The Potteries Dialect


Being of local stock, I have (since being able to speak) used two versions of English.

Most of the time, I would not be aware of it, but would automatically adjust my speech
to coincide with that of the person with whom I was having a conversation.

Correct English for an ’outsider’ and dialect for most of the individuals that I engaged
with (socially or at work in my early years in the potteries environment).

Later in life, working in circles beyond North Staffordshire, I began contemplating the
origins of this dialect, and realised that most of what makes it special and incomprehensible
to others (apart from obscure slang, or the use of corrupt nouns, verbs and poor grammar) was the speed at
which it is spoken, and the liberal use of archaic verbs combined with similarly archaic pronouns.

When speaking dialect, I instinctively know the meaning and origins of the verb/pronoun

The most oft-recited phrase "Cost kick a bow agen a wow, and yed it back and bost it?"
is composed of two elements that ’make’ it potteries dialect; the nouns & verbs/pronouns.

Interpreted, it can be seen that ’cost’ is an abbreviation of ’couldst thou’; ’yed’ is almost
certainly ’you head’ (head being a verb in this instance).

Quite Shakespearian!

It may well be that Potteries dialect developed and continued due to the plethora of Methodist
chapels in the district. As a child, it seemed to me that there was one on every other street
corner, with these archaeic words being used when addressing God.

Below, I have listed some of the more common examples:

At - from art thou (How at? - how are you? At gooin? - Are you going?)
Ast or Hast - from contraction of havest thou? (have you?)
Cost - from couldst thou ( cost thee? could you?)
Cosna - from couldst not (thee cosna - you can’t)
Conna - from canst not (thee conna - you can’t)
Dust - from do-est thou (dust thee? - do you?)
Whut or wut - from wouldst thou (wut? would you/will you?)
wutna or wunna - thee wutna/thee wunna (you won’t)
They - thee; it dunner belong to they (it doesn’t belong to you)
Thine - it inner thine (it isn’t yours)
Thee - you