‘Ow b’ist harriet?
The other day, I stumbled across the word “isogloss” while reading Skyfaring (fascinating book) and disappeared into a wormhole of language and dialect.
I’d never heard the word before, but it’s a line on a map marking a distinct linguistic boundary. In the same way as isobars mark lines of pressure, an isogloss marks a dialectic boundary.
How cool is that?
Which got me thinking about how you can trace the movement of people and the evolution of language across time and space. Like a Language Lord, only your TARDIS is a map and your ears.
It’s a marker of how language changes as you move across the landscape. For example, somewhere just south of Sheffield, there’s an isogloss across which a house becomes an arse.
And the trap-bath isogloss marks the boundary between north and south in England. Meaning, if you prounounce “bath” to rhyme with “trap”, you’re probably a Northern Monkey (I am) – but if you pronounce “bath” as baaaaaaaarth, you’re probably a Southern Softy 😉
Or a toff.
The trap-bath isogloss meanders across the Midlands about half way up Shropshire, just to the south of Brum, then up to the Wash.
If you hear someone saying, “you am” you’re probably in Dudley (or talking to someone from the Black Country, like our pub landlords). Yam-yams, they’re known as, because “you am” gets shortened to “y’am” – which completely delights me.
Where are you from, harriet? What dialectic curiosities do you use? Do you say batch, bap, or roll?
Do you know what a barm cake is?
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS Language isn’t just fun to learn about, it’s important in your business as well. You need to find out how your potential customers talk, and use that to direct your marketing to them. In fact, I talk all about that in my book, Business For Superheroes, you can – and should – grab a copy here.