Dialect answers

Most of you got most of the answers right in Sunday’s quiz, which may reflect my lack of imagination in inventing alternatives. I was sorry that nobody was atrracted by the option of someone “on the broo” being a bar-tender. Perhaps too good to be true.

Anyway, in order of decreasing difficulty, the answers were:

bake = mouth, as in the oft-heard phrase “shut your bake!” It is obviously derived from local pronunciation of “beak”, which is why you might think it meant the nose, working from first principles. But the image conveyed is of someone screeching like a small bird, so it’s the beak as source of sound rather than as a protuberance on the face that matters.

sheuch / sheugh (supposedly from the same root as “sough” as in “Sough of Despond”) means a trench. Confusingly, a “ditch” in Ulster usually means a raised bank, rather than a trench, though “dyke” is also used, as in The Black Pig’s Dyke. I was delighted that my alternative meanings of “horse” or “bread roll” found some favour here.

boke/boak is pretty onomatopoeic. I remember a schoolfriend, on being told by our teacher that a classmate had been sent home sick, asking with interest, “Did he boak, Miss?” He was reproved for asking a personal question but not for using incorrect language.

footering / futering does indeed mean wasting time. In Scotland it has more of a fidgeting connotation, which is sometimes has in Ireland also. Compare: David Trimble said: ‘Sir Patrick is footering around” with Suzanne muttered something I couldnay hear, her haun footering with her silk scarf. There is an Irish verb “fuadar” which some see as a possible root, but since it means “hurry” and “footer” means the opposite, I would take some convincing.

In Ulster, a wain / wean / weean is a child, a wee ‘un. Of course the word wain means “wagon” in standard English, but never in Ireland.

And almost everyone understood that someone who is on the bru / broo is claiming unemployment benefit from an office known at one time as the “bureau”. Etymologies suggest “welfare bureau” specifically, but in fact the only entities I find in Northern Irish history with that official name are linked to political parties rather than the government. Of course, official names are not always the names that are used.

As she often does, had the best comment.

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