Shortly after arriving in Newcastle Upon Tyne—cleverly named for its location in North East England on the northern bank of the Tyne River—I was shocked by my absolute inability to understand the local tongue. I thought that coming to an English-speaking country would pretty much guarantee me the comfort of easily conversing with the native residents… But instead I found their musical inflection and peculiar vocabulary to be almost impenetrable.
I quickly decided that the dialect of the Newcastle natives, or “Geordies,” is hardly even English at all… Or is it? The Geordie dialect is derivative of language from Germanic and Scandanavian Europe and is actually the closest surviving dialect to that of the original Anglo-Saxon language that was first brought to the North East of England and upwards into Scotland by the Angles and Saxons.
Almost 80% of Geordie words are hand-me-downs from the Angles, as compared to modern standard English that is only 30% similar to the original Anglo-Saxon style. That makes the North East dialect the oldest-living and most authentic Old English form of diction.
For example, the Geordies refer to their hometown Newcastle as “The Toon.” Perplexed by this reoccurring phrase, I turned to the internet for help. An article written by Simon Meechan for The Chronicle Live helped me to clear things up…
“Old English (the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, 500 AD up to the Norman conquest) had a word, tun. This meant ‘enclosure, estate, farm, village’. It’s the origin of our present-day English word, town, and survives also as an element in place names like Darlington. In Old English, this word would have been pronounced like “Toon”.
So, as it turns out the Geordies are actually the ones speaking proper English… But it still sounds wrong to me.