Norman Swindlehurst & Dialect


The W.R. Mitchell Archive recordings are a significant resource for studying dialect and accent, continuing the work of the 1960s English Dialect Survey by capturing how voices and dialects have changed since then.

In Alice Maunders' recording, the lilt of a Durham accent can be heard even after over 50 years in the Yorkshire Dales. While Bill Alderson's gruff Dales voice embodies an Angram accent, Lawrence Rukin's Keld accent, Ann Margaret Mason's Burtersett tones and Kit Calvert's Hawes voice are fairly typical of Wensleydale. There are, however, great differences between these three Wensleydale voices if you listen carefully. Accents and dialects varied in Yorkshire from town to town and there was no uniform voice for a Dale.

For instance, the Settle voice of Thomas Dugdale is very different from that of Henry Cox of Giggleswick, Jim Smithof Whinney Mire, and Norman Swindlehurst of Keasden, near Clapham, who all lived within ten miles of each other. All four are Ribblesdale voices and yet their pronunciations differ and the intonation or ‘song’ of their voices is not identical. John Geldard's voice represents the Malhamdale accent, Sam Dyson of Stanbury, represents the Worth Valley voice and John Keavey the Leeds voice. Yet these three cannot tell the full story of Malhamdale, the Worth Valley or Leeds voices. The full W.R. Mitchell Archive of recordings, when digitised, will be able to give a much more complete picture of the changing voices of the Dales over the last 50 years.

In complete contrast, listen to the voices of Philip Dawson, the Yorkes of Halton Place and Marie Hartley. The accents are very different, being more akin to Standard English than a Yorkshire accent, yet they too also use some dialect words from the Yorkshire area. We are currently working on a glossary of dialect terms used in these recordings.

There are many dialect words used in dry stone walling. Listen to John Geldard's recording or read the transcripts to find out more.

Dry Stone Waller

Dry Stone Waller, © W.R. Mitchell

and Bradford University Special Collections