Mother Of Me Bairns

Hello everyone! 

 This is actually a question (or should I say, a series of questions...?), not a discussion topic – I know it probably belongs to another board but I can't use formatting there and I really need it this time – sorry about this.

I've come across a very romantic song but I don't understand some expressions there. Most of them I've managed to google but some are still unclear to me – I can guess what they mean but I'm not sure my guesses are correct. The expressions I don't quite understand are in bold. Could you please help me with them?

Here's the song: 



I mind the day that I met your mam

She never really nicked us oot your nana's pram

It was a Saturday, much like any other

Par for the course, 'til I met your mother

I'd been to the match and there'd been a little fuss

But we sorted the kerfuffle and I jumped ontiv a bus

I made oot I was kippin', I was tryin' to jip me fare (1)

But me eyes were poppin' when your mam come up the stairs

I shoots, "Hoo hinnie! Howay sit next tiv iz

I knaa I look like the Wreck o' the Hesparus (2)

That's a bonnie frock you're wearing, what's in your sarney? (3)

Give us (4) a bite pet, I've been in a barney" (5)

She says, "Bunk along the bench a little bit then, hinnie

And divn't get y' clarty mits on me pinnie

Y' can have a little nibble but divn't take the lot

I divn't eat again 'til supper an' that stottie's all I've got"

I says, "Do ye gan all the way… to the terminus?"

She hoyed (6) us a look as if I was vermin

Then she sees the blood on me leg and me shoe

I says, "It got cut when a bottle got threw"

She says, "Man, y' cannot walk aboot in claggy britches (7)

The General's up next: you're gannin' for stitches"

I says, "Ha'd your horses" She says, "Button up your lip"

And then she giz another bite of her savaloy dip

She waited for us while the doctor sewed me leg

And by the time that it was done I could've murdered half a keg (8)

I says, "The light's are comin' on, wor kid'll eat me tea (9)

The Westfield must be open, would y' like a Cherry B?"

She says, "Hei man, we've only just met

Y' divn't even know me name, it's 'Rose' not 'Pet'"

I says, "My name's 'Harry, I just wanna be friends"

Who'd 've thought then, she'd be the mother of me bairns?

The mother of me bairns!

© Dave Wilson

(2) I've read the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow but I'm not sure I understand the reference. Does he mean something as simple as "like after the storm"?

(4) Here and throughout – why "us", not "me"? Does he really mean "us"? Literally?

(8) Does he mean alcohol here?

(9) I remember that "wor" in the Geordie dialect means "our" but I still don't get the rest…

Sorry for too many questions at the same time, but I honestly don't know how to split them… I would appreciate any help!

Apr 27, 2018 6:32 AM
Comments · 19
There are definitely some British regional accents that other Brits have trouble with, let alone Americans.  Over here Geordie would definitely be one of the tough ones, many people here would wonder if they were speaking English at all!
April 27, 2018
I would say it would be probably be even worse when spoken, what with the combination of strong accent and dialectal words. People don't talk like this in the United States, it's hardly surprising Americans might find it hard to understand.
April 27, 2018
May I just add that I could not get past the 11th line? Very,very difficult text for this native American English speaker to read. It's torture.  No, I'm not kidding.
April 27, 2018

A nice Geordie dialect song. I'm not well versed in Geordie, but it does share some vocabulary and other features with other parts of northern England and with Scots. I'll see what I can do.

1) to jip one's fare: he was trying to avoid paying for his bus ticket by pretending to be asleep (I'm not familiar with the word "jip" - it's the kind of word that would vary a lot between regions - but I'm familiar with the concept so it wasn't hard to work it out from the context). Especially in the first person, the oblique pronouns (me, us) are often used in place of the possessive pronouns (my, our) in many dialects of northern England.

2) probably.

3) "That's a nice dress that you're wearing, what's in your sandwich?"

4) Another feature of northern English in general, and Geordie in particular, is the use of the plural pronoun in place of the singular in the first person oblique case, so "give us a bite" really means "give me a bite".

5) It may have a different meaning in Geordie, but I would understand it as "I've been in a fight".

6) to hoy = to throw, I believe: so "she hoyed us a look" = "she threw me a look"

7) dirty or muddy trousers

8) very likely, a keg is a small barrel of beer.

9) "wor kid" or "our kid" is an expression used in parts of northern England to refer to a sibling, usually younger; "tea" refers not the the drink, but to a meal eaten in the evening (in some places it's known as "supper" in others "dinner"); so "wor kid'll eat me tea" means "my brother/sister will eat my dinner".

Well, I hope that helps. Did you manage to understand all the rest without any problems? If there's anything else you're unsure about, just ask.

April 27, 2018

There are a fair number of expressions here which are very familiar in Australian English as well. I'll just add a few nuances...

1) "Kip" is very British, and I'm sure "jip" is a variant of "gyp", meaning to trick or deceive. This is literally from the word "gypsy", and yes in modern times this is considered racist.

2) My own personal circle of friends used this exact phrase often. :) We even adapted it into a verb form, "to hersperize". The phrase means, "to look terrible" (in our case, because of a hangover).

3) Sarnie, sarney, sanga... sandwich. I suspect this is a figurative sandwich, either something she knows or her physical body in her dress.

4) "Give us a bite" - this exists in Australian English as well. No need to analyse it! It's simply easier to say "give us" (=givvus) than "give me" (giv/me). "Gimme" has a different nuance.

5) Barney = Barney Rubble (of the Flintstones) = trouble. So, a fight.

8) "could murder a..." = "could consume a..., very ravenously". Yes, it's a keg of beer here (50 litres?).

9) Yes, "tea" = "dinner". If the same person says "dinner", they mean "lunch". :D  Confused yet?  Sometimes "dinner" means the biggest meal, which can be around midday, not the evening meal.

There's no problem with asking such a series of complex questions here - good on you for trying to tackle this merry little song! :)

April 27, 2018
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Language Skills
English, Gaelic (Irish), Russian
Learning Language
English, Gaelic (Irish)