numty - pronounced as Numbty - slang word for an idiot.

Daft - meaning some one who is nuts or something that has happened that is funny and makes absolutely no sense.

If you ever do come to visit cumbria, you will here these expressions used and now you have an insight into what they actually mean. If you have any questions then please do get intouch and will help.


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    • calpol25 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Thank you Daniel I am so glad that you liked it, I posted it as we have a strange language up here that even southern english people struggle to understand, so now when you here this words used you will know where we are from :)

    • Daniel Carter profile image

      Daniel Carter 

      6 years ago from Western US

      I miss the UK and all my friends there. I was in and around the south of England in the mid 70's. I became fluent in cockney at one point, but most limeys knew I was an imposter. LOL "Woy don't ewe lo' speek proppuh inglish loik wo' eye doz!" I was quite befuddled once when I Scotchman had a brogue so think I thought he was gaelic, and another time by a farmer from the west country. But it was all fun, and I love my UK friends and my own roots there. Love this bit you've done. Thumbs up, mate. :)

    • calpol25 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hi alian thank you very much for the compliment I am glad that you enjoy my work and your right my sense of humour is very wicked but I love it lol :)

    • alian346 profile image


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I'm originally from Dumfriesshire and have many relations in East Cumberland (as I still call it!) - your Hub brought back so many memories - I can still hear my relatives talking in the accent. The accents, as you probably know, in Southern Scotland are completely different but still influenced by Scandinavia. When my cousins and I would visit it was as if we were speaking to each other in 2 completely different languages and had a great time winding each other up!

      Can I say that I find all of your Hubs thought provoking and covering so many different subjects? - and you have a wicked sense of humour. You are a talented young man!

    • calpol25 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hi hospitalera - Our languages in the north are really harder to understand than that of the south. Yet the northern accents influence the southern - strange x

      Thank you for sharing am glad that you enjoyed it - Geordie is off the Danish language and Cumbrian is off Norwegian - its the scandinavian influence. Most of our towns in the north are scandinavian sounding to this is tell able with "BY" at the end of the word so for example Thursby, Cannonby, Ireby all scandinavian :)

      Thank you again for commenting :)

    • hospitalera profile image


      6 years ago

      What a great article! When I lived in England, I am a second language speaker btw, I had a lot of problems to understand the local dialects! Bristolean I could just managed, but I do have to admit, I had a hard time to understand why every bus driver and waiter called me 'loov' and I famously failed to recognize Geordie as a form of English on one occassion, I was not even sure what language family it might belong to ;-) Voted up and shared on Facebook, well written and very well researched!

    • calpol25 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hi C1W lol :) its not that bad, trust me you will soon get the hang of it once you been here a while. My friend Lee was from San francisco and he was speaking broad cumbrian within two days. I bet it was funny when he returned home, they probably would not understand a word of what he was saying. :)

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Oh dear, now we need our dictionaries to go up north! An enlightening hub.

    • calpol25 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      @ Daven Lol Your dad and his boyos, sound very cumbrian because that is exactly how we talk missing syllables and dropping the odd H now and again. It is a very broken accent yet it has a distinction about it with the influence of the scandinavians.

      @ Wayne - your very welcome am just glad to be able to help and show people my county and culture :)

    • Wayne K. WIlkins profile image

      Wayne K. WIlkins 

      6 years ago from Birmingham, England.

      Very interesting Hub, great to learn about other places in the world. Thanks!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      An interesting hub... I noticed you did not include "the" facebook... words... lol. Hubs like these really help me to relate to my father as he and his boyos had a thick and broken accent that we could never figure out where it came from...obviously English of some sorts but they would leave the middle syllable out of words. For example Instead of saying battery he would say batree (Bat REE) Instead of saying Patrick he would say Pat RICK. It really messed up my ability to spell correctly.


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