Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Ukulele and dialects, Hull, Yorkshire, Schwäbisch and more…

06 2010

I spent the most memorable of my study years in Hull, in the North-East of England. Some people might be prejudiced and frown at the mention of Hull, but to an exchange student determined not to meet any French people for a full year, Hull was the perfect place to be.

One of the reasons my year in Hull has been so special was that there were students from many different countries of Northern Europe, many of them being as interested in languages as I was. Besides, trying to understand the locals (which was pronounced more like ‘løøcals’) was another endless source of fun, not to mention listening to all of us foreigners trying to imitate the accent. So yeah, it was never dull in Hull, it was f#’ ace !

The student house I lived in was also an excellent playground for a language lover as two of my housemates were from Yorkshire and taught me to pronounce ‘water is boiling in the kettle‘ something like ‘wa’er is boiling in ‘he ke’el‘ as well as many idiomatic Yorkshire niceties.

To travel around the cities of Yorkshire, why not listen to Tony, a Yorkshire ukulele player, singing A Dalesman’ s Litany. Lyrics can be found here.

In that same student house another housemate was from the South-West of Germany so I also got to learn some Schwäbisch (Swabian), which, to the great distaste of my German lecturer who was from the North of Germany, I actually liked much better than standard German.

For an overview of the Swabian dialect, chek this site.

If you have no idea what Schwäbish sounds like, this ukulele video by Goschenhobel should help you :

While on the subject of dialects, I’ll add one more ukulele song which I really liked :

The Scots dialect is well illustrated in this Jacobite song, Came Ye o’er frae France, a satirical rant about George I dating back to the time of the second Jacobite uprising around 1715. Tony has done a great ukulele cover of this song and provides a wealth of information about its origin in the YouTube description of the song, including lyrics and a glossary of the words.

For a detailed and fascinating  unriddling of the songs lyrics, check this site.


  1. Acilius on the 6th of March 2010 @ 16:51

    Thanks for the post, Armelle! These are great.

  2. Armelle Europe on the 6th of March 2010 @ 20:41

    Acilius : glad you’ve enjoyed! Writing this post brought back a lot of good memories.

  3. Amy Stoller on the 18th of April 2010 @ 19:06

    I’m a dialect coach and came across your post while looking for interesting pages to share with my Facebook fans. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed this – and I have, indeed, posted a link on my Facebook fan page.

  4. Armelle Europe on the 18th of April 2010 @ 20:33

    Amy : Thank you very much for your feedback. Dialects are a most fascinating subject.
    Thanks for posting the link on your fan page!

    Here are some other posts featuring the Yorkshire dialect that you might enjoy :

    Yorkshire :
    The Owd Woman from Yorkshire :

    Dun’t Put Thi Muck In Our Dustbin

  5. Amy Stoller on the 18th of April 2010 @ 20:58

    Thanks so much! I look forward to much enjoyable listening. You’re a valuable resource.

  6. Linda S on the 19th of April 2010 @ 02:30

    I’m a friend of Amy Stoller, who forwarded this site to me. While her interest is dialects, mine is ukulele. I am very happy to have found you, and will keep an eye on this site. Thanks so much.

  7. Armelle Europe on the 19th of April 2010 @ 21:32

    Glad to welcome you here Linda ! Hope you enjoy the read.

  8. tony on the 15th of February 2015 @ 18:30

    could anyone send me the ukulele chords for dalesmans litany please

  9. Armelle Europe on the 25th of March 2015 @ 12:06

    @Tony : sorry I could not find the chords anywhere.

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