Established in 1897, the Yorkshire Dialect Society is the world's oldest surviving dialect society. It grew out of a committee formed nearly three years earlier by Professor Joseph Wright, which was set up to collect additional Yorkshire material for the English Dialect Dictionary.
Our main aim has always been to encourage the study and recording of dialect. Our equal interest is in speech and literature and members like to hear dialect spoken and to see it written in our publications.
We hold up to four meetings each year, one in each of the old Ridings, plus our Christmas Crack in York. The Christmas Crack is a social gathering and, for many members, the Society’s highlight of the year. A popular feature is the performance of dialect poetry with a humorous slant. We aim to have a talk on a language topic at one or more of those meetings, choosing speakers who will present their topic in a way that will appeal to a wide audience.
Other meetings also feature Society members in programmes of dialect which lean towards the more humorous aspects of life as reflected in local speech. All meetings are open to the general public and both visitors and new members are very welcome.
Our membership is worldwide, and is not confined to those who were born and bred in the county.
We hope that after browsing through what we have to offer on this website, you will wish to join us in celebrating the richness of dialects in the county and enjoying these traditional ways of speaking and writing the living language of Yorkshire.
The annual YDS Christmas Crack was held last December 13th at Belfry Hall, Stonegate, York and the guest speaker was broadcaster and poet Ian McMillan. It was a hugely enjoyable, festive occasion with Ian in sparkling form, his sharply observed humour entertaining an appreciative audience. After a break for drinks, chat and mince pies, other speakers, including Carol and Alan Walker, performed verse and stories, to bring a happy afternoon to a close.