Swaledale and Farming Dialect

The Swaledale dialect (pronounced locally as Swardle) is so thick, it rivals other, better-known British accents, such as Geordie or broad Glaswegian.

It includes old English words such as "thee" and "thou" and some unorthodox pronunciations. Shoe comes out as "shorn" and laying is pronounced "lornin". Farmers will opine "It has been a gay day" if they have had a good day, while a "gay good day" is a very good day.

Unfortunately the dialect is fast disappearing due to the shifting demographics of the area. With the younger generation moving out to the towns and cities to find work and outsiders coming into the area to retire; the dialect has fast become diluted to near non-existence, but you can still hear 'Swardle' when you come to meet one or two of the true locals of the area.

Firstly, let's learn to count our Swaledale Sheep, well ten of them anyway:



1 - Yan

2 - Tan

3 -Tether

4 - Mether

5 - Pip

6 - Azer

7 - Sezar

8 - Akker

9 - Conter

10 - Dick




Now how well do you know your sheep and farming terms? Here's another little lesson for you, courtesy of www.adopt-a-sheep.com:


Term Explanation
Dam Mum.
Dip The act of immersing a sheep in a bath of liquid containing chemicals to kill parasites.
Ewe A female sheep that has given birth to 2 sets of lambs (or more). Usually a sheep is 2 years old when it gives birth to its first set of lambs and 3 years old when it gives birth to its second set of lambs. So a sheep usually becomes a ewe when it is 3 years old.
Fleece The coat of wool on a sheep.
Gimmer A female sheep.
Gimmer Hogg A young female sheep that has finished weening.
Gimmer Shearling 'Gimmer' means female and 'shearling' means a two-year-old sheep. So a gimmer shearling is a two-year-old female sheep. Since sheep usually give birth to their first lambs when they are two years old they usually have their first lambs when they are gimmer shearlings.
Hefted/Hefting When a sheep knows which part of the fell is its home it stays there. It is said to be hefted. There is no need to use a fence to keep them in the area. When a sheep is growing up and learning where it belongs it is said to be hefting.
Hogg A young sheep that has finished weening.
Lamb A young sheep that is not yet weened. This means that it is still feeding from its mother.
Mule A cross-bred sheep produced for the quality of it's meat and for it's hardiness. A mule is usually a cross between a Bluefaced Leicester ram and a Swaledale.
Mutton Mutton is meat from an older sheep (as opposed to meat described as lamb which is from a young sheep).
Pasture A place where sheep feed on natural grass. In hill farming this can be the fells or lower lying fields which offer more protection from the weather.
Ram An adult male sheep that has not been castrated. Also called a 'Tup' a ram is capable of breeding with female sheep.
Shearing Removing the fleece (wool) from a sheep. Can be done with hand-operated shears or with an electric shaving device.
Shearling This word is derived from the word 'shearing' which means 'clipping', the process of cutting the wool from the sheep. It describes a sheep which has been sheared once. Sheep are not sheared in their first year so a shearling really describes a two-year-old sheep.
Shepherd A person who looks after the sheep on the pastures.
Sire Dad.
Tag A label clipped to the ear of a sheep to indicate its origin.
Tup/Tupped A ram - an adult male sheep that has not been castrated and therefore capable of breeding with female sheep. Also known as a ram.
Tupping The act of mating beteen a ram (tup) and a female sheep.
Whether A castrated male sheep.
Yow Another name for a ewe.



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