The Bible in East Yorkshire dialect – God meead heaven an’ ath oot o’ nowt

If the Bible had been written in the East Riding, how would it read? In The Folk Speech of East Yorkshire, published in 1889, Hull author John Nicholson has a go at finding out by rewriting Genesis in the North Holderness Dialect.

1. I’ beginnin’ God meead heaven an’ ath oot o’ nowt.

2. An’ ath was wi’oot shap, an’ emty: and dahkness was uppa feeace o’ deep. An’ sperit o’ God storred uppa feeace o’ watthers.

3. An’ God sed, Let ther’ be leet: an’ ther’ was leet.

4. An’ God seed leet, at it was good: an’ God devahded leet fre’ dahkness.

5. An’ God call’d leet Day, an’ dahkness he call’d Neet. An’ neet an’ mooanin’ we’ fost day.

6. An’ God sed, Let ther be a fahmament i’ midst o’ watthers, an’ let it devahde watthers fre’ watthers.

7. An’ God meead fahmament, an’ devahded watthers ’at wer’ undher fahmament fre’ watthers ’at were aboon fahmament, an’ it was seeah.

8. An’ God call’d fahmament Heaven. An’ neet an’ mooanin’ we’ second day.

9. An’ God sed, Let watthers ’at’s undher heaven be gether’d tegither inti’ yah pleeace, an’ let dhry land appear; an’ it was seeah.

10. An’ God call’d dhry land Ath: an’ getherin’ tegither o’ watthers he call’d Seeas; an’ God seed ‘at it was good.

11. An’ God sed, Let ath bring fooath gess, yahb yieldin’seed, an’ frewt three yieldin’ frewt efther his kahnd, wheease seed is iv itsen, uppa yath: an’ it was seeah.

12. An’ ath browt fooath gess, an’ yahb yieldin’ seed efther his kahnd, an’ three yieldin’ frewt, wheease seed was iv itsen, efther his kahnd: an’ God seed ’at it was good.

13. An’ neet an’ mooanin’ we’ thod day.

14. An’ God sed, Let ther’ be leets I’ fahmament o’ heaven ti devahde day fre neet: an’ let ’em be fa sahns, an’ fa seeahsons, an’ fa days, an’ yeeahs.

15. An’ let ’em be fa leets i’ fahmament o’ heaven ti gi’leet uppa yath: an’ it was seeah.

Nicholson’s fascinating miscellany of East Yorkshire dialects and dying customs – such as Riding the Stang – can be downloaded for free from the American library website archive.org

He even devotes some space to a favourite Hull word, ‘bray’, which he describes as meaning “to crush”. He includes an example: “Said a man who discovered his son cheating and lying: ‘Ah’ll bray him black and blue wi besom shaft.'” Bad news for the son – a besom was a birch broom.

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Main image shows The Creation, by Lawrence W Ladd, 1880.

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