Lost (or rare) Somerset words: Utch / Utchy

No - not that type of 'utch.
No – not that type of ‘utch.

Utch been reading about South Somerset.  And what utch discovered, particularly through listening to more SED recordings, is the use of ‘utch’ for the first person singular pronoun (do you see what I did there?).  In other words: ‘I’.

I haven’t heard this before.  It did amuse me rather.  Is this something only used in around Yeovil?  Is this something that has crept in from Dorset?  Is it even still in use?

This blog post began as something very different.  However, reading around has given me more material to work with, and more interesting snippets of information (well, I think they are interesting!) to play with.

A quick Google initially tells me it that ‘Utchy’ is the nickname of a character from the

Nope - not that one either.  But at least I got to amuse myself making this meme.
Nope – not that one either. But at least I got to amuse myself making this meme.

Power Rangers.  Short for “Utsusemimaru”.  Which gave me an opportunity to amuse myself for 5 minutes making up this meme.  You see?  It works on two levels!!  Eh?  EH??

BUT – back to more academic pursuits, and old faithful Williams and Jones and their book of Lost Words in the Somersetshire Dialect haven’t let me down.  And sure enough – it’s in there:

“Utchy” pron.  I (Ger. ich

As defined in
As defined in “Lost Words in the Somersetshire Dialect”

Which is, when you think about it, really interesting.  Williams and Jones are suggesting a link between ‘Utchy’ and the German ‘Ich’, both pronouns meaning “I”.  So are they suggesting, therefore, a link through the germanic roots of English, perhaps through Anglo-Saxon (which would make most sense given that Wessex was a powerful kingdom within Anglo-Saxon England), or that this word came into use through trading with Germanic people?  I suspect the former.

Martyn Wakelin discussed ‘utch’ in 1972 in his book ‘English Dialects’.  In that book, he looked to Middle English (English spoken from around the Norman Invasion to around 1450ish) ‘ich‘ as the precursor to ‘utch’ and was found mostly in Southern England.  Which would fit with the Germanic roots (‘ich’ being German for ‘I’).  However, later, this form became used as a marker for ‘a humorous or rustic effect on the Elizabethan stage’, and was later confined to what Ellis (late 19thC linguist) referred to as ‘The Land of Utch’, namely around ‘Yeovil, Sm (sic.) on the b[order] of Do.’ (Dorset).  It was recorded but not noted in the Survey of English Dialects, (which Wakelin worked on) and can be heard in recordings from the Survey of English Dialects held in the British Library.

So there.  The mystery of ‘utchy’ solved.  Not that there was a mystery.  But it is a Somerset specific word, so that’s interesting!

Sidenote:  This blog post took way too long to write.  6 months.  Sorry about that.


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