TEACHING people in Craven to speak their own language – to talk Yorkshire - may sound a crazy idea, but the 125-year old Yorkshire Dialect Society has a mission.

It wants to make people in God’s Own Country more aware of the wonderful linguistic heritage they carry in their own memories and family histories, and how they need to remember, celebrate and above all use what is a vital part of their identity.

“What is special about Yorkshire includes many aspects – the landscape, the history, the people and also the language,” argues Rod Dimbleby, Chairman of the Yorkshire Dialect Society.

“Too often children were taught in school that Yorkshire dialect words and phrases were just ‘slang’ or slovenly use of language, when in fact they may go back in linguistic terms over a thousand years to our Anglo-Norse ancestors. These words are a rich part of our heritage and we need to treasure and use them.”

To give people the knowledge and confidence to use this vital part of their own heritage, Rod, a retired teacher of modern languages and a skilled dialect speaker and storyteller, is organising a pilot course of six classes in which people will be encouraged to speak, read, and write Yorkshire dialect.

The aim is to enrich their own vocabulary with often powerful and poetic words and expressions used by their own parents and grandparents, whether in farm, workplace or home. Students at the classes, due to take place at Keighley Library on Friday mornings between September 8 and October 13 will be taught about the history of dialect, and introduced to texts and recordings, as well as being encouraged to listen, speak, read and write in a form of English which has as much relevance for our times as it did in the past, helping to define what it is to be Yorkshire.

Keighley has been chosen as being the place where the late Ian Dewhirst MBE (1936-2019), Yorkshire dialect poet, local historian and librarian, and a key member of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, worked for many years, resulting in the town becoming a focal point for local dialect studies.

For further details of the course log on to Celebrating Yorkshire by Talking Tyke - The Yorkshire Society; alternatively contact Rod on 07545 308346 or 01484 717593 or by email at letstalktyke@gmail.com.

Established in 1897, the Yorkshire Dialect Society is Britain’s oldest surviving dialect society. It grew out of a committee formed by Professor Joseph Wright, which was set up to collect additional Yorkshire material for the English Dialect Dictionary.