Bap, bun or barm?

We were talking this evening about the huge variety of words for the same thing in English. Take the small bread roll, a round flat one, just plain bread… in Oldham it would be an oven-bottom muffin, in Manchester a barm cake (not balm and no cake) in the north-east a stotty or stottie cake and elsewhere it might be a bap or a bun… How many words can there be for one thing? It might even be a cob or a teacake or a breadcake… but basically it is just a smallish round flattish bread roll. Obviously a lot of these differences arise through different dialect words, and sometimes the original item was made differently, originally barm cakes were raised by a barm leven, not the normal yeast.

In the same way each of us are called different things for various reasons, including location. When I was a teacher in a secondary school I was Miss Elsden, or just Miss, but when I was working in the pupil referral unit I was Lois. At home I might be referred to by my pet name, with my cousins I would have a different pet name, by my friends I am called Lois or Lo. people who don’t know me might address me as Miss, love, darling,  duck, chuck, dear, sweetheart, oi you…

I have become aware of this in Night Vision; my main character Beulah is called Bee by those close to her, Lahlah by a special friend and Pandora by someone she wants to keep at a distance, and Mrs Cameron by the police officers who question her about certain things. Her husband calls her babe, baby or darling… yes I know it sounds silly – especially  ‘babe’ , but people really do call those very close to them silly things.. I daren’t tell you what silly names I call my family.

… I see I have come all the way back to names!


  1. Isabel Lunn

    This is a veritable minefield! Yes we do have oven bottom muffins in Oldham, but we also have risen ones and traditional. Added to this there are plain teacakes. My friend from Eccles who calls them barm cakes couldn’t believe the range available when she came to Oldham market. To her teacakes have fruit in, but in Oldham we have plain teacakes and currant teacakes, Nowadays the situation has been complicated by supermarkets and cafes who have muffins for sale, but these are a kind of cake – American in origin I think. While we’re on this, what’s all this about cup cakes? They look like buns to me!


    1. Lois

      Cup cakes… you are so right, buns, buns, buns… but actually if you read the recipe cup cakes are different and don’t taste as nice as real buns.
      I actually didn’t know you could get risen muffins… I must try some next time we are up!


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