IS IT YOPPUL? THE FATE OF ISLAND SPEECH

IS IT YOPPUL? THE FATE OF ISLAND SPEECH, 2017

Sound installation. Photography by Tobias Penner.

Is it Yoppul? The Fate of Island Speech is a deeply personal exploration into the disappearance of an Islands unique dialect.

I was born on the Isle of Wight. My accent, once full of Island words, could now be described as ordinarily Southern. Greater mobility, better education and improved access to information - whilst worthy of celebration - have tended to make places more uniform and erode cultural differences (1). Dialect words are handed down through the generations, but over time, younger generations - like myself - are using standard English words in their place. 

A sound recording captures the dialect in action across four generations of my Island family. Accompanying photographs depict scenes of Island words in action.

Featured Words
Anywhen – anytime or place, a recent variation of somewhen
Asprawl – sprawling
Butt – a small enclosure of land generally near the house
Cham – to chew
Chimbley – chimney
Daffydowndillies – daffodils
Drillen – dripping with sweat
Firk – a continual state of fuss or fidget; also to scratch
Gallybagger – scarecrow
Harpen – to talk continually on one subject
Jipper – juice or syrup of anything, pudding, meat or pie
Kurn – to turn from flower to fruit
Lewth – a sheltered spot from the wind
Mallishag – a large caterpillar, generally found in cabbage
Nammet – refreshment traditionally taken during the harvest
at four in the afternoon, consisting of bread or cheese and a
pint of strong beer
Overner – a non-native Island visitor
Pincherwig – earwig
Prenly – presently
Queal – to coil or curl up, to queal in, to go to bed
Roke – steam from boiling water
Somewhen – some time or place
Shute – a narrow road
Up tip – to overset
Varm – to clean, varm out, to clean out
Yoppul – useless talk
Zammer – to loiter, lazy


1 Kwon, M. (2002) One Place After Another: Site-specific Art and Locational Identity. USA: MIT Press