For the vast majority of English speakers, the Geordie dialect is unintelligible to say the least. We find ourselves road-blocked in conversation, disoriented in Newcastle, and feeling a bit foolish, really, that they’re able to understand us and not vice-versa. Next time you’re headed up north, take a look at our guide to Geordie slang. At least then you can join in the banter.
First things first, you need to wrap your head around the backwards grammar, where first person singular is us rather than “me”, and second person plural is youse rather than “you”. Familiarise yourself with these terms of address and you’ll know how and when to respond.
Geordie: howay man!
Translation: generic encouragement or exhortation, equivalent to “come along!” or “hurry up!”
Example: howay man, don’t make us late!
Geordie: why aye man!
Translation: an enthusiastic positive agreement
Example: Q: howay man, are youse coming?
A: why aye man
Geordie: how, man!
Translation: “hey!” used to indicated warning or threat
Example: how, man, divn’t shoot ya gob off!
You should also prepare yourself for some inevitable embarrassment, when countless basic words appear foreign to you. These include “toilet”, “stairs”, and “bed”. Good luck navigating the household, then…
Translation: toilet facilities
Example: why aye man, I’m ganning to the netty
Translation: “stairs”, probably a loose adaption of the cockney rhyming slang dancing bears
Example: howay man, gerrup the dancers
Example: I’m ganning to me scratcha
It’s also helpful to familiarise yourself with some of the colloquialisms, which are
Translation: drunk / wasted
Geordie: up a height
Translation: in a state of high emotion or distress
Example: she’s mortal an’ getting up a height
Try not to aggravate any Geordie lads or lasses, meanwhile, and follow their instruction where possible. N.B. divn’t means “don’t”.
Geordie: dee as ya telt
Translation: “do as you are told”
Example: dee as ya telt, man, and gerrup the dancers. Not half as rude as it sounds.
Geordie: had ya push (also had ya watta)
Translation: “be patient”, literally “hold your patience” i.e. don’t push anyone
Example: how man, had your push and divn’t be up a height
Finally, it’s important that you appreciate the playfulness of this dialect, which is enough to make even the most ordinary expression sound like nonsense.
Geordie: Giz a deek at ya cornet, you’ve got more monkey’s blood than me.
Translation: “Let me see your ice cream, you’ve got more strawberry-flavoured sauce than me.”
Featured image by © Bruce Allinson/iStock/Thinkstock
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