Dialect

Cumbric was spoken during the early Middle Ages, in the ‘Old North’ – northern England and southern lowland Scotland. Place name evidence suggests that Cumbric may have been spoken as far south as Pendle and the Yorkshire Dales. The language became extinct in the 12th century when the Kingdom of Strathclyde was incorporated into the Kingdom of Scotland.

I refer to the ‘Cumbrian dialect’ in reference to Cumberland, Westmorland, and in part Lancashire, having gained the Furness area from our neighbour in 1974. Indeed we also received part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. This Cumbrian dialect shares similar vocabulary with my own native Ayrshire dialect, perhaps in relation to being part of this ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde.

I have started collating the names of animals, birds, insects, and trees in Cumbrian dialect, and they are listed below. I shall update this list as I discover new names, and follow my Twitter account for more unusual pieces of dialect.

Animals

ardog – sheepdog/ collie

brock – badger

billy – goat

braun – wild boar

chitty – cat

con – squirrel

foomart or powcat – polecat

gris – pig

hart – red deer

hross – horse

jewkle – dog

ky – cow

moudewarp – mole

moose – mouse

rabbet – rabbit

stag – colt/ young horse

sweetmart – pine marten

tod – fox

urchin – hedgehog

watter-moose – water vole

whutherit – stoat

yar – hare

yow – ewe (female sheep)

Insects

atter – spider

bessy-clocker – black beetle

biddy – louse

bullstang – dragonfly

bull-sting – hornet

bummel – bumble bee

cleg – horsefly

flop – flea

fuzzy-ganny – caterpillar

jimmy twitcher – wireworm

mawk – maggot

mawk-flee – bluebottle

meg-many-legs – millipede

pissimire – ant

twitchbell – earwig

wamp – wasp

Birds

bessy-blakelin / spinkle – yellow hammer

bessy-blackcap – black-headed bunting

bessy-dooker – dipper

bitter bump – bittern

bluebill – wigeon

buzzer – buzzard

chatterhen / chitty – wren

chepster / cheppy – starling

crag starlin – ring ouzel

cocklemar – oystercatcher

cushat – wood pigeon

cworn creack – corncrake

daup / ketcraw – carrion crow

dickadee – sandpiper

dickey – hedge sparrow

flecky-flocker / scop / scoppy / spink – chaffinch

glead – kite/ hawk

gowk – cuckoo

grundlin – ringed plover

hemplin – hedge sparrow

hullet / youlet – owl

jammy crane / heronsue – heron

ketmar – tern

laverock – lark

maa – gull

mitter thumb – willow warbler

neet hawk – nightjar

pyat – magpie

ring wuzzel – ring ouzel

scarth – cormorant

scaup – wigeon

shep / shepster – starling

stormie / storm cock – mistle thrush

tweet / tew-it – lapwing

throstle – song thrush

water wagtail – grey wagtail

whin checker – stonechat

whin-grey – redpole

willy wagtail – wagtail

willy-hawkie – little grebe

willy-wicket – sandpiper

yarlip – woodcock

Trees

bawtry / bortree – elder

birk – birch

bullace – wild plum

bullister – sloe

bull-tree – elderberry

chess-apple – whitebeam

crab – wild apple

eish / esh – ash

ellers – alder

frog – fir

haeg – hawthorn; hiphaws – hawthorn berries

heck-berry – bird cherry

hollin – holly

roan / wiggen-tree – rowan

savin – juniper

seel – willow

wychwood – elm

Selected references:

The Cumbrian Dictionary by William Rollinson, 1997

The Folklore of the Lake District by Marjorie Rowling, 1976

Lakeland Words by B. Kirkby, c. 1919

and with special thanks to the members of the Procter and Lancaster families