Artefact 2

Explore D.H. Lawrence's Alphabet. Interactive letterforms by Paul Fillingham

Select a letter from the alphabet and compare Lawrence's dialect with your own

If you want to enjoy Lawrence, you need to know your clat-fart from your scraightin. To help you on your way, James Walker has put together a dialect alphabet. Now before you start chelping that it doesn’t include Ayup – the definitive Notts greeting – we’re not being a draggletail, it’s because Ayup doesn’t appear in Lawrence’s work.

James Walker @memorytheatre 

D.H. Lawrence and Dialect: A Raight Racket. YouTube video by James Walker, edited by Izaak Bosman

Create a short story, as we’ve done with the Raight Racket video above and share on Twitter using the hashtag #DHLdialect

Letter A

A is for addle

to acquire or to earn money

'Get thy money, Sam, tha's addled it' Strike Pay

Letter B

B is for barkle

to encrust or cake in dirt

‘When he comes home barkled up from the pit’ Sons and Lovers

Letter C

C is for clat-fart

to gossip.

‘I believe 'er's a clat-fart’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter D

D is for draggletail

a slovenly person

‘Tha'rt well rid o' such a draggletail’ The Merry-go-Round

Letter E

E is for eered


*It’s illegal to utter ‘h’s at the beginning of words in Nottingham

‘It struck me I ‘eered a cooin’, an’ ‘ere’s th’ birds’ The White Peacock

Letter F

F is for fudge


‘If I'd ha' bin for marryin' 'er, I'd ha' gone wholesale, not ha' fudged and haffled’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter G

G is for gammy

damaged limbs

‘Here, hutch up, gammy-leg -gammy-arm’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter H

H is for hawkse

to take out or move*

‘…then we shouldna' ha' had to hawkse 'im upstairs . . .'A Sick Collier

Letter I

I is for ikey

proud or supercilious

‘So look ikey’ Sons and Lovers

Letter J

J is for Jockey

a (likeable) cheat or swindler.

‘Ha’e much more o’ thy chelp, my young jockey, an’ I’ll rattle my fist about thee’ Sons and Lovers

Letter K

K is for knivey

mean spirited and miserly

‘Another o' Macintyre's dirty knivey dodges, I s'd think’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter L

L is for larropin'

to rush*

*You might larrop a skinful of ale down your neck on payday.

‘Larropin' neck an' crop / I' th' snow! . . .’ Whether or Not

Letter M

M is for mardy

Sulky, whiny or non-cooperative

‘Eh, tha’rt a mard-‘arsed kid’A Collier’s Wife

Letter N

N is for nesh

weak and delicate*

*If you feel nesh you need to switch the ‘etin’ on.

‘The risen lord, the risen lord / has risen in the flesh, / and treads the earth to feel the soil / though his feet are still nesh’ The Risen Lord

Letter O

O is for orts

scraps, waste, leftovers

‘I'm not 'avin' your orts an' slarts’ Whether or Not

Letter P

P is for pulamiting

whining and whimpering*

*Most often associated with a mard arse.

‘You are a base, malingering, pulamiting wretch’ The Merry-go-Round

Letter Q

Q is for Queen Bee (QB)

Lawrence’s nickname for his wife

‘The queen bee shivering round half dressed, fluttering her unhappy candle’ Sea and Sardinia

Letter R

R is for rowdy

streaky bacon

‘I'd ma'e his sides o' bacon rowdy’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter S

S is for scraightin

scream or cry*

*Kids scraight when they get tode off.

‘-an I've said I should on'y be happy if I was scraightin' at 'er funeral’ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter T

T is for tantaflins

a small tart eaten as a snack

'Yi, Missis, them tan-tafflins'll go down very nicely' Her Turn

Letter U

U is for ‘ussy

a woman who’s had numerous sexual relationships

‘Tha’rt a baffling little ‘ussy’ The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd

Letter V

V is for vexed

annoyed, worried or frustrated

‘Miss Wrexall sat dumb and very vexed. She felt she was being baited’ Two Blue Birds

Letter W

W is for werritt

to worry*

*However, if you heard someone say werriit? You might think they were saying ‘where is it?’

‘Well, I've werritted an' werritted till I'm soul-sick-‘ The Daughter-in-Law

Letter X

X is for axin’

axin does not mean you are about to fell a tree. It means ask*

* The X sound is used to replace the ‘sk’ sound

‘Now lad, I'm axin' thee summat’ The Drained Cup

Letter Y

Y is for yersen


*Wherever possible clip letters to shorten words

‘Seems yer doin’ yersen a bit o’ weshin’ The Lost Girl

Letter Z

Z is for Guzunder

Chamber pot at the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Eastwood. Source: Paul Fillingham.

It goes under, as in a chamber pot*

*Yes, it begins with ‘G’ but we couldn’t find any dialect beginning with 'Z'.

Although Lawrence does not refer to a guzunder in his work, you can find one at the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum.

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Sagar, Keith. A D.H. Lawrence Handbook. (Manchester University Press, 1982)