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The Black Country dialect: sayings and alphabet

Updated on December 2, 2010

The black country is an area of the West Midlands in the UK often classed as part of Birmingham though this can cause upset to those who consider themselves from either one, you've been warned! It is actually outside of Birmingham though not far from it. It has a very distinct dialect/accent that can be difficult to understand for those that aren't familiar with it. It's been said that there is a reduced chance of anyone from the black country getting a job outside of the area, especially professional, as the accent tends to be considered that of an uneducated person. The black country as an area has no strict boundaries and people will differ on their view of this, it was so named due to the heavy industry that was once so big in the area. The industries included coal mining, glass making and metal working that would leave workers covered in black dust and smog over the area. A visitor in 1869 once said "The Black County, black by day and red by night, cannot be matched for vast and varied production by any other space of equal radius on the surface of the globe.” 

Black Country Alphabet song

Black Country 12 days of Christmas

The alphabet

A local Black Country store began to introduce a variety of Black Country slogans and songs to the area, their version of the alphabet and the song that goes with it have become increasingly popular. Here is the black country alphabet.

A is for opple (apple)

B is for 'Nana (banana)

C is for council pop (water)

D is for donnies (fingers)

E is for ere ya goo (here you go)

F is for fittle (food)

G is for giz-a-goo (let me try)

H is for 'oss (horse)

I is for ickle (little/small)

J is for jed (dead)

K is for kaylied (drunk)

L is for loike (like)

M is for mucker (friend)

N is for Nah (no)

O is for owamya (how are you)

P is for 'tater (potatoe)

Q is for quid (pound/money)

R is for riffy (dirty)

S is for suck (sweets)

T is for tara-a-bit (bye for now)

U is for 'um (home)

V is for the olde mon's vest (vest belonging to father/husband)

W is for ooman (woman)

X is for kiss

Y is for yampy (silly/daft)

Z is for stripey oss (zebra)

Some phrases

Here are a few Black Country phrases that you might hear should you ever be lucky enough to visit the area.

  • "keep out the oss road" - get out of the way also stay on the pavement
  • "it ay arf black ova bill's muva's" - looks like there's a storm coming
  • "yow cor av ya tay, it tay tay time" - you can't have your dinner yet as it isn't dinner time
  • "bostin fittle" - great food
  • "Ar bin all round the reekin" - I've been all over the place
  • "put wud in 'ole" - close the door please
  • "awroight" - hello
  • "ar bin" - I am    "ar bay" - I'm not   "ar cow" - I can't
  • "yow bin bost it ay ya" - you've broken it haven't you
  • " ow bin ya me cocker?" - how have you been my friend?

Would you judge intelligence based on language/dialect used

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Over all the Black Country tends to get a bad reputation on looks, it's not the most attractive place in the world but it does contain some of the funniest and kindest people you could meet. So providing that you can understand what they're saying to you you could end up having a wonderful time in a place that you wouldn't expect. The language used varies slightly even street to street so there's no way of really explaining how things are said but in many conversations English is lost altogether. Anyway hope that you enjoyed it, let me know of any phrases you can think of as I just a picked a few that I first thought of.


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      Gornal Wench 3 years ago

      John Jones is defo from Wolvo - I'm from Gornal and have heard all these sayings and many besides. You should talk to some old people from there it's like another language. It's a shame it's being lost amongst all these Americanisms!!!!!

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      LISA 3 years ago

      If yer a yam yam, yer frum wolverampton, caa me drunk is dudley!

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      Kate 4 years ago

      Well John Jones yowm livin under a rock iv 'eard all bt 2 x

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      John jones 4 years ago

      You have just made some of these sayings up im a propper yam yam an iv never heard half of these rubbish

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      jackie 6 years ago