Linguistically, Geordie greatly varies from other English Dialects. This section will discuss the differences between Geordie and RP consonants, vowels, vocabulary and grammar.
According to the British Library, the English language has 24 consonants; however, Geordie dialect has a few distinct charactericstics. One of such features is glottalization of /p/, /t/, /k/. Whenever /p/, /t/, /k/ are between vowels in words or across the words, they might be skipped and a sound similar to a pause is produced. Glottalization is evident in words such as <happy>, <lucky>, <matter>, and in phrases as “drop it”, “take it there”, “cat and mice”. Another consonant feature that makes Geordie distinct is uvular /r/, which happens when the sound /r/ is produced at the back of throat (similar to /r/ of French and German). Even though it is said to be rare today, it still may be heard in the speech of older people. Examples of uvular /r/ include words such as <red>.
Regarding the vowels, Geordie characteristics may be classified into two groups; one of them is the remnants of Middle English, and the other is accidental transformations. According to Amaro (2015), Geordie preserved four Middle English vowel features:
- Geordie preserved the Middle English /u:/, which evolved to /ɑu/ in RP. Thus, the word <about> in RP is pronounced /ә’baut /, but /ә’bu:t / in Geordie. However, sometimes the Middle English /u:/ is pronounced as /ɪә/, in words such as <boot> /bɪәt/.
- Geordie maintained the Middle English /u/, which is pronounced in RP as /ʌ/. Thus, in Geordie, the words <could> and <cud> are homophones, pronounced as /kud/, but they have different pronunciations in RP (/kud/ and /kʌd/).
- Middle English /ɪ/ has transformed into /aɪ/ in RP, but it is produced as /i:/ in Geordie, when a vowel is followed by a fricative sound. In Geordie, <right> in Geordie is pronounced as /ri:t/, but as /rait/ in RP.
It is important to mention that with different pronunciation Geordie dialect has a different spelling as well. Thus, the English word <about> is spelled <aboot> in Geordie
Some diphthongs in Geordie are pronounced differently than in the RP:
- Diphthong /əʊ/, which in Geordie is produced as /ɔː/ (for example <coat> in RP is /kəʊt/, but in Geordie it is produced as /kɔːt/).
- Words with a diphthong /eɪ/ in RP most likely will be pronounced as long vowel /e:/ in Geordie (/feis/ and /fe:s/ for <face>).
- If a vowel /a/ is followed by a velar /l/ or /r/, it is pronounced as a long vowel /a:/ in Geordie, rather than / ɔ:/ and /әʊ/ in RP. Thus, <all> is pronounced /a:l/ instead of /ɔːl/, and may be spelt al or aal, talk /ta:k/ instead of /tɔːk/, cold /kɑ:ld/ instead of /kəuld/.
- Geordie speakers produce a narrower diphthong /ɛɪ/, instead of RP speakers /aɪ/, therefore, words such as <dime> are pronounced as /dɛɪm/ and not /daim/.
- Geordie is very similar to General American; instead of RP /a:/,Geordie and General American dialects produce semi open vowel /æ/ when followed by a voiceless fricative or by a nasal and a consonant. For example, <glass> /glæs/ and /gla:s/, or homophones <ant> and <aunt> /ænt/ and RP /ɑ:nt/.
Since Geordie dialect has evolved from several other languages, it has its own unique lexis. Hargis (2012) mentions that majority of Geordie words are Angle words, and <to gan> is directly one. Provided is a list of Geordie words, which are just a part of the great variety.
Ashet a dish a pie is served on
Bairn a child
Bait packed lunch taken to work
Bourn a stream
Champion great, lovely
Get stupid person
Hadaway away with you
Howay come on
Mebbies maybe, perhaps
Netty outside toilet
Pet term for addressing the females
Sark a shirt
Tab a cigarette
Tatie a potato
Ten o’clock morning snack
Why well (discourse marker)
There are a few commonly used phrases that Geordies use, according to Smith (2012):
Hoo ye gannin? ‘How are you?’
Hoo’s ya fettle? ‘How are you?’
Y’areet, hinny? ‘Are you all right, kid?’
Bonny day the day. ‘It’s nice weather’
Cowld the day, mar. ‘It’s cold today.’
Whey aye, man. ‘that’s right’
Give ower, y’a kiddin. ‘Come on, you’re joking’
Hadaway man. ‘I’m still not convinced’
Ya taakin shite. ‘I really disagree with that’
Ootside! ‘Let’s settle this outside’
Hoo’s the Toon gannin? ‘How is the Newcastle United match progressing?’
Tara now, pet. ‘Goodbye (to female)’
- Personal pronouns used by Geordies differ from the RP ones.
- <Aa> is used for first person singular pronoun ‘I’, and <us> is used for first person singular object ‘me’.
- For second person singular subject and object <you> is used.
- <We> is the first person plural object.
- <youse> is used for second person plural pronoun and object.
- Regardng the self-reflexive pronouns, Geordies use <mesell>, <yoursell> or <yersell>, <hissell>, <hersell>, <worsells>.
- Geordie has some alteration in the grammar of nouns.
- Zero plural is a feature relating to count nouns when their plurality is unmarked. For example, ‘It was 3 week until Christmas’.
- Instead of a Standard English construction ‘don’t’ for do plus negative particle, Geordies use <divn’t>, as ‘You divn’t eat your breakfast’.
- Another deviation from Standard English is the use of multiple negation; thus ‘You divn’t eat nothing’ translates to ‘You didn’t eat a bite’.
- The Standard English ‘to + infinitive’ becomes ‘for to + infinitive’ in Geordie (as in ‘I need to go to the store for to buy some eggs’).
- Zero adverbial marker means that Geordie dialect adverbials are not marked with –ly like Standard English ones; ‘You used to do it automatic’ instead of ‘You used to do it automatically’. (British Library)