BACK last century, when I first joined this newspaper, one of the jobs was to attend county council meetings in an era when places such as Dudley, Warley and Halesowen were still in Worcestershire.

It was an interesting exercise covering debates, because at least 60 per cent of the time you had no idea what the representatives from the Black Country wards were saying. This was neither their fault nor mine, but they could easily have been speaking in a foreign tongue.

The doyen of the group was a lovely old chap called Wesley Perrins, who had been a Labour MP, and he became quite used to me collaring him after a meeting for an explanation of exactly what he’d said.. “Yow coom w mee mie laad,” he’d say. “Find us a cuppa tae.”

I was reminded of the redoubtable Wesley the other day when I received a message from a young lady called Nikki Gittins.

Now, no one in their right mind, with or without their bifocals, is likely to confuse Miss Gittins with Mr Perrins, but they have – or had, considering Wesley Perrins departed this earth in 1990 – rather a lot in common.

Both are/were fascinated by dialects. Wesley because he loved speaking in the rolling vowels of his own back yard and seeing the bemused look on other people’s faces and Nikki because she is compiling a database of the local dialect of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, its importance to our social history and its relevance in today’s society.

The last two might seem a bit highfalutin’, but in essence the project is a look at how the English language has changed over the years, how phrases have come and gone, and how people who are indisputably from the same country can barely understand each other.

Nikki, who comes from the village of Ashford Carbonel, near Tenbury Wells, and is a graphic designer, said: “I’ve always been interested in the richness of the English language and the images it conveys.

“I now work down in Bristol, where they talk completely differently to how they do in Worcestershire and it gave me the idea to set up this project.

“The last time such in-depth research was conducted into of the dialect of the Worcestershire/ Herefordshire/Shropshire area was in the late 1800s and things have changed a lot since then.

“Through people contacting us, the project now holds more than 550 words and phrases from the area which are still being used today, with more coming in all the time. People are interested in it.

“I conducted my own survey and 98 per cent of people polled believe that dialect is important to our social history, with 93 per cent wanting a record of the dialect in its present state.

“The aim is to have each submission going online within four working days and the database is being upgraded to convey the meanings of the words and who and where they have come from.

“Ultimately, a book will be released of the finalised database, along with a study of the social history of area and the photography and interviews conducted over the duration of the project.”

Anyone with information or who would like to submit a word or phrase can contact Nikki via the website thelocallanguage As Mr Perrins might have said: “Tha’s reely bostin.” (Translation: that’s really good).


Old Worcestershire words and phrases: Afore: before. “Cum un see uz afore yu gu away”. 

Allus is: all that remains. “The pot’s pretty nig empty but I’ll gi’ yu allus is”.

Chop: mouth. “Shut your chops and keep yer bell warm” (old Worcestershire saying).

Craichy: weak or infirm. This ere’n’s a craichy auld ‘ouse.

Crazies: Buttercups.

Do’er mouth: kiss.

Dither: tremble. “The wind is that piercin’ I seem’d ter goo straight through ‘um. It made me all uv a dither”.

Dumpty: short and thick.

Good shutt: good riddance.

Hommucks: feet.

Mawsey: rotten.

Miff: misunderstanding.

Mommit: untidy person.

Noggin: clumsy.

Piddle about: don’t work in a hurried manner.

Purgy: short tempered.

Shog off: go away.

Shut ‘is knife: died.

Tiddy-obbyin’: laughing.

Watty-onded: left-handed.