This bizarre tape, which I discovered in a small bookshop in Leeds
, is a selection of stories from the Christian Gospel
s read aloud in broad Yorkshire dialect
. To give some idea of the flavour of this mini-language
, here is the list of stories on the tape:
- Peter's Tellin'-off (Jesus rebukes Peter)
- T' Last Supper (The Last Supper)
- Jesus ta'en prisoner (Jesus taken prisoner)
- Tried Afooare Caiaphas (Tried before Caiaphas)
- Tried Afooare Pilate (Tried before Pilate)
- T' Crewcifixion (The Crucifixion)
- T' Third Day (The third day)
Yorkshire dialect is either (Yorkshire people say) a valid offshoot of spoken English, with published dictionaries and phrasebooks, or (non-Yorkshire people say) a consensual mispronunciation of English designed to confuse non-Yorkshire people. Apparently enough uncertainty existed about the validity of this tape that the publishers included a note in the sleeve which reads:
This is not a translation of the Gospels, but a retelling of them in the homely speech that might have been used by a carpenter talking to fishermen and country-folk. The author believes that if we had been able to listen to Jesus and the disciples speaking, it would have sounded like an equivalent of the robust provincial speech preserved in a dialect such as this. Ee by Gum, Lord! is not, therefore, a gimmick or send-up of the Gospels, but a serious attempt to bring out the meaning of well-known passages, looking at them afresh, from an unfamiliar angle.
This warning notwithstanding, I bought the tape in a fit of hilarity, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to sit around for a surreal, stoned hour hearing the Gospel stories told in the tone of a demented yokel. "Zacchaeus, get dahn aht yon tree!" Brilliant.