As I’ve mentioned on occasion, I was born and bred in the city of Sheffield in God’s own county of Yorkshire (quite possibly the location of the Garden of Eden) in the center of the world, which you may know as England.
The image shown here is of the Yorkshire Dales, which comprises river valleys and the hills rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed. The drystone walls in the photo are one of the most commonly used field boundaries in the uplands (hedgerows are more common in lowland areas). Most of these walls were hand-crafted between the 16th and 18th centuries, but the earliest such walls date back to at least the Iron Age.
The dialect spoken in Yorkshire — known as Broad Yorkshire, Tyke, Yorkie, or Yorkshire English — can be hard for folks outside the county to understand. Like anything else, of course, when you grow up with something, you don’t really worry about it, you just know it, say it, or do it without thinking about it.
One expression I’ve found hard to refrain from saying is “Ey up” (also spelled “Ayup” and “Eyup”), which is pronounced “Ay” to rhyme with “Hay” and “up” to rhyme with “pup.”
“Ey up” is a cheery multi-purpose greeting that basically means “Hello” and “Hi there” and “How are you?” and “How’s things?” all rolled into one. This salutation, which is thought to be of Old Norse origin (“se up” or “se upp”) is used widely throughout the North Midlands, North Staffordshire, and Yorkshire.
When I moved to America, which is almost 30 years ago as I pen these words, it didn’t take long for me to realize that saying “Ey up” was more trouble than it was worth, because I’d then spend the next ten minutes explaining what it meant. Now, I restrain myself to using it only on festive occasions.
The reason I’m waffling on about this here is that I was just thinking of my last trip to England to see my dear old mom. On these visits, I stay at my brother Andrew’s house, which is about a 10-minute walk from mom’s abode. One morning, rather than mom come to Andrew’s as is her wont, I ambled up to her place because she was having some plumbing work done on her bathroom.
As soon as I arrived, mom put the kettle on for a cup of tea and told me to go and ask the plumbers if they would like a cup. As an aside, she always serves the best English chocolate digestive biscuits (cookies to American readers), but we digress…
So, I ambled up the stairs and into the bathroom to find the plumbers busily soldering pipes and hitting things with hammers. They looked up as I entered the door. Without thinking, I immediately said, “Ey up,” to which they both responded “Ey up” in turn.
It’s only a little thing, but it gave me a warm glow inside — I was hanging with my peeps!