There’s nowt like Lanky words

Lancashire dialect performer, Sid Calderbank, from Euxton, celebrates Lancashire Day at Samlesbury Hall
Lancashire dialect performer, Sid Calderbank, from Euxton, celebrates Lancashire Day at Samlesbury Hall
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“People have been doing this for 250 years, putting down glossaries of Lancashire words -– and they are all different.”

Those are the words of Sid Calderbank, from Euxton, Chorley, who has spent the majority of his adult life performing stories, poems and songs written by Lancashire folk in Victorian times.

Much is now difficult to read and interpret, but Sid travels around the country to perform the Lancashire dialect and help keep it alive for younger generations.

He says: “As more and more people travel and deal with people for business from outside their area, then language does modify. The first man to try and write down the Lancashire dialect was a chap called John Collier – also known as Tim Bobbin. That was in 1746.

“He decided the local dialect was going to die out. He said he should preserve this dialect by writing a little story.

“I can read it now but it is impenetrable. He left a glossary of all the words and phrases that he used. That really is the first person to put down the Lancashire glossary and that was 250 years ago.”

Sid started performing songs, poems and stories, often highlighting social history with tales from the cotton mills and mines.

He believes the Lancashire dialect has distant links to the kingdom of Northumbria, which 1,000 years ago stretched from the Scottish border to the Humber.

Sid continues that tradition by performing the work written in the dialect.

Sid, who speaks with a strong natural Lancashire accent, continues: “I research and perform a lot of, mainly Victorian, songs, stories and poems. I try to bring it to life for my audiences.

“I do a lot of talks with groups around Lancashire. I also do lectures and go to primary schools. I try to make it educational and entertaining.”

The 62-year-old is also chairman of the Lancashire Society and a member of the Edwin Waugh Society.

He adds: “I have always had a broad Lancashire accent. I was born and raised in Chorley and I’m still in Chorley. I was introduced to it originally because my dad used to recite the old poems. I got interested in them and, in the 70s, I discovered folk music and folk clubs and I went around to various clubs.

“I found there were a whole host of Lancashire songs that no one else could sing. I made it my speciality, then I started looking at where it has come from and I discovered links to German.

“A lot of old Lancashire words are linked to old German.”

Sid says as the world changed with presenters on the television and radio, so did regional dialects. But he adds: “What we have now is a Lancashire dialect that is nothing more of a distant echo of an ancient language.

“There’s nothing we can do about it and really we shouldn’t.

“It’s changed so much. I give a talk that started around 1,000 years ago to now to demonstrate how much it has changed.

“It’s now’t new that things are changing.

“As more people move, the language has to change so everyone can understand.

“One hundred years ago in the First World War, a man from Cornwall and a man from Newcastle needed to be able to understand the same orders.”

He concludes: “I wonder where else is it going to go?”

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