Chip shops are preserving regional dialects

With more than three quarters* of us believing it is important to preserve regional dialects and accents, research has shown that chip shops across the country are the surprising heroes of local language. A study into chip eating habits, commissioned for National Chip Week, shows that the chip shop provides more than just a great portion of chips. In fact, the research showed that one in six people claim the chip shop is actually the place they are most likely to see or hear regional words and phrases.

We know the perfect portion of chips start with perfect potatoes, but did you know it also starts with ‘tats’, ‘tatties’, ‘taters’, ‘tatoes’, or even ‘teddies’? Would you know the difference between a ‘poke of chips’, ‘potato dabs’ and a ‘potato scallop’? Or be able to identify a ‘fish lot’ from ‘fish and nerks’? What are ‘bits’ or ‘scratchings’? And what are you getting with your chips when you order ‘patties’, ‘rissoles’, or a ‘white pudding supper’? Jonathan Robinson, Lead Content Specialist for Sociolinguistics at the British Library said: “No-one’s really focused on the language of chips before, but there are many different words and phrases associated with our nation’s favourite dish. Whether it’s ordering fish and nerks in Leeds, buying a poke of chips in Glasgow, or a chip stottie in Newcastle, it’s good to see that local expressions are still widely used in chip shops. Contrary to popular opinion, regional speech in the UK remains extremely diverse and the local chippy is a shining example of this.” In Leeds, Cardiff, or Glasgow one in four people claim their local chip shop is more likely to use regional language than the post office, corner shop or even the pub. Even ‘estuary English’ is having to step aside in the chip shops of London, Cambridge and Oxford where chippies are keeping the local ‘lingo’ alive (18, 13 and 12 per cent respectively). Some words and phrases appear predominantly in one region only, with ‘white pudding supper’, for example, almost unheard of outside Scotland. Other phrases appeared across different regions, but meanings can vary from place to place. For example ‘rissoles’ sold in chip shops in South Wales and North East England contain meat, while in Yorkshire these are fishcakes containing a large slice of potato. Clive Upton, Professor of Modern English Language at the University of Leeds said: “It’s interesting that the word ‘chip’ is almost universal across the country (except where it’s been Americanised as fries), but it is in the language surrounding the chip’s accompaniments and serving methods that regional phrases appear. Some are unexpected or unusual phrases – such as in Plymouth where they refer to scratchings as screeds. Others are more common – for example what they call a chip butty in the south of England, will be known as a chip cob in the Midlands, and chip barm in Manchester.” And it is not just the name that depends on the region – there is also a divide on which dishes are being enjoyed. For example, whether they call it a ‘butty’, ‘bap’, ‘cob’, ‘stottie’, ‘muffin’, ‘batch’, ‘bechdan’ or ‘barm’, the north and south clearly differ on the popularity of a chip sandwich. Thirty per cent of people from Southampton and 27 per cent of Londoners have never tried one; where as up north a staggering 94 per cent of people from Manchester and 93 per cent of people from Leeds have. To help ensure that, no matter where you are in Britain, you can order your perfect portion of chips using the local lingo, Potato Council has created a simple chip dictionary. The full dictionary will be available on from today and includes the following: Chippy tea – common description in Manchester for chip dishes – as made famous by the Lancashire Hot Pots Chippy sauce – vinegar and brown sauce served with chips (Glasgow) Fish and nerks – fish and chips in Leeds, sometimes also referred to as fish and derks Pattie – sausagemeat with potato on top, cooked in batter (Birmingham) Poke of chips – a bag of chips (Glasgow) Rissole - rissoles sold in chip shops in South Wales and North East England contain meat, while in Yorkshire these are fishcakes, containing a large slice of potatoes Scallops – slice of potato, cooked in batter (Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield) ‘xx supper’ – meaning chips served with another chip shop dish eg chip supper, pie supper, sausage supper. (Common in Glasgow, Aberdeen and other Scottish towns) Snozzsup – short for sausage and chip ‘supper’ (Glasgow) Snag and chips – short for sausage and chips (Portsmouth) Sottensauce - Chips with salt and ‘sauce’ served in Scottish chippies Scratchings, screeds –bits of leftover batter (Plymouth, Swansea) Scratching, batter scraps - bits of leftover batter (Sheffield) White pudding supper – a savoury oatmeal sausage, served with chips in Aberdeen - Ends - For further information and images, please contact: David Gough Cat Cambridge Ceres Ceres T: 01189 475956 T: 01189 475956 M: 07884 353474 E: E: Editor’s Notes • Chip Shops all over the country will be taking part in National Chip Week 15-21 February 2010. National Chip Week celebrates chips in all forms – homemade, oven or chip shop chips • Britain’s top chip places will be named during National Chip Week when the winners of the Perfect Portion Awards will be announced • Visit for a list of participating fish and chip shops, more information about what’s going on during the week itself, perfect chip recipes and fun chip facts and figures • National Chip Week is run by Potato Council. Potato Council supports the British potato industry, and is funded by potato growers and potato trade purchasers and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board ( • Chips can be eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet. In fact a portion of chip shop chips contains less fat than a prawn mayonnaise sandwich and a portion of oven chips will provide a third of your Recommend Daily Amount of vitamin C *One Poll survey of 2,000 UK adults, February 2010



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