Pit Talk by Dr Natalie Braber

Revealed: The lost language of Nottinghamshire’s miners

Do you get confused between your elephant’s tab and your banjo?

If you do, you’re not alone because those are just two of the huge array of secretive slang words miners in Notts used to use while down the pit.

But with the decline of mining as an industry, the language is also in danger of becoming lost.

So Dr Natalie Braber, a linguistics specialist at Nottingham Trent University came up with the idea to create a part-dictionary part-anecdotal book to try and preserve the words.

Natalie, of East Bridgford, interviewed more than 50 miners from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire to try and understand the huge variety of miners’ language in the East Midlands.

The 41-year-old said: “I found they had funny ways of saying things; like elephant’s tab would mean a big shovel, and powder monkey was a miner who carried the explosives. There are just so many different words and no one knows what they are or mean anymore.

“There are different coal fields all over the East Midlands and that is reflected in the vocabulary as some phrases are more regional – there are a lot more differences than I thought there would be.

“This is because miners moved around a lot so some used words others had never heard of before.”

Pit Talk was launched in Waterstones on June 9, and is suitable for people of any age – it is not an academic book.

She added: “The funny thing is I went to visit heritage groups who are preserving the physical things like shovels and lights, but they aren’t preserving the language and we should be, as it’s such a big part of our heritage.

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