The National Health Service was launched in Manchester in 1948. The notion of free healthcare to all was still therefore relatively new when the fieldworkers were gathering data for the Survey of English Dialects in the 1950s and 60s. People living in rural communities were able to call on the services of a doctor, but many continued to rely on trusted home remedies and cures; which they shared with the fieldworkers. They also shared the dialect words they used to describe various ailments.


Working the land formed a large part of life for many of the communities that took part in the Survey, and taking care of livestock and working animals was vital. Informants therefore shared their tools and tips for caring for the health of their working animals, as well as for their friends and family members. In this article, we share a selection of their contributions.


If you swear by tried and tested home remedies that have been passed down to you, or use particular dialect words to describe ailments, we would love to hear from you!



A map of England and Wales.

“SED Word Map: Boils” (LAVC/PHO/S338). Held at Special Collections, Leeds University Library. Licensed under CC-BY-NC 4.0