Counting Heritage

My Great-Grandad John (Jack) Porter & Me
My Great-Grandad John (Jack) Porter and Me

I mentioned to some one the other day that I don’t use my own voice for talking.  I still have an accent and it’ll never go away, but the edges are softened, my glottal stops have all but disappeared and I dont say “tha noz” at all anymore.  It made me think about those that came before me, my grand-parent and their ancestors, where they came from and how they would have spoken.  I know my mum and dad had some novels written entirely in Tyke dialect, but dad gave them away (to a girl from New Zealand they met in Australia).  After a brief foray into dialect sites, Tyke poetry and Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At, I found this gem on Wikipedia.  Yan, tan, tethera is something my great grandad used to say when he was counting.  It’s a fives based counting system and (from what I can remember) my great-grandad’s version went something like this.

Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip.  Sethera, leathera, overa, dovera, dick.  Yanadick, tanadick, tetheradick, metheradick, bumfit.  Yanabum, tanabum, tetherabum, metherabum, jiggit.  It doesn’t quite match up with any of the charts on Wikipedia.

What a fascinating way of counting, though who knows what comes after jigget?  I’m pretty sure this has all but died out, so I’m going to teach it to my daughters and son to try and keep it alive.  I’ll also share it with my class at school, although if they can get past ten and fifteen without giggling I’ll be very surprised!

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