If you’re not a native of Hull – or if you’re coming from a different country – then you may find it a little bit tricky adjusting to both the distinctive Hull accent and some of the slang terms we use here. Here’s a quick guide to things to listen out for, and if you’re really struggling to understand someone do let them know, we’re generally a friendly bunch around here.
The first thing you’ll notice when speaking to a native Hullensian is the way we pronounce our vowels. We have quite unusual vowel sounds, and we tend to elongate them a little bit too. So the A sound in ‘mate’ becomes something like ‘mehht’, the I sound in ‘wine’ becomes ‘waahn’ and the O sound in ‘snow’ becomes ‘snurr’ or ‘snerr’.
We also have a propensity to drop our Hs, especially at the start of words – so Hull is often referred to as ‘Ull. We tend to roll our words together a bit too – so ‘the Humber Bridge’ becomes thee’Umber Bridge. Also if you see something written in the form t’Humber Bridge the t’ is silent – you’ll sound like right wally if you say it as written.
We also really like to mix up words like ‘was’ and ‘were’ (or just remove ‘were’ from our vocabulary completely). So instead of ‘Sabrina and Johnny were at the pub last night’ you might hear ‘Sabrina and Johnny was down t’pub last night’.
The next thing you’ll notice is that we have some fairly localised slang terms that you might well not have heard before. There are too many of these to mention but you’ll start to pick them up as you chat to more locals. The most important one to remember is that a soft bread roll, of the sort you may purchase a sandwich in, is called a breadcake. Not a cob, or a bap, or a roll; a breadcake.
Just to get you going here are a few Hull words and phrases and their translations – hopefully this should help you talk like a local in no time.
Off down rerd – I’m going shopping (rerd probably originally referred to Hessle Road, but is more generic now).
Maftin’ – hot. Doesn’t seem terribly apt at the moment.
Faahv – five.
Naahn – nine.
Urr – oh (as in zero)
Faahv Naahn – a local taxi firm (really!).
Faahv Urr – another local taxi firm (honestly, we’re not winding you up).
Tarrar – goodbye. Probably comes from ‘ta ta’ but much less posh.
Smerk / smurk – smoke. As in ‘do you smoke?’
Fern curl – phone call. Possibly taken on your merbile.
Nowt – nothing.
It dunt werk – it doesn’t work.
Hessle is pronounced Hezzle, or ‘Ezzle.
Drah waaht waahn – dry white wine.