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To an outsider, the dialect and slang of Sheffield must sound pretty weird.
Get to know it, though, and you’ll learn to love its pure poetic beauty. From mardy bums to nesh kids, there’s a whole load you need to know about this town.
Here are eleven phrases you’ll only hear in the steel city. Enjoy, love.
1. “Ey up”
Translation: “How are you?” or “Are you alright?”
Whether you’re greeting someone down the local pub or just passing them in the street, “ey up” is the go-to phrase here in Sheffield. Sometimes, this little gem comes with a complimentary nod or even a smile (but never more than that). When someone says this to you, the best thing to do is return the gesture.
2. “Nah then”
Translation: “Now then” (general conversation-starter)
When someone has something important to say, they’ll let you know by opening with “nah then”. This is one of people’s favourite phrases and Sheffielders tend to use it all the time. You’re most likely to hear this phrase while supping on an ale in a local pub. It wouldn’t be at all strange to hear someone say “Nah then, love, what’s going on here?”
Translation: “Give over!” or “Shut up”
When someone thinks you’re talking utter rubbish in Sheffield, they let you know by saying “ge’ore”. The end of this phrase is stretched out as much as is humanly possible so it sounds more like “ge’ooooooooooooorrrreee” than anything else. Don’t be fooled – this phrase is by no means aggressive. It’s actually an affectionate way of letting someone know that you think they’re a moron.
4. “Tin tin tin”
Translation: “It isn’t in the tin”
This has to be my favourite Sheffieldism of all. It’s not one that you will here all the time (unfortunately), but people love to bring this up as an example of Yorkshire dialect. When you do hear this phrase, it will usually be super fast and someone will be saying it to prove that outsiders don’t understand them. Jimmy Carr also does a wonderful impression of this one…
5. “That’s reyt bad”
Translation: “That is really bad”
First of all, let’s get one things straight – “reyt” rhymes with “eight”. People use this word all the time when they’re speaking so you’d better get used to it. If you want to blend in and sound like a local, this is the easiest way. Just throw the word “reyt” into sentences now and then. Before you know it, you’ll have people thinking you’re Sheffield born and bred.
6. “Lug ‘oil”
If you hear someone chatting about their “lug ‘oil”, don’t worry, they haven’t lost their little minds. This phrase actually means “ear”. As strange as it might sound, a Sheffield person would think nothing of referring to their ear as this. Weird.
7. “Seven while three”
Translation: “Seven until three”
For some reason, here in the steel city, there’s no such word as until. Nope, instead, people use the word while. Watch out because this one can be seriously confusing. When I first came here and heard people saying they were working “seven while three”, I had no idea what they were on about… You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, though.
8. “Mardy Bum”
Translation: “Moody person”
No matter where you’re from, you’ve probably heard this Sheffieldism. After all, Arctic Monkeys wrote an entire song about it. If someone calls you a “mardy bum” (and, at some point, they will), you’d better slap a smile on your face and cheer up sharpish. Being moody, whiny or sulky will not be tolerated here in Sheffield. Sort it out.
If someone calls you “nesh”, you’re in trouble. Let’s say you’re outside and you’re shivering like mad (because it’s Sheffield), that would be cause for someone to come up to you and call you “nesh”. It basically means that you’re a bit of a wimp because you’re always cold. No big deal.
10. “D’ya wan’ that on a breadcake?”
Translation: “Do you want that on a roll?”
When someone asks you whether you want your shredded pork on a breadcake, don’t panic. They don’t mean an actual cake. That would be crazy! No, they mean a roll (or cob or bun). Who knows why they call it a cake? If you ask people, they don’t seem to know either. Don’t fight it – embrace it.
When you come to Sheffield, you have to get used to this simple fact – people will call you “love”. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a stranger on the bus or the cashier in Tesco, they will refer to you with the most romantic of terms. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that everyone is in love with you. It’s as normal as calling someone “mate” up here.
Main image: Flickr / CC