Since my last article on the Reading (Reddin) accent, locals have been sending me more musings on the subject, including local words and phrases.
First up is the use of the address boy, mainly used in context as ‘yew alright boy‘. It is fairly common in Whitley and Tilehurst and seems to have a slight ‘e’ sound at the end. The word bullring is used to describe a roundabout (rayndabayt) with a grassy bit, but it’s pronounced very like ‘boring’.
The Reading football chant urrzz is a loving reminder of our accent that is still often used. It literally means ‘you Rs’ as in ‘come on you Rs’. Please note that the only time Friday is not pronounced Fridee in Reading is when someone is talking of the late great Robin Friday. The phrase ‘play off‘ is considered unlucky and offensive in Reading and should be avoided.
The word gimp is mildly offensive and is used to denote a stupid or daft person or situation. The term booer is used to denote a persistant moaner or crybaby. Sinnit is used when you have seen a thing, as in ‘ave you sinnit?’ A bundle means a fight and ol’man and ol’dear refer to your parents.
The baffling ‘do he’ uttered instead of ‘does he’ and ‘I does that’ instead of ‘I did that’ are good examples of west country influence confusing the tense. The use of the ‘ay’ sound instead of ‘o’ is well-documented, but particularly distinctive when the cayncil (council) is mentioned. There can be immense confusion when now is pronounced nay, because it can sound like it means ‘no’. I can’t help feeling Petula Clark’s ‘Down Town‘ would have been greatly enhanced if she had used a Reading accent.
Calling someone moosh or mush used to mean that it was time for a punch-up, but it seems to have morphed into something kindlier and more ironic nowadays. This word has definite Romany origins.
The word shant has been used for an age to mean a booze-up or an actual drink, although it can be quite flexible and is used in any booze-related way. I think this maybe a mockneyism and not west country leaning. Similarly, the word chinned, meaning ‘beaten-up‘ or simply ‘to chin (or punch)‘ someone maybe more south London.
Our accent is really the result of the pull between London and the west country but consider this difference: south in a Reading accent is sayf whereas in London it would be sahf. Town is tayn here but in London it can almost be taahn.
Whether we speak with a hint of west or east, Reading speech still has echoes from when our great river valley market town was a very important rural and industrial crossroads. Our great industries may be gone and cays are no longer driven in to the cattle market but you can’t keep a good tayn dayn, and some of us are still very prayd of our Reddin accent.
Special thanks to all who helped, especially Chewy Newton and Michael Wyatt.
Matthew Farrall, the author of this article, died on 20 April 2018.
We are grateful to his family for allowing us to continue to display his work online.