Ey-oop, lad! Yorkshire Tour de France volunteers have ridden into a language row with race organisers.
Officials from the world’s premier cycling event have asked helpers to avoid using time-honoured northern greetings such as “love”, “darling” or “mate”.
They fear such sayings might get lost in translation and may offend some overseas visitors on July 5-6, when an estimated 3 million spectators will visit God’s Own County to see the first two phases of the race.
Yorkshire in translation
The amount of estimated languages used on the planet vary between a minimum 6,000 and a maximum 7,000.
But no translation service yet has been made to interpret Yorkshire dialect (see mini-glossary at the bottom of this article).
There might be a gap in the market, however, when the multitudes descend on England’s biggest county for the big race.
Otherwise, expressions such as “were you born in a barn?”, “neither use nor ornament” and “that’s a threp in’t steans” are in danger of going over people’s heads.*
Mind your language
The Tour de France’s training video sparked protest from its Yorkshire-based “Tour Makers” recruits.
This is because it recommended avoiding words including “mate”.
The online video reportedly said such words may appear friendly to volunteers, but they may offend some visitors.
The tourism organisation that secured the Tour’s initial stages to Yorkshire wants to do all it can to publicise the county’s strong identity.
A Welcome to Yorkshire spokesman added, however, that it wants to make sure that it doesn’t confuse foreign spectators. He said the so-called Grand Depart will celebrate all things Yorkshire.
The tourism group said that toning down Yorkshire’s identity is the furthest thing from its mind.
The number of “Tour Makers” recruits run into thousands.
This volunteer idea is based on the success of the Games Makers at the London Olympics two years ago.
The 12,000 Tour Makers will be charged with overseeing the guidance of tourists and marshalling the route.
They will assist with the Tour’s opening two stages in Yorkshire as well as stage three, which starts at Cambridge and finishes in London. The Tour begins in the heart of Leeds on July 5.
Stage one runs picturesquely via the Yorkshire Dales en route to Harrogate. A day later stage two sees the cyclists ride to Sheffield from York.
Stage three finishes on The Mall in the middle of the capital.
With Yorkshire’s vastness of size and population – at 11,903 square kms and well over 5 million inhabitants bigger than many countries – comes the inevitability that dialects will vary.
Over the years, claim academics, these accents have become diluted and can now loosely divided into just two main ones.
Yorkshire’s River Wharfe is the big dividing line. North-east of here sees a dialect more effected by the Northumbrian way of speaking.
South-west of this river sees a dialect more affected by Mercian tongues.
Some experts predict that the Yorkshire dialect will probably sublimate into one main standard dialect, similar to that used in West Riding.
East Riding dialects have been compared to some used in the Danish language.
Here are 15 Yorkshire-specific sayings that could get lost in translation during the Tour de France
Baggin: packed lunch
Breadcake: bread roll
Eee, by gum: oh, my God
Jiggered: extremely tired
Nithered: extremely cold
* These three expressions mean “you have left a door ajar: close it”, “useless” and “that is a blow”.