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May 14, 2010


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This whole affair is slightly ridiculous: a 14th century Yorkshire accent would sound almost NOTHING like a contemporary Yorkshire accent. In fact, it would probably sound more like a contemporary southern Irish accent, in many respects the most conservative accent of English that survives today.

It is true that the historical Robin Hood would have one feature -- the absence of a distinction between the vowels of words like "put" and "cut" -- which today would be seen as distinctive of Northern England. This distinction didn't develop in any accent of English until around the 16th century.

And, of course, unless you're a student of Middle English you wouldn't understand a word he was saying either.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks for your informed comment, dw. The post after this (bath-trap split) looks at the long/short 'a' vowel and how there was once no distinction here either.

Thanks for reading.

Robin Hood

Does the fact that Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHaviland are not even mentioned say anything about where this movie ranks of the list of Robin Hood films?


dw, there's no way people in 14th century yorkshire sounded anything like modern irish people.

They would have spoken a dialect of middle english which would have been all but intelligible to a modern speaker, and it would have been very broad and northern sounding.


Like all English dialects, Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire was completely different in the time of Robin Hood than today. The letter R was far more pronounced, but the point in Irish was the other way round. Modern West Yorkshire pronounces words like say, bay & may, without sounding the Y unlike in the past.

To complicate things more, there is no such thing as a Yorkshire accent, for instance Hull & Bradford are completely different in virtually every word they pronounce.

Virtual Linguist

Thank you for your informed and interesting comment, Paul.

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